The question that is evident in my mind… is… Are we actually resolving the problems from last season? Or are we just trying to “survive” another summer, improve a little, try not to sell players… Now I know we have not yet completed our summer spending on transfers (well, let’s hope not), so perhaps there is more to come…
But it’s time to review what problems we had last season, and how we are going about or have gone about fixing them in the summer so far. The key issues we faced, which ultimately let us down are noted below.
- Goalkeeping Issues
- Defensive Problems
- Individual Mistakes
- Reliance On One Striker
- Strength In Depth
- No Variation In Play
- No Flexibility In Formation
Let’s rattle through the list and see what we’ve done…
Nothing has changed in the goalkeeping department over summer, and there is little or no noise about the position. I think many people see Szcznesy as our number one now and now that he’s had a few games under his belt, the experience factor may improve him next season. A lot of people, including myself thought Almunia would have left by now – but as of yet, there haven’t been any takers. As things stand, we’re going into 2011/2012 with Fabianski as number 2, Mannone as number 3 and Almunia as number 4… Good enough? No, I don’t think so. Szcznesy is a good player, but he is still young and inexperienced – would I like to see a new face in the squad – I would have loved to have brought in Maarten Stekelenburg, who is on the verge of a £6m move to Roma. Will it happen, no, definitely not.
Have we improved? No.
The defensive problems have been very evident for all to see – Arsenal fan or not. At the beginning of the transfer window, Arsene said we’d recruit experienced and tall defenders – possibly two. As things stand, we have yet to recruit one – despite failed bids for Phil Jones, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Chris Samba. Will we buy? I hope we do. Out of our 4 centre backs, only Vermaelen is reasonably good – Squillaci is very bad and Djourou and Koscielny wouldn’t be first choice at any other club.
Have we improved? No.
There are 6 players who consistently make individual mistakes down at the ‘Grove. Clichy, Eboue, Walcott, Djourou, Koscielny and Almunia. Almunia, Clichy and Koscielny’s mistakes costs us over 15 points and the Carling Cup. Szcznesy cost us a few too – especially Sp*rs away. So how have we improved it? Well, for starters, we have sold Clichy, but will Gibbs be mistake free or will he suffer a learning curve which means he ends up making the same mistakes. Almunia has been relegated to #4 in the pecking order – or perhaps he will leave – has Szcznesy still got a few errors in him. Djourou, Koscielny and Walcott all have another year on them, so perhaps that will help and of course, the return of Vermaelen will mean the two defenders will play less. Eboue may also be on the way out – Jenkinson has already made a massive mistake in the crazy own goal he scored the other day, and how many more does he have in his locker?
Have we improved? Unsure. Probably not by much!
Reliance On One Striker
With Van Persie being our obvious first choice and Arsene not having much faith in the likes of Bendtner & Chamakh, there was a high level of reliance on one striker last season. This meant our play was predictable and it also meant that VP lost a little cutting edge. With the arrival of Gervinho, who has looked pretty lively so far in pre-season, it’s clear that we have another option. Although Bendtner is most likely moving on, Carlos Vela’s return may mean that we’ve got four striker to rotate including Chamakh – who, with another season under his belt, should be a little better…
Have we improved? Yes!
Strength In Depth
We’ve seen Clichy and Denilson leave – we’re about to see Bendtner and Eboue leave – we’ve brought in Jenkinson and Gervinho and have the returning Ramsey and Traore. Have been increased our strength in depth. No way, hose! We’ve done the opposite. We are now weaker. Ouch.
Have we improved? Hell No!
Arsene Wenger announced at the beginning of the season that the lack of experience had let us down. Considering the team has more Premier League appearances than most other sides, I don’t think experience let us down, I think it was more down to mental fragility. But, AW said he was going to buy experience and frankly, that’s not happened. Clichy was the most experienced, he’s now gone. Jenkinson is very inexperience – in fact, he’s never played a Premier League game – neither has Gervinho…
Have we improved? Hell No!
I’ve combined the last two points into one. Last season, we saw the likes of Bendtner and Chamakh deployed on the wings. We also saw a 4-1-4-1 formation deployed permanently – if we were winning, losing or drawing – the formation never changed. In pre-season, there has been no sign of any change in formation – but perhaps the personnel are better suited to the position – players like Gervinho and Miyachi may fair better on the wings than Chamakh and Bendtner…
Have we improved? Maybe.
We have a month left in the transfer window and we all know it only takes a few days to get a transfer sorted. Fingers crossed we get the height, experience and strength in depth we all want. If we don’t, they as much as I love the Arsenal, I can tell you right now, it’s going to be a very tough season for us.
I’ve off to Luxembourg to see Lady WOA, but JAT and Debs will be looking after you in the meantime…
Here’s to an exciting Emirates Cup weekend, let’s see what we’re made of and start the season with a trophy! (Well, kind of!)…