Are we actually resolving the problems from last season?

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
  • Experience
  • No Variation In Play
  • No Flexibility In Formation

Let’s rattle through the list and see what we’ve done…

Goalkeeping Issues

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.

Defensive Problems

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.

Individual Mistakes

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!

Experience

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!

No Variation In Play & No Flexibility In Formation

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!)…

Speak soon!

  • Domhuaille

    Oh Devday you are soooooooo eager to be negative and blinkered that you omit important facts and distort others! Here is what is actually happening:

    Goalkeeping Issues: We have a very talented and reliable keeper in Szcesny. He could be #1 in any EPL team. We have Fabianski who makes an excellent backup and Mannone who has shown his talent in a number of loans se we didnt need to bring anyone in as all three have EPL experience.

    Defensive Problems:you say Djourou and Koscielny wouldn’t be first choice at any other club but that ISN’T true as both WERE first choice, either for their national teams or Ligue 1 side. They are not superstars but they are young and getting better so your forced negativity won’t work here. We do ,I believe ,need someone to partner Vermaelen and to back up Gibbs but that is going to be resolved I feel.

    Individual Mistakes: Wow! You are soooooooo pessimistic and shit-minded you love to focus on the worse possible scenario rather than reality. your statement that 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, is ridiculous in the extreme. Every EPL player makes mistakes that cost the team games. Van Der Sar, among the best keeper sin the world cost United 2 points last season when he bobbled a ball into his own net, as did Cech at Chelsea. Ray Parlous scored 2 own goals yet he was considered the best defender AFc had at the time! Jenkinson has played 3 games and made 1 mistake, so what! He will make more but he is a big improvement over Eboue and Denilson.

    Strength In Depth: God you’re such a cretin! We’ve got Ryo Miyachi, trying out Frimpong, Bartley and Lansbury, bought Gervinho and Jankinson so far. We got rid of Denilson, JET, and Clichy, have Ramsey and Vermaelen fit! How is that making us weaker? If we lose Nasri AND Cesc then we might have a problem if we don’t replace them!

    Experience: Gervinho has experience in one of the hardest league’s in the world with a better defensive record than the EPL (fewer goals scored per game). Jenkinson played in the championship so he has experience. With Vermaelen and Ramsey back, Ryo having played in the Eredevise, and the entire team one year smarter and more mature, we aren’t as bad as you say.

    Do us a favour and try and write some fair-minded, positive and based on the truth, not your weak-minded ranting, the next time!

  • afc4life

    Domhuaille wrote:
    Why are you always so abusive towards devday.
    I agree with his points. They’re not negative – in fact, they are an accurate representation of what’s happened this summer.

    Answer me these questions:

    - Would Djourou or Koscielny get into Man United, Man City or Chelsea’s team?

    - Do you think playing Bendtner and Chamakh wide left & right last season is good or do you think we should have changed to 4-4-2

    - Have individual mistakes from clichy not cost us SERIOUS points

    - Have we bought anyone with Premier League experience?

    - Have we bought anyone “tall” and “aggressive” (Arsene’s quotes)

    - Have we bought a new centre back?

    How on earth do you expect us to be better when we have not improved yet? Whilst United, Chelsea, Liverpool and City are spending a lot of money on quality players!

  • arsefan101

    @ Domhuaille:
    What makes jenkinson a “Big improvement over eboue and denilson”, based on some two-bit friendlies against some random sides?

  • Domhuaille

    @ afc4life :D evday invites criticism as he always sees the most negative,pessimistic and gloomy options when inevitably the reality is not as bad as he claims.I exercise my right to contradict his or anyone’s opinions,as you exercise yours.

    In response to your arguments:

