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The Table of Doom Update Arsenal Current 74 Max 95 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) 7 games left Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) 8 games left Man Utd Max 83 Brighton(a) Tottenham(a) 8 games left Newcastle Max 80 Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) 8 games left Brighton Max 76 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a) 9 games left Tottenham Max 74 Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) 7 games left And so it was a mixed time in the Table of Doom. Man City are surely a live danger and we most likely cannot afford any slip-ups. Newcastle and Tottenham lost and now the Spuds have virtually no chance of catching us. Brighton won but even our point made it harder for them. A win at Southampton on Friday means both will be gone from the table leaving only four left and guaranteed CL spot, the first team to do so this season. I just hope that reaching that goal, probably our real target at the start, will not cause the players to relax. Newcastle and Man Utd will be next in our targets. That 77 may well be enough for second as it stands, particularly if the Spuds teach the two of them a lesson. Go the Spuds! The Spark was kindled by Manchester City This week my focus is on what it takes now to be champions. Three of our group understand this, the imports from Man City. You can throw in Jorginho as well. The arrival of Jesus and Zinchenko seemingly ignited this belief that we could do it. We need them to reinject that spark. It is there to be won, still. This is our template Ice cold water in their veins? What if I told you Arsenal showed the grit of champions in the last 2 matches against West Ham and Liverpool? Coming back with a dominant display in the last 30 minutes to score 2 goals and rescue a point from being 2 goals down? Playing extraordinary football the likes of which any team would be proud of? Yes, I have to turn the matches on their head to come to this conclusion but if we do, we say Arsenal are fighters to the end and that is what will make us champions. We would be disappointed with the result but far less with the display. Jesus: A Brazilian warrior has come to us One thing is certain, we have struggled for consistency. We rarely play strongly for 90 minutes and we have got a lot of goals and wins late on. Scoring early for us seems to make us fall asleep. Young teams always struggle for consistency, it is well known. If I was to pick out one in particular it would be Martinelli, who looks electrifying at times then drifts out of the match. I also question Jesus’s positioning, playing way too deep to make an impact on the scoring. He seemed to be having difficulties with getting bashed about as well against West Ham and was taken off, but I for sure would have taken him off earlier. I suspect he has picked up a knock. Zinchenko: the guy who said we could win it A Frenchman out and we are out? Saliba out has been our biggest loss of the season. Holding has mistakes in him. He needs to improve to make the defence a wall again. Maybe he can but if not we will leak goals, I feel. If Saliba comes back soon, say against City, he might steady the ship and bring stability to the team. A Spanish demon who knows how to win There is no doubt in my mind about one thing, serial winners learn to move on from setbacks, and that is the true hallmark of champions. 2 away draws at tough grounds are not so bad really. We just need to start winning again and City will know they are in a fight. City also know how to drop points But can they also drop points? Well, let’s take a look at their PL wins over the past years. Last season they had this: over the last ten matches they had 3 draws at Palace and West Ham away plus Liverpool at home. The previous season: lost at home to Chelsea and Leeds plus Brighton away. 2019 they won all. 2018 drew to Huddersfield at home and lost to Man Utd at home. 2014 they drew with Sunderland at home, lost to Liverpool away and drew with Arsenal away. 2012 lost to Swansea away, and drew with Stoke away and Sunderland at home. They rarely manage a clean sweep. The mentality monsters were very fragile in the run-in to the league And what about Liverpool, the mentality monsters? In 2020 they lost to Arsenal, Man City, and Watford away plus drew with Burnley away and Everton at home. The last ten games are generally nervy for all teams. These statistics show that. Squeaky bum time as Fergie used to say. Inject ice into our veins The only certain thing is that if either us or City win all their matches they will win the league. Arteta will be aware that he must keep the players positive, try to introduce an icy steeliness into their veins that when you have a team on the ropes, you knock them out. You show no mercy. None should have been shown to Liverpool or West Ham. Stand on their throats when they are down. Arteta knows what happened at City in 2019 when they won all 10 of their last matches. He helped them do that. He has to replicate that ruthlessness at Arsenal. He has to pick the players up and crucially, get them to keep their form for longer in matches. We seem to get into pretty but ineffective keepball when in front instead of killing them with attacks. Will the Saints guarantee us Champions League? And so we are looking at Southampton. It, like I suspect all our matches from now on, are must wins. Getting to 77 points may mean some of the nervousness dissipates as CL is assured. Or it could mean the opposite as I have suggested above, and we relax. We all need to believe, the fans, particularly those at the ground to push the players on, the staff, and above all the players. A team that can make Liverpool look like donkeys can win this league, and that is the team we need. Let nervousness be banished. We are Arsenal.
