The Start of A Positive Run For Arsenal?

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    Updated: November 30, 2014
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    This 2014-2015 Arsenal season has been nothing short of stressful and nerve-racking for Gooners worldwide. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Arsenal and the fans which hasn’t helped with tensions concerning Arsene Wenger and the squad in general. But after two good wins in the space of 5 days, it’s better to reflect on the good that’s been happening at Arsenal F.C. and what positives can be taken from the last two results.

     

    The Rise of Santi Cazorla…

     

    It’s no secret that Santi Cazorla has not been carrying his weight this season for Arsenal. Barring a few scattered performances here and there, Cazorla has cut an anonymous figure for Arsenal for the majority of the season. His form has been spotty, he’s missed easy opportunities to score right in front of goal, and he did not deserve to be starting.

    It was to the point that I thought maybe Arsenal should consider shopping Santi in the January transfer window. But the last two games have been an eye opener because Santi is playing like he did when he first got to Arsenal. Against Dortmund, Santi was skinning defenders and midfielders alive with his dribbling ability.

    Challenge after challenge was missed on Cazorla because of his dribbling ability and the way he can keep his balance because he is so close to the ground. Dortmund had no answer for him, and Arsenal got a 2-0 win in the Champions League to qualify for their 15th straight season. Against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, Santi continued his sparkling form.

    He was nearly unplayable in the midfield at the Hawthornes, and once again his ability to elude tacklers and get out of tight spaces with the ball and not losing possession was immense.

    Multiple times this season Cazorla would be dispossessed by opposing defenders and midfields when he tried to do too much. But in the last two games Santi has been on the pitch snatching souls from defenders for fun. It’s no surprise that in the last two games Santi has been fantastic and in turn Arsenal’s midfield has controlled the tempo of both games from start to finish. These Man of the Match stats from Squaka tell the whole story:

     

    Gooners need to hope that Cazorla continues this form with Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil being out through injury and Aaron Ramsey lacking form.

     

    Defenders Are Returning at a Pivotal Time…

     

    Arsenal and injuries have been synonymous for years, and this season is no different. Every time a player comes back healthy, one goes out injured, and it doesn’t help that this revolving injury door never ceases. But Arsenal is starting to get back key defenders at a time when the backline is paper-thin. The make shift centre back pairing with Nacho Monreal and Per Mertesacker was giving Arsenal fans nightmares gave after game after Laurent Koscielny went out with an Achilles injury.

    Although to be fair, Monreal has played rather well at Centre Back given that he’s naturally a left back. Per on the other hand has been abysmal. But now Mertesacker has his partner in crime back with Koscielny’s return, and hopefully the duo can solidify the backline again and Per’s form will return to normal.

    It also needs to be pointed out that the defense has been exposed on multiple occasions Mikael Arteta is constantly getting injured, and Mathieu Flamini hasn’t been good enough this season. But that’s still no excuse for the poor defensive showing of the backline.

    With Koscielny back, Mathieu Debuchy returning in a fortnight, and Wenger being able to rotate defenders to keep legs fresh, Arsenal are out of the woods with the defensive crisis they were suffering. Arsenal still need to pick up one or two more defenders in the January transfer window, but the returning defenders will help balance out the squad until then. And with the hectic December schedule, these defenders are returning at the perfect time. But the returning defenders aren’t the only pleasant headache Wenger has on the horizon.

     

    Too Many Goalies Is Never A Bad Problem To Have…

     

    Two clean sheets in a row means that not only is the defense playing well, but so is the goalkeeper. Damian Martinez, Arsenal’s 22-year-old Argentinian goalie, was called into action with injuries to first choice keepers Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina. And for me, the young Argentine has been solid in goal.

    He makes playing goalie look easy because he does all the simple things well. If he needs to punch the ball out, he makes sure he gets a clean hit on it and drives it out of the box and far away from defenders. If it’s a 50/50 ball in the air he does not hesitate and makes the catch and claims the ball.

    He never over plays his hand or ventures to far away from the goal, which is something that Wojo does regularly and is caught out often because of it. Martinez is the anti-Szczesny because Martinez is always calm and doesn’t have a flair for the dramatics. Watching Martinez play in these last two games has given me a sense of hope that this young man isn’t only Arsenal’s future, but he’s Arsenal’s best keeper.

    I haven’t seen him do anything that worries me, he’s been cool and collected in goal in all of his starts. Martinez is staking his claim for first choice and with the imminent return of Ospina from injury, Martinez will have an even greater incentive to continue playing well or back to the bench he goes. Wenger should keep Martinez in goal unless things changed for the worse with Martinez’s form. But after two clean sheets and no real mistakes, Martinez is winning over the Arsenal faithful and hopefully Wenger as well.

    He should be given more opportunities and I think with the return of key defenders around him, he will grow into a world-class keeper.

    Things are looking up for Arsenal, and that’s always a good thing. More wins, more clean sheets, and more points are always the name of the game and are what the squad should be focusing on. Injuries happen, but Arsenal has enough talent to cope with these injuries until January when they can buy reinforcements. Next up is Southampton who just took a beating at the hands of Manchester City.

    Southampton are having a great season but from what I saw against City, they’re more than capable of playing sub par football against a more talented side. Arsenal can get a result, and no less than three points should be taken. Good Luck Gooners. And as always, “In Arsene We Trust.”

    Follow @LSN_Frantz on Twitter

     

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