Arsenal flying in under the radarBy
Any military strategist will competently outline the monumental advantage and value of the art of ’stealth’. It’s the cornerstone of any military tactic in achieving victory when using the 3S’s – Speed, Surprise and Secrecy. The ability to go about your business without your adversaries noticing neither Hyde nor hair of you is invaluable and priceless in a long drawn out marathon like the 38 game Premier league.
So far, I think Arsenal has been fortunate in that expectation for us to challenge in anything is so low that the football establishment is unlikely to notice anything we do, let alone acknowledge it and give the team credit for it. I’ll be honest and say, this lack of recognition about what Arsenal is achieving and the need to take this team as serious title contenders can drive you up the wall. It’s only after being scraped off the ceiling and having time to reflect, do you then realise that actually, it’s not a bad thing after all.
Patience is no longer a valuable commodity in football, and Arsenal certainly doesn’t hold the monopoly of having fickle, ‘Johnny come lately’ glory hunting fans who want success now at all costs. The collective noise of such fans, coupled with the increasingly anti-Arsenal sentiments in the media establishment contribute to the very low expectation that there is for this team to achieve anything of substance this season.
What has been largely ignored is the collective growth and development that has taken place over the last 4 years at Arsenal. Building a team is not an easy thing, and more often than not, there’s an expectation that “buying” ready-made off the shelf players is the ultimate solution – notwithstanding the fact that this cavalier ’cheque book’ style of management has shaken the financial stability of many a club to the core.
Naturally, the progress made by individual players over the last period, as well as the mental strength and maturity shown by the team collectively, have been ignored as factors that are in Arsenal’s favour this season. Amidst the posterior kissing that constantly goes on in the media about the might and power of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea; or the experience and finesse (or not) of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United; a small forgotten fact is that Arsene Wenger the Professor is a natural born winner who refuses to sacrifice his purist values of total football for the sake of glory hunting.
Many critics have bemoaned the ability of the constantly touted potential of the young Arsenal team to come to fruition – it’s no wonder they are incapable of noticing when it happens. It’s fair to say, that until a trophy arrives at Ashburton Grove, it perhaps is pointless to expect any credit from the footballing establishment.
It’s for this reason that the manner in which Arsenal has slowly crept into 2nd place without much ado is to the team’s advantage. The team has been largely left alone to get on with the business of consolidating the work done over the last few years, and making sure that they do the simple things right, and in that process, improve collectively as a team.
By the time folks notice what is happening and are forced to take Arsenal as serious contenders, much of what needs to be done to mount a strong and sustained challenge will already be in place. Tis much better to operate this way when you think about it, than to try and force the issue with a largely anti-Arsenal establishment.