Benching Jack Wilshere was one of the best decisions Arsene Wenger has made in a long time, even with everyone for the hope of English football to be playing 90 minutes every time. At the moment, Arsenal are a better team without him in the lineup, allowing Santi Cazorla, a better player than the young Englishman, to be at his best, which means more wins for a side that is third at the moment, but needs teams to drop points in order to remain there.
The 1-0 win away at Fulham is exactly the kind of match you’d expect from the Gunners to drop points at. A rough stadium to play at against a physical side, maybe too physical. Sidwell was sent off after 12 minutes and while it didn’t really give Arsenal any distinct edge in the way they played, it was enough to be the slightly better side, eventually winning on a Per Mertesacker goal, making it two points above Chelsea and five over Tottenham, having playing two matches more than their city rivals.
Wenger made a few changes near the end – bringing in the forgotten Lukas Podolski for Tomas Rosicky, who has traded in his flair for more hard working and effective performances in recent times. Podolski just wander on the pitch, sometimes helping with defensive efforts, nothing more. Certainly not what he was brought to Arsenal for, showing signs of promise earlier this season, but eventually becoming one of the least noticeable players on the side.
Same went for Jack Wilshere, who got 19 minutes instead of Theo Walcott, but Arsenal played worse during his minutes on the pitch. Once again his forced dominance simply hurts other players, takes them out of the match, as Arteta and Cazrorla are forced to make way for the youngster when it comes to ball possession and decision making, not working in the favor of the gunners.
This isn’t a season of flashy football, not for the most part. Theo Walcott had his stretch earlier this season but has turned into another “unnoticeable”, doing some hard work on the wing, but mostly thinking about playing up front and scoring goals. Olivier Giroud being the team’s best striker tells of the direction they’re headed in, which is hard to say what his red card in the 90th minute (wrong decision by the referee) means in the metaphorical sense.
Arsenal fans are hoping that this season is rock bottom, and it’s on the way up from here. In terms of style and football, it’s a transfer from the naive, attractive style into something a bit more realistic and hopefully effective. If they don’t rely too heavily on Jack Wilshere doing everything, they might actually be heading in the right direction after all.