Arsenal may not win, but expect something special..

So it’s down to Greek country we go.  The land of gyros.  And, like the game against the powderpuff girls of last week, this game is not important for the winning column.  But it might carry great importance for the Outfit’s long-term development.  Once again, we have a game that’s all about the Arsenal youth on parade.  Arsene has already said it’s a development game, if only because of injuries, but this game might be more important because it hopefully keeps Ramsey developing and entices Senor Merida to stay at the Emirates.

After the game in the easterislands last week, many in the Arsenal camp were calling for Arsene’s head.  Victory at any cost seemed to be the mantra.  But Arsene held true and he took the heat.  As a result, he gained some goodwill from the youth and just may have bought the more time with Merida.  And while it would be nice to win this game -and not only because we get more money and feel good about ourselves -we really need Ramsey to have a good game and for Merida to continue to develop and want to stay.

Starting with Rambo, he came on as a supersub this past weekend and stole a sweet little goal.  Even better, it was a goal that mattered.  And, it was a light touch off the outside of the foot, a good way to score as well; it showed balance, not just pure power.   Hopefully this gave the young man a good boost of confidence.  Considering we need to win every EPL game, the pressure was righteous and the kid delivered.  I noticed his celebration was humbly muted as well, a good sign, or maybe just a sigh of relief.  Regardless, given his tendency to freeze up at times under pressure, that shot might go a long way to showing him the potential we all see in him.

Also, if this goal was any indication, we might finally have seen Ramsey break through that final area of development the professor has been working with him on: scoring.  So the game against olympiakakokakos is a nice second test.  Even if he doesn’t score, if he just shows composure and takes shots, we might see much more of the welsh in the future.  One can’t score everyday, but one can try.

Merida on the other hand poses a slightly different problem.  If Ramsey is knocking on the door, Merida is desperately trying to do so.  He sits on the bench, but hasn’t really had a shot to play.  And this has to bother him.  He’s the number 2, behind Ramsey.  Although he’s not on the Spanish national side yet, what with Fab, Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi and so on in front of him, the kid has the complete package.

As a result, tonight’s game poses two challenges for the talented chico.   I suspect Arsene is going to push him to play farther back, allowing Ramsey to push up.  This restricts Merida’s creative ability; he’s a central midfielder if there ever was one, more so than Fab.  And the professor seems dead set on developing it.  That being said, Merida’s game is developing incredibly fast.  If he keeps this up, and stays, he will be hammering on the first team’s door next year causing all kinds of problems for the tactics and players.  For that matter, at the rate Ramsey and Merida are developing, next year at this time we might have Fab, Nasri, Ramsey and Merida fighting for a creative midfield position.  Not to mention whatever enforcers we have (Song, Denilson, Matuidi???), good old Diaby and the Brazilian contingent.  Whew.

If Merida can dominate the midfield and begin to link the defense and the offense, we might be watching a new player explode on the scene.  He has the technique and talent to take over a game.  He also has the personality.  He has more to learn than Ramsey, but the last game he showed little bits of his ability to control the midfield, but this game might allow him to take a giant step forward if he can dictate play, even for just portions of the game.

What’s also important, is how Merida will play with Wilshere.  I still don’t think they can play together well.  Unless Wilshere is restricted to an Arshavin role: focus on the offensive upper third, only track back on defense, but do not, DO NOT, assert creative control at the midline.  So if Merida can show he can play with Wilshere, maybe pushing the little dynamo up the field, that would be a big step.  Wilshere recently made a comment that he would be willing to go out on a loan in order to further develop.  Frankly, I think that would be a good idea.

Anyway, that’s all for now folks.  Good luck to the Outfit and good spirits to all.  In any case, this is a game for those of us that like watching the team develop.

-the student


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