As Robin van Persie scored 37 goals in the 2011/2012 season, opposition fans and biased media labelled the Gunners a one man team and with good reason – Arsenal were overdependent on the Holland international for goals, with the next best tally from a Gunner being 11 goals from winger, Theo Walcott. However, it’s also wrong to label Arsenal or any other team for that matter a one man team.
Having your team called a one man team demotivates the other players who have also contributed in their own little ways – for example, while Robin van Persie was world class last season, 25 out of his 37 goals were handed to him on a platter by other players such as Walcott, Gervinho and Alex Song which is 67% of his goals.
With Robin van Persie’s departure to Manchester United now (where he is having no problem scoring), fans worried where the goals would come from – new signings, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud (who was seen as the natural successor) were brought in to bring the goals, albeit with no Premier League experience while Chamakh was a shadow of his former self. However, goals have been no problem this season – Arsenal have scored 24 goals in 10 games this season. After 10 games last season, Arsenal had only scored 17 goals.
Rather than van Persie hogging the top scorers’ list, Arsenal have had a lot of different goalscorers and surprisingly, the refined Gervinho leads the list with 5 goals with Podolski (4), Walcott (4), Giroud (2) and Cazorla (2) among others behind him. Wenger believes the collective responsibility to score goals has played a major role this season:
“Yes [sharing the goals is a good thing] because when Van Persie was injured it’s not only that you can’t score goals anymore, it’s the psychological consequences on the morale of the team.” – Arsene Wenger.
It’s not the first time however, that Arsenal have had a repeat of the Ewing theory as when star striker and captain, Thierry Henry had departed for Barcelona in the summer of 2007, Arsenal became a better team the following season. Players thrived due to the lessening of pressure and like this season, the collective responsibility to score goals increased as Arsenal finished 4 points behind eventual champions, Manchester United compared to trailing them by 21 points in Henry’s last season.
Like Alexander Hleb – who believed Henry held back the younger players due to his presence – Gervinho has come out of van Persie’s shadow with more confidence and composure as he’s already scored 5 goals this season, more than his entire tally last season.
With the Gunners in 5th place after 7 games with 12 points – 7 points behind current leaders, Chelsea (who are the only team to have inflicted defeat to Arsenal this season so far) – it is a huge improvement compared to last season where after 7 games, Arsenal were in 15th place with 7 points, 12 points behind then leaders, Manchester United. If things keep on going this way, Arsenal fans may have something to cheer about, come the end of the season.