Consistency is a hot topic that has been associated with Arsenal’s start to the season since their last Premier League title triumph, and for the third time in four years, the Gunners have shown a penchant for maintaining such a steady start to the first ten weeks of the campaign, having recovered from opening day home defeats in 2013 (Aston Villa), 2015 (West Ham) and Liverpool (2016).
Aside denting Arsenal’s chances of replicating another unbeaten team, these opening day setbacks have heaped pressure on Arsène Wenger and his team to respond convincingly, play down fears of early season unrest and restore that customary feel good factor accompanied with the first two months of the season.
However, unlike the last two occasions, Arsenal have achieved such rich vein of form on the back of a new look attack aided by the dynamism and dexterity of Alexis Sanchez and Alex Iwobi, as opposed to the balance and industry we’ve come to expect from Olivier Giroud Aaron Ramsey.
Despite Iwobi missing a couple of games between August and September, 2016 the English man alongside Alexis, has been a live wire in these early stages and is a major reason why Arsène decided to move Alexis upfront.
This slight attacking reshuffle we are currently witnessing is very reminiscent to that introduced at the start of the 2009/2010 season, when Arsène deployed Robin Van Persie to the apex of the team’s attack, with the presence of Cesc Fabregas just behind the Dutchman and Samir Nasri on the left.
Like we saw with the increase in goal threat with Cesc roaming as a number ten behind his new frontman, Mesut Ozil has made the most of Alexis’ willingness to work the channels around the box, with the German’s three goals in the League this season all coming from a thrilling telepathy between he and the Chilean, with trademark back post runs replacing Giroud’s near post presence.
As I’ve pointed out in the past, Iwobi is apparently the closest thing we’ve had to Nasri and much like the guile the French man provided mainly floating from Arsenal’s left, Iwobi is doing more than an entertaining job, evidently keen on turning his building brilliance into productivity. Also, the fact that he’s already flourishing for Arsenal at an age (20) Nasri was just beginning to attract rave reviews in France with Marseille, shows the extremely promising situation we’ve got on our hands, with Nigeria’s new playmaking sensation.
Now aside maintaining a similar attacking shape with the 09/10 offensive cast, this 16/17 set have also begun with an equally scripted point tally, amassing 18 points from the first eight games in the league.
This ushers even another coincidence backed up by an identical central defensive partnership involving daring new comers in Thomas Vermaelen and Shkodran Mustafi, alongside well experienced French compatriots, in the frame of William Gallas and Laurent Koscielny (who ironically replaced the latter).
That said, in as much as it’s important to identify and weigh up these interesting recurrences, perhaps it is also pertinent to stress that glaring differences in other positions in goalkeeping personnel (Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski/Petr Cech) need to be taken advantage of by the current choices at our disposal, as it also is with the existent and past jersey number four skippers….
Following a seven goal thriller at Goodisson on the opening day of the 09/10 season, expectations shot through the roof for Arsenal’s new found shape in attack, and complementary qualities elsewhere in the team. In May 2010 however, reality once again kicked in painfully as Arsenal still finished some way off the title points. (eleven adrift of Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea)
It’s a different kettle of fish in 2016 though, despite another (this time rather underwhelming) seven goal thriller against another Merseyside Club on Matchday 1, followed up by similar consistent displays and team set-up in the first quarter of the season. Provided Arsenal make use of the much better strength in depth at the Manager’s disposal on this occasion, the final game of the season could well have more at stake, than trying to replicate a performance ditto to the free-flowing display over Everton seven years ago