Arsenal gunning for the hundred goal mark

Arsenal’s free-spirited style has seen them score 27 goals in 9 matches so far – how long will it be before they set their sights on the magic century?
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Thomas-Vermaelen-001

In 2005, Johan Cruyff took a private jet along with golfer Ian Poulter to Amsterdam to watch Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League win against Ajax. While the latter was best pleased with the result, the Dutch legend was rather disgruntled.

Despite featuring such names as Robert Pires, Jose Reyes and Catalan graduate Cesc Fabregas (however missing Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp) and Ajax featuring Thomas Vermaelen (dubbed the ‘Verminator’ by some Arsenal fans though we’ll never understand the link between a red-headed character from American Pie), Cruyff was unsatisfied.

“A very poor game,” he said. “Both teams had some injuries but even so, there was a lot of poor play, a lot of poor technique. I think the difficulties go back to the youth development systems. If you have a good youth development system, then it is obvious first team will one day be good too. It’s not hard to get things right; all that is required is a lot of hard work.”

If that is the case then Arsenal fans have much to look forward. Arsène Wenger’s forecast that we’ll see the real fruits of the club’s youth development system in ten years time is starting to bear fruit and if Cruyff’s prediction is correct this current crop of Wenger’s babes will ensure the club has the best years ahead of it. And Arsenal’s young Gunners defeated West Brom in the Carling Cup with relative comfort although not as impressive as last year’s showing in which they dismantled Wigan playing as close to Total Football you can get nowadays in what we considered to be the game of the season. Jack Wilshere was superb in the hole, Sanchez Watt was wiry and his movement troubling though the game changed with the introduction of Mexican Carlos Vela who had a hand in the two the goals.

Wenger is working to give Arsenal an identity in a similar way to what Johan Cruyff gave to Barcelona. His first team is playing a 4-3-3 and while it may or may not be temporary, it’s already looking promising. Current Catalan manager Pep Guardiola was criticised for swapping Samuel Eto’ for Zlatan Ibrahimovic but as far as he was concerned it was to make the perfect, even more perfect. The tall Swede gives the side a Plan B as now Dani Alves’ crosses have a target to aim at and allows greater ease in breaking down defence-minded teams. But the real genius lies in taking advantage of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s tendency to drop deep which allows his midfielders to advance past him unmarked and cause surprise to the opposition defence.

Such a tactic is true with Arsenal this season also with Robin van Persie the forward to play around and the support players pitching in with goalscoring duties. “It is because we have a flowing, attacking style,” says Wenger. “And as well we are all mobile, we take risks and also it is because of the quality of the players. We have players who can create and who can finish and I believe that when a team plays collectively well everybody can score in the team. And when everybody attacks in a team, everybody can score, and that’s what’s happening at the moment.”

Guardiola’s team scored well over a hundred goals last season and with Arsenal deploying the ‘universal striker’ ploy they may well end up in triple figures. So far the Gunners have scored 27 goals in 9 games, which is an average of three goals per game in all competitions. A minimum of 47 games is to be played this season and at 3 goals per game the end total will be 138 goals (maximum 189 goals in 63 games). Barcelona ended the whole season with 158 goals (105 in league, 53 other) in 62 games at an average of 2.5. If Arsenal continue at this pace such a milestone is more than within reach.

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10 thoughts on “Arsenal gunning for the hundred goal mark

          1. I think it’s not the point of having a plan B, more about variety. The best teams, say Barcelona can use Ibrahimovic as a target man without changing much. The players on the bench also give added options.
            But the term Plan B sounds too drastic.

  1. nice article.

    our goal average is great considering the two defeats. what is more impressive though is that 14 different players have scored for us this season not including own goals. i think 100 is a certainty.

  2. Good point about Ibrahimovic.

    People seem to find it unfathomable that Barcelona did such a deal with Inter Milan, and to be fair, I’m sure they concede it didn’t represent true value for money.
    However, they play a 433 with two very direct wing-forwards, which requires an attacking fulcrum to help bring them into play. Whilst Eto’o is a fantastic player, in terms of acting as a creative focal point of attacks, there are no better than Ibrahimovic, and given his style, there are very few, if any alternatives to him if Barca wanted to perfect an already brilliant side; hence the vast amount spent on him.

    Against Chelsea last season, we saw that as good as Eto’o is, when teams got compact, physical, and ‘parked the bus’, Barca’s play was stifled, and they did not have an attacking outlet to retain the ball in such tight areas. Someone of Ibrahimovic’s size, power, and skill is perfect for this role.

    I’m hoping Van Persie can fill this role – he certainly has the technique and vision. However, I worry that his lack of strength will hinder him, as we have already seen him give way under physical challenges.
    This also seems to impact on his finishing. Being battered all game seems to damage his composure, and whilst his finish against City was marvellous, we have seen him rush some of his shots this year – a far cry from the ice cool Van Persie we are used to seeing.

    We’ve had a brilliant start performance wise, but I’m still not sure we will hit the 100 goal mark.
    I do fear for us against the more compact sides, and feel this is where our lack of physicality will hinder us.

    It’s worth noting this is not the first time we’ve been tipped to hit the century.
    After a wonderful start to the 02/03 season, we were tipped to do the same, with Wiltord scoring 6 goals in the 6 opening games.
    We all know what happened that season, however.

    Anyway, good article once again (Y)

    1. I think Chelsea deserved to win the semi finals against Barca. They were the only team which came close to toppling the catalans. Guus is a genius.

  3. yunus,,,, say marcel is cute….

    i think arsenal best club in da world! i wish i can play for them one day and my friend Mo supports them too.

    OH-OH!!

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