The storm after the calm? Next season starts today!

Next season starts today…

So, it’s all done and dusted this season and another trophy less season. It’s a case of 2 steps forward, 1 step back, and we’re beginning to resemble a squad capable of winning something – but as we know, something is missing. The summer will bring us many months of speculation about who’s in and who’s out, for the moment though, one player who is definitely in is Theo Walcott.

The former Southampton player signed a long term contract yesterday and said:

“I’m absolutely delighted to have signed a new long term contract. I’m so happy here and just want to say thanks to everyone who has helped me get to this point in my career. Together with the belief of my team mates, the boss and everyone on the staff, everyone has got behind me here at Arsenal which is brilliant. 

“It’s fantastic to work with the best manager in the world and play at Emirates Stadium, which is an unbelievable place to play in. I just want to continue playing my football at this Club and look forward to many successful seasons ahead.” 

Theo Walcott is definitely a player with a lot of potential. In some of the comments yesterday, Walcott was being compared to Ronaldo. Of course, at present, the Man United player is one of the best in the world (it pains me to say that, but it’s true)… but that’s an unfair comparison. Ronaldo aside, name me one right sided player that is better than Theo Walcott? Remember, the boy just turned 20 last month, that’s still very young. He’s got 10 years ahead of him at the highest level and he is a player that I think will deliver and become one of the club’s all time greats. His cameo’s this season and last have proved to me that he’s a player with a very exciting future ahead of him.

Talking about next season… the club has announced the details of the pre-season friendly at the Emirates for the Emirates cup, which will include Rangers, PSG and Athletico Madrid. God knows how much I’d like to see Sergio Aguero play on the Emirates more often… the dates and times are as follows:

Saturday 1st August 2009
Rangers v Paris Saint-Germain (2pm Kick-off)
Arsenal v Atletico Madrid (4.15pm Kick-off)
Sunday 2nd August 2009
Atletico Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain (2pm kick-off)
Arsenal v Rangers (4.15pm kick-off)

Saturday 1st August 2009

Rangers v Paris Saint-Germain (2pm Kick-off)

Arsenal v Atletico Madrid (4.15pm Kick-off)

Sunday 2nd August 2009

Atletico Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain (2pm kick-off)

Arsenal v Rangers (4.15pm kick-off)

Awesome stuff hey? With this announcement, it’s official that our current season is all but over…

Cesc and Almunia have been in the press talking about the achievements this season and what will happen next season… it seems that everyone has forgotten that we’ll have 3 games to go…

Cesc said:

“It has been a difficult season. For a young squad like ours we did quite well. ”It is tough, but you have to stand up and look to the future. If we keep going and keep the team together, I am sure this team will have a lot to say in the future.”

And Almunia also commented, asking the gaffer to look at the squad strength too:

“The Arsenal team is a good team, a good squad but fans expect more from us and who knows maybe we need some changes to the squad in the summer. But the responsibility is with the boss, who understands what the club needs most and which decisions need to be taken.”

And finally today, let’s take a quick look at a player who I hope will be here next season… Van Persie. He’s yet to sign the contract, and has asked for reassurance from Arsene that the club will be competitive. I can understand his frustrations and hope he does stay – Arsene has spoke on this and said:

“I am hoping he will sign a new deal and I have tried very hard to get him to sign a new contract. I want him on board because he is a very important player in the squad and is a very efficient player on the pitch. We want him to stay because we gave him a chance when he was in a very bad position in Feyenoord and I don’t see a reason for him to leave and he loves the club in fairness. We’ll let everyone know as soon as we get close.”

Arsenal need players like Van Persie. We need the skill and the goal out of nothing players. Van Persie always shows desire and commitment to the cause.

More discussion soon…

Til tomorrow….]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[I guess we've just got to enjoy the remaining 3 games and use it to rebuild confidence for the new season.
    As for the Chelsea game, Arshavin might miss it cos of flu- so gutted!]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[We want him to stay because we gave him a chance when he was in a very bad position in Feyenoord and I don’t see a reason for him to leave and he loves the club in fairness. We’ll let everyone know as soon as we get close.”

    This quote from Wenger tells a lot about Wenger's perception - not because you rescued someone from wilderness should you expect the person to be loyal to you even when you are leading the person to his early grave. Am not been harsh but no one is a slave, and the statement shouldn't be the basis of one signing - look at Hleb & Flamini; Wenger underestimated their Loyalty and it almost backfired.

    Some times its good not to reason from one direction, be realistic and don't expect human beings to be loyal - we humans are very unpredictable, Wenger should know that]]>

  • Debs

    I don’t see anything wrong with Wenger’s comments to be honest, he simply said he wants him to stay, he didn’t say he’s going to force him to stay or that he owes it to us to stay here for the rest of his life or anything!

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[It seems Arshavin is out for the Chelsea game.

    The only reason I was going to watch it was because of Arshavin. And now he's not involved. I'm beginning to expect trouble every time I think of Arsenal now. It really stinks, this feeling.]]>

  • zohaib

    Debs – knowing Wenger, that’s about the clearest he will ever come to ‘VanPersie owes it to us to stay’.

