Sunday, 27 May 2012

Was third place a success?

Morning Gooners,

Been a while but it seems that Post Season Depression kicked in and I was essentially unable to motivate myself to post anything since season close.

The first thing I would like to do is congratulate Ian from Guyana who won the GoonerVerse Fantasy Football League and has already received his prize. Well done and hope he can be challenged by even more people next year.

So where do I start? It is a bit difficult to have a natural starting point as I have been away for so long so perhaps much of what I write has been said/blogged before, but of course it will have the unique GoonerVerse perspective and style.

We finished third in the end which has caused much debate in whether the season has been a success or not. The way football is evolving it is actually a much deeper debate then many people give it credit for.

How would you feel if you were a Liverpool fan this season? Winning the League Cup and being in the FA Cup final is something many Arsenal fans would kill for at the moment but would you honestly exchange our league position that goes with it and the income that comes with that?

Then you have Arsenal fans saying money isn’t a trophy and we need to win trophies to keep our best players. But that in itself is surely a double edged sword. The way football is, can you honestly name a top player that would consider playing at a club without Champions League football? Also in direct response to money not being a trophy; many of these fans also claim we need to throw lots and lots of money into the squad to win trophies. So whilst money is not important because trophies are more important than a third place finish but at the same time we need lots of money to win trophies is surely a perversely contradicting view by even the meekest forms of measurement.

I am not advocating one against the other I am just saying that the confusion amongst fans is so prevalent, how can we truly measure the success of this season? Well we can look at this season vs. last season. No trophies in either season.

Pos  Team                    P   W  D  L   F   A   +/-  Pts
1      Manchester City 38  28  5  5  93  29  64  89
2      Manchester Utd  38  28  5  5  89  33  56  89
3      Arsenal                38  21  7 10 74  49  25  70
4      Tottenham           38  20  9  9   66  41  25  69

Pos Team                     P   W   D  L   F    A   +/-  Pts
1     Manchester Utd   38  23 11  4  78  37  41   80
2     Chelsea                38  21  8   9  69  33  36   71
3     Manchester City  38  21  8   9  60  33  27   71
4     Arsenal                38  19  11  8  72  43  29   68

There are two things that are immediately clear that we finished higher than last season and also that we got more points. So immediately you can see that despite all the heart ache this season, progress has certainly been made.

We also won two more games then last season which is crucial as I am of the opinion that a draw these days in the fast changing premiership is just as detrimental to the club’s chances as a loss. However by the same token we suffered two more losses which outline one of our many problems this season. We were at times this season just too easy to beat regardless of the quality of opposition. People this season also say we are not the creative force we were going forward and we have struggled to score but I would say that we have scored more goals than last season and in fact this side has scored more goals than the incomparable invincible team of 03/04(we scored 73 goals that season). So as you can see there has been progress and there is certain potential to really use this squad and expand on it to get to that next level.

But the news is not all good. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Arsenal this season to know that defensively we have been very shaky at times. We conceded 49 goals this season which is more than last season but crucially 20 goals more than Man City which in terms of proportion is huge. I suppose we had a couple of freak results which are unlikely to be repeated but they did happen so we cannot discount them.

Some may point to the defence but I think it more of an issue for the entire team. Song whilst may have got an eye for a looped through ball has often neglected other responsibilities throughout the season which may have led to conceding more goals then we should have. Don’t get me wrong as I don’t believe he is the only problem, far from it. He is just perhaps the most obvious to point out.

So, on the surface it is a failure of a season as we FAILED to win anything yet again but given the context of the season I can’t help but feel a little bit positive about how we stumbled over the line. We IMPROVED our position over last year and IMPROVED our point’s total.

A lot has been said of Van Persie staying or not and I think it is important we do our utmost to sign him on and sign another two or three players of top quality to challenge. I really believe we can then challenge. It is the same as last season in that regard, keep the good players, get rid of the deadwood and sign 2/3 players to improve the team. We all know how last summer went, here’s to hoping some lessons have been learnt.


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Win, whatever it takes: Arsenal vs West Brom Preview, Team news.

Morning all,

The season’s close draws nearer by the second as we enter the last day of the league.

Much is still to play for as Arsenal have it all to do in their upcoming match away at West Brom. Of course we may get lucky with Tottenham and Newcastle both ending up losing and we finish third anyway. However I fear our luck of results going our way may have finally run out.

We must surely rely on ourselves to get the job done and in spite of everything that has happened in the turbulent season surely a 3rd place finish can be seen as successful. (I anxiously await the torrent of abuse that will ensue following that comment.)

Today is a must win game and I do not prescribe to the notion that a year out of the Champions League will not be all bad. It will be awful. I will cry. It may not be a trophy but from a marketing point of view (which is imperative to keep hold of and recruit stars) may be far more important than a domestic cup. So to miss out would surely spell the end of Van Persie’s time at the club or so you would have thought.

Anyway, that is not an option and nor should we have to even contemplate it. We are in a position where we need to beat West Brom to confirm third place. Anyone under normal circumstances would be overjoyed with that predicament. Not arsenal fans at present though. Given our current form, nothing can be taken for granted. Our last four fixtures read Wigan 0 points, Chelsea 1 point, Stoke 1 point and Norwich 1 point. 3 points out of a possible 12 is the kind of form associated with the teams at the bottom of the table as opposed to a team fighting for third.

Despite the awful form, there have been some positives to take from the previous games. We have created a number of opportunities in each of the games and should have really won all of them. It is important we do our utmost to win. Whatever it takes. We are not really helped out by another influx of injuries to the first team.

According to; all of Arteta (ankle), Diaby (calf), Mertesacker (ankle), Sagna (broken leg), Wilshere (ankle), Frimpong (knee) are confirmed to be out with the addition of Walcott who faces a late fitness test. I would suggest that he may play some part in the fixture if needed but perhaps will not start.

Therefore expect the team to line up like this.

Coquelin                      Koscienly                       Vermaelen                         Gibbs

                                    Song                               Oxlade-Chamberlain


Gervinho                                                                                                     Benayoun


There could be changes depending on where they want Chamberlain to play as I cannot see Ramsey playing today.

This is Roy Hodgson’s final game before taking on the impossible; his team will be up for it and very well organised. The one thing that goes for us is they will look to shape up in a 442 which will enable us to outnumber and hopefully out pass them. We cannot afford to go all out attack and leave the gaping holes we left last week so expect a more disciplined display. Also expect a more measured approach if we are winning the game.

I am confident we can win but am not confident we will. Sounds ridiculous and it is because I am a nervous wreck. Be sure to post comments about how you are feeling about today's game and any predictions in the comment section below.

With the right attitude, commitment and skill, we should rightfully take our place as the third best team in the land. If we don’t, we only have ourselves to blame.

Come on Arsenal.