Fabregas pulls the strings as Arsenal turn up the heat

Well this is getting tasty. Although Arsenal’s current predicament doesn’t yet emulate that of a 3 Michelin star meal, it is well worthy of a master chef semi-final chocolate fondant, the trickiest of deserts. Because that is exactly what our campaign has been, tricky, and that is exactly what Arsenal were at the Reebok yesterday, football’s equivalents of a chocolate fondant.  With a soft and delicious centre oozing from a tough outer layer, Fabregas and co. would have made John Torode and that bald fella smack their chops with delight.

Of course, it hasn’t always been like this. Remember the days of Stelios Giannakopoulos headers and Jay-Jay Okocha flicks that remain imprinted on the inside of every Arsenal fan’s skull? Or even more recently Nicolas Anelka running riot against his former employers. No, Bolton’s pastures haven’t always proven fruitful, but now, with 7 wins from 7, and over half of them coming at the Reebok, it seems the tag of bogey team can at last be discarded. Anything other than a victory on Wednesday however will allow Bolton to reclaim their envious label, especially seeing as a two-goal victory will unbelievably put Arsenal top of the league, albeit having played a game more than Chelsea.

I say unbelievably because, quite frankly, the resurgence since Chelsea has been unbelievable. In the aftermath of that 3-0 drubbing, no-one, not even ‘Lawro Predicts’, would have been able to foresee this transformation. Starting at Anfield with Arshavin’s brilliant strike, Arsenal’s run of form now leaves them with a realistic chance of mounting a genuine title fight. That said, the position we may see ourselves in on Wednesday will not be anywhere near as representative as the one we will be able to feast our eyes on come 10 pm on Wednesday, February 10th. Between now and then, Arsenal face, in chronological order: Aston Villa away, United at home, Chelsea away and finally Liverpool at home. On top of that, preceding this cruel run of games comes a tricky FA cup-tie at Stoke.

Without a main striker, and with an injury list that has had a busier season than Robbie Keane, this run of matches looks very daunting. Therefore, logic states that a number of things must happen in order for Arsenal to come out of these next 5 league games with a minimum of 11 points, a figure that conventional wisdom affirms will leave us in a healthy position from which to enter the business end of the season. Eduardo has to pick up his form, and quick. Ever since his return from that horrific leg-breaking injury he has been a shadow of his former self. Although improving, he still lacks pace, sharpness and most of all his ability to finish. Secondly, lady luck could do us a huge favour in terms of injuries. I’m not going to run through every player who has been injured at one point or t’other this season, but players like Van Persie, Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri would be missed by any team, and players of such quality need to be kept fit in order to fight for the title. Thirdly, and regarding my first point, Arsène Wenger must purchase a central striker this window.

Tony Cascarino wrote in The Times today that if he doesn’t, he may allow our best chance to win a trophy in 5 years slip right through his fingers, and I wholeheartedly concur. The ironic thing is, Arsenal are currently the League’s top scorers, with an admirable 55 goals, a figure which would, if replicated throughout the second half of the season, smash the 100 goal barrier. However, Arshavin is growing more tired each game due to a lack of the winter break he has become accustomed to in Russia. Fabregas can’t be relied on to score, create and captain a side gunning for the title and when fit, Bendtner, Walcott and Rosicky have not shown the capabilities to step into Van Persie’s shoes. Therefore, a striker must be signed, and whether it is Chamakh (unlikely), Heskey (again unlikely) or Carlton Cole (very unlikely) it has to be someone, otherwise come May, Arsène may once again be fabricating delicate excuses instead of lifting the Premier League trophy, and I certainly know which outcome I’d prefer.

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