    1)There is no guarantee or proof they would or wouldn’t get into those teams but if they did they’s surely get less crap from their fans than we throw at them each week.They are experienced EPL defenders and likely would acquit themselves well in any top 4 team.
    2)With the in injuries and absences we had, as well as the fall off in form of so many midfielders and strikers over the run-in, we could have played 11-1 formation and it wouldn’t have helped. When RVP came back Wenger played a 4-1-4-1 formation and he scored 18 goals in 19 games! Bendtner has had his opportunity to show what he can do and has failed to impress Wenger. Chamakh was benched once RVP returned and rarely got a chance to play so you are comparing apples and oranges.
    3)Individual mistakes from Almunia,Squillaci,Fabianski and Eboue have cost us important points. Clichy’s overall performance last year was sub-par but our real failure was our inability to hold onto a good lead and that is a team problem NOT an individual players’ problem.
    4)What’s with this insistence on EPL experience? You all are believeing too much of this crap the media and blogs vomit out about how great EPL experience is. When we brought our first class players like Henry,Cesc, Nasri, Arshavin, Szcesny, RVP, Wilshere, Ramsey, Song, Vermaelen etc. did they have ANY EPL credentials…..No!
    5)Is the transfer window closed? Will we be buying anyone ¨tall¨and ¨aggressive¨….who knows but your whining about it while the season is still 4 weeks away is ridiculous!
    6)We are in for another CB apparently, according to all the pundits,media and shite blogs out there so if you’re basing your information, (and I know you are) on this tabloid trash, then we will be buying 10 players who are tall,aggressive,British and all CB’s.

    We are stronger than we were at he end of last season, since we have top class players returning from injury (Vermaelen, Ramsey,Frimpong, Fabianski) and new faces who will really add strength to the first team or as substitutes: Ryo, Lansbury, Bartley, Gervinho, Jenkinson, etc. Neither of us have a crystal ball but I am quite happy with progress so far unlike the gloomy-doomer Gooners who moan regardless of what improvements Aw and the Board make.

  • Domhuaille

    @ afc4life:Jenkinson has desire, possess a good attitude, is tough in the tackle, will improve under Wenger, has youth on his side and is disciplined. Denilson and Eboue both lacked some or all of the above.

  • arsefan101

    Frimpong?? He’s never played a premier league game!
    Neither have Ryo, Lansbury, Bartley, Gervinho or Jenkinson!

    Don’t get me wrong – we’re not all doom or gloom but we’re certainly no stronger this season then last season, that’s for sure!

  • afc4life

    @ Domhuaille:
    Read this article from 2008:

    http://worldofarsenal.co.uk/2008/03/25/a-look-at-arsenals-squad-why-its-not-all-doom-and-gloom/

    “Keeping our squad fit for the season will be our main target. Having Van Persie & Rosicky fit for the season and squad members such as Diaby & Denilson fit for when they’re needed will be the injection we need. We have players returning such as Carlos Vela and Pedro Botelho – the left winger we’ve all been calling for and then in November, the return of Eduardo.”

    We have to stop believing in our own rubbish that players like Frimpong & Gibbs & Jenkinson will help us win the title.

    We need leaders, captains, strong personalities…

    We delude ourselves every summer that we can compete, but never do!

  • devday

    @ Domhuaille:
    Hey! My articles aren’t all doom & gloom – they’re sometimes very positive… today’s article was a relatively accurate summation of what’s happened so far this summer!!

  • Domhuaille

    @ devday:Relatively accurate? Not by a long shot….had it been written after August,maybe, and had AFc not done anything since July, maybe but that isn’t the case. I don’t believe you’re a full-fledged member of the Gloomy-Doomer Gooners mob but we need to be realistic and patient.

  • Domhuaille

    @ arsefan101:Frimpong, Ryo, Lansbury, Bartley, Gervinho and Jenkinson have all shown their stuff on loan or in tough leagues in Europe. As I mentioned before, none of our great players of 2002-3 had played in the EPL when they were signed but they did manage to become the Invincibles! The above may or may not make it in the EPL but your negativism and denigration of their potential is scurrilous and unwarranted!

  • devday

    @ Domhuaille:
    Mate – I started the article with:

    “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…”

    Just taking stock where we are mate – I will not cast serious serious judgement until the end of August!

  • Domhuaille

    @ devdayAlmost your entire article was devoted to how Arsenal haven’t fully addressed the needs for improvement so far….hope that your next one will have a more balance view since we are all fedup with the pessimism being showered on us like Redknapp’s urine!

  • gareth

    im glad the majority of us can differentiate between nasri and cesc.

    Cesc has given us 8 years of his best, the only one of our players that would be a starter in some of the best arsenal sides we’ve seen. I hold no grudge with cesc, he never wanted to go to madrid, nor city, nor utd or chelsea just his youth club. Cesc is just like us only richer, he believed in wenger once and lost faith and wants to have a career which reflects his quality. He has watched rubbish like anderson and mikel pick up trophies in this country and many a time gave his all to pick up trophies for this club for years.

