Arsenal to fight Tottenham for fourth? Oh really…

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This time COS reader Alex is enjoying the Gunners proving the doubters wrong.

Poor Martin Jol once said that Arsenal was just an average team and that the only difference between Arsenal and the rest of the ‘UEFA cup brigade’ in the premier league was Thierry Henry. How the embattled Tottenham manager wishes he hadn’t opened his mouth back then! Not only are Arsenal sitting pretty at the top of the standings, and with a game in hand on their nearest opposition, but Martin Jol’s team is dangling just a slot away from the foot of the table. Between breaks, during the summer, on the normal analysis of whom between Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool would win the league title, football ‘experts’ told of a potential intriguing duel between the Gunners and Spurs for the fourth place – with most pointing out that the balance of power in North London was likely to shift to the big spending Spurs.

A North London derby and 9 games down the road, the same ‘experts’ are waxing lyrical about how the departure of Thierry Henry has had a positive impact on the team and made the gunners play more as a team. Even the most cynical among the lot have admitted that Arsenal will be serious contenders this season. But most people are missing the point and making quick judgments without taking a closer look at one Arsenal purchases during the summer that has made a lot of the difference and two other players that have matured tremendously. The addition of Bacary sagna has enabled Arsenal to possess what Eboue could not provide – attacking potency with stability at the back. The Ivorian was caught out too often last season during his forays upfront and the Frenchman, while excellent upfront, is a better runner and stronger physically. Eboue has been radically transformed into a winger with devastating effects as witnessed in the game against Sunderland.

The maturing of Flamini and Clichy now means that Arsenal is not leaking and can defend 1-0 results. So, in a breath, three players have transformed the gunners this season – Sagna, Clichy and Flamini. Forget about Fabregas, he was playing deeper last season, but can now enjoy more forays upfront due to the emergence of the machine that is Flamini. Van Persie is no different from last season (excellent, that is) while Adebayor rarely got a decent run last season.

So, to all the pundits yelling about team spirit, closer bonding, e.t.c. need to shut up and have a closer look at what the ‘prof’ is developing at the Emirates. Meanwhile, you can continue speculating on why martin Jol won’t have a job in the next two weeks . . . .