Arsenal’s win against Tottenham in the FA Cup shows quite what has changed since the same fixture in September.
Whilst the 1-0 victory over Tottenham on the first was the catalyst in Arsenal’s revival and charge on the Premier League, the FA Cup victory shows quite how much distance they have gained over their north London rivals, with near complete domination by simply passing past a weary and out of ideas looking Tottenham side.
The day after Arsenal defeated Tottenham at the Emirates in September, Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil, and they haven’t looked back since. Many thought Wenger’s job was on the line, and it shows quite the manager he is that he has outlasted Andre Villas-Boas of Tottenham who spent £107 million in the summer on the Tottenham squad.
Of course, it is only the beginning of January, but history shows the team that is top of the league come the beginning of January have a good chance of going on to win the title. Furthermore, this isn’t an Arsenal side we are used to seeing. So many times have Arsenal lacked the killer instinct, having not been to finish off games, or steal the lead in high pressure situations, a side that crumbles in the face of serious challenge. With a back four which is among the best defensively in the league, Arsenal finally have the backbone they have craved since the ‘Invincible’ days of Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure.
Furthermore, Arsenal have begun to win the important games ‘ugly’. A feature found among only the best teams. Think of the title winning teams of the Manchester United treble, or Chelsea circa 2005. They had a winning mentality and knew how to win when they didn’t play particularly well. This is what Arsenal have started to do. Against Newcastle they did not play a great game, slowed down by a congested Newcastle midfield led by Cheick Tiote, as they broke down the slick Arsenal way of playing. But, they came out with three points, a solitary Olivier Giroud goal sealing the maximum points.
Furthermore, they again played with the verve and never-die attitude of champions against Cardiff City. The Cardiff team, buoyed by the watching Vincent Tan and Ole Gunnar Solskjear, again stifled Arsenal’s attack with the ever impressive David Marshall denying Arsenal multiple times. But again, although it took 88 minutes, Arsenal made the all important breakthrough, grabbing victory in the dying minutes of the game, through substitute Nicklas Bendtner. They say that the sign of a great manager is his ability to change a match through a substitution, and Wenger did just that. It is all looking promising for this Arsenal team, as they begin to look like winners.
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