Arsenal 4-0 Fulham, Season Is Over…

After a few weeks of depression, the season ended with a good final day win against Fulham. Albeit, a slightly ghosted away side, but the mood around the stadium was much better than it has been over recent weeks. Things were put a little into perspective after a season in which we’ve done incredibly well to finish 3rd, and to stay in it like we did.

A quick comparison to Liverpool is a prime example. We lost two players in Adebayor and Toure for £41m and only got one in, Vermaelen. Liverpool lost Xabi Alonso, but did acquire Aquilani and Johnson for £40m, as well as a few younger ones… They were challenging last season and we weren’t. They ended up 7th, whilst we maintained a 13th season of top four-ness and automatic Champions League qualification. Oh yeah – and we were still challenging with 5 or 6 games to go.

Perspective is what we need to have. Yes, it’s another season without a trophy, but at the same time, it’s a progress in the clubs history that will confirm us in the future as the best run, richest and most aggressive football club in the world. Debt free.

I’m planning on doing a piece soon on the billion pound title… yes billion pound… That is the difference between us and Chelsea right now. In May 2008, their debt was £736m (see this post from the Guardian), and surely it must stand closer to £800m now… whilst Arsenal started off the same journey with a £400m stadium. In a way, you can say that Arsenal had a £400m handicap, or started with -£400m, whilst Chelsea have an £800m head start. The difference between Arsenal and Chelsea is over £1 billion! I’ll publish that one tomorrow.

But back to yesterdays game and it was a nice game to be at, it a carnival feel, a bumper 100 page programme and a lap of honour appreciate of our support at the end. Nice. And the game itself was also a nice game on the eye, with Walcott trying to impress the onlooking Capello, maybe trying too hard, with Arshavin determined to score a goal and with Van Persie being a creative hub up front with Nasri tucked in below, it was an attractive game to be at…

Our line up was:

Fabianski

Sagna – Campbell – Silvestre – Clichy

Eboue – Diaby

Walcott – Nasri – Arshavin

Van Persie

It seems like Bendtner (groin) and Eduardo (you choose) were both injured so Vela was on the bench, alongside a few youngsters, one of them being Henri Lansbury, who recently finished a loan deal at Watford.

The first goal came by a Shwarzer error that Arshavin capitalised on and instead of squaring to an unmarked Van Persie, struck the ball through the keeper and two or three defenders, to score. Although, yes – he scored – it does pose the question why would you not pass to your team mate who is better placed? Should we read into this? Van Persie did get his goal with a ring ding strike, which their keeper palmed onto the bar, but fell kindly (is that a first?) for Van Persie to score the rebound. An own goal made it three and in the second half, an exquisite chip from Carlos Vela (where have you been all season?) made it 4-0. We confirmed third. Sp*rs lost to Burnley, the world harmony has been restored. A massive shout out to Lansbury – who came on in the second half and played very very well – an awesome player and one for the future, definitely.

In news outside of the game, news coming out from a few papers and online resources indicates the William Gallas saga looks to be finished and that he isn’t signing for next season. He wasn’t at the ground yesterday, where you would have seen all the other injured players like Niklas Bendtner, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song. Even Almunia was around, but absolutely no sign of Gallas. Rumours were that he is currently on a £80k per week and the new contract, initially for 1 year was at £70k. First of all, William rejected it based on length and then more recently, we’ve come  back to him with a 2 year contract, believed to £70k for next year and £60k the year after. Apparently that new improved 2 year deal has now been rejected too, meaning that Gallas will effectively move on within the next few weeks. A saving of £80k per week for 2 years sees us save an £8m outlay, so it has it’s advantages – with Silvestre and Senderos off too, that’s a lot more saving going on too. Just need to get in one super duper centre back and we’ll be okay. I think.

Meanwhile Van Persie has been talking about signing of Maroune Chamakh and is fairly excited about it all…

“I don’t know Chamakh personally but I know him from TV. He looks a good player. He is strong in the air and scores lots of goals with his head. He looks confident on the ball so hopefully the transfer goes through. It is good for all of us to have competition and that’s why I am happy to see him coming.”

And so are we all Robin.

