“Arsenal are a far better unit than last year”
When Robin van Persie finally packed his bags and left for Manchester United, it seemed Arsène Wenger was set for another season of sad post-match interviews. But five games in and Arsenal are looking eerily like the team that terrified opposition defences in the Thierry Henry era. The Life’s a Pitch panel ponders where it all went right for the Gunners.
“They’re all another year older,” says the People’s Janine Self. “They’re not relying on one player, ie Van Persie, to score goals, so I think they’re a far, far better unit.” And the goals have been flowing, even without the Dutchman, as the Gunners have racked up 12 in their past two home games.
The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield agrees Wenger’s side are maturing nicely. “They seem to have a better balance all round,” says Dominic. “They’ve strengthened in various different areas and players have continued to progress, and their youngsters are still coming through.”
One player who has progressed more than most is Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta, the club’s vice-captain. ”I think he’s proved himself superbly well,” says the People’s Tom Hopkinson. ”It’s not just on the field that he is such a great player – it’s in the dressing room as well. He came from Everton, where he had the likes of David Moyes and Phil Neville showing him the real British team spirit. He’s really instilled this in the Arsenal dressing room. If Arsenal do kick on, as they can this season, he’s going to be wholly important to it.”
There have also been changes at the back, where an Arsenal legend on the coaching staff has made an immediate impact. “It’s very obvious the effect Steve Bould has had on that defence,” says Janine. “The players learned lots of lessons from last year. It’s fantastic to see Carl Jenkinson come through because he could have been destroyed last season after what happened to him against Manchester United [when he was sent off in an 8-2 defeat], but he stuck with it.”
Watch the full video discussion by clicking on the play button in the image above.
Follow Life’s A Pitch on Twitter @BTLifesaPitch
Watch Arsenal live on BT Vision:
Arsenal v Chelsea, noon, 29 September, Sky Sports 2
Don’t have BT Vision? Find out how to get it