Arsenal Season Preview ’11/12

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for sometime. Since around September 2007 in fact.

A lot has changed at the Arsenal since my last post back then in 2007. Our season kicks off tomorrow and we look ill prepared due to our usual inactivity in the transfer market and a summer of speculation about two key players impending departures. I don’t want to dwell on either of them leaving. I want to talk about the future and our season ahead.

Of course the problem is, we don’t yet know what our team will be for the season. There is still much business to be done, we hope. With such key departures, we have to invest in new players. We already needed to invest based on our squad last year, so now we need to more than ever before.

I have never seen Arsenal so unprepared at the start of a season. The next 20 days will probably shape Arsenal as a club for the next few years, it’s that important.

We need new players to make up for the usual shortfalls of last year and replace those leaving. We need them to convice our other key players to sign their contracts which will run out next year. We need them to avoid a backlash from fans at any loss or poor performance. We need them to boost morale at the club and for the fans.

We need them to win something.

Every year we are written off for making the top 4. Yet, this season it feels like they might just get it right. I still have belief that we will stay in the top 4, but only with changes. Before we talk about what positions we need strengthening, let’s take a look at our current squad by position.

Goalkeepers

13 Wojciech Szczesny
21 Lukasz Fabianski
24 Vito Mannone

Defenders

3 Bacary Sagna
5 Thomas Vermaelen
6 Laurent Koscielny
20 Johan Djourou
28 Kieran Gibbs

25 Carl Jenkinson
18 Sebastien Squillaci
30 Armand Traore

Midfielders

2 Abou Diaby
7 Tomas Rosicky
16 Aaron Ramsey
17 Alex Song
19 Jack Wilshere
23 Andrey Arshavin
27 Gervinho
14 Theo Walcott

31 Ryo Miyaichi
15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
35 Emmanuel Frimpong Emmanuel
40 Craig Eastmond

Strikers

10 Robin van Persie
29 Marouane Chamakh

Sold Or Likely Departures

1 Manuel Almunia
4 Cesc Fabregas
Emmanuel Eboue
8 Samir Nasri
52 Nicklas Bendtner
46 Henri Lansbury
11 Carlos Vela
Denilson (loan)

New Signings

So what gaps in quality or numbers are there in the squad?

Goalkeepers – I believe Szczesny is the right choice for number 1 spot. We could of considered Friedel or Given as cover for Szczesny and Fabianski. But perhaps for once, this is not our main area of concern.

Defence – Yes we still need a centre back. Squillaci has not been good enough. We also need better cover for Gibbs at left back. Will Traore step up? I doubt it. 2 players required here at least.

Midfield – We have two players departing, so we quite simply need at least two players coming in here, one who can play centerally. With Wilshere injured for tomorrow (oh and Diaby obviously), our midfield looks to be Song, Ramsey and Rosicky. Which is simply not good enough. We have no cover for a defensive midfielder when Song is injured.

Strikers – Van Perise is a class act, but often injured. Chamakh looked fantastic at the start of last season, but since then has looked half 1/100th of the player he was. We need at least one striker upfront. Yes Theo and Gervinho can help, but we still need more.

So that’s at least 5 players in my view. How many will we actually sign? I’ll guess at 3-4.

Support

So lets get behind the team and support them tomorrow. We still have plenty of quality in the side (I won’t mention ‘young’). We still have time. Wenger is still the best coach in the world at finding talent and he should not be underestimated.

It’s going to be a big game. A big week for Wenger with the Champions League game following next week. And a bigger month for the future of the club.

Ooh To Be.

 

Arsenal 5 Derby 0

So I have been busy and not had time to mention the fantastic win against Sp*rs followed by a 3-0 victory in the champions league against Sevilla. Is that the kind of result Ramos might have to get used to if he decides to ply his trade at White Hart Lane?. With the kind of scintilating form Arsenal have been in, Derby must have been a little worried. It seems they were right to be.

A classic quote from Johnathon Pearce sums up the performance;

Cancel the dinner reservation, ask your Mum and Dad if you can stay up late, you have to see the quality of Arsenal’s goals on Match of the Day. Chest trap, volley, what a wonderful hat-trick goal for Adebayor. It’s coming up to Wenger’s anniversary and Chelsea must be green with envy to see football like this in front of crowds like this.

Check out the goals below. A real collection of goal of the month winners all in one game with Adebayor scoring his first hatrick for the club. You have to love his last goal in particular and although some may not like the comparison, his strength and power reminded me of Drogba. But of course, he isn’t a complete cunt.

Wenger Signs Contract Extension Until 2011

The BBC reported the news that Wenger had signed a three year extension to his contract yesterday and it has now been confirmed by Arsenal.com. If Arsene stays until the end of this contract in 2011 (he has never broken one yet) it will make him Arsenals longest ever serving manager.

I don’t think many Arsenal fans really ever believed that Wenger was going to leave, considering his commitment in the past and that to the new young generation of players. Wenger said -

“My heart is tied to this football club so signing a new deal was always my intention. Arsenal is the club of my life. I have been entrusted with complete freedom to implement and execute my plans on what will make the team successful and that means I have a responsibility to the fans to deliver silverware and also a responsibility to the players to help turn our potential into prizes. This Club has deep-seated roots and a tremendous heritage and it is my aim to uphold these important values and help create new history for future generations to recount.”

There is also a great transcript of the full interview here.

With the contract settled we can focus on the rest of the season and beating the scum at Shite Hart Lane.

Arsenal 3 Portsmouth 1

A highly entertaining game in which we played for more than 40mins with 10 men and still came away with a comfortable 3-1 victory against a decent Pompey side. We got off to a great start when David James decided to come for a ball he was never ever going to get and proceeded to take out Van Perise in the box. Adebayor calmy despatched the resulting penalty for his first Premiership goal of the season. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Emanual Adebayor Arsenal continued to press Portsmouth, Hleb and Rosicky in particular were working well on the flanks while fullbacks Clichy and Flamini were overlapping at every opportunity. Just before half time Rosicky whipped in a corner which Gilberto nodded on and the resulting deflection fell in front of Fabregas who span on a six pence and buried it in the back of the net. Thats 2 goals & 2 assists in 4 Premiership games for the young spaniard.

The start of the 2nd half was not quite what we were hoping for after a great first half performance. Referee Mark Halsey gave a straight red to Senderos after he was adjudged to have pulled Kanu down just outside the box as the last man. Senderos was caught the wrong side of Kanu as he tried playing him offside only for Toure to keep him on. You could argue whether it was Toures fault for keeping him onside, but I think Senderos had a better view of the situation and should not of tried playing offside when it was on the blind side of Toure.

That said, he was unlucky to get sent off. There was minimal contact to say the very least and Phillipe looked genuinely gutted at being sent to the changing rooms. You had to feel for the man. He was having a very solid game up to that point and now it looks as though Gilberto will have to deputise at that back while he serves his suspension, with Gallas out injured and Djourou on loan to Birmingham.

10 men didn’t seem to stop us playing though. It galvanised the team with Gilberto moving to centre back and our midfield becoming a tight three. Within 10minutes we were 3-0 up. With the Pompey defence asleep and some quick thinking from Fabregas, Rosicky was left to fire a shot between the legs of Johnson and under David James. If I was Harry Redknapp, I would firstly slap myself for having a son as cretinous as Jamie, then as quickly have serious words with my defence for that goal. It was shocking defending to say the least.

Next up was one of the flukiest and bizarre goals you will see this season. A decent ball was whipped in by some Portsmouth player only for Kanu to try and flick it into the goal. He managed just that, but not before he flicked it against his standing foot and it deflected straight into the corner of the net. Very random.

We didn’t panic though and just kept control and our passing game flowing with everyone working that much harder to fill the gaps. Flamini and and Clichy put in massive performances in particular. Is Flamini just about the best utility man there is out there? Fabregas dictated play from the middle, controlling tempo and still finding time to support attack. Rosicky had one of his best peformances in an Arsenal shirt, looking dangerous throughout and linking up well with Clichy aswell as working back to help out too. Lets hope he can keep fit for a while. Double D of Denilson and Diaby soon arrived on the pitch to sure things up and replace tired legs and we could of made it 4 or 5 with some fantastic passages of play. Diaby in particular was involved in some outrageous skill and nearly popped the ball with a ferocious drive that went just over the bar late on.

Overall a very encouraging performance, with Sp*rs next up lets hope this form continues and there are no injuries from the international break.

Chelsea Officially The Arsenal Feeder Club

And we all thought it was Beveren. Having seen Diarra play for Chelsea a number of times I have always been impressed with the player. Since we missed out on signing him from Le Harve to Chelsea in the first place it seems Wenger has finally got his man. Natural successor to Gilberto? Maybe.Lassandra Diarra - Arsenal

Do we need another central midfielder? Probably not, unless Wenger is planning on unleashing a new 1-9-1 formation on the Premiership. Having said that, he’s more of a holding midfield player in a traditional sense which will help set him apart from the likes of Diaby, Denilson and Flamini & provide competition with Gilberto to play central with Sex Fabregas. I don’t count Alex Song as a person, so technically I can’t count him as an Arsenal footballer either.

The signing is equally satisfying because it seems to have upset, a few Chelski fans. Let me cry you all a river. Why are they so upset when they still have a wealth of talent like Ballack to fill the void anyway? He can waddle around the pitch like he’s in slow motion, not win one ball and yet still manage to get at least a yellow card a game. And be on more money than fat Frank.

Mind you, is it any wonder why he wanted to leave these cunts?