Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good players can play in any position

Total football. Inter-changeability. Quick passing. High movement. Flowing and evolving triangles. Shapes that are as fluid as air filling an open space. Heads on swivels, feet that turn in all directions and eyes that see an extra dimension - a dimension that has not yet come to pass.

That's football to me. It's football to many others, and it's clearly football to Arsene Wenger. The gaffer has always said that a good player should be able to play in any position. All parts should be equal to create a greater whole. And we've seen it numerous times over the years with Arsene's Arsenal. Kolo Toure from the midfield to central defence. Armand Traore (currently on loan) from defence to the wing. Theo Walcott from striker to winger and presumably back again some day. Gilberto from the midfield to the back four. Perhaps most famously, Thierry Henry from the wing to striker and his eventual evolution into the deadliest of poachers - drifting from middle left and back again, ready at any moment. With that in mind, today, interesting comments from Arsenal striker Nicolas Bendtner on the official Club page.
Just a couple of days ago, I referred to Nico as a non-scoring ego-maniac. It's true, in part. He scores goals (often big ones), but many would argue that his mouth-flapping rate far surpasses his goal-scoring rate. In his comments, Nico drops this little pearl of wisdom on us and I quite fancy it indicitive of the growth spurt we're witnessing at this instant in the Club:

"Good players can always play in different positions. It's similar to
playing as a second striker, but a bit wider," say Bendtner [to further
illustrate his feelings regarding a more recent wide role on the

Granted it's a lot to do with the inspired (yet pending for so long) return of Eduardo, the major addition of Arshavin, and rumours of improving health for Theo Walcott and Cesc Fabregas, but make no mistake, with a close look, there's a sudden growth spurt passing through the squad. I rather pointedly will call it a growth spurt as opposed to improving form. I think it's an important point of clarification.
Look, we all knew that this team was young, inexperienced (in spite of some registering as "young without youth") and not truly ready for the fires they'd face in a race at the top of the table. At the same time, I doubt many believed (Aston Villa's form aside) that the Gunners would have themselves perched so precipitously at the edge of ruin (by their lofty standards) all year. I think the team, in the image that Arsene Wenger so fantastically and stubbornly clings to, is hitting a rapid maturation at the moment. A growth spurt that supporters and players alike hope they can maintain as we hit the stretch in all competitions. These players, having exploring each other's nuances and the varied corners and spaces of the pitch they fill, are coming to understand their places in Arsene's universe a bit more fully. It's more complicated that just improving form, or a stronger understanding of their own personal ambitions or roles within the team. It is a team becoming itself. Fullfiling what the manager has forseen. Becoming what its manager needs ... and expects.
More to come on this, but for the moment, keep your eyes open ... there's a rising on the horizon.

1 comment:

Ian Smith said...

Based on what!!! A game (at home)against Cardiff City??? Come on now!