I did read an article on the Arsenal.com site today from Ivan Gazidis (request for an emergency goalkeeper apparently rejected)… and he highlighted the financial stability on the club and insisted that we have the funds available if Arsene wants to spend (er, I think he said he was going to spend, spend, spend but not big)… here’s a little bit from the article:

“We’re now coming to a period, with Highbury Square coming to its completion and some of our other property developments bearing fruit, where the financial health of the Club is secure. That does not mean we have unlimited resources, but it does mean we have sufficient funds to invest. As always we’ll only do this on our timescale, on the basis of our manager’s assessments and not those of the media. We have the youngest squad in the Premier League and we need to translate that potential into results. To the extent that the manager thinks it’s necessary, we will use our resources to supplement the squad intelligently so that we can take that vital step forward.  For the most part we’re now in the healthy position that almost all of our young players are under long-term contracts and their futures are secure, as well as their possible transfer values being protected. One or two players are coming to the end of their contracts - William Gallas, for example. Whatever happens, Arsène has identified the fact that the defence has been an issue for us this year, so it’s not difficult to imagine that that’s an area we’re focused on in this transfer window.”

Again, Gazidis highlights the Gallas situation and something I recently heard about in Spain was that Raul has a “contract for life” and Real Madrid, with the clause that he has to make 30 appearances for the club to automatically renew his contract. Arsene could look at this and give over 30′s a contract for life… and if they stop playing the games, the clause would be invoked and thus they would leave… sound good?

Finally, a big shout out to all my fellow Gooners who made it down to The Indian Ocean yesterday for the final day of the season curry – big thanks going to Totti for the organisation and to all the arseblog forumers who ordered the hottest food in the world…

The England squad is announced tomorrow (well, provisional) and it’ll soon be time to move our attention to the World Cup… but there are a few Arsenal related matters to cover over the weeks, so you’ll get some regular instalments of the end of season chatter very soon…

Adios (for now)..

  • LeeroyN

    Hello fellow Gooner fans and followers, It’s been a long time since my last post. I’m glad to make a return on somewhat of a high note. Finishing third throughout a season troubled with injury woes and lack of spending isn’t great for some, but like Arsene said himself “17 other clubs would love to be in our position”. But I have really enjoyed this season, it’s been an eye opener in so many different ways. I hope it has opened Wengers eyes to some of the little ends that needs to be tied in order for us to stay within the Champions League honours and compete realistically for all the trophies in whichever competition we are in.

    Well done to the Manager and all his staff.
    Well done to the whole Team for still playing the Beautiful Game. Here’s to a Bright Red and White future.

    Win, Lose or Draw.. Gooner Til I DIe!!

  • devday

    @ LeeroyN:
    Good to have you back… well done to the club for it’s success and let’s now build on this team with a few tweaks and a bit more gusto and storm the league next season!

  • Francis

    i hope that our (fans) expectations i.e player additions, player exodus, lessons learnt throughout the season, etc is all grounded in reality.

    wenger has hinted that he will go for experience…whether it will be in defense/attack (chamakh)/midfield/goalkeeper is yet to be seen.

    a look at wenger’s interviews indicate that he doesnt think that the goal keeping department is a problem. a million fans will disagree with him. i do too.

    in attack chamakh is due to join so that may probably be the only addition

    in central midfield i have my doubts if wenger will bring any player in…except for a bargain (say mahmadou diarra if he is let go by madrid). wenger might not want to block the devt of lansbury & eastmond.

    my sense is that regardless of what happens to the trio of sol/sylvestre/gallas, wenger will bring a cover in. however if the prices are not right do not be surprised that nordveit or bartley might earn a recall. i expect sol to stay at least.

    @ Dev i also thought what is the problem with arshavin…what was he trying to prove by not passing to a team mate in a better position to score….i did not get good vibes from arshavin at all….

    to be fair to arshavin in the second half he did pass to ball to rvp in the box who then scuffed his shot

    but then again arshavin has refused to pass to walcott in the past… similar sort of situation.

    my disappointment for the season is that maybe we could have spent money in jan…which could have given us a stronger shout at the trophy…then again wenger said he tried to reinforce the squad but the sums being quoted were not realistic….wenger was thinking long term.

    it will be interesting to see which of the loanees/reserve team players break into the 1st team. this will also determine wenger’s outlay in the transfer market.

  • Pete

    Nice article Dev, good to see some love again for the Gunners at the end of another football year. Cheers for all the blogging you’ve done this season mate.

    Like Leeroy, I too haven’t posted anything for a while, but remain a regular reader. It’s been a yo-yo of a season for us, with some spectacular wins, Everton, Liverpool, Wolves and Fulham away, Aston Villa, Porto, and Spurs at home to name a few. But the flip side to that also prevailed in some aweful defeats, some of which have bee harder to tak than others. The defeats haven’t bothered me as much as some of the missed oppertunities we’ve had. Drawing with the likes of West Ham after being 2-0 up, drawing with Birmingham after a chance to extend a 1-0 lead and the recent game at Wigan were far more difficult to take than loss to teams like Barcalona and Chelsea.

