Arsenal: What Crisis? Spurs In Our Shadow, Jack At His Best - Can We Dream?

We might have plenty of injuries and it's still early, but despite being here before and counting my chickens I can't help but dream a little...
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Of course we have all been here before: the false dawn of the 07/08 season readily comes to mind before we realised certain players cared more about their wage packets than their Arsenal careers.

That dismal spring I saw us lose to Liverpool in the CL quarters at a raucous Anfield, then United away to end all hope of a title challenge. Dashed hopes but full of optimism for the future that never materialised. Another Gunners side that imploded without ever fully reaching its potential.

I’ve seen us lose finals in the flesh in six different competitions. From AC Milan in the San Siro in 95 in the Super Cup, to Luton Town at Wembley in 88, from Barcelona in Paris in the Champions League final to Michael b*stard Owen and his two late goals in the FA Cup Final sunshine at Cardiff in 2001, from the battlefield that was Copenhagen in the UEFA Cup Final in 2000 to Nayim from the halfway line and a broken down Capri on the way back to Calais in the Cup Winners Cup Final under coneman Stewart Houston. Seven if you include any of the losing Charity Shields I’ve been to that I have no memory of.

I have even seen Leeds fans celebrate Arsenal effectively losing the league at Elland Road on a grim Yorkshire night in May 99 that still haunts me. I never forgave O’Leary for blowing kisses to the crowd after the game like he’d won the Euro-f******-vision Song Contest or something, either.

I must admit I had convinced myself that we could win the 2011 League Cup Final against Birmingham for my sins - before a calamitous defensive mix up left me and thousands of other gooners stuck at Wembley watching Brummies in baseball caps and burberry celebrate like it was going out fashion. Which to be fair, judging by their attire, the majority of which being about ten years out of date it, it most certainly was.

So I know not to get carried away and reach for the bunting just yet – even if I did have a great big drink to celebrate beating Swansea yesterday.

Unlike when I saw Brian Talbot hit a stunning free kick against Liverpool at a jam packed Highbury in Sept 84 that sent us to the top of the table and my hopes into a frenzied anticipation. It was the subsequent dashing of a childhood dream and the pain it caused to an impressionable youngster who was convinced his team were the best in the land, which still lives with me now and is the starting point for all future bouts of pessimism.

So you’ll forgive me my level of cynicism at our splendid form this season so far.


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Trophies certainly aren’t won in October - we are still three months away from Xmas for heaven’s sake. Or in fixture list terms Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea at home and United and City away.

If we are still top by the time Santa empties his sacks as it were - if he hasn’t been nabbed by Yew Tree under the guise of a 70’s performer by then -  perhaps, just perhaps, I will start to believe we will be in a position to challenge for the league.

And yet.

20 games, 18 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat in all competitions since March, or 13 wins from the last 16 league games. Five league wins out of six this season. Eleven straight away wins on the bounce. Top of the league by two points.

Mesut Ozil looking settled in an Arsenal shirt already. Kos and the BFG looking like a settled and more than competent centre half pairing. Genuine competition for Sagna’s right back spot by an England international in Jenkinson. Kieran Gibbs back to full fitness and form, challenging for a place in the England team, let alone squad.

A fit Jack Wilshere playing himself back into form, refusing to sulk in any way whatsoever after being shunted out left. Arguably the player of the first three months of the PL season in Aaron Ramsey with eight goals in nine games and a staggering realisation that 45% of his shots have resulted in a goal this season.

And that’s before we start on Serge Gnabry stats yesterday: his first senior goal to become Arsenal’s second youngest scorer in the PL, a 91% passing success rate and two interceptions. Given Wenger’s predilection for moving wide men to a more central position will Gnabry eventually be moved to the middle ala Henry?

I haven’t even mentioned Olivier Giroud and his noble leading of the line.

If you throw in the fact that Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky, Spanish European Championship winner Santi Cazorla, World Cup semi-finalist Lukas Podolski, England internationals Theo Walcott & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and, er, Abou Diaby & Yaya Sanogo are still out injured, then once they are back we may just have a formidable squad to go with a decent starting eleven.

Of course it’s never as simple as that when Arsenal are concerned.

Who’s to say we don’t suffer more injuries before that motley cast returns, the most worrying of all being what on earth would happen if Giroud’s ankle gave up leaving us our overweight Ronin – aka the wandering Shogun: Bendtner san.

Where would we be then?

Probably not in top spot if that scenario occurred for any length of time. So you can see why I’m not getting carried away just yet – even if last night was extremely satisfying.

As we slide into October, with Manchester United enduring their worst start in 24 years, with City looking erratic and inconsistent, with Mourinho second time around looking like he doesn’t give a sh*t and, Spurs, well, forever in our shadow - as ever - all I can say without tempting fate in any way is:

If this is a crisis then I hope it never ends.

Follow Layth on twitter @laythy29

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