Premier League: Arsenal Discover Their Spirit and Resilience at the Right Time

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterApril 6, 2013

Another weekend, another hard-fought victory for Arsenal. This time, West Bromwich Albion were on the receiving end, but the Gunners have been fighting back for a month now.

Arsene Wenger has finally taught his team to grind out the results required to lift themselves back into Champions League qualification territory in the Premier League.

Since the 2-1 defeat to North London rivals Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Mar. 3, the Gunners have had a fire in their belly.

Undoubtedly, this has been due to the unexpected 2-0 win at Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg at the Allianz Arena (BBC Sport).

That result might not have been enough to overturn the 3-1 deficit from the first leg at the Emirates Stadium, but the team's belief since that victory has seen Arsenal and Wenger re-establish themselves as serious top-four contenders.

Placed in the context that Bayern have romped to the Bundesliga title today with their 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, giving them an unassailable lead over Borussia Dortmund, and the confidence Arsenal have gained is fully understandable.

Tomas Rosicky was the hero at The Hawthorns today. The Czech Republic international scored twice in the 2-1 win over Albion, but it was his header off the line to deny Claudio Yacob in the first half with the score at 0-0 which was truly invaluable.

Rosicky had never scored twice in a league game for Arsenal before, and his last league goal for the club came on Feb. 26, 2012, in the 5-2 win over Tottenham.

The 32-year-old, though, is only one of the Arsenal squad finding form and resilience at the right time.

Gervinho previously appeared to possess all the footballing prowess of a wet newspaper but is now a key figure for the Emirates Stadium side.

The Ivorian international was an inspiration in the 4-1 win over Reading last weekend, with his running producing constant danger to an, admittedly, fragile Royals defence.

Again, Gervinho provided the assist for Rosicky at The Hawthorns and is proving to be the dangerous customer Wenger and the supporters had hoped he would become.

Football is littered with cases of teams discovering a new lease on life accidentally. Arsenal's trip to Munich last month is now a strong case in point.

Wenger restored Lukasz Fabianski to the starting lineup and dropped Thomas Vermaelen from his starting XI. The effect has been quite startling.

There are, of course, still some defensive frailties with Mertesacker underlining the point when he was forced into evasive action after allowing Shane Long to escape his attention and was dismissed from the field.

Previously this season, that would have been enough for Arsenal to crumble, but there is a new doggedness to the team now and even James Morrison's successful spot-kick, which drew Albion back into the game at 2-1, was not enough to see Wenger's team falter.

To his credit, the Arsenal boss knew his team would need defensive resources and threw on Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin to repel Albion.

The Belgian has vowed to fight for his place ( and has been gifted his opportunity of a first-team return with Mertesacker facing suspension for the forthcoming home games against Norwich and Everton after his dismissal today.

Arsenal have a team full of fighters now, even without the injured Jack Wilshere. It was unthinkable a few weeks ago, but the England international may struggle to replace a rejuvenated Aaron Ramsey on current form, while Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny and Mikel Arteta all deserve credit.

The presence of Santi Cazorla was always a bonus for Arsenal supporters, but the midfielder is now delivering on a regular basis for the Gunners.

Arsenal have rediscovered their soul, and the momentum is heavily weighted in their favour.

From outsiders for the top four to favourites for the top three, Wenger and Arsenal have finally unearthed their spirit.


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