Arsenal News: 10 Reasons to be Cheerful

1.     The Defence:

 The defence looks solid. Steve Bould has had an enormous impact on the Arsenal back four, since joining this season as Arsène Wenger's assistant. Individual and collective decision-making has improved and the defenders now operate like a unit. The Gunners have kept three clean sheets in a row and rarely looked troubled at the back against Stoke, Sunderland or Liverpool. Jenkinson and Mertesacker in particular have impressed, after looking wobbly in the last campaign. It's also worth remembering that normal first choice defenders Koscielny and Sagna have yet to start a game.

2.     Santi Cazorla:
He has been a revelation in midfield since joining the Gunners this year. His artistry, vision, energy and goals will enable Arsenal to unpick defences. With Cazorla, Arsenal are more likely to win the games they dominate, rather than be hit on the break.

3.     Strikers:
Podolski has scored and Giroud has come very close. The ghost of Van Persie will vanish now that one of the new strikers has broken his duck. Walcott did not vanish to Liverpool or Manchester City and there is potential for Wenger to use him in a more central role.

4.     Squad Strength:
Arsenal have been let down in the past by not having a strong enough squad to last the distance. In spite of making a solid start to the season, Diaby, Wilshere, Szczęsny, Koscielny, Rosicky and Sagna have all been injured. These first team regulars will be coming back into the side over the next month or two and show that Arsenal do have talent and strength in depth. Diaby was injured for most of last season but played for 90 breathtaking minutes against Liverpool. He burst through midfield in a manner reminiscent of Patrick Vieira.

5.    New Defensive Midfielder:

Arteta has done an impressive job so far in place of Alex Song. He has got stuck in and reads the game well. It is not clear whether this will be his regular role, or if Wenger will reshuffle the pack on the return of Wilshere and Rosicky. Regardless of Arteta's success, don't be surprised if Wenger prizes M'Villa away from Rennes in a cut-price January raid.

6.    Arsenal are not being bullied:

With the addition of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla, combined with the burgeoning confidence of the defensive unit, Arsenal are not pushovers any more. The new players relish the physical side of the game. Stoke City were not able to bully Arsenal and this augurs well for the future.

7.     Spurs and Liverpool look vulnerable:

With Champions League qualification being so vital, Arsenal fans will have potential challengers Liverpool and Tottenham under close surveillance. Both teams have had torrid starts to the campaign and may be out of contention before the New Year, unless they improve quickly. Everton and Newcastle on the other hand, have impressed in their opening fixtures.

8.     Wenger may be stubborn but he has learned from his mistakes:

Many have accused Arsène Wenger of stubbornness and not learning from his mistakes. Believing in the generosity of human nature cost him dearly last season. He paid the price for assuming that Nasri and Fabregas would stay. He has learned his lesson and as soon as Van Persie dragged his heels in contract negotiations, he acted quickly by bringing in replacements. Wenger was not forced into any panicky buys this time.

9.     Arsenal are quicker on the break:

It became obvious last year that Arsenal had lost the element of surprise when trying to break sides down. Weaker teams simply sat behind the ball, knowing that if they could keep Van Persie quiet, the game could be won by shattering the flimsy red and white defence.  Arsenal were pacey on the break against Liverpool, cutting them apart with a mixture of speed and ruthlessness. Once Gerrard lost possession outside the Arsenal penalty area, the Gunners scored with four passes.

10. Potential at set pieces:

With Steve Bould training the defenders, it is only a matter of time before the 'Bouldy near post flick,' is the weapon of choice at corners. It is extraordinary how awful Arsenal have been at set pieces. There were signs against Sunderland and Stoke that remedial work has taken place but they still achieved no reward from 12 corners against Stoke City. Arsenal should be able to bag ten or more goals with the combination of Cazorla, Vermaelen and Koscielny. 

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