Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Arsenal Needs...

Remember how warm and fuzzy it all was, once upon a time?
Will you look at how much fun these guys are having?
Look, there's a young, beaming Fabregas.
And his buddy, Adebayor.
And I think that's Alexander Hleb and little Freddie Ljungberg hugging our Captain for a minute, good old Gilberto Silva.

The year was 2006 - the inaugural year of Arsenal's spanking new Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal was a young, sharp team busting with the promise of unlimited potential.

It was a year where Gilberto would lead the Arsenal kids in a league battle for fourth place after losing the great Henry to injury for most of the season.

Here's how it looked when the smoke cleared:
  1. Man U
  2. Chelsea
  3. Liverpool
  4. Arsenal
  5. Tottenham Hotspur
Gilberto finished the season Arsenal's second highest scorer and he received top honors as Arsenal's Player of the Year.

I remember being really impressed by the way he stepped up and led by example.
Gilberto always struck me as the kind of guy you'd like to play alongside.
He just went about his business and did a damn good job.

In the 2007 season, Gilberto the veteran, would be rewarded for his quiet, steely leadership and loyalty with less playing time to make way for a much younger Mathieu Flamini.

Even more insulting, he was passed over for full team Captaincy in favor of William Gallas.

The writing was on the wall but Gilberto remained loyal, despite being entirely eclipsed by the flame that was Famini.

He finally left Arsenal just last summer in a relatively quiet move to Greek team, Panathinaikos FC. 

The sale flew under the radar, overshadowed by the more spectacular move of, you guessed it, Flamini to AC Milan.

Alexander Hleb would also run for the doors when Barcelona flashed some cash.

And Adebayor had one long leg out the door, flashing his smile for the cameras in his media manipulation to land bigger Arsenal bucks himself.

Now look at us.

Our great playmaker, Fabregas, is injured - out for most of the season.

We're in a fight for fourth again, but something is different.

We want to feel that glow, that promise of something special.

We want to feel like anything is possible.

But we don't.

We don't have a leader.

Today, Gilberto returned to the Emirates, but not for Arsenal.

He made the appearance in a much hyped international friendly match, appearing for his country, Brazil, against the mighty Italy.

By all reports, Gilberto put in a stellar performance,  turning back the clock to anchor the Brazilians, lifting them to a 2-0 victory in a London stadium filled with 60,000 fanatics.

Good for Gilberto.

We could use a guy like him right now.

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