clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Week Column - Grass isn't always greener on the other side for Arsenal

Getty Images

It took Thomas Vermaelen's injury time goal to establish it, but there was a feeling around The Emirates on Monday evening - and it was one that has rarely been felt around that area of North London for quite some time - that some sort of revival had been established and it was a revival conjured with a plethora of determination and doggedness. Arsenal have now won four in a row and in doing so, have come from behind on each occasion. If that doesn't show even a minimal degree of dedication to, not only the cause, but to their under-fire manager too, then what does?

Because, as the Gunners draw ever closer to their local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, and as they continue to produce football of the highest, most entertaining calibre, you have to wonder just why there was ever any doubt in the somewhat mercurial talents of their long-standing boss, Arsene Wenger, in the first place. Why were years of such cosmic success founded upon what was, compared to the clubs around them at least, a not-so-sizeable budget ignored because a few defeats were tallied in what is proving to be a vastly challenging Premier League season?

You have to believe that the haters were so vociferous because they didn't understand the intricacies of the game. There was little comprehension that continuity breeds success and, aside from that, few realised that some previous years of relative achievement doesn't make silverware an expectation, never mind a certainty. A crisis at a club like Arsenal, where the higher echelons of the Premier League are more like a home than a destination for a day out, is considered vast on the inside when, in truth, it's minimal on the outside.

And yet for Wenger, the times have been hard and yet humbling. He's had to adapt himself and his philosophy to stay on then right side of all those who have supported him and, finally, his decisiveness is paying off. The season has had its great derailments - not least the shameful undoing dealt by Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United - but the club, and its astute management, have ridden the storm well and have come out of the end with only superficial scarring.

That it is Wenger that has led them to this stage is pertinent, though, as it has truly put to bed the idea that there is someone in the world right now that would be better suited to his job. Someone who would acclimatise quickly and lead this side of distinctly average qualities laced with truly individual brilliance to some form of glory. Someone who knew that club as if it were his own.

Because, for a while at least, the masses were so critical of Wenger and his ways that there seemed no other way for Arsenal to succeed than if they parted with their manager. Yet, for once in football, wisdom shone through. Some kind of awareness that swift, Abramovich-style executions are not a means for progression in any sense of the word. They are two steps back when, at best, a new appointment would take one step forward. Wenger is the best man for Arsenal and, for all the approaches from abroad, Arsenal is the right team for Wenger.

Robin van Persie may well stay and one of Wenger's latest masterful prodigies, the elegant Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, is proving himself to be a footballer blessed with fine qualities and a nous for causing problems when it is most needed for the Gunners. And, even while Walcott stutters through a year that has perhaps not turned out his most fruitful, the manager that brought him to London clearly still possesses a certain talent at not only spotting, but developing and nurturing some of the current games' most prolific servants.

Even now, in some of this great man's most pressing times, he's showing a certain guile and spirit that undoubtedly define him as one of the best managers in football as it stands. He's adapting to the times and adapting to the changing atmosphere of Premier League football - as much as he may not have wanted to - and it's paying dividends.

It was hardly his idea to re-enforce his youthful side with some more recognised steel - Per Mertseacker, Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta being the obvious examples - but it was still a decision he made and it's still his team.

We all seem to think that the grass is greener on the other side but, on this occasion at least, we should let the fertiliser work and watch the seeds grow.