There really is only one word that can accurately sum up this seasons proceedings up till now: inconsistency. Despite us having a squad that should be well and truly capable of dealing with any side in the league short of Chelsea, City, and arguably United, it's been a Jekyll and Hyde showing if there ever was one. When on song, we've been excellent, but when we're off...my god are we awful. But to be honest, if you asked me if I felt we'd be sitting sixth in the table just four points out of United in third given how we've played on the whole, I would have told you that you were absolutely off your rocker, without any equivocations. As my friend Jake (always the eternal optimistic) loves to say, that if you can manage to string results together without being on form, then you're in good shape...and I've got to agree with him.
While inconsistency is certainly something to be feared and bemoaned, especially in football (given the short length of the season compared to other sports), results are always welcome an truthfully, they are all that matters when push comes to shove. So yes, I'll take our current position coming into the beginning of the month, but something I have spoken at length on is the fact that we must break away from our over-reliance on Alexis Sanchez.
|If that isn't the face of determination, I don't know what is...we just, you know, need more than the one...(image courtesy of Arsenal's official Facebook page)|
Sanchez may have come to us this past summer as a luxury, but to date he has easily been our player of the season, and without him we would likely be sitting in tenth at minimum. There is no point in me going into all the things that have him simply brilliant for us this season, but it's been his talismanic figure leading charge after charge for us that concerns myself and others. As Laura pointed out, all clubs have that one player that they can always count on, and yes there is no question that Sanchez has firmly rooted himself in that role for us, but it's the worrying fact that he has barely had time to breathe that could bite us square in the stern.
The part that makes a talismanic player worth their salt, is that they have an excellent supporting cast to rely on, rather than having to seemingly will their side to a result by themselves...apart from one or two other players in spurts, Sanchez is the reason why we are where we are, and all it takes is one injury due to lack of rest for us to potentially go up (well, down to be honest) like the Hindenburg.
It's times like these where Arsene Wenger needs to stop talking about the quality of our squad and actually use it. Thankfully, nearly all the pieces are ready to be re-assembled, and despite the confusion that is still to bring, it's certainly exciting to see just what we can do when fully fit...and for that glorious day when we don't HAVE to start Sanchez for the umpteenth match running.
|Well, it wasn't his best outing, but the return of Theo Walcott to first-team duties is one of many welcomed sights to come (image courtesy of Arsenal's official Facebook page)|
And finally...back to January...that oh so useless month of excitement turned utter disgust once the calendar hits February. Last year it saw us bring in a crocked Kim Kallstrom, and despite rarely featuring, the least Wenger could have done was contract him into making meatballs for the boys on days off from training...but no, not even that was written into his contract to at least give it slightly more value.
|"Wait a minute...do you mean to tell me that...I actually cannot use my finance degree to talk clubs down on their valuations of their players? Zut Alors!" (image courtesy of Arsenal's official Facebook page)|
Players? Yes, players...you know...the two others we failed to get in the summer...that glorious center-back and much needed holding midfielder - 20million can never bring in two of the quality necessary, it's going to be one or the other...or, probably neither if you go by Wenger's track record. Despite my frustration on the matter, Le Prof does bring up a decent point regularly - spending in January always causes clubs to jack up the price on their assets because they may not have enough time to replace them properly. Wenger never wanting to spend gobs of money is nearly guaranteed to look for loan deals this month, and in an attempt to make the pot a little sweeter, he's likely to bring in some unknown talent from the back alley's of Dubrovnik just to keep people's hopes up.
January always sucks for us, and our squad may be close to full fitness giving us a host of new signings, they aren't the sort we need for us to truly turn our season around. Twenty matches into the campaign gives you a pretty good indication on where you'll end up come May. I fully expect West Ham to continue to regress, but Southampton are the real deal (as I have stated the moment Ronald Koeman came in and spent the way he did), and while we all love to laugh at Spurs, but recent results for them show that they could actually be able to sustain a bit of form. So ladies and gentlemen, without further delay, prepare yourselves for fourth at best...but it could be worse...sort of.
Andrew Thompson is a contributing writer at The Modern Gooner as well as Outside of the Boot. He's Arsenal obsessed, lover of the Germans and the Dutch, and he'd love to talk football whether you have similar views with him or not - follow him on Twitter @AFCBvB1410