Update: It seems that Jens Lehmann is furious with Arsene Wenger at being dropped from the squad despite being fit enough to play. Consequently, the German may be on his way out of the club. More on this tomorrow.
Wenger satisfied with Arsenal’s start
In other, more positive news, Wenger has revealed that he is happy with his side’s start to the season. A month into the new season, Arsenal are still unbeaten after three solid victories over Fulham, Sparta Prague and Manchester City and a hard-fought draw with an overly physical Blackburn Rovers side. Wenger suggested that the positive start was absolutely vital for such a young squad and will go some way to taking the pressure of his players.
“At this stage of last season, we had only two points and were already under mental pressure. A team like Manchester United are big enough to deal with that and come back. But we were a very young side and it was a bit too much for us. It was important to get a good start this time and we have done that.”
Wenger is, as usual, spot on with his assessment. If this young Arsenal side had got off to a poor start the media would’ve gone into a frenzy about the club’s inability to replace Thierry Henry adequately and the confidence of guys like Eduardo da Silva, Alexander Hleb and Robin van Persie would definitely have taken a hit. But with Arsenal taking seven points from ten and all but booking their place in the group stages of the Champions League, these players will only get more confident the longer their positive start continues.
Creating more ‘big games’
There is no doubt that Arsenal have had some luck along the way, especially with the draw. Indeed, Arsenal do not face Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United until they travel to Anfield in late October. But there is also little doubt that the overall quality of the Premier League this season appears to have lifted, a fact emphasised by Wenger’s opinion that there are now at least eight clubs that could finish in the top four.
“I think there is a top eight or nine who can fight for the top four. It is very open and I think it will be more and more open because there are so many investors who have come in. West Ham are ambitious. Aston Villa are ambitious. Everton are a good side. Newcastle too. It will be harder than ever to finish in the top four.”
When you start adding the likes of Manchester City, Blackburn and of course Tottenham to that list you really get an idea of just how competitive this season may turn out to be. Wenger’s admission that there are now a multitude of sides capable of making the top four may also serve an alternate purpose; creating the idea of more ‘big games’ in the minds of his players. Whilst Arsenal’s youngsters performed admirably in games against their title rivals it was evident that the matches against those second and third-tier teams in the English Premier League that cost the club dearly in the final count.
It is absolutely essential that Wenger’s players are as mentally prepared and motivated for the games against team like Newcastle and West Ham as they are for the games against Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. Wenger’s more respectful attitude towards the league in general this season will surely filter down into his players minds and may provide the motivation for his side to perform with more determination week in, week out. The fact that Arsenal have scored four of their six goals so far this season in the final ten minutes suggests that they are on the right track.
What do you think?
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