    Nasri is trying to justify a move after giving us 3-4 months of quality. I’ll never boo the guy whilst in arsenal colours, but he just wants to move to a team where many of his peers will do the hard work for him and he can pick up a medal. Dont reall care for nasri although we’d certainly miss him, if he left.

  • edison

    in all fairness there isnt much going on in terms of improvement for arsenal…. YET

    A lot can happen in a month, and frankly, a lot needs to happen. lets hope it does.

    devday raises some very good points, and its the whole intention of a blog to spark debate, so it ticks all the boxes for me!

  • rado

    spot on Dev spot on.

  • agentsmurf

    To me everything we know about Cesc points to a man who would never shirk a challenge. In coming to Arsenal at age 16 he had to defy the entire Barcelona youth system which is no small feat. Then, stepping into the Arsenal team he was surrounded by not just great players but legends, World Cup winners, and he had to compete with those legends for a starting spot at one of the biggest clubs in Europe. As he grew into the team and the club started to turn out the lights on our past, he faced his former mentor in the Champions League and against Juventus put on a master class where he merely scored the opener and set up the second.

    He was 18.

    Since then there have been a string of moments in his life where a normal man might give up or stubbornly refuse to play along. The Spanish World Cup run, for example. Given the coveted number 10 jersey and yet stuck on the bench as Xavi and Iniesta played rondo with the opposition. A lesser man might have moaned. He simply waited. When the moment presented itself, late in extra time, he passed to Iniesta for the winning goal of the World Cup.

    Cesc is clearly a man with a will that has been cut from granite and who has never taken the easy path. If he’s decided that he needs to go back to Barcelona it’s not because it would be the easy way out as many have suggested. It’s because he wants the challenge.

    I’m not one who dismisses him and says “have fun on the Barca bench.” Maybe I once was, but I’ve come around to the notion that Cesc’s class will out and the man will be a starter for Barcelona. Maybe not right now, not in the very first season, but certainly in the next few years. And these are years he has time to give — he is only 24 years old. And if he has to sit on the bench for a year and slowly win a starting spot then I have no doubt he will be strong enough mentally to do it.

    I don’t know what chess game Wenger is playing with Cesc and Barcelona but the Catalan club seem content waiting this one out and seeing if Arsenal or Cesc will crack under the pressure of their constant media barrage. Maybe Arsenal’s position is simple; stand by your valuation of the player. But at some point the club needs to take the player out of the bubble-wrap he’s been in for the last few weeks and either integrate him back into the team or sell him for the price on the table. That is, if Cesc forces the issue.

    So far he’s kept counsel and hasn’t put in an official transfer request. Whether that’s out of loyalty to the fans, fealty to the boss, down to a matter of money or part of all three is unknown. But I get the sense that he’s made up his mind and that he’s waiting for Barcelona to pawn the farmhouse and buy him for the price Arsenal want in the time frame that Arsenal want to sell. If that happens, he gets the move he wants, leaving us fans with fond memories, Arsenal a lump of cash to replace him, and he keeps his loyalty payment: a win-win-win-win if you will.

    And I suspect that there’s no amount of player transfers in to Arsenal that will convince him otherwise. Gervinho looks like another coup by the boss and already the team are hailing him as the next Pires. Arshavin is saying the team are working on their poor defensive record in dealing with set plays. Rumors abound that Wenger has bid for some Englishman to come in and organize the defense. Juan Mata’s family have reportedly jetted in to talk with Arsenal and every blog has used a pun on Mata = matter this morning, which confirms that something is going on, or that everyone reads John Cross’ column. Meanwhile, Arsene is refusing to sell Samir Nasri and has even forced the New Zidanebayor to join the team’s pre-season preparations.

    Which begs the question: if Arsenal bought Christopher Samba’s head or Gary Cahill’s passport would it make a difference to Cesc? I don’t think his jib is cut that way. Once he decides something, it’s done and the only thing the rest of us can do is hang on while he implements his plan. After all, waiving good bye to us is easy compared to leaving your boyhood club at age 16 for a chance at a new life in a strange land surrounded by giants in your chosen career.

    Still, he might surprise us and dedicate his future to Arsenal. Maybe