  • zohaib

    come to saying*

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[It certainly looks to me like he's begging VanPersie to stay. The situation has come to this.

    It shows how far we've dropped. I mean look at who we're playing in the Emirates Cup.

    Atletico Madrid, PSG, Rangers !?!?!?

    Wenger's stubbornness will be the end of Arsenal as a title-winning/challenging side if he doesn't take a step back (as he surprisingly admitted after the ManUtd game) and re-evaluate where he needs to strengthen the side.]]>

  • Fabrez

    Yeah…Wenger’s comments were pretty much telling him 2 “b loyal bcuz I gave u a chance.” I’m actually not bothered by much at this point… I think RvP will stay and we’ve just got to look fwd 2 next season now… Arsh not playing kinda makes me feel…a bit less interested…i hope the players on the pitch take a shot or 2…or 3 even. I like that about Arsh…he has a go! Well maybe RvP will anyway…

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[I'll be a very happy supporter if we can sell off the useless Adebayor. I haven't ran out of patience with Bendtner yet, but you don't need me to tell you that he's only as good as fourth-choice striker right now. He still is better in the air than anybody else we have, and that says a lot. And we don't need to replace Adebayor. We have Eduardo, VanPersie, Bendtner, and Arshavin. Then we have Walcott and Vela who are strikers having to play out of position at times. I wish Wenger would stop this make-shift position b.s. that he does (sometimes because of too many injuries) and give them a place up front. So I think even if we sell Adebayor we shouldn't be short on that front, unless we have a similar injury-plagued season (which shouldn't happen twice in a row unless something is horribly wrong with our fitness training etc).

    If we somehow manage to get 20 million quid for Adebayor, that'll be super. We don't need more strikers in numbers. We'll probably even have Jay Simpson back from loan so, unless V.P. decides to leave, I don't see why we should try and sign David Villa. (Ideally I'd love for us to sign him, but I don't think we have enough money to spend on a striker as well as a CM and a CB, which is more of a priority.

    We might get Senderos back from AC Milan, something I can't say I'm looking forward to. So ideally I'd like for him to be sold along with Silvestre. And if either or both of Gallas and Toure decide to go then we'd obviously need to buy a couple of CBs. I would definitely keep Toure. Gallas, I'd give another season but I'd already be looking for replacements for next summer because of his age. Atm everybody included we have Toure, Gallas, Djourou, Silvestre, Senderos as our 5 CBs. 2 of them I want sold, which means getting at the very least 1 replacement. So I'd say sell Silvestre and Senderos and I doubt we'd get more than 5 million quid for that, but add to that the Adebayor money and its 25 million quid. And uptil now we need one CB.

    I don't think the GK position needs any changing. Almunia has improved and Fabianski seems to be decent, and will improve. This is one area where we just need the players to improve rather than go out and buy somebody better. Firstly because I don't think there's much room for improvement in Almunia's game and secondly because I don't think we have enough money to get replacements for every position.

    Now the fullbacks. Getting Traore back from loan, we'll have 3 LBs. 2 of which could play as LMs. One problem is how will they all get enough games to keep them happy. Maybe Traore will be converted into a 4th choice CB and that way we won't need to buy somebody to replace Silvestre (LB/CB). I think there's more chances of that happening than one of our LBs playing as LMs, though. David Silva is probably the only left-footed player I could imagine playing in an Arsenal wide-midfield position. Messi's more of a striker.
    But we definitely need a good back-up RB to come in when Sagna is fatigued or injured. Eboue isn't good enough to compete with the top teams and you can't trust his defending anyways. Hoyte should come back from loan but I doubt he's good enough for what we need him to do now, not in 3 years' time.

    Lastly, our midfield. I'm going to start off by listing who I consider to be the strongest players in our midfield, and I suppose it's not coincidence that it's all attacking players. I also feel we're a very poor side when it comes to defending. Something we need to improve if we ever want to win a trophy. Hopefully somebody at the club understand that. It really doesn't look like it though. Arshavin, Rosicky, Nasri, and Fabregas would be the strongest. Next would be Song, Denilson, Diaby and Eboue. And then would be Ramsey, Wilshere, Bischoff, Randall and Merida. The best way to summarize that is there's way too much quantity but not enough quality. One area where we are very weak at, is DM/holding MF. We're covered for pretty much every other midfield position. Somebody like Mascherano or Zokora (I think he's leaving Spurs in the summer too) is what we need. A brilliant tackler. He knows when to press and how much to. He knows what to do in every area of the pitch. He's brilliant when he's on the ball. His movement, passing and positioning is absolutely fantastic. He isn't lazy and slow like most of the players we already have. He can attack just as good as any. You wouldn't know he was a defensive player when he's in the opponent's third. And he can shoot from range, accurately. Alonso's a great player too but isn't really a defensive midfielder. He doesn't give you that pressing ability or speed that you need to negate a quick counter-attack. I think Zokora is a really good option. He isn't as short as Mascherano, so that gives us an advantage when defending set-pieces.

