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Arsenal’s “Champagne Effect” from May Spills into August

In ESPNFC’s piece entitled “Gunners finally fit into Wenger’s vision,” Miguel Delaney talks about Brian Clough’s thoughts on the champagne effect and how it relates to Arsenal. Essentially, success breeds success.

In ESPNFC’s piece entitled “Gunners finally fit into Wenger’s vision,” Miguel Delaney talks about Brian Clough’s thoughts on the champagne effect and how it relates to Arsenal. Essentially, success breeds success.

Last season we talked ad nauseum about whether or not Arsenal would win the title. The repeated statement was they could – but they likely wouldn’t. Why? Because they lacked the insight or mentality of what it took to win something. I used Manchester City as an example. The year before Sergio Aguerro won City the title, they won the FA Cup. Before that the club tinkered with lineups and a progression of overpayments to players not worth a 10th of what City paid for them. In the end, they got the core players right, won the FA Cup which gave them the right frame from which to launch their title race the following season.

With the season approaching, Arsenal can take heart that the FA Cup can and should give us the mentality necessary to make our own assault on the title. In the wake of the FA Cup win in May and the Charity (or is it Community) Shield win this weekend, all signs point upwards for Arsenal.

Sure, there are a few more player holes that we would like to have plugged by 31 August, but for the most part Arsenal look primed to improve on last season’s run. The squad for the most part remains in tact. Bacary Sagna has gone but been replaced by an apt replacement in Mathieu Debuchy. Thomas Vermaelen has gone but he hardly featured last season and depending on your view, looks like he’s been suitably replaced by the more than able youngster Calum Chambers.

With no real net change in departures the biggest change is the dynamic man up front Alexis Sanchez who at first blush looks every bit the star he wants to be. Sure in the Charity Shield he held the ball on too long in a few occasions, as he gets accustomed to the league speed and his teammates that may change. However, there was enough good seen that you can only salivate at what he brings.

Providing Arsenal can manage to stay healthy, the core of players that took them to the top of the league for 2/3 of the season, can do so and hopefully maintain the pace.

Much to the chagrin of certain media outlets, we should be heartened by the result this past weekend. Not because we beat City but because we won and emphatically. As much as the press wants to diminish the result, it shouldn’t escape anyone that the squad City put on the pitch was as we’ve been told before more than capable of doing well on its own in the Premier League. I’ll give you Dedryk Boyata was the weakest link but let’s be honest any big team in the world would take most the players that played in that match. So yeah leave it.

City never looked in it. They tried a few times but it was clear that they didn’t care for or want the match up. However, for Arsenal it was an important step and they needed the win to serve as a continuation of the success from last season and as a launching pad for this season.

Going into the season with momentum was important. Even momentum from the supposed “meaningless friendly” that is the FA’ Charity Shield. Depending on whom you ask, its silverware or it’s not. As I said post match, the silverware was the least important part of the match. The ability to win and play effectively was more important and that they pulled off in spades.

In the process all the new players showed that they should have little to no problem slotting in to Arsenal and their style of play. Debuchy showed that he fully deserved his move and Chambers with 1 or 2 exceptions showed poise and composure that belied his 19 years. Then there was Sanchez. The two striking things that stood out to me outside of some his great passes and movement off the ball – was his speed and his ability to get back and defend quickly.

On the breakaway that would eventually be saved, you knew that once he was set free no one would catch him. In another instance even with a defender on his heels, he knocked the ball forward and raced to get it.

As a coach myself, I get tell my kids that when we lose the ball in the offensive end my forwards have to act as the first defender to get the ball. I could’ve used Sanchez’s efforts on Sunday as a highlight reel to what I mean. That mentality built in Barca hasn’t left him and every time the opposition had the ball, he was applying pressure as the first defender or getting back to be an additional cover option. It was a sight of beauty.

I would love to predict the future but as we know it takes an eternity to get to May. Many things can happen – injuries being the biggest issue. But Arsenal should no longer be discounted from the title picture. They have the know-how now to win. They’ve done it.

Sure, a pure defensive midfielder and another striker would make it even easier to put Arsenal in the title picture – if not one of the favorites, but even without them, I don’t think you can overlook their potential for having a strong say in matters.

Remember again, with the bulk of the squad healthy they managed to sit atop the Premier League longer than anyone else last season. Sure the only time it matters is on that last day. But it was with a striker no one gives any credit to and a much maligned (sometimes unfairly) defensive group that Arsenal managed to do this. It wasn’t until 4 of the team’s primary driving forces were out for extended periods of time (at the same time) that it all came tumbling down.

People want to use Wenger’s lack of buying a striker in January as the reason Arsenal slid. They overlook that no striker would manage goals if they aren’t getting the ball fed to them from the midfield. That wasn’t happening when the likes of Ramsey, Wilshere, Özil and Theo all out.

Sure another striker is necessary because Giroud isn’t the dynamic forward but he is good at what he does and still gives me hope for this season. Yes, a DM is needed because cannot lose matches to City, Chelsea or Liverpool by the margins we did. Someone needs to clog the middle of the pitch down.

The fact remains however, that Arsenal are an improved team in so many aspects. It all stems from last season and it has spilled over into this season.

There will be moments of doubt. There always are. But I would peg Arsenal on for silverware again this season. This team has tasted winning and as Clough’s “champagne effect” suggests, there is a spillover from having tasted the sweetness already. Once you have it you want it again, and this Arsenal team is hungry and clearly wants it again.

Last year it was can Arsenal win the league? Yes. But will they? No. This year Arsenal CAN win the league and will they? Yes, I think they can.

So what do you think? Can Arsenal win the league this season? Will they win the league this season? Let us know your thoughts.

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