5 Reasons for Arsenal Fans to Be Excited About the New Premier League Season
Arsenal might already be three games deep into their 2012/13 Premier League campaign, but in many ways, the football season is still warming up and hasn't yet hit full stride.
As such, there are still plenty of reasons for Gunners (and all football fans, for that matter) to be galvanised by the prospect of another enthralling season of one of sports' greatest leagues, steeped in tradition and heritage and rich in a number of the world's most capable footballers.
However, for Arsenal fans in particular, Arsene Wenger's men have inspired some practically tangible "good vibrations" about the campaign just now in its infancy.
Here are those aforementioned five reasons why Arsenal fans can take their reserved spot at the edge of their seats—right now.
A Triumvirate of New Additions
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For the first time in what seems like a few years, Arsenal have completed their transfer activity having added three seasoned international talents to their ranks—three footballers of genuine quality.
While he only found the net for the first time in this weekend's convincing 2-0 triumph at Anfield, Santi Cazorla has been nothing short of astonishing in his three appearances in Arsenal colours since his summer move from cash-strapped Malaga.
His presence in Arsenal's squad has galvanised the squad, seemingly filling the void that was created when Cesc Fabregas departed, but never truly replaced.
His incisive passes and exquisite off-the-ball movement have created opportunities for both himself and his teammates, particularly the other two offseason acquisitions of Wenger's—Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.
While only the former has netted as of yet in Arsenal's red and white, Giroud has had his chances as well—it's surely only a matter of time before the Frenchman really starts to tune himself to the English game.
Arsenal may have suffered the losses of their captain and top goalscoring threat, as well as an exceptional midfield talent, in Robin van Persie and Alex Song. But on the basis of Arsenal's performances thus far this term (particularly at Anfield), their departures may not be as harsh on the club as Arsenal's doubters would surmise.
A Stronger Defensive Front
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A fourth acquisition of the offseason—more a promotion, really—was that of Steve Bould, former Arsenal defender and Pat Rice's successor as Wenger's assistant manager. As a former defensive partner of Highbury legend and former skipper Tony Adams, Bould's influence on the squad has been most evident in the performances of Arsenal's defence, as many would suspect.
The evidence spoken of would be that, unlike all of Arsenal's top-tier rivals, the Gunners have yet to concede a goal in this still-young 2012/13 season.
While far too early to make any substantial judgements, this back four's stout display in the campaign's first three outings is nothing but a good omen for what will come later, when clubs resume play after the current break for international fixtures.
Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen, flanked by young fullbacks Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson, have made definite strides and tangible progress thus far on some of the work displayed last season.
Certainly, the likelihood of any game wherein Arsenal concedes eight goals is particularly slim right about now.
A New Captain
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Now, Thomas Vermaelen might well be Arsenal's third man to take up the captain's armband in as many years, but something about the Belgian international inspires thought that unlike his predecessors, he's here to stay.
Those cynics among you might think—what's different about Vermaelen that won't stop him leaving after a season's service as skipper? Well, two things.
Although the first—that he's a centre-back, as opposed to a creative midfielder or attacker, a position oft soaked in glory and plaudits—could be seen as a little tenuous in some quarters, the second—that this season, he would not be identified by most as the team's most talented individual footballer—makes more sense.
Whereas in the past, both Fabregas and van Persie had been determined as some of Arsenal's stand-out players, Vermaelen's role is still quintessential to Arsenal's cause, but not because of his ability to create headlines.
Instead, Vermaelen's quiet, indomitable nature and poise as Arsenal's defensive captain make him a leader both on and off the pitch, but those attributes also make him less likely to chase after individual glory, as captain's antecedent could well be accused of.
Vermaelen's ushering in a new era for Arsenal under his leadership on the pitch, and something about it inspires a certain confidence that he'll be around for next season and beyond too.
A Fit Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby (Touch Wood)
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Cast your mind back to last season, how the preseason began with such hope for another excellent season from the young Jack Wilshere in midfield. After his scintillating breakout season of 2010/11, many had Wilshere pegged to reach even greater heights for Arsenal. Yet, an injury sustained in a friendly against Thierry Henry's New York Red Bulls, and complications arising from it, put paid to those predictions.
Similarly, Abou Diaby has experienced injury problems fairly regularly since his arrival at the club back in 2006, hampering his ability to play for consistent stretches. He hasn't made 30 league appearances in a single season as yet in his career.
However, Diaby's performances in the three games played this campaign thus far have been indicative of nothing short of a renaissance. His performance in the Liverpool game just gone, wherein his vision, creativity, pinpoint passing and dogged physicality all combined in an image of a classic midfield general. Those who have dubbed him "a young Patrick Vieira" in years past would not be wrong given his recent efforts.
If Diaby can stay fit—and Wilshere can finally make his way back onto a pitch in the Gunners' red and white—then Arsenal fans can truly rejoice. It may sound cliché, but after last season's struggles, Diaby and Wilshere would truly seem like new signings.
The Most Attractive Football in the Country
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A couple of months ago, I authored a piece on why Arsenal were the most exciting side in Europe.
While to some, that can seem an ambitious, even erroneous claim, especially given the prevalence of Barcelona in recent years, Arsenal have long been seen as having an attractive, creative style unparalleled in the Premier League.
Whether or not Arsenal have bought players or lost players, or have a full strength squad or one that is ravaged by injuries, the footballing philosophy that Le Professeur has instilled in the club's veins over the 16 years of his tenure has insured that while results may not always be what the fans desire, often the football will be of the highest quality.
This season will only continue this rich heritage of gorgeous, free-flowing football, especially given the impact that Cazorla has already had on the team. When you combine his ability to create opportunities and govern the midfield with his other new cohorts and players like Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal fans are sure to be sent into a frenzy.
Arsenal may not win the league this season. They may not win a trophy. But they can guarantee to play some of the best football you can see, anywhere, on all the world's football pitches.
That's just how Arsenal Football Club works.