NIcklas Bendtner may be the only man out there who is confident that Arsenal can still win the Premiership this season. The Big Dane may deluded as his goals has hardly set the club on fire nor any of his performances so far have crafted much credibility. Even the most arrogant or optimistic of Arsenal fans may feel that opportunity has been and gone. As lowly Stoke City, Hull City and Fulham have condemned them to three rather largely disappointing (laughable) defeats. It is again obvious that they are playing for fourth spot once again as it seems that the other ‘three’ have made strides to improve and it does seem Arsenal have halted. The biggest problem that has destroyed Arsenal this term was the departure of Mathieu Flamini to AC Milan. He was the hairpin of the side, he held the whole team together and without him, Arsenal looks vulnerable, and dare I say, average. They have became so easy to play against and again fourth spot may still be a worry. If Tottenham did not have such a pathetic start to the season, Arsenal may have been in a worse position. Cesc Fabregas does not have the same impact he currently had last season and that is because he has to do masses of ‘donkey’ work - covering runners, following markers, and shielding the back four. This is not his best position, nor where he can be the most influential. Flamini was arguably the best holding midfielder last term and Fabregas flourished under him. Now Fabregas finds himself ten yards further back and not scoring. Denilson nor Vassiriki Diaby are the answer and it seemed Arsene Wenger sat on his laurels when trying the graft Flamini to sign a new contract. Unfortunately, for Wenger he did not bide in and knew what he was worth. The club and the manager knew his contract was expiring and they acted far too late. Flamini must have felt his loyalty and decent performances deserved a new lucrative long-term contract. In hindsight, I guess Wenger regrets his inability to move quickly as it quite obviously apparent that Arsenal are easy to play against. Flamini was that shield in front of the defence and again without him the current crop of defenders seem to be struggling. The Frenchman was Arsenals muscle and the key to start fine attacking moves. We all know Arsenal can play the best football in the world but they struggle when they do not have the ball. There are no tacklers at the club and with club captain William Gallas failing to sort out defensive woes, Flamini would have been an ideal inclusion this term. He won a tackle and gave it simple, he knew he was not the most technically gifted but winning the ball back was his forte. And that was his influence, not since Patrick Vieira or a younger Gilberto Silva that Arsenal had that. Now that is the big hole in the Arsenal team, Wenger must reverse that problem in January to make sure they are at least challenging for that fourth spot.
1. Main Columnist for Reading FC fanzine - the whiff 2. Contributor for Southampton Solent University Newspaper - Solent Star 3. Report on Sixth Form Presentation Day published in Reading Chronicle, Reading Evening Post and the Henley Standard 4. Contributor to Solent University Magazine - RE:SUS
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