Winning can become an habit, so is losing. To an extent, the art of winning is mastered. The former (losing) was a stick by which Arsenal was hit by every season because of their seasonal collapse. However, a change of fortune in the FA Cup victory against Hull City in May was followed up by the Community Shield at Wembley. By winning two trophies in three months, the art of winning is gradually taking hold as the nine years losing streak at key moments has began to give way as it is becoming regular. The weight lifed by the FA Cup victory was evident by the way Arsenal approached the Community Shield match against Manchester City.
Although, the victory at the Community Shield will not be a yardstick by which Arsenal’s season would be judged, the chances of the club winning something this season lies in the key players staying fit. Last season, Aaron Ramsey was out for more than three months, Theo Walcott missed over 8 months, Mesut Ozil one month, Oxlade Chamberlain 4 months. In the end, this robbed Arsenal of it most potent players at crucial stages last season in the months of February and March.
Besides, the players staying fit, the approach of Arsene Wenger in big matches would go a long way in swaying Arsenal’s winning chances. Le prof adopted a conversative approach at the begininning of last season, shreding the all out attack mentality, by adopting a counter attacking pattern where possession was ceded to the opposition and, the front of the penalty box was defended with gusto. It worked, with Arsenal leading the league for months. And this tactics suited Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta, who are used to more pragmatic approach because of their lack of pace. Arsene Wenger abandoning of this approach in the visit to Anfield led to the 5-1 defeat, same happened at Stamford Bridge and Goodison Park. As a team that rides on confidence, momentum is important to any side built by Arsene Wenger. Which is why Arsenal’s approach in big matches this coming season must first be to avoid defeat before, going out to win it. So as to remove the mental block from the players that they can match their rivals. Arsene Wenger knows the importance of this when he spoke on the importance of beating a top four side after the Community Shield victory.
“That’s why it was important for us today not to lose the game. On that front we know that last year we were very consistent against the teams outside the top six and not consistent against the top six teams. The year before it was reversed so let’s hope that this year it will be right on both sides.”
Besides, the approach in the big games, Arsene Wenger must use the full complement of his squad by being more receptive to squad rotation so that the players can be fresh at crucial moments of the season and to avoid injuries.
Talking about squad rotation, the input of Arsenal’s new fitness coach, Shad Forsythe, would play a huge role in Arsenal’s chances of winning something this season. The American’s effect is already being felt, with Kieran Gibbs mentioning the fact that there are changes to the club’s fitness approach. Shad Forsythe comes with a reputation from the German National team, and has worked with EXOS, an American Organisation who deals with performances of athletes. Arsene Wenger had hinted that he would not have hired the American, if he was not impressed. The fact that Arsenal have a core of Germans in Per Mertescaker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil who are already used to his methods will go a long away in shaping the club’s fitness regime.
As a performance manager with the German national team, his advice and that of his fitness colleagues were instrumental in preventing injuries to players in Germany’s World Cup victory. This is where he can really aid Arsenal’s course, where long term injuries can be avoided by evaluating the performance index of Arsenal’s players with new technique to fitness training and warm ups. This could be key to Arsenal’s season. Avoid the injuries, and there is a huge chance of winning titles.
In a nutshell, no injuries or minimal injuries, approach in big games, squad rotation as well as the contributions of the fitness coaches would go a long way in Arsenal’s chances of lasting the distance this season, and at the end capturing silverware.