The Arsenal Preview
Just like I did a preview for our main rivals, I have been preparing a preview for the Arsenal in much the same way. I have held off on doing so for as long as possible in the hope that we may strengthen to some extent. This has not happened and I have had to delay it till the last possible moment. I was even going to include this in this mornings post but was hoping there would be some movement, somewhere, in or out, good or bad, just so that this preview would hold some meaning. It is almost pointless writing the preview as we stand as it will not reflect our season and chances.
It is for this reason that this preview is going to be based on some assumptions; these assumptions are based on logic and my knowledge of Arsenal Football Club. It does not mean that I am guessing or hoping for something better to happen and previewing our chances accordingly. In fact, if anything the assumptions I am to make will weaken us. They may not all happen but at this point it seems these assumptions are most likely. For the purpose of this preview I will be assuming we are going to sell Nasri, Fabregas, Bendtner and Eboue. I will also assume we will sign a centre back and a creative midfielder (there could potentially be more but I will leave it there as a worst case). As we write this, the first of the exiting players seems to be confirmed. Cesc Fabregas has left.
Last season: As mixed as it could have got. We started off slowly but then went on a really good run. Only to lose to Man United when all in the media wrote our season off. We then bounced back with a superb performance against Chelsea but then followed that with another poor performance. That was pretty much the entire season summed up. A great performance when the chips were down followed by an incredibly uninspired performance with no work ethic. Our best games came when you could see the fire in the team, they were pressing high up the pitch and they were as active off the ball as they were on it. In that lies the key for this season, but more on that later. After three quarters of a season of up and down performances with mostly good results we found ourselves in a good position to win the league as well as the League cup but in a Matrix style de ja vu we ended up collapsing spectacularly in an all too familiar fashion. What makes it harder to take was the manner of many of the defeats where the players looked uninterested. When they did look like they cared enough to try the performances were spectacular such as the win against United in the closing stages of the season. It seemed like we were finally able to beat the big teams again but we struggled against the smaller teams.
Playing Squad: I do not think we were as far off last season as many people think. Had Thomas Vermaelan not been injured for so long I think we may have been even closer to the top of the league. That is not including Fabregas’ form being blighted by injury as well as the standard injury crisis to the rest of the squad. I think our biggest target this year should be a new medical staff… Seriously though our biggest weakness was of course our defence and with the exit of Clichy you can say that it is weaker then last year. However with the arrival of new CB we should hopefully add a bit of solidity to our defence. The other issue is our defence of set pieces which has apparently been worked on extensively and is close to being sorted according to some at the club. Having Vermaelan back as well as the new addition makes our defence potentially better. The losses in midfield will play fairly similarly to last season just without our best player but that is quite similar to how we were last season. I know there is a lot of fear for this season but I don’t see us much weaker than last season and last season we could have won the league. I feel like I’m sounding a bit like Wenger but with a bit of luck and less injuries this season we may not be as far off as the world expect us to be. Along with a change in tactic and some players that actually want to play for Arsenal, although we may have less talent/technical ability than last season you may find we are more consistent this season as well as being more direct, faster and more ruthless. I can see Robin Van Persie scoring 30+ goals this season and that is why I think we are still going to have a great chance.
Threat to our rivals: We are a HUGE threat to our rivals. Not least of all because no one expects us to be. We have got rid of some deadwood as well as players that do not want to be at the club and replaced them with faster and hungrier players. You may not agree but even listening to Jenkinson you can see how much it means to him. We are going to be a threat but we will also have lots of poor games.
Verdict: Ideally I would have liked to know who our creative midfielder is when writing this as well as the defender that comes in. Either way I really do feel we have a great chance to challenge. I am not saying we will win the league but I am saying we are likely to have a season like last season. With a little bit more luck, less injuries and another breakthrough player (Miyachi?) we can still be right up there. I find it comical that people give us no chance of being in the top four. I am very confident we will be in the top four but I do not think that is good enough. With the money available to him we should have invested in two great defenders, two midfielders (replacements) as well as another striker, all of which we could easily afford. Here’s to hoping my assumptions really are a worst case.
That brings to an end my preview for the coming season. I write this whilst feeling sick listening to that prick Balague yap on about Barca’s disgusting behaviour, trying to sound human. Anyway, it is as expected.