Future “Invincibles”?

Hello fellow soccer lovers.  This is my inaugural post here on the93rdminute.com, and as an avid Arsenal fan, I’m going to examine the current state of Arsène Wenger’s North London side and the future of the club.  Expect more BPL and MLS updates “every” Friday.

Arsène Wenger (image from telegraph.co.uk)
Arsène Wenger (image from telegraph.co.uk)

Arsène Wenger has taken a lot of flack recently for his reluctance to pay out huge transfer sums for big name players.  If you take a look at the reasons for his unwillingness to pay other clubs for talent, it all boils down to the boss’ business-like approach to managing his club.  Arsenal has finished top 4 in the BPL for 15 years in a row (absurd), developed a world-class youth program to raise talent rather than purchase it (easier said than done), and built a new stadium, Emirates Stadium (without emptying the till).  All of this growth should cost the club a “butt load” of money, but Arsenal has been turning a profit year in and year out.  No oil money, no Russian billionaires, just a stubbornness to run the club the way a Fortune 500 company would be expected to operate.

Emirates Stadium, Arsenal's new home since 2006.
Emirates Stadium, Arsenal’s new home since 2006.

Arsène Wenger’s determination to retain Arsenal’s North London identity was realized via the 2003-2004 “Invincibles” season when the team went 26-12-0 en route to a BPL title.  Wenger was able to build a hard-nosed North London squad, and inject non-English talent to take the club from brilliant to extraordinary.  The French connection of Vieira-Pires-Henry accentuated by the class of Bergkamp and Ljungberg were a potent offense, which was made even more effective by the wall of English defenders: Sol Campbell, young Ashley Cole, and veterans like Keown and Parlour.  Don’t forget the summer signing of Lehmann, never hurts to add a veteran world-class keeper to an already excellent squad.  Wenger built an Arsenal side that was strong and skillful up the middle, speedy up the flanks, and impenetrable (26 GA in 38 matches) in the defensive third.

2003-2004 Arsenal squad by most apps in BPL

Reminiscing on the 2003-2004 team led me to the realization that this 2012-2013 Arsenal squad is not overachieving with all of its young players, it’s underachieving.  Wenger knows that the current team will probably not win the BPL this season, but they nearly have all of the puzzle pieces in place to do just that.  The core of the current Arsenal squad has developed a chemistry that at times has shown the true potential of Wenger’s team building (see here).  The similarities between the players in the legendary 2003-2004 squad and those players in the current Arsenal squad are uncanny:

  • Theo Walcott dominates the RW. Young Bergkamp anyone?
  • Mikel Arteta is playing the role of the strong holding central midfielder a la Gilberto
  • Santi Cazorla is the central playmaker, which Patrick Vieira did with reckless abandon
  • Lukas Podolski is the left-footed specialist aka Robert Pires
  • Jack Wilshere plays the creative and reliable Ljungberg role to a tee
  • Gibbs is the speedy young left back that has turned out to be better than expected *cough* Ashley Cole *cough*
  • Mertesacker and Vermaelen are the Campbell and Parlour of present, dominant in the air and the heart of the team
  • Sagna is Lauren, hands down, RB drifting up the flanks with an eye for goal but the ability to defend when necessary
  • Ramsey, Jenkinson, and Oxlade-Chamberlain fill in the gaps for this extremely young team

…but Giroud is no Henry, unfortunately.  Maybe it’s unfair to expect another Henry (ever), but Giroud is proving every game that he is the pure striker this team needs.  Like Henry before him, Giroud provides a spark that can fire up the entire squad, and he has a nose for goal, something you just cannot teach.

I am not saying this team will go undefeated in 2013-2014.  I’m not that bold, but I will say that if Arsenal’s streak of top 4 finishes ends this season, watch out for a veteran keeper signing this summer and a run at Manchester United next season.  Another 6 months of this team playing together, and playing well, should strike fear in the rest of the EPL.  Wenger’s at it again. Victoria Concordia Crescit



10 thoughts on “Future “Invincibles”?”

  1. Very good analysis here. I admire their approach of developing young talent instead of flooding the transfer markets with cash. Rich oil tycoons are ruining the sport, however, they are following an unsustainable plan. Arsenal’s approach will ensure they are a contender for years to come.

  2. You’re having a laugh if you think to even compare the current squad to the Invincibles. Just look at how laughable the current back four when compared to the Invincibles’ back four or the back four during George Graham’s era and how soft our current centre midfielders are when compared to Vieira/Petit or Vieira/Gilberto combination. This season is Wenger’s worst start since he took over, just tells you how flawed the current team is.

    1. I think the article is referring more to the potential of the team and not necessarily this season. That is contingent on players developing and keeping the quality players in Arsenal uniforms. I definitely agree they are obviously not at the Invincible level yet, but give them a couple more seasons and with another quality signing or two (Giroud and Podolski were great signings by the way) while retaining the current squad, then I think this club could be contending for the title in the not so distant future.

    1. Agree with this statement. My only issue is that Walcott seems to want to play like both, and nobody else is allowed to help him. Giroud has a nose for goal and has that trademark flick pass working for him. If Walcott would let the ‘striker’ title fight go and embrace the right wing he can rack up the goals.

    1. That’s my fault, I was referring more to his play on the left-side as a facilitator and solid presence in the midfield attack, not claiming that he (Pires) was left-footed. Note to self, stop writing articles at 1am.

  3. Bullshit..Walcott is no Bergkamp. He was slow but deadly. He had a final pass that rivaled anyone at the time. I love Theo though. The back four won’t win the league for Arsenal, neither would a midfield with Arteta and Wilshere. As much as I love Arteta, I strongly believe arsenal need someone more in the mould of a Vieira or Makalele. Someone that provides the necessary steel required in the tougher games. Arteta is not and will never be that kind of player. Giroud is not the striker to lead Arsenal to the promise land. Maybe he will prove me wrong but I strongly believe that if Wenger had given Bendtner the opportunity he seems to afford many useless strikers, he could have turned out better than Chamakh and Giroud. We had a Fabregas and Wenger refused to surround him with the required talent, such a shame we lost a footballing genius. But thank goodness there is little Jack, who imo is just ridiculously talented. FInally I think it is very wrong of Wenger to forget Jenkinson on the bench just because Sagna is fit now. I think Carl should play once in a while just to keep his confidence up. Go Arsenal.

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