Arsenal might yet falter in their pursuit of a first title since the invincible triumph 17 years ago. But if they go on to win the 2022-23 EPL title , very few football purists will begrudge them. There is so much to admire about the current Arsenal team and a title at the end of it all will be a deserved reward.
Arsenal have evolved from the “boring boring Arsenal ” of old, “1-0 to the Arsenal ” to a club which tries to play football with aesthetics in mind. When Arsene Wenger arrived at the club he transformed the playing approach and stressed winning in style. “Football beauty ” became the clarion call from the new manager. This was exhibited through possession based football and highly technical players who were capable of the audacious. Think of Dennis Berkamp, Nwako Kanu , Robert Pires,Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera Robin Van Persie, Santi Carzola, Fabregas, Nasri and even the much maligned Emmanuel Adebayor among others. These were football artists who made Arsenal such a pleasure to watch.Some of the most beautiful goals have been scored at the Emirates Stadium by Arsenal players. From team goals ( remember the Jack Wilshere one ) to individual brilliance (Giroud scorpion goal ,Eduardo anke hook ), the fans have been spoiled.
But with time, style alone was not enough. Cynics like Jose Mourinho put the foot in. He called Wenger “a specialist in failure !”
That hurts but yes, style without substance counts for nothing in football. Arsenal became the butt of jokes and Wenger departed unceremoniously. It was a humiliating exit for the football ideologue.
When Arteta was appointed even the cynic , Mourinho noticed something. He declared, “Arsenal will be Arsenal again !”
Arteta has stayed loyal to the” Arsenal way ” but has made them fighters again who do not crumble at the first sight of trouble. The ruthless streak of the “Invincibles” is evident in the current generation. And they are brave enough to play!
A young manager who was prepared to make big call in dispensing with the big players like Aubamayeng and Ozil deserves any reward which might come his way!
A leadership which was prepared to “trust the process ” by sticking with the young manager and supporting him even when there were grumblings deserves the success which might come its way!
And yes, the sight of Saka and Nketiah taking the battle to the battle hardened Man United backline was a pleasure to watch. These lads are Academy graduates and they understand the Arsenal way. They play for the badge.If you add the returning Smith Rowe and Neilson , you can see how the home made youngsters will be pivotal to the campaign.
In captain Martin Odergaard , The Gunners l have a gem of a midfielder. At 24 he is still young and yet a veteran for this is a player who rubbed shoulders with greats at Real Madrid at 16. He is battle hardened and it shows in his confident approach to the game.
Will it not be a pleasure if he lifts the coveted EPL trophy in May?I repeat, all football purists will enjoy this. To hate this will be to hate football…kuroya nemasikati…!
I rest my case!
Danai Chitakasha , is a Football writer who is keen on the development of Africa and in particular Zimbabwean Football.