Saturday, January 22, 2022

Arsenal´s odd couple keep Gunners firing

SoccerNews in English Premier League 5 Aug 2008


Any fears that Arsenal's close-season exodus would leave the Gunners stuck among the Premier League also-rans were dispelled in one bewildering interchange between Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor.

The departures of Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto Silva, as well as Adebayor's flirtations with several of Europe's top clubs, had created a feeling of uncertainty at the Emirates Stadium.

Fans and even some players privately wondered if their club was in danger of losing ground on Manchester United and Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger's decision to sign only Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey, two gifted but relatively inexperienced youngsters, as replacements hardly provided much reassurance that they could build on last season's near-misses in domestic and European competition.

But thoses worries faded in an instant during Arsenal's friendly against Real Madrid last weekend.

If Arsenal are to improve on third place in the Premier League, Van Persie and Adebayor will have to rekindle the understanding that produced so many goals last season before injuries broke the partnership.

So Wenger must have breathed a sigh of relief as the strike duo gelled impressively in their first pre-season outing against the Spanish champions.

Off the field van Persie and Adebayor would make an odd couple. While van Persie is a serious character, Adebayor relishes the more light-hearted side of life.

Once they pull on the Arsenal shirt though their talents dovetail perfectly.

One moment against Real emphasised the point as they exchanged a flurry of intricate passes to carve open the Madrid defence and create a chance for Theo Walcott.

Van Persie knows Arsenal's success could hinge on his relationship with Adebayor and the Dutch forward was encouraged by their reunion.

“We showed that Ade and I have a few nice combinations together,” van Persie said. “That is really important for two strikers, you always have to work together, you always have to look for each other.

“It is a good sign that he will be staying, because it took him a while. I am happy that he has committed his future to Arsenal.”

If they stay fit Wenger can rely on a steady supply of goals from his front two. The Frenchman's main area of concern is midfield and he readily admits to looking for another addition in that position, with Liverpool's Xabi Alonso high on his wanted list.

Even if Wenger addresses that problem, the suspicion remains that Arsenal will once again enthrall the purists rather than take away the major honours.

After three years with a major trophy most managers would be feeling the heat, but Wenger's position is bomb proof.

And Van Persie believes Arsenal could enjoy a season to remember if they build confidence with a positive start.

“Last year we had a really good pre-season and won almost every game, and then after 50 seconds against Fulham on the opening day, we were behind, so it is hard to say,” he said.

“Hopefully we can get some confidence out of the first few games and can slowly build it up. If you lose the first few games, you are not at your maximum.

“I think any of the top four can win the title. I am not going to say we are going to win it, because you never know – they do not know, we do not know either.

“Arsenal have to win something every year, that is our aim. If it is not happening, then everyone is really disappointing.”


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