Over the weekend, Arsenal legend and part of the Invincible team, Ray Parlour compared this Arsenal team to the great Invincible team of 03/04.
He said ” it is definitely the best side since the invincibles.”
This has prompted me to compare both sides. While it seems almost out of place to compare both sides, it would shock you that they share more similarities than you can imagine and might not be far away from achieving the great feat.
Firstly, after Seaman left, there was a vacuum that was created. Wenger did not feel it with a young chap but went for experience, bringing Jens Lehmann from Dortmund for 1.5 million pounds. That was the only significant deal that the boss did that season. Apart from adding young stars like Fabregas, Clichy, Djourou and Senderos, no other business was done.
Cast your minds back to this present time, it is looking most likely that Cech might be the only business to be done and surely looks like a Lehmann addition.
The invincible team had entered the 2003-2004 season as FA Cup winners for the past 2 seasons, 2002 and 2003. This season, Arsenal begins as FA Cup winners for 2014 and 2015. Still not convinced?
The Invincible squad was one that Wenger had kept together and worked on for more than three years. The squad cohesiveness was massive and they all knee what each other was going to do on the pitch. The 2015-2016 squad is just like that. It is a squad that has been in the Oven for about two years plus and seems to have really come of age. The Cohesiveness is there and there is a real belief in the side. Arteta said : ” we have been together for a while now and we have this belief now that we are capable of achieving something important”.
However, what made the invincibles thick and how can this team apply it?
For any great team to strive..there must be that great team cohesion. It is basic. Players must understand themselves and expect every move a team mate makes. This was the case with the invincibles. Bergkamp and Henry, Pires and Henry, Vieira and Bergkamp , Ljunberg and Bergkamp, it was all over the pitch.
This same cohesion is seen in this present group and it is the main reason why Wenger has not spent big this season, as there is a fear that any addition would disrupt this cohesion and understanding rather than enhance it. Ozil and Ramsey, Ozil and Carzola, Sanchez and Giroud, Sanchez and Ozil, Carzola and Walcott, Chamberlain and Giroud, Giroud and Ramsey, Per and Koscielny. They are all over the pitch and just bodes well for the team.
LEADERS IN THE TEAM
Ever since the Invincible era died down, the biggest criticism of Arsene next generation of players was lack of leaders. From the crying and fighting captain Gallas, to the young and Barcelona loving Fabregas; we have never really had the likes of Vieira, Campbell, Henry, Pires and co. This time, I think we have them. From Mertesacker to Arteta and now, Petr Cech. We have players that have seen a lot and won a lot and are a good example to the younger and aspiring group of young blood.
KEEPING THE SQUAD FRESH
It would amaze you to know that Wenger used just 20 players for the entire season. Ashley Cole, Lauren, Campbell and Toure made 133 starts between them in the league alone. Clichy was back up to Cole, Keown only played more when the title was wrapped up and Toure was the deputy to Lauren as well as first choice defender along with Campbell. In midfield, Wenger used Pires, Ljunberg, Silva and Vieira more often, but had he flexibility of Edu and Parlour to complement them. In attack, it was mainly Henry and Bergkamp and any of Wiltord, Kanu or Wiltord. In all , he mainly used 20 players. That is staggering when you imagine that those players had to kept fit all through the season.
For this team to emulate the invincibles, they have to do better on the injury front and with what we have seem during preseason, it seems we are getting there. Shad Forsythe and his team seem to be doing a great job.
There must be players that do the extra ordinary and raise the team when the chips are down. The invincibles had the in abundance. From Henry to Bergkamp, Vieira to Pires. In fact, the entire team. We won many games not because we played exceptional but because we had great players that could turn the tide of a game with a swing of their boot.
Ozil, Sanchez, Carzola, Ramsey fit this description perfectly and can fill this void of X-rated players.
I am not saying this team would go unbeaten this season but I feel that they are on the edge of something great and we could be set for another golden period in Arsenal’ s history with this team; and who said they cannot be invincible. They are younger and surely look hungry for success.
There is only one way for this team to go and that is UP!!!!!!