Arsenal: Where Has All the Fear Gone??

Simon JohnsonCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2008

The big sides in the Premiership, and indeed in Europe, carry with them onto the pitch a presence and a certain amount of fear, especially if you are a team of lesser stature.

I don't mean fear of a leg-breaking tackle, or fear of being kicked off the park.

I mean fear of an opponent's skill and style, an awe of their abilities on the pitch.

I'm talking about the presence that a top side carries with it into a game.

Coming up against the big sides like Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid etc. sends a lot of teams into their proverbial shell. The opposition team will play a more defensive formation and perhaps be a little more nervy when passing and shooting.

Arsenal seem to have lost that presence and teams do not fear them.

We used to have it, years ago when we had a backline of Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, and Lee Dixon.

We had it only recently, when we were going forward on the counter-attack with Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, and Thierry Henry.

Teams would play more cautiously against Arsenal because they feared the threat of a team who was hard to beat and could score almost at will.

It is impossible to say when Arsenal lost that presence, it may have been during the slump last season which ultimately lost them the title.

It may have been before that when Thierry Henry left the Gunners for Barcelona.

More likely it may have started even as far back as when Paddy Vieira was sold to Italy, and Arsenal lost their solidity in the midfield.

One thing is for sure, this season Arsenal have not got it back as yet, the capitulation to Fulham earlier in the season as well as the nightmare showing against Hull City last week has shown us that.

It means that teams like Sunderland go into a game against Arsenal feeling as though they can get points, and they play a much better game because of that lack of fear.

So, where can Arsenal regain that presence?

Gallas and Toure need to close up the Arsenal defence for a start, both are able defenders but seem totally incapable of shutting down opposition strikers.

Fabregas needs a midfield partner who can be the rock from which Arsenal go forward and let him play creative football.

Adebayor and Robin van Persie need to start putting away their chances more often or else Carlos Vela and Bendtner should be given their chance.

I don't necessarily subscribe to the view that Arsenal HAVE to buy more players.

One or two ready made players would be most helpful but the talent is there already.  The problem seems to be creating a cohesive unit out of the group.

A unit that can not only win games but once again strike fear into an opponents heart on game day.

This Arsenal side needs to get that presence back and get it back fast.

The sooner they can do that and create the cohesive unit that causes opposition teams to fear them once again, the quicker thay will return to the winners list.


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