When it rains, how it does pour…
As this writer recently said, November has been a very troublesome month. And with 8 days left to go, who’s to say it will not get any worse? After all the previously documented malaises that have hit Arsenal, the removal of Gallas as captain will perhaps hit hardest. The more reports that come out, the more intrigue and epiphanies are created. From Gallas’s revelations of a feud between Theo and Robin van Persie, to multiple incidents between captain and Nasri, to the all-round lack of respect or familiarity between players and captain, it is beginning to become quite clear just what has gone on behind the scenes.
This team, compared with the one of last year, lacks the togetherness and spirit that title-competing teams require. Suddenly, their closely-coddled egoes go from meshing perfectly to fracturing unmercilessly. A team previously having perfect chemistry now suddenly is divided. And almost all of it relates to Gallas in some fashion.
Presently, there are more than enough articles and opinions discussing Gallas’s actions, but hardly any focus on the repercussions that these past events will cause. Wenger’s decision to remove him as captain, be it temporarily or permanently, sounds like a man who has had his stubborness rudely awakened. For once, Wenger has made a drastic and difficult decision that will spring forth a new era, be it positive or negative.
From these past ups and downs, new lessons are being taught to our young players. They have gone from challenging for the title last year, to winning against Man U and then losing to Aston Villa. Now, their memories will be tainted with the responsibility of electing a new captain.
This group of Arsenal players are arrogant. Their style of play dictates them to do so. They play with the desire to humiliate their opponents. Two goals up means party tricks time. They are highly-paid and have a confidence, naive perhaps, in their skills (see Samir Nasri). However, this team is not unmanageable. A team that was so close to winning the title last year is suddenly in turmoil with their future in doubt. How fine the line between orgasmic overachievement and flat-out failure. Yet, a team of such confidence like last year does not suddenly lose all credentials for success in the space of three months. From these past events, Wenger will fashion a new team. It will not be a process of rebuilding, so much as one of modification.
The pieces are there. Fabregas, as short of form as he has been, will find his feet again. As Fabregas goes, so goes Arsenal. Robin van Persie, as selfish and arrogant a player as he is, is a goal and assist waiting to happen. He is the unpredictable breed of player that every title-winning team requires. Seventy-five percent of the defence is there, all that is needed is to find the correct long-term partner for Djourou, the heir-apparent to Sol Campbell’s as-yet unreplaced role. In Adebayor, you have a world-class target man who opens up space for players like Nasri, Ramsey, Denilson, Walcott, and soon, Wilshere, to exploit. Throw in the promise of Vela, Gibbs, Randall, Simpson, Bendtner, and the numerous other young prospects, and a vast majority of a high-octane, up-tempo passing team is there. All that Arsenal lack is an adequate defensive midfielder to truly free Cesc and let him find his form, and the right leader for this team.
In Gallas, they had an old-school captain. His game and attitude are based on different ideals. These young charges simply have little in common with him. While Gallas most likely bigs himself up by claiming most do not have the right amount of determination and fight, the truth is that this team gain motivation from something else. Their game is based on arrogance, not the safety-first play of Gallas. Although most fans would not mind the legendary back five, the truth is that these players are nor neither will ever be that kind of a team. They will gain their motivation by playing with style and panache, something that has been lacking because of the in-house fighting. How can a playing style which relies on such perfect chemistry not be affected when so many players have disputes? It is simple human nature. Whenever Wenger sorts out his house, then a new team will be born.
Do not underestimate the flexibility he now has. Whenever the captain is gone, all other roles and superiorities also go. No one is assured of anything now. Wenger has a petri dish of possibilities simply waiting to be cultured by his eye for talent. He will closely examine the squad and see exactly who fits where. Mark my words, he will buy someone big this winter. As I have stated before, Wenger’s next title-winning team will be born out of the ashes of the current calamity. He will find his true leaders and add or drop whenever he seems fit. After taking the big decision to drop Gallas, he will now have the bit between his teeth to re-hash a splintered squad. And when this current period of apparent crisis is over, however long it may be, there will be a new Arsenal team. For Wenger, the time to make the drastic decisions has become now, and he knows that.
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