Delusion aside, all Arsenal fans can admit that there was only one man making our headlines last season, Robin Van Persie. Whilst we were overall a very well rounded team, our options in attack were surprisingly limited and our reliance on Robin soon became evidently worrying.
All Gooners (including myself) were confident in the sides ability whether RVP stayed or not but behind the cover of twitter, I’m sure I can speak unanimously for all fans in saying we were fretting his departure.
The day his move was confirmed, the season ahead looked long and dark. A less than encouraging pre-season tour of Asia confirmed our fears that perhaps our season was over before it had even begun. The early captures of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud bolstered the attack but with the safety net of Reliant Robin removed, there was a distinct feeling of worry surrounding camp Arsenal.
Come the start of the season, we’re a completely new club. Could Van Persie’s exit be just the thing Arsenal need to kick-start their surge for a trophy? Let’s examine.
We’re playing with exhilaration, passion and look more creative than we have done in years. Not only have we found a natural replacement to Cesc Fabregas in the form of Santi Cazorla, but there is an aura of ambition at the Emirates. It’s quite remarkable to see the change in tune at Camp Arsenal.
Whilst tougher days are yet to come with two tricky fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea, the courage of both Arsene Wenger and the team as a whole really is something to be admired. We’ve ran headfirst into a barrage of adversity in the past few months and have come out stronger than ever. I bet no Gooner could say six months ago that we’d be playing this well so soon post Robin.
Dare I say we are stronger without him? Well, that’s the point I’m trying to prove. Having such a heavy reliance on a player is always a bad thing and since Robin’s exit from the club, we’ve learnt to work so much more as a team.
Gervinho, Walcott and Podolski (when playing on the wing) are among the names having to make a greater contribution attackingly and their presence is certainly being felt. Despite him not scoring, Giroud is having a fine run of form and playing some wonderful football. In my opinion, once he scores the elusive first goal we’ll see an entirely new player.
Back to the point, the support he is receiving from the wings is helping his attacking efforts massively, not to mention the two Spanish wizards pulling the strings behind him. This was all the more evident when Lukas Podolski adapted to a more central role today in Arsenal’s 6-1 victory over Southampton.
Even though he has settled far quicker than Giroud, Podolski had ball upon ball to play with today coming from all areas of the pitch. The standard “pass to Robin, Robin scores” approach is over, we’re already proving ourselves to be a much more diverse and intuitive team which can only be a good thing.
We’re also not in the position (like we were at this stage last season) where we can consider our surge over if x player is injured. Podolski is showing he’s capable of banging them in from all sorts of opportunities, an incredibly dynamic player that we are fortunate to have and when Giroud is up and running, his versatility (left foot, head etc.) will cause havoc for Premier League defences.
Our midfielders are also already showing their value. Santi Cazorla is looking to be the bargain buy of the summer whilst returning players such as Diaby, alongside heroes of season past such as Arteta and Vermaelen are proving they’re worth their weight in gold.
Are we stronger without Van Persie? Obviously not and it’s not only the stats that will tell you that. Much to my disgust, Robin has been a genius for United so far this season and until an inevitable injury comes, they’ll need him to be just that.
The point in this article is that without Robin, Arsenal are still an incredibly dangerous team, perhaps a little more so than in the Robin days. Threats can come from all areas on the pitch, the sudden reliance on him has gone and as a result, we are so much more versatile and dangerous.
It’ll be darker before the dawn and by Christmas, we’ll be able to realistically see what position we could be in come seasons end but with the safety wheels of Robin van Persie cut off, Arsenal are teetering into the unknown and I have all the faith we can come out stronger than ever.
Written by Harry Burden
Follow him on Twitter @StoneColdHarry
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