    Rightly or wrongly, the lack of trophies doesn’t bother me as much as it appears to bother some others. As far as I see it, our stadium is better than any trophy we could have won in recent years. Thats not to excuse us from missing certain oppertunities to claim silverware, as there’s been a few occasions where we could have won something but haven’t. But I love going to the Grove. It’s miles better than what a lot of other clubs call home, and all my mates who support other clubs agree that the Emirates is an awesome place to go.

    Team-wise, we definately need reinforcements and IMO Chamakh is a good start. His hold up play is very clever, creates alot of space for others, which brings the best out of team mates. Plus, if you’ve watched him play for Bordeaux, you’ll see how quick and agile he is too. Although its early days (he’s not even signed yet!) him and RvP could quite possibly be one of the best striking partnerships we’ve seen at Arsenal for a few years. Here’s hoping things click into place for them early on.

    We all know about our goal-keeping situation, that we need to bring in a new no 1, and a lot of names have been mentioned, Buffon being my personal choice. But the question I have is about who our back up keepeer would be in case of injury. Personally I’m more confident in having Almunia as our no. 2 keeper and than Fabianski, so it might be better to keep Almunia as a back up and sell Fabianski instead.

    As badly as our defence has done this season, most of our centrebacks have shined at certain times. Vermaelen and Gallas have worked well with each other, as has Sol Campbell, but for whatever reason it’s not been enough to stop us conceding so many goals. With Senderos having left already, and with Silvestre and Gallas look like they’ll be gone soon too, a long overdue freshening up of the CB position looks inevitable. Out of all the names I’ve heard mentioned so far, Mexes has been the most impressive. One thing to bare in mind is even if we do renew Campbells contract, we’ll have to replace him in a year or two anyway, so maybe 2 new defenders might be better.

    Lasly, if it’s possible to sign Yaya Toure, like its being repored today, then snap him up. He’d make a great partner to Song in the defending midfield positions. But I’ve a feeling we’re more likely to see Felipe Melo than Kolo’s younger brother.

    Anyhow, here’s to a good summer and another year for Arsenal FC and WOA.

    Cheers.

  • Yemi

    @ LeeroyN:
    Welcome back Leeroy

    @ devday:
    Are you sure walcott was trying to impress capello? I saw capello at the chelsea game, did he make it to the 2 games ?

  • Mehedi

    Well Chamakh is officially coming to emirates.

  • andrew

    @ Pete

    I agree with not being too distraught about not winning trophies. Perspective is everything. I love rooting for the Arsenal and they are always entertaining and competitive. Hey, at least we are not bloody Sp*rs fans!!!!

  • simon rose

    Take Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky. I’ve seen articles in various places shoving aside balance and berating that these two are not good enough and that they must go. That is too generalised and it misses a basic reality. Eduardo and Rosicky are both very talented players but their weak form this season is not a reason to say “thanks for coming, get rid”. They have both missed much of the last few seasons with bad injuries and theirs is the sort of damage that not only afflicts you in obvious physical terms but also creates serious flaws in your physical and mental confidence.

    Eduardo and Rosicky have returned to action during this campaign but were always likely to be in and out due to persistent niggles, which has been the case. This was never a season to judge them. Both players desperately now need a restful summer – which they should get, without World Cup action – and crucially a full pre season without injury. Then they will have a chance to rediscover themselves.

    It is absolutely pivotal that all players get a full pre season behind them, as this is when clubs condition players for the season ahead. There is little time during a season to create fitness, you can mostly only top it up. So if you don’t get a full pre season to hone your fitness you are not suddenly going to gain it later on. If Eduardo and Rosicky can get through the summer and pre-season training then we will have the chance to get a season out of them next time. Then we will see if they can still offer Arsenal something worthwhile. If not, then next summer is the time to say “fine” and call it an end.

    Still, people feel rightly or wrongly, reasonably or excessively, that Arsenal’s squad has been drained of experience in recent seasons and needs a big overhaul because we seem to have become so impotent. Our repeated near misses can tempt you to feel that many of our players are far worse than they really are. Even with our litany of injuries this season, even with Chelsea and United whacking us home and away again, consider how close we would still have been to winning the title if Fabregas and Vermaelen had stayed fit at the end. They were the seams of our side; without them we fell apart at the seams. So maybe we don’t need a massive overhaul, just the right additions.

    Putting aside a mad rampage of hope that many players leave and many come in to replace them, most Arsenal supporters agree that we have some basic requirements. We need to sign a proper goalkeeper, at least one quality central defender, a further defensive midfielder and a finisher. Arsene Wenger has noted several times that we have scored well once again but have conceded too many goals to win the league. It’s a pretty basic analysis, but it’s not wrong. We all know how frustrating it is to see endless attacks come to nothing but even despite that we still score lots of goals. Chelsea might have caned sides with seven goals but a win is a win: enough of them and we could still have picked up the big prize.

    With the right additions we can move up a level, which might be all it takes. Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh looks increasingly set to join. He has shown in the Champions League that he can score at the highest level, all types of goals, including – shock, horror – headers from crosses. We also need a proper goalkeeper. There are suggestions that we are keen on Joe Hart from Manchester City. He would be a brilliant signing. We could have signed him a year ago but now would certainly do. The impressive Gary Cahill of Bolton is being mooted as the central defensive signing and he is a progressive player. But what about the defensive midfielder we need? There is little being suggested yet.

    Well I’ve found him. There is a Premier League defensive midfielder I’ve been watching all season who has impressed me a lot. I think he would be immense for Arsenal. Right now he is not a big name but he is certainly a big man. This guy is big, tall, strong and one hell of a physical machine. He searches down the ball and he challenges hard with no fear. He robs possession in midfield with strong interceptions and sets up play. He hits brilliant, accurate cross-field passes too. Sounds alright doesn’t he? So why has he not come to the surface? Why are Match of the Day or Sky Sports not raving about him? Because he is not at a big club and his team have not done too well this season. Why would we be interested in him then? Because he is real quality and he would develop so well at Arsenal. Much of his work has fallen flat because his team are too weak to take advantage of it. As a relative unknown he may not cost too much and what makes a move to Arsenal particularly plausible is that he is young, 22 and from France.

    He is Mohamed Diame of Wigan Athletic. Signed from Rayo Vallecano last August, Diame has played a full season for Wigan. His team got absolutely whacked at Chelsea on Sunday but they were unstoppable and Diame was still doing his thing. This guy is massive and a real presence. He concentrates on defensive work and does not shirk. He has only scored one goal this season, but what a goal. Diame scored a huge goal for Wigan at Sunderland in February this year. He committed heavy daylight robbery in midfield, pilfering the ball with a strong interception and then weaved his hulking frame through a range of challenges before murdering a shot high into the far corner from the right edge of the penalty area. Check it out on YouTube. This guy does not mess about. Diame is a committed defensive midfielder, who takes his work seriously.

    For me this guy would be immense for Arsenal. Times change, football changes, but when I think of how impressive Patrick Vieira was when he made his debut at home to Sheffield Wednesday, drawing opponents in and making fools of them with his sheer talent, I see parallels with Mohamed Diame. I think he would be a wall for us in midfield. He’s impressed me at Wigan. He still impressed me when they lost 8-0 at Chelsea. Diame could only improve at Arsenal and he would have hugely positive outlets for the possession that he wins and marauds off with. Put it this way, I reckon he’d be better than Denilson.

  • devday

    @ Francis:
    Definitely going to be an interesting season for Lansbury and Eastmond and maybe even Merida if he does stay (you’d guess that he may not go as he has been on the bench recently)… with those three plus more coming through the academy and players like Nasri, Rosicky, Diaby and Denilson to add to Cesc / Song, you’d guess there wouldn’t be any central midfield additions.

  • devday

    @ Pete:
    Good to hear from you and thanks for all your support over the year as well as your comments and opinions! Unfortunately, I don’t see Yaya or Felipe Melo coming in – I genuinely think that Arsene doesn’t think either are better than Alex Song and has others such as Denilson, Eastmond and Diaby who are also earmarked for the DM role if Song is unavailable.

    To a fan like you and me, we don’t consider anyone at the club a DM other than Song, so it’s position we believe we need to strengthen – but in a 4-3-3, there is only room for one DM. And that’s why I don’t think we’ll sign Yaya or Melo – simply because the first choice XI has to have 1 DM and 2 AM’s in the middle…

    If only we could all have a 1 on 1 chat with Arsene to understand what he thinks…

  • devday

    @ simon rose:
    Diame is a decent player, definitely, but he hasn’t left the impression on me that he’s left on you, that’s for sure. I don’t think his passing range is that good and he does give away a lot of fouls. If we were to sign him, it would be as backup to Song rather than straight into the first team… £10m for a backup player – never in a million years!!

    As for Eduardo and Rosicky – both will be here next season and will have a chance to impress – Arsene is doing the right thing and not relying on them – if they come good, it’s a bonus, if not, we have other players who can do a job…