Any Arsenal superstars out there? Can we match these boys? Ramsdale, Turner Tierney, Tomiyasu, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Vieira, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Pepe, Balogun Arsenal are the greatest football team Can any of our players become world superstars of the calibre of great names such as Messi, Ronaldo, Cruyf, Beckenbauer, Pele or Maradona? Or eclipse our own great heroes such as Brady, Jennings, Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, Campbell or Adams? Today I will take a look at the possible candidates (above) and see where we are, at the moment, in such aspirations. I am going to choose from the list above and I reckon there are some surprises there. I will list those you probably will jump on first, Turner, Pepe, Balogun, Nketiah, Lokonga, Vieira, and maybe even Jesus and Zinchenko. Our Best Chance? A world superstar is a player universally recognised as a supreme exponent in their position, someone, who, if any fan were compiling a list of the world’s best team at the moment, would definitely include them in their deliberations. They have to have built up a body of work to achieve that position, titles, international achievements, etc. None…Yet Now, I don’t want to rain on any Arsenal fans parades but none of our players are currently in that position. Some may be heading that way, though. One big change over the past two seasons has been that we can no longer easily say who our most important player is. Saka has been our best, for sure, over the past few seasons, but now? Is Jesus, Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, Ramsdale, Saliba or Martinelli more crucial to our success? This is the great thing about this emerging team, I can talk seriously about the notion that some could move into the realm of the huge names mentioned above. Surely Saliba is Dynamite? Ok, let’s look at the players. Ramsdale and Turner in goal. Ramsdale needs to grab the England position and keep it for a long time to even dream of being a great in the line of Zoff, Banks or Buffon. He also needs to win titles and global awards. I am not sure where he is in Gareth Southgate’s mind but certainly not number one. This does not apply to Turner, who seems to have cemented his place as US keeper with 20 appearances, and he has got impressive awards such as goalkeeper of the tournament Concacaf 2021, winner of that cup as well, and MLS keeper of the year 2021 among others. This boy might surprise us, I believe he knew the risk coming to Arsenal and challenging Ramsdale, so do not write him off. Nor Ramsdale, if we become a major title winning team over the next few seasons and he grabs that England place. Beasts at the back? Kieran Tierney has all the talent in the world but seems injury prone. 34 games for Scotland and first choice if fit but it is at Arsenal or another top team that he will need to make the transition to world great as Scotland are not a world power. He would need to stay fit and improve. A maybe? Maybe. Super Tom kept Salah in his pocket Tomiyasu – again Japan are not a world power but this guy is good. He is first choice for Japan with 29 appearances and he is one who could do it. He put Mo Salah in his pocket recently. At only 23 this guy could make it. White – the argument against Ramsdale is the same, he needs to force his way into Southgate’s squad and win big trophies for Arsenal. Just about young enough at 25 to do it as some players careers blossom late but becoming a true world great doesn’t seem likely, I’m afraid. But he may still turn out to be top class and just below the level I am talking about and that would do me. Saliba – now here is a player who could do it. 7 appearances for France and I feel they will never let him go. He could be the rock on which both teams rely. Yes, this guy could do it. Gabriel – At 24 still young enough if he can get into Brazil’s team and eliminate his mistakes, sometimes partnerships make centrebacks and Saliba may propel him into the super league but at the moment the level I am talking about seems questionable. Zinchenko – 25 years old and 52 caps for Ukraine but unlikely to win a tournament with them. Let go by City when he should have been in his prime. Probably never to be a world great but very useful and top class. Monsters in midfield? Partey – at 29 is not going to make it into the pantheon. Prized by Ghana although surprisingly only 40 caps. Has won titles with Athletico Madrid and hopefully with us but below world class unless he suddenly turns out to be a true demon. Xhaka – at 30 almost the exact same applies to Xhaka but an astonishing 106 caps and counting for Switzerland. Maybe this attacking role could finally propel him into superstar mode but it is a maybe. Lokonga – too early in his career to say. Needs to force his way into the Belgian and Arsenal teams and stay there. Some of the things he does show possibilities. Vieira - same applies. Odegaard-On his way to the top? Odegaard – would be helped if Norway can play well in big tournaments. But this boy could do it if he wins big at Arsenal. One of our strongest possibilities for this prize. Animals in attack? Saka – our star boy really could do it. Huge competition at England but I believe he will nail down his place. Big chance. Jesus – Body of work for Brazil at 56 caps and 19 goals plus being let go by City in his prime seems to indicate that he is not the next Pele. Needs to become a beast. It’s possible. Maybe he could become the next Pele? Martinelli – Still only 21, he is starting to push his way into the Brazil side. This boy really could do it. I hope it is at Arsenal. Any ogres among the others? Pepe, Smith Rowe, Nketiah and Balogun are imponderables. Time is running out for Pepe but I believe he has tremendous ability. If he got in the right side that suited him he could yet blossom. The other three all have great ability. Goals will make them. They have all shown an eye for goals especially Smith Rowe in a Lampard role, if he could equal Lampard’s goal scoring record, then the sky’s the limit. To me he is the best of that bunch. And of course, young players such as Patino could come through as well. So, I would say our best possibilities are Saliba, Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli. If they go on to do it and stay with Arsenal, of course, I would say Man City and others would need to buy big to stay with us. 4 true world class players like the players named at the start, and the rest almost so, would make us the best team in the world, I feel. Am I right? I hope so but I would take them being the equal of Wenger’s best when we felt we had a great chance in every tournament we entered. C’mon the world class Arsenal.