    To conclude, in my opinion, one area where we need to pay loads of attention to, in the summer, is defending. We need to learn how to defend like the top teams do. There's too much of a gap between our quality and their's. It's a case of not being able to defend set-pieces at all, not being protected by the midfielders and everything in between. So GET THAT SORTED ! And for the love of God, just buy a bloody DM/holding MF. If there's somebody better than Zokora, get him, if not, get Zokora.

    The next thing we need to do is to ensure that we don't take 20 minutes to create 1 opportunity to get a shot at goal. We need to be more deadly with our attack like ManUtd/Chelsea/Liverpool/Barcelona etc etc are. We take way too long and keep passing it sideways mostly. Most of it has to do with Adebayor, Diaby and Eboue being utterly useless and too wasteful. Which is why, with the current squad my starting 11 would be:

    Almunia
    Sagna Toure Djourou Clichy
    Nasri Fabregas Rosicky
    Vela Eduardo Arshavin

    For me, only these players in that formation (NOTE: a 4 - 3 - 3, which I think we should be playing instead of what we are, as I think this is the best formation for our team) give me the impression that they'd be dangerous enough going forward to give problems to the likes of Chelsea/ManUtd/Liverpool etc. Having people like Adebayor, Diaby, Denilson, Song, Eboue is shooting yourself in the foot.

    Adebayor gives us height, but does he ever use it to our advantage ?! The fact that Bendtner is better than him in the air shows you what I mean. The guy is completely hopeless. He is a big guy and you'd expect him to be able to stand his ground when facing his back to a defender. But I haven't seen a more lazy/weak striker than him. He almost never stays his ground or holds the ball up like you'd expect. All he ends up doing is getting offside or running back to his own goal to pass it to somebody else. Almost never have I seen him in a position where he's trying to take a defender on or trying to get himself into a position where he can have a shot at goal from. That makes our team suffer. The other players don't want to give the ball to him because they realize how useless he is. But more importantly, he just wastes most of our attacking moves. And that makes us not much of a threat offensively and easy to defend against even for weak opposition.

    So when we don't play the long ball game, why have Adebayor. Or else get the players to practice how to play long balls and deliver crosses and get better at that part of the game too. Just don't do neither !!!!!

    With my line-up some might say there's not much height. I say, we should play to our strengths (which is passing, speed and movement) or improve every aspect of the game if we want to play with people like Song, Diaby and Adebayor.

    Other than improving our defending and being more deadly with our offensive play, we need a first choice DM/holding MF, a 3rd choice CB, and a back-up RB, in order of highest priority to lowest. Also, we need players like VanPersie and Fabregas to perform better and be leaders, since they've been at the club more than most others. And sometimes you find the supporters wondering where the leadership quality went. Only Toure seems to be capable enough to deal with the situation when the chips are down. More from the squad need to learn that attitude. Look at Liverpool and how many times they come from behind and show their character. You'd wish Arsenal learnt that somehow.]]>

  • zohaib

    Ah yes Fabrez. Well put. Just f*king SHOOT FROM RANGE jackasses !

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Former Players Replacements assessment
    Henry Ade -
    Hleb Arshavin +++
    Flamini Song / Denil +
    Diaby Viera - - -
    V.P Bergamp +
    Campbell Gallas ?
    Key:
    - poor
    + good
    ++ V. good
    +++ excellent

    from the assessment Diaby is even worse than any than poor; may be comparing Ade with Henry is too harsh but that is the standard we expect from an Arsenal player; like Arshavin against Hleb
    ( one of most skillul footballer on earth that doesnt score too many goals)]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Former Players--------- Replacements---- assessment
    Henry--------------------------Ade-------------------- ( –)
    Hleb ------------------------Arshavin ------------------ +++
    Flamini------------------- Song / Denil ----------------- +
    Viera --------------------- Diaby------------------------ (- - -)
    Bergamp-------------------V.P----------------------------- +
    Campbell----------------- Gallas -------------------------- ?

    Key:
    - poor
    + good
    ++ V. good
    +++ excellentrom the assessment Diaby is even worse than any than poor; may be comparing Ade with Henry is too harsh but that is the standard we expect from an Arsenal player; like Arshavin against Hleb.]]>

  • Pissed off

    from the assessment Diaby is even worse than any than poor; may be comparing Ade with Henry is too harsh but that is the standard we expect from an Arsenal player; like Arshavin against Hleb.

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Finally it seems Wenger's grown a brain :

    arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-my-summer-transfer-window-plans

    “I’m not chasing any player at the moment,” he said. “I believe my priority is to stay with the squad we have.

    “We will try of course to bring in one or two players to strengthen the squad but we have plenty of strikers.

    “And if we buy, it certainly won't be players who lack experience. We have enough of those.”]]>

  • Pissed off

    Yeah, good talk, but am sure its just sweet talk Zohaib. Didn’t we hear that beginning of last season.

  • zohaib

    No I don’t remember hearing Wenger say we have enough youngsters and that we might get 1 or 2 experienced players. Which is why that last sentence of his sounds soothing !

  • zohaib

    Last summer we got Ramsey, Nasri, Bischoff (and anyone else I might’ve forgotten), who are all youngsters. The only experienced player we got that I can remember was Silvestre and what a lousy player to get. Then we bought Arshavin in January.