Why confidence is so important

Why confidence is so important

Arsene Wenger had some comments to make in the aftermath of Arsenal’s fabulous win over rivals Tottenham, focusing on the progress that his team have made since the end of last season.

The 3-1 comeback victory over Tottenham was the best result of Arsenal’s season so far and sent the club to the top of the Premiership table for the first time since October 2004. Wenger gave his thoughts on the win in the post-match news conference but the comment that stood out most in my mind was about Cesc Fabregas’ run of goals.

“Now he can’t stop scoring when before he could not. That shows the importance of what goes on in your head.”

Fabregas’ confidence is sky high at the momentAs a studying Sport Psychologist I can’t stress how much I believe this is true, not only for Fabregas, but the team as a whole. One of the reasons that Arsenal were not considered title candidates by a lot of the media or opposition supporters was because in a lot of people’s eyes, on paper, their team was weaker than last season’s. Thierry Henry and Fredrik Ljungberg had left and only a few relative unknowns had come in and that was enough to justify the thought that Arsenal would struggle to achieve fourth place, let alone challenge for the title.

But what people forgot about was the mental side of the game. Confidence cannot usually be bought for money, but is formed as a player grows and gathers an understanding of the mental side of their game. Back in 2003/04 when Arsenal completed an entire Premier League campaign undefeated they did so essentially because they knew they could. In other words, it was not their ability but their confidence that got them over the line.

In the specific case of Fabregas, his confidence is sky high. His recent run of goals meant that when he received the ball 25 yards out to goal at 1-1 he thought ‘Why not?’ rather than ‘Why?’ and the result was a great goal that he just would not have attempted, let alone scored last season. As long as the side keep getting results, he will not be the only one who is positively affected by this mode of thought.

Supporters of the side know that they have the ability, if not the experience to go all the way to the title this season. Although they are yet to face one of the other ‘big four’ clubs, the indications that Arsenal can win the Premiership are there after a very strong start to the campaign. There is bound to be setbacks on the way, but if Wenger and the team can keep their heads in the right place then they should be able to build on the great start and mount a strong title challenge.

Daniel Alves is one of Sevilla’s starsNext up, Sevilla

Arsenal will be hoping their fine domestic form can transfer into the Champions League when they host UEFA Cup holders Sevilla on Wednesday night. Arsene Wenger spoke about his side’s chances of winning the competition as well as revealing his admiration for Arsenal’s Spanish opponents.

“Winning the Champions League is something I want to add to Arsenal’s history. We have the potential to do well, but we have a big test on Wednesday – Sevilla are one of the best four or five teams in Europe and they can beat anybody.”

It’s interesting to hear Wenger rate Sevilla so highly. There’s no doubt that they are a great side with a number of great players (Daniel Alves and Frederic Kanoute as well as goalkeeper Andreas Palop stick out in my mind), but I’m not sure I’d rate them in the top five of Europe. Despite this, Wenger is certainly right when he mentions that they can beat anybody and the game will be another massive task for Arsenal.

According to Wenger, Arsenal will have a largely unchanged squad from the one that beat Tottenham, with only Philippe Senderos returning after being suspended in the Premiership.

“Senderos – yes, Gallas- no, Eboue – no, Lehmann – no. Lasanna Diarra is not injured. He will be available.”

It certainly won’t be the end of the world if Arsenal draw or even lose, given that the other sides in the draw are only Slavia Prague and Steau Bucharest. So often clubs struggle to perform well in both the domestic league and the Champions League because of the extra effort that is required to challenge on both fronts, but if Arsenal do happen to beat Sevilla on Wednesday then it should remove any unnecessary pressure and allow the boys to continue their Premier League assault in a confident mood.

What do you think?

Have your say on Wenger’s comment about Tottenham or Sevilla by leaving a comment.

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20 Responses to “Why confidence is so important”

  1. Non Edible Nacho
    September 17, 2007 at 6:11 pm #

    Now where are all those people laughing at the constant mentions of team spirit, etc.?

    I agree with the fact that if we beat Sevilla the pressure will be off a bit for the champions league. Add an away win in the next game and we can fully focus on the premiership to avoid losing pace.

  2. Spanish Fry
    September 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm #

    You can never rule out team spirit. I feel that we will qualify without any problems, but beating Sevilla would be able to let the team focus almost completely on their Premier League task.

  3. Non Edible Nacho
    September 17, 2007 at 6:35 pm #

    Yeah, but I guess it’s not only qualifying, finishing first can also help avoiding clashes against top opposition in the first round. Though you never know, of course.

  4. Spanish Fry
    September 17, 2007 at 6:49 pm #

    True. I find the quality of the Champions League is such that it is hard to avoid the good sides just through finishing top of the group. I think we will definitely finish top if we win the first match, but you can never be sure.

  5. Darragh
    September 17, 2007 at 7:27 pm #

    It funny that the same people who state that teams like Arsenal and Liverpool will struggle against ‘the might of Chelsea and Man United’ are the same people who thought Arsenal could not be beaten several seasons ago. However, Arsenal (primarily after the departures of Bergkamp and Viera) did go through a fairly transitional period – and it seems the transition is almost complete with the blossoming of players like Fabregas. Lets pray to god Fabregas stays fit the entire season.

    It looks like the Gunners will mount a pretty serious title claim the season, and just proves that these things move in waves. Despite all their spending, United and Chelsea do not look half the team that Arsenal and Liverpool are putting out this season. When Arsenal get their full defensive players back from injury and suspension, and their midfield keep operating at such a level, it is going to be hard for the the opposition to claw back points.

  6. Spanish Fry
    September 17, 2007 at 7:50 pm #

    Well said, Darragh. As long as Arsenal keep winning it’s going to make them hard to catch.

  7. Anonymous
    September 17, 2007 at 8:48 pm #

    Fabregas is our main player this season, can’t stop scoring. Last seasons mid, no match for this season midfield. Go Arsenal. Critics were saying That either Chelsea or united would cruise to the title but the gunners and the scousers hav proved so many people wrong.

  8. ArsenalKenya
    September 17, 2007 at 11:00 pm #

    It’s too early to start thinking about the title with only five games. I think the confidence and team spirit should continue growing in the team. Eduardo, Bendter and Diarra should blend into the team in good time so that when we look at our bench we have super subs. Walcott, Bendter, Diarra and Eduardo should start in the weekend game againt Derby County. I have tipped Arsenal to win the title this season because unlike other teams we do not have specific players we depend or rely on to win.

    Look at Man U – Without Rooney and Ronaldo they are no where to be noticed.

    Chelsea – without Drogba and Wright Phillips they can not score.

    With Henry’s exit Arsenal and Arsene is proving to the whole footballing world that Team spirit and confidence wins you games. This season we may be the INVICIBLES…..

    REMEMBER DROGBA SAID WE WILL NOT WIN ANY SILVERWAR4E BUT THEY SHOULD BE READY FOR A PROPER BEATING FROM ARSENAL BOTH AT STAMFORD BRIDGE AND AT EMIRATES.

    GO GO ARSENAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Austen
    September 18, 2007 at 3:38 am #

    i disagree with saying that fabregas is our “main player”. i don’t think we have a “main player” nor should we. for a while our main player was thierry henry and even now players are saying they felt they had to get the ball to him. now it feels much more that there’s a team chemistry and players will go with what they feel is right, not giving the ball to the star player. i think losing henry was addition by subtraction. i truly feel we’re a better team now than we were before. but besides that i am truly in favor of the adebayor – eduardo pairing for either or both of the derby and sevilla games. if it doesn’t work i don’t see it as that much of a big deal. if there’s any time to try something out in champions league i think now would be the best time rather than later. that’s all!

  10. Jay
    September 18, 2007 at 5:22 am #

    I agree that Fabregas is our main player, he flows the ball perfectly, gets goals. We rely on all our players but he is the man!

  11. Spanish Fry
    September 18, 2007 at 8:36 am #

    “i truly feel we’re a better team now than we were before.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with you with this. Since Henry has left the responsibility is being taken up by all and the result is some great team performances. Things might change when the side is faced with adversity but for the time being the boys are playing like a real team. As for the Fabregas comment, no, I do believe he is becoming our main player but there is not the same reliance on him that there was on Henry. He’s the main player at the moment because of what he’s doing when he gets the ball, not because of the vibes and attitudes he gives off when he doesn’t have. In that way he’ll never become as dominant a force in the team as Henry was, but I think this is for the good of the team.

  12. Demetrio
    September 18, 2007 at 11:54 am #

    I agree with Austen. We dont have, nor do we need a main player. It’s better the way it is when all the boys are working together and not counting on one guy to do it all like they have been when Vieria and Pires left and it was only Henry. This is the perfect way to play football, everyone brings something different to the team. If all stays the same we will win the Champions League within 3 years with his team.

  13. casicky
    September 18, 2007 at 11:59 am #

    i think to some extent Fabregas is the focal point coz if you think bpout it every team has a focal point and i belive Cesc is that this season as he was for a bit of last season.however i do think if we rest him for some games when a bit of fatigue sets in we wont be losing much becoz we have quite a few players who can step in a do a job more so that will keep him fresh and keep the points ticking on with a content squad as well.its frightening to think we have denilson,diarra,diaby as well as rosicky who can stand in that midfield if needs be,this squad has a few players but the fact that they can play in various positions it jus adds a bit more quantity…bring on seville

  14. Spanish Fry
    September 18, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    casicky – You described it perfectly there. Fabregas is the focal point when he’s on because he’s such a great player, but the current side don’t really rely on him as such. If he wasn’t in the side we wouldn’t lose nearly as because the team would work hard to make up for it.

  15. Jay
    September 18, 2007 at 6:05 pm #

    Casicky – Great comment and i 100% agree with you, every team does have a focal point and ours is Fab. We don’t put the reliance on Fab but the whole team. Also Armand Traore and Harvard Nordveit scored for the reserves in the 3-2 defeat to birmingham.

  16. jos asante
    September 18, 2007 at 6:35 pm #

    Seville will be our hardest test of the season so far,My honest opinion!Sevilla will be tough but I predict a 3-0 to Arsenal.
    The trend seems to be that teams winning their leagues struggle to win the champion’s league,So I thought I’d ask gooners which you would prefer to win.
    I know that we have never won the champion league,and that Wenger greatly desires it but personally I’d prefer to win the PL,I think it is to some extent a greater achievement,and that winning the league would establish this young side as a serious force.
    ANY THOUGHTS ON THE TEAM AGAINST SEVILLA?
    With Lehmann,Gallas and Eboue our only injuries,I see no reason why we cannot continue our good form from the premiership into Europe.Senderos is fit for the match,but I think he will be left on the bench for now,as Flamini is playing excellently and Gilberto is filling in well at CB.
    I THINK THE TEAM WILL LOOK SOMETHING LIKE THIS;
    Almunia
    Sagna-Toure-Gilberto-Clichy
    Hleb-Flamini-Fabregas-Rosicky
    Adebayor-Van Persie
    Arsenal 3- Sevilla 0

  17. Jay
    September 18, 2007 at 6:52 pm #

    I think Walcott will start and hopefully so will Da Silva. I hope Bednter makes an apperance aswell.

  18. ArsenalKenya
    September 18, 2007 at 9:13 pm #

    Almunia
    Sagna Toure Gilberto Clichy
    Walcott Fabregas Diarra Rosicky
    Adebayor Eduardo

    Arsenal 4 Sevilla 1

  19. Spanish Fry
    September 19, 2007 at 10:56 am #

    Some massive predictions there. I don’t think it will be the cakewalk that some of you predicted, but let’s hope so.

  20. Jay
    September 19, 2007 at 5:52 pm #

    1-1 I predict.
    Almunia
    Sagna – Toure – Gilberto – Clichy
    Walcott – Fab – Flamini – Rosicky
    Ade – Da Silva
    Subs:Fabianski – Sendy – Diarra – Hleb – RVP – Denilson – Diaby/Traore.

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