International week. Not the easiest of weeks to get by. Especially not after that last result. A defeat to your most bitter rival is not something that you want to linger in your thoughts. Usually we’ll just have a day or two before to mull over it before the next game. Due to this international break, we have exactly 12 days of suffering to go through.
Of course, the news also dwindles as the players fly out to join their respective national squads. This time around, a new face stayed and joins those non international players (and the influx of unwanted company in the form of England’s national squad) at the training ground. Wojciech Szczesny pulled out of the Poland national squad due to a back injury.
With is country only playing friendlies, there’s really no risk to use him in the upcoming games. Szczesny looked fine on Sunday during the Spurs game. Where that injury was picked up, I really don’t know. Perhaps it was a sign that he has been overworked and we are not even in the middle of October. He has picked up more footballs from the back of his net this season than he had to last season (in a relative sort of way).
Szczesny conceded 25 goals from 22 games last season. Thus far, he has already picked the ball up 18 times from just 11 games. The difference couldn’t be more stark and I am actually in the belief that the big Pole has improved after his début season. He has made top class saves in almost every game and sometimes, multiple saves in a single match. Though, you have to agree with him, that those saves count for nought if the team doesn’t win.
Being one of the star of our stop-start and disappointing season thus far, his performances were bound to attract a lot of attention. He was quoted as saying that he wouldn’t mind a move to Barcelona. Frankly, at this moment in time, who doesn’t. I understand that headlines can be misleading. You just have to take the time to read the rest of the content before making a judgement. Szczesny must’ve gotten some abuse from online fans over what he said and has since went on twitter to tell every to continue to make him laugh. A statement of loyalty to the club which Jack Wilshere felt compelled to speak up as well.
The headlines are also creating furore over what Arsene Wenger said after the defeat at Spurs. Seriously, what do some expect the manager to say after our start and a result like that. In fact, given where we are right now, what is the purpose of asking whether we are still aiming for the league title? Surely the journalist is taking the piss with that question.
Had Wenger said otherwise, the knives would be out for him as well. There would be calls that he has lost it or simply doesn’t know what he’s doing any longer. Wenger can’t win with either. Even though there’s still 31 games left to be played and 93 points left to be won, it would be unrealistic to stand at this point (while looking at that league table) and still say with a straight face that we’re in contention with the league title.
Then what is the aim for Arsenal Football Club this season. Should we forgo the Premier League and concentrate on the cup competitions? No, we shouldn’t. There’s still the Champions League spot to fight for. On top of that, the situation at the top might change throughout the course of the season. Worth remembering, Chelsea last season were firing on all cylinders at the start, just like what both Manchester clubs are doing at the moment. Remember how that turned out?
I do believe the aim this season is in the cup competitions. Not the Champions League though (regardless of how much Wenger wants to win it). The FA Cup and Carling Cup are more realistic targets. We must put out our best side for every game now. A few of the players might be afforded some rest depending on the opposition that we get
Does that diminish the size of our club? Does reducing the height of what we hope to win, changes the value of the club? I don’t think it will. At the start of the season, I wouldn’t want to hear anything other than Wenger saying that we’ll fight for the Premier League.
Seven games in, I do think that is beyond us. But football is a funny old game and that changes rather fast. I wouldn’t be surprise if we put a strong run of results together and the breakaway group gets pulled back in. Yet, at this point of the season, I’m not overly optimistic of that happening.
Surely a cup or two wouldn’t hurt the long term future of the club. The monkey (perhaps not the best choice of words after last Sunday) is still on our back after the Carling Cup final lost last season. Would be nice to restart the clock on that. Somehow, I feel that lies again in the domestic cup competitions rather than the league (Premier or Champions).