Sunday, September 21, 2008

Getting Brighter

The lights are shining early in the year for the Arsenal. 

Two away wins in the last two weeks at grounds that have traditionally given Arsenal quite a bit of difficulty. Away to Blackburn 4-nil, and away to Bolton 3-1. Those results, coupled with draws from the others in the so-called big four, have propelled Arsenal to the top of the table early on and I'm loving it. This season, much like the last, left us with nerves and skepticism at the start, but there's always been an over-riding optimism and a "we'll be alright" mentality. Most of that stems from the overall quality of the team and the utter superiority of two players in particular, Fabregas and Adebayor. The skepticism comes from a lack of depth, a lack of experience and the incredible reliance on youth.

But early on this season, Arsenal are looking better each week. 

The win over Bolton was a terrific result and featured a considerable amount of that famous Arsenal football with style and grace. A main problem, though, continued to be shown as Bolton grabbed the opener. Set pieces and the seeming inability to deal with an attacking header in the box. The central defensive pairing of William Gallas and Kolo Toure hasn't worked well for sometime now and again that looked to be the case on this one. Kolo was out-leaped, and Gallas was late to cover. You have to wonder where cover is going to come from for that position. Djourou has looked capable and improved. Not sure if he's the answer though. I'd love to see someone in the mold of Skrtel at Liverpool come in in January.

No matter this time though. Arsenal put together some brilliantly fun football to nab two in quick succession and a third later to seal it. I haven't had that much fun watching a match in a while. There were so many positives to take away. Niko Bendtner was brilliant at times. He moved very well and, I thought, linked tremendously with Adebayor at times. It's important to see Cesc coming into form after his post-Euro 2008 repose. More staggering than anything else though is the continued improvement of Eboue. He's now put together several good performances in a row and even finally scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal. He looks completely different all of a sudden and is beginning to become the key I thought he'd be two years ago when moving from defense to the wing. I never thought he'd have taken so many steps back in his progress as a player but at the moment he's turning in man of the match performances.

The team is coming together and looking better each time out. I'm definitely getting more excited than nervous to see what they do next. 

Carling Cup against Sheffield United (again) coming up on Tuesday. Always fun to follow that one and see what the (even younger) youngsters can pull off. No pressure, lads, just play as Arsene teaches and you'll be fine. Might get kicked a bit later on though.

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