15 games have gone since we began our season against Crystal Palace on the 17th of August and it’s fair to say that there’s not been much to rejoice about. Out of the League Cup, 5th on the log in the League and managed to hang in with our destiny still in our hands as long as our progression in the Champions League goes. Injuries have ravaged us at almost a weekly basis, depriving us of key players in all departments from the posts to the poachers. It means we have had to rely on a few players to keep us afloat and from our season perishing even before the tides have began to turn.
Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Cazorla and Alexis have made more appearances than any other players in Wenger’s team from the beginning of the season. Deadline day summer signing Danny Welbeck has played all games since he signed except for the League Cup game. Both Alexis and Welbeck have shouldered most of the goal-scoring burden in the team in the absence of the team, the Chilean having been directly involved in all goals and assists in the last three games.
So are we relying too heavily on the duo of Sanchez and Welbeck? A look through our performance at this stage last season will give us a clearer view.
By this time last term, we were loft and sailing at the top of the League though we had started with an unsavoury opening day defeat to Aston Villa. Of about 25 goals we scored between August and October last season, 15 were scored by just two players – Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey. Giroud scored the only goal in that ignonimous defeat to Villa, the winner in the North London derby, and our only goal in the defeat to Dortmund. Giroud was very central not just scoring goals but providing bouts of assists. Though not popular amongst the fans, the importance of Giroud in the team in those early stages of the season cannot be underestimated. Napoli home, Sunderland away and the sumptuous Wilshere stunner against Norwich all saw Giroud’s work ethic fire us ahead within those periods of the year.
Ramsey was simply excellent and, as it were, seemed to take on the whole duty of scoring all on himself. Like Alexis at this stage, he had scored eight goals in the first few months of the season and was undoubtedly the best Premier League player within the period. Ramsey has not quite lived up to it at the moment, though he had started off this season on a strong footing.
Fast forward one season and though under different circumstances, we still appear to be reliant on two players, in Welbeck and Alexis. It cannot be said that we have totally relied on them as Kieran Gibbs has been just as good as the other two, being as good in attack as he has been very crucial in defense having provided the catalyst for our amazing comeback at Anderlecht. Oxlade-Chamberlain has also been good with his pace, while Calum Chambers has done well with holding the fort in the absence of first choice defenders. Arteta and Flamini may be the subject of much derogation but still make sure we play 11 vs 11 at the start of every game.
We’ve had to dig deep for results in games this season and it cannot be denied that in situations where we’ve had to scrape results, vis-à-vis Crystal Palace, Hull, Anderlecht and Sunderland, we cannot rule out Alexis’ inevitable contributions. Welbz hat-trick won us our first three points of our Champions League season, and he has provided the tip of our attacking prong. As much as they have contributed much – whole lot – the team has played well because of everyone’s contribution. Both players are able to have the impacts they make because of the cooperation of teammates, as Arteta’s explanation of the freedom granted Alexis against Sunderland seems to suggest.
Whenever they stop playing to the team’s ideals, their grafts will hardly become useful any more. it’s been good to have them in our team, but a few shrubs don’t make a forest.
The other players needs to up! their game and fight like Alexis and not celebrate until you have all three points in the bag!
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