Keys to Arsenal's Turnaround: From Crisis Club to Top of the Table
There's a new attitude emanating from the Emirates Stadium these days.
Back in August the vibe was very different. The Arsenal fanbase was divided, doom and gloom surrounded the team and the sounds heard in the stands were boos. The word "crisis" was being thrown around liberally by the sports pages and football analysts.
It's now two months later and it's apparent that the supposed crisis has been averted.
Arsenal currently sit atop the Premier League table with 19 points. After losing to Aston Villa in Week 1, the Gunners have won six and drawn once. In fact, including all competitions, Arsenal have now gone 12 matches undefeated.
Here are the key components of Arsenal's rise from "crisis" to top of the table.
The Addition of Mesut Ozil
Within 10 minutes of his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt, Ozil set up a goal for Olivier Giroud.
He scored his first two EPL goals in this weekend's 4-1 victory over Norwich City. The first was a header off a Giroud cross. Later in the match Aaron Ramsey played the ball to Ozil who then slotted home for his second goal of the match.
The interplay between Ozil, Giroud and Ramsey has been so solid that it's hard to believe they've only played in five Premier League games together.
Ozil has also made a statement as an Arsenal player in the Champions League. Many doubters expected Arsenal to fail in their group-stage match against Napoli. Ozil silenced these critics in just 15 minutes. He coolly put the ball past Pepe Reina in the eighth minute and then played provider for Giroud on the second goal. Arsenal dominated the play and Ozil pretty much ran the show.
Ozil's class has energized Arsenal and given the team and its supporters a solid boost of confidence. He himself appears to be enjoying his new club and his football.
Arsene Wenger received a lot of abuse following Arsenal's opening day defeat. Like the true professional he is, he did not allow the negativity to break him or change his footballing philosophy.
While fans were screaming for the manager to spend money, Wenger proved that quality does not always have to break the bank. The return of Mathieu Flamini to North London was met with skepticism and jeers from many. Flamini has since shown that he brings a fighting spirit to Arsenal's midfield and has become an important piece of the teams' excellent run of form.
Wenger waited until deadline day, but his signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid has been the key to the change in mood at the club and in the stands.
While other teams were spending crazy money and bringing in lots of new bodies, Wenger focused on quality rather than quantity.
Wenger picked up the Barclay's Premier League manager of the month award for September.
Aaron Ramsey's career was in doubt following his horrific leg break at Stoke in 2010.
Over the past two campaigns, Ramsey has at times shown flashes of his old self. He has also frustrated many fans with periods of poor play. Some were even calling for the club to part ways with the player. Ramsey became a punching bag for fans fed up with Arsenal's lack of success over the past two years.
Wenger stuck with Ramsey and he has been simply outstanding so far this season. In eight EPL matches, Ramsey has already scored five goals and contributed three assists. He is playing with total confidence and has been putting in man-of-the-match performances.
Ramsey's start has been recognized by the league. He was the recipient of the Barclay's Premier League player of the month award for September.
Mesut Ozil's arrival has made an already great midfield even better. Some have even begun comparing Arsenal's midfield to Barcelona's.
Simply put, the Gunners' midfield is pretty much running the show in every match. The interplay between Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Flamini and the returning Santi Cazorla has been amazing to watch. The four goals scored by Arsenal this weekend were simply stunning and were the result of the great play from the midfield.
The Arsenal midfield is both creating goals and scoring goals at ease. It's making Arsenal's inability to bring in a new striker during the recent transfer window irrelevant.
Of course winning can bring about good vibes, but this Arsenal squad appear to be a tight-knit group regardless.
A large part of Mesut Ozil's decision to sign with Arsenal was due to the fact that his friends and Germany teammates Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski were with the club. Ozil also felt appreciated and wanted by Wenger.
There have been several matches so far this season where it's been difficult to pick just one player as man of the match. The players seem to be feeding off each other and Arsenal are functioning like a well-oiled machine. It appears that collectively the entire team's level of play has risen in unison.
No longer can Arsenal be called a one-man team. Eight different players have scored so far this season which is the most by any team in the Premier League.
The Emirates has not sounded like a library recently. The Arsenal faithful that have been waiting for the return of trophies are sensing that the good times may be coming back.
Arsenal fans have always made their voices heard, but the sound of 60,000 happy Gooners singing "Ozil to the Arsenal" is one that supporters won't get tired of.
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