The Arsene Wenger philosophy has been much criticised and maligned this season. Some will so say rightly so, and others will defend the Arsenal manager.
Yet Saturday’s result against Chelsea has shown that Arsenal and their manager have grown a new skin. Wenger was bold at Stamford Bridge, and did not hesitate to dismantle the attacking chemistry which has revived the Gunner’s of late.
Whilst his opposite number Andre Villas-Boas was equally as attacking which led to great spectacle, the intent of both teams showed one thing. The Arsenal revival is real, and they are intent on keeping intact with the top four.
However, the Arsenal awakening is not just thanks to Wenger and his reform. The Gunners owe a lifetime of debt to their skipper Robin van Persie. The Dutch striker is finally hitting the heights Wenger has long promised, and he is not just one of the feared strikers in England, but in the whole of Europe.
The stats don’t lie, van Persie is the second most prolific striker in the entire of Europe, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
Goals to game ratio – for year 2011
|Robin van Persie||28||27||1.04|
The top four strikers in Europe, if judging by stats, are all above. Van Persie sits in a Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi sandwich. Many wouldn’t have put the Dutchman in the same breath of arguably the two best players in the world, yet his form in 2011 surely warrants his place as one of the best in world football.
Van Persie has provided a fantastic sub-plot to Arsenal’s mixed season for many journalists, with countless stories suggesting a one-man team and questions about his future. Wenger is slowly building his formerly disjointed team after the early season instability, and while messages are now being sent out now on a weekly basis, the biggest message would be to tie down the irreplaceable 27 year old.
With Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas long gone, Wenger can recite Arsenal’s ambition and emphasize their status. Sure, the manager can point to the likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, young talents tied down to Arsenal’s future, yet the lack of a goalscorer, and one of van Persie’s standards, should prompt Wenger into opening contract talks.
The Arsenal board should offer him any money he wants, it’s as simple as that.
Van Persie was the catalyst for the Gunners famous victory at Stamford Bridge. But the proof that Arsenal are slowly evolving was shown in the performances of Laurent Koscielny, Theo Walcott and Andre Santos.
While Santos has not had time to settle, and has shown a lack of defensive prowess, his attacking knowledge was shown on the left-hand side particularly in the second half, and he even scored to help the Gunners towards victory.
Ashley Cole doesn’t often have a bad game, yet Theo Walcott turned him inside out, and this Theo is the Theo Arsenal and England fans need to see every game. Many have doubted Koscielny’s ability particularly his reaction to the mistake which cost Arsenal the Carling Cup final in February. His performance against Chelsea was enough to suggest he could well cement his place as Arsenal’s first choice centre-half.
So the fans who gorged themselves in the Stamford Bridge goal-fest would not only have seen a sobering experience for Villas-Boas in the English Premier League, but living proof that Arsenal are on the mend, and quickly.