Do Arsenal's youngsters need to look back to move forward?

By Woolwich Brooks

If the leaked images of next season’s shirts are to be trusted, the updated emblem will also read a ‘new’ motto: simply, ‘Forward’. Short and sweet. I say ‘new’, this actually isn’t the case.

Now, my knowledge of Arsenal pre-1995 gets less and less the further back you go, but ‘Forward’, I have learnt, was the very first Arsenal motto. The use of this, and an altogether flowery new emblem for next season, is in recognition of the club’s 125th anniversary.

And it is this message I find so relevant at this stage in our season: the badge says forward but, in doing so, it is actually looking back.

It was always my fear that losing the Carling Cup final was going to send the team into a tailspin; in fact, my fear of this was greater than my actual regret for not winning the cup itself. But, despite having cut our possible silverware down from 4 to 1 these past 6 weeks, I still don’t feel that tailspin has happened.

Losing to Barca does not mean the team is falling apart.

Losing to Man U in an FA Cup semi does not mean the team is falling apart.

However, it’s these ‘blows’, one after the other, that are now having their effect on the team.

Following the Liverpool farce and Eboue’s disastrous last second foul, Lee Dixon refers to these ‘blows’. He said:

It’s little things like that [Eboue’s foul] that cost you over the course of the season…In the space of a couple of minutes, Carling Cup, FA Cup, Champions League, how many more blows can you have?

Arsenal have been made all too brutally aware of how little things sometimes don’t need to accumulate ‘over the course of a season’ but can mean immediate losses themselves. I refer to Szczesny/Koscielny in the CC final 89th minute, sure, but equally Cesc’s lazy back heal against Barca that offered them their first goal in the 2nd round game. The result of this to the team is a constant state of nervousness about how big little things can be. A loss of faith and trust in their abilities has, subsequently, come to define much of the Arsenal mentality in recent weeks.

Dixon went on to suggest:

I don’t know whether they have got enough in the dressing room to turn this around…

Doing what they can to suggest otherwise are Szczesny and Wilshere. In recent days both have shown brilliant enthusiasm for what Arsenal might still be able to achieve this year.

Some may call this a product of their youth: blind belief, even naivety, I prefer to see it as an attempt to make up for the silence made deafening from their elder team-mates.

In the absence of a captain in the Adams mould, collective leadership is absolutely vital. It is clear in times like these that Cesc’s youth, great as he is, means he lacks the authority and self belief that an Adams/Vieira had, something he himself feels if yesterday’s report in the Guardian is to be believed. 

Szczesny, meanwhile, has said recently that:

We just think about winning, we’re only thinking about winning the title, not who is behind…

He was referring to Chelsea poaching second place from us, but you could also read that as him not dwelling too much on those ‘little things’ that seem to have caused such psychological blows and confidence knocks to his team-mates.

With Newcastle holding Man U to a draw last night, our slim title chance has suddenly put on a few pounds and we are yet again given an opportunity we must make full use of against Sp*rs.

So, like our emblem for next season, let’s keep our eyes forward, remaining aware of what has gone wrong in the past but not to the extent that it holds us back from the future.

Addict XI

Szczesny

Sagna Koscielny Djourou Clichy

Fabregas Song Wilshere

Walcott RvP Nasri