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Making chums with the newbies

So, what have we been up to the past few days? Still seething over the latest home defeat to a ‘lesser’ side? Already thinking of the next season. Judging by the comments that I’ve seen over these past days, the latter seemed to be on everyone’s mind. There’s list here and there about which player they want out of the club and which player they want Arsene Wenger to sign. Admittedly, I’ve had my say there as well.

The players also have a lot to say about themselves. Thomas Vermaelen in his comeback from his long lay-off has praised the work that the “new” players have put in. These players of course, falls in the category of those who played their first full senior season with Arsenal. Wojciech Szczesny, Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere are the benefactor of those kind comments. Those comments are justified by what we’ve seen over the course of the season.

What strikes the most is how fearless these players are. Most who play their first season in top flight of English football would struggle to maintain a sense of consistency in their season. Yet, that is not the stick which the 3 players can beat at. Growing from the first game on, they’ve maintained a high level of performance throughout. It is normal to see one or two odd games where players struggle but that is to be expected. Even the great Lionel Messi has his off days here and there. Compared that to players who were great in one or two games but become largely anonymous otherwise, and you will understand my argument here.

Two of those 3 players had something to say themselves. Szczesny noting that the goals that we conceded to Aston Villa were not of the norm. Understandable, given that the goals were from open play instead of set pieces. It is still bad nonetheless. We cannot be either, or. If we manage to hold out against set pieces, it become pointless to then concede from open play. He may think the attitude is there and we had not switched off but that is not reflected on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Wilshere laments on the finer things in life. He notes that the margin for victory is slim. Had we not slipped up in the final minute and actually won the Carling Cup, the season might turned out differently. Yes, it was a mistake. Mistake happens, that is a sure fact in life. Yes, had we won the 3rd cup in English competition for Premier League clubs, the season could end on a very different note but all that is too subjective to be considered.

The bigger question is why did we let that one freak mistake have such a big impact in our season. If the players realise that it was a one-off incident, surely it should be easy for them to put the defeat behind them and re-focus on the rest of the season. To say that the mentality of the team is fragile would be a major understatement. It defies logic for the team to realise something and yet, do not work to solve that problem.

What Jens Lehmann says here is interesting. It was great and all to see him back at the club after the unceremonious way he left in the first place. But, surely next season is a step too far even for him. I’m putting my blind affection aside and trying to look at this from a neutral standpoint. If he decides to stay and is offered a coaching job, that would be great. His history and achievement with the club are great teaching tools to the next generation. Here is one person who could really drummed into the players what mental strength is all about. A playing contract would get a chorus of boos from myself.

If you’re interested, here’s Bacary Sagna talking about his support for Wenger and another indication of Cesc Fabregas staying beyond the end of this season.

More tomorrow.