The word ‘initiative’ can really define what type of football player one sets out to be. In a nutshell, what I mean is, that the very fact that separates a Michael Essien or a Frank Lampard from a Neves Denilson, is that 10 letter word. Now before you read this article let me clarify what I actually mean by this word, so nobody gets confused. The word ‘Initiative’ which I have used in this context means the ability to produce a performance which affects the results of the match in a positive manner. A standard may be set at 8 – 9/ 10.

Consider this,

CASE 1 :

A derby match between Manchester United and Arsenal is taking place at OldTrafford. The score is tied at 1-1, it is the 89 min, and the ref adds 2 minutes of extra time. Thomas Vermaelen gets the ball he passes it to Sagna. The french-man makes a darting run from the right side, past J.S Park and plays it to Diaby. Diaby gets the ball and rolls it to Cesc. Cesc runs forward, past Fletcher and plays it left to Nasri. Nasri side-steps right, does a drag-back, turns 340 degrees and gives it to Arshavin who sprints past O’Shea and crosses only for the ball to be headed back by Evans about 25-30 yards from VDS. The ball comes to the legs of Cesc Fabregas. What is the most likely thing he will do ? The guy will shoot. What can happen –

1. The ball may rebound of some player and go back to the Arsenal half, where Vermaelen or SQ18  is there to collect.

2. The ball may be on target, and VDS saves it…thus a corner may be won or,

3. The ball may land in the back of the net, and Gooners all over the world would probably scream in Joy…(done that !)

Now this is the story of Cesc Fabregas, the guy who is most likely set to leave for ‘FC Basterdlona’ next year. The basic difference is Initiative. The will to take the ball or the game to the opponent and thus create an impression. That is what makes players great.

CASE 2 :

The same situation, but the ball comes to Denilson. What will he do ?

1. Either he will play the ball back to Tommy-V or SQ18 or,

2.Roll it to Sagna to cross  or Cesc to repeat Case 1.

Now I want to clear something. I do not hate Denilson. I have always regarded him as one very good prospect. But when you play for Arsenal FC and have done so for the last 4 years, Gooners will expect you to give something more, something special to the club. Its not that Neves does not take the initiative. He does, but rarely..

Consider these 3 cases when the guy took the initiative :

  • He smashed a 25 yard cracker in the 6-1 victory against Everton, when the score was 0-0.
  • The free kick he scored against Hull City at the Emirates
  • The shot which he took against Hull in the 94th minute, where Nikko scored on the re-bound.

It’s really sad to see a guy with so much talent , playing for a top club and “not” shining. I always expect Denilson to step it up each season, but the guy always disappoints me.

Why can’t we say that no matter if Cesc is gone Denilson is there or Nasri is there ?

Why is it always RVP, Chamakh, Arshavin oR TW 14 (new recruit), Cesc ?

The dependence on 1 player is something which I really cannot stand in clubs. Moreover, in Arsenal it makes me get even more pissed off, as it is a club I love.

Liverpool depend on Torres and Gerrard, Manchester United on Rooney.The real fact is that without some of these players, opposing teams get the feeling that “yes” we can get something out of this game. Its true, and I have always harped on the same fact with my friends who support these clubs. Sadly, Arsenal are tending into that situation and it will reach that point if players do not start taking the game to their opponents.

Lets talk about another guy from Arsenal –  Samir Nasri. He was bought by Arsenal for about 12.5 ml pounds. I honestly have never seen Nasri take any ‘real’ initiative ever (maybe 1-3 times in his entire career for AFC). I remember he once took it against Manchester United and we won that game 2-1 at the Emirates. The other was recently in pre-season – when he took some initiative. His performance was remarkable there. But that form or standard of performance should have been brought into the league. Sadly it died out.

Here is the recent comment by Rosicky on Nasri and Chamakh :

Fabregas and (Andrey) Arshavin were not on the pitch at that time. Ahead of the kick I communicated with (Samir) Nasri and (Marouane) Chamakh but nobody wanted to take responsibility, so I did.

Now Rosicky is not a bad player and neither is Chamakh or Nasri. They play for Arsenal after all. But here is proof. Nasri did not want to take the responsiblity, neither did Chamakh. Marouane still performs and his new to the club,  so I am giving him some leverage here. But Samir has been with club for 3 whole seasons. He should have been man enough to take the penalty there. Even Le Boss was shocked that Nasri never took the penalty.

When the guy did take the responsibility against Spurs he scored, not once but twice.

“I provoked the foul and then I didn’t take the penalty,” Nasri said. “But after I talked with the boss and said, ‘Next time I will take the penalty’, and I scored.”

Now please do forgive me if I have some stats about the players stats about the player wrong ( like,maybe Nasri took the initiative 1-3 times in his entire career for AFC), but what I am trying to say is that these players do not give constantly good performances.

To make it more clear, lets say Cesc Fabregas plays a few matches. The guy plays remarkably well and he creates an impression that Arsenal fans can rely on him, when the team need someone and, this remains permanent. A guy like Nasri, does not create this impression, and even if he does, sadly it’s temporary. For eg. The performance he gave against Porto in the champions league was outstanding, but have you seen any recent performance after that you can compare to that ‘level of performance.’ No !

Now, it’s not that these players don’t have “talent” to be the best. Simply, it’s just the lack of initiative or rather will. You can compare these players to those kids at school who are really studious and brainy but when the time comes to speak about something in class, or give a presentation or seminar they **** in their pants! My question is why?

Its confusing, because to play for Arsenal FC is tenseful enough. When you play, the world watches, that fact doesn’t deter any of them. But to take a shot, or dribble or give a killer pass is what frightens them.If they take the initiative or will, then can they only make a difference. In the past, when they have , they have performed really well, so its not a case of “flukes” is it ?

Before ending my article, I’ll leave you with this thought. You will usually hear commentators say that Arsenal have often been criticised for passing the ball more often than shooting. Why? Is it that most Arsenal players are too ‘shy’ to take the initiative or is it that most of the players just prefer passing the ball around like play-ground children to entertain fans around the planet ?

Feel free to comment below.