All Guns Blazing: Cohesion needs to be more than a buzzword for Arsenal this season
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
In the return of our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti says there are reasons to be optimistic for the upcoming year.
Of the many oft-repeated words that have entered Arsene Wenger’s lexicon over the years, ‘cohesion’ seems to be the latest and it should get a good run-out in the year ahead.
During the final half of last season, and indeed throughout this summer’s pre-season, there have been signs that the squad is coming together in performance. The emphatic FA Cup final win was the most obvious example, but the team were similarly prolific in their 6-0 demolition of Lyon and well-organised in staving off Jose Mourinho’s unholy army of the undead in Sunday’s Community Shield.
Indeed, take a step back off the pitch and it’s apparent that the club as a whole has found real cohesion for the first time since moving to the Emirates. After years in fourth-place wilderness, we’re finally winning trophies again; we’re buying superstars; we’re no longer routinely losing to top-four rivals; and we finally seem to have a team full of players who actually want to fight for the shirt.
Take the Community Shield. You only have to look at Mourinho’s pathetically petulant reaction to see that neither team was taking it lightly, and what was most apparent was how much Arsenal looked up for the fight. Yes, it was only pre-season, but if great teams are motivated by a desire not to lose, it’s hard not to take encouragement from a side which clearly didn’t want to even lose a glorified friendly.
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The challenge now is to maintain this mindset throughout the season – cohesion, after all, means sticking together as much as coming together.
Petr Cech’s arrival seems to have supplemented the leadership and experience of figures such as Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla. Alongside that, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin offer a glimpse of energetic potential, while key players such as Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny have had a full pre-season – a rare thing considering the increasing proliferation of national tournaments.
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Another striker could still be of use, but a shortage of goals has rarely proved Arsenal’s downfall. The only real worry is the lack of back-up to Francis Coquelin; paradoxically, at least we have such a figure to worry about.
The season ahead is no doubt going to be anything but plain sailing. For now though, the water feels calm and there are few reasons why Arsenal shouldn’t be looking purpose-fully towards the horizon.
Follow me @alexbellotti