Arsenal might have capitulated in the last few weeks but they did show the quality of their team in their excellent display against Manchester United. The Gunners have endured a string of poor results against the Red Devils but ended their bad stretch against their rivals with a deserved 1-0 victory through a well-taken Aaron Ramsey goal.
The Gunners were without their regular captain Cesc Fabregas who sustained a thigh injury during the warm-up session and was replaced by Ramsey in the starting 11. It was a relatively bold move by Wenger who could have opted to start Andrei Arshavin on the left and Samir Nasri in the centre. Instead with virtually no title to play for, the Frenchman opted to provide Ramsey with his second Arsenal start of the season.
Ramsey is a midfielder blessed with vision, ability and has shown great mental strength to bounce back from his injury. The Wales manager Gary Speed has to be commended on providing the Welshman the huge boost of naming him the captain of the team just after his recovery from injury. Ramsey showed his array of talents by controlling the game alongside Wilshere and Song with some neat passes.
Wilshere who had shown signs of fatigue in the recent weeks was back to his energetic best. The teenage sensation has surpassed levels of expectation but should be rested for a few matches, so that he can be free from the injuries that could hamper him in the future. The duo have played together in a couple of matches and have shown that they share a good partnership in the central midfield.
Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have been trophy-less for the last six years and one of the major factors is the youth policy adopted by Wenger, who has been instrumental in the development of several youngsters in the first team including the likes of Fabregas, Wilshere and Szczesny. The Arsenal manager has built the team around Fabregas and has tinkered the formation from 4-4-2 to 4-2-1-3 in order to maximize the play-making skills of the Spanish midfielder.
However, it has not brought success to the club and with Fabregas expected to be the subject of transfer speculation in the summer, it would not be a surprise if Wenger decides to persist with the young midfield partnership of Wilshere and Ramsey for the next two matches of this season. When Fabregas is fit, he has almost always started for the Gunners and most teams have figured out that most of Arsenal's plays go
through their star midfielder.
Many teams have devised man-marking strategies to close down Fabregas as a result of which he has had to drop deeper and allow Jack Wilshere to move further forward. Newcastle United in particular used this tactic at the Emirates with Cheik Tiote closing down Fabregas the moment he got the ball.
In the big games particularly against Manchester United in the past, he has been closed down relentlessly by Fletcher and Park and has struggled to thread those deadly through balls. Also, Fabregas is not good defensively and occasionally does not track the midfield runners in a counter attack and his pace (or lack of it) does not allow him to make recovery tackles.
The trio of Ramsey, Wilshere and Song have all started as deep-lying midfielders for the team and are strong in the tackle. Besides, it is helpful that Ramsey and Wilshere have different styles of play and Ramsey's shooting range is a huge asset for a team which does not shoot much from outside the area.
With Fabregas frustrated by the trophy drought as stated recently in an interview with Don Balon, he could move to Barcelona in the summer for an alleged sum of 40 million. If he does move, then Arsenal could sign a decent central/attacking midfielder to complement the likes of Ramsey and Wilshere and reinforce some other positions with the money obtained from the sale of the Spanish midfielder.
Fabregas has contributed immensely to the Gunners and has unquestionably put in his best efforts for the club. Unfortunately, he has not been able to translate his talents into trophies for the club though he has been hugely influential in Arsenal retaining its status as one of the biggest clubs in the world.
If Wenger spends the money he obtains from the sales of Fabregas (if he does leave) and a few other players to secure quality experienced players, then Arsenal with their impressive young midfield could end their trophy drought in the next season.