This past Saturday’s 4-1 drubbing of Bolton Wanderers was a good test for the squad in this new campaign. No one needs to be lectured about the boorish tactics which a majority of boss Owen Coyle’s side employ. I suppose the x-rated challenges by Cahill, Davies, and Robinson could be discussed, but that dead horse has already been well and truly beaten.
The most promising feature of the new season so far would be the contributions by players from whom little was certain in the beginning of this campaign. Of course, we are only a handful of games in, but already there are some players who are promising very much, first of whom is Tomas Rosicky. A player whose career has been severely blighted by injury, it appears he has now regained his top form and is ready to push on this season. Some of the passes he made, the outside-of-the-boot through ball to Arshavin in particular, were absolutely top-class. He seems to have regained his rat-like pace which, combined with his incredible technique, makes it very difficult for defenders to match. He has been very positive, forward, and most importantly he releases the ball very quickly. Our overall play seems to have a bit more pace to it than last year, and surely some of that credit must go to the little Mozart.
Second up is a man who has already received quite a bit of praise from the media: Marouane Chamakh. Although he’s nowhere near the silky artist of van Persie, he nevertheless has a great effect in our attack through his hard work and physical style. He’s a no-nonsense battler who seems content to be out of the limelight and to just get on with his job. His addition is a huge difference compared to playing Arshavin as the lone striker. And with two goals to his name, it looks as if he’ll add scoring to his off-the-ball work as well.
Last up are the two new French-speaking defenders, Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci. Partnered together, they handled the sink, tub, and everything else that Bolton attempted to throw at them. Koscielny had a bit of a mix-up for the goal, but it happens to the best of defenders. After that incident, he got his head down and continued to battle. Squillaci, meanwhile, is an experienced and determined defender who will hopefully bring much to the dressing room as well. Wenger now has an interesting three-way selection problem in the center of the defense.
As seasoned Gooners know, it would be foolish to expect much at the beginning of the season. However, our squad could definitely have done worse in being 2nd place, largely without the contributions of van Persie, and until Saturday, Fabregas as well. If the annual injury curse can be nicer to us this year, perhaps we will have more to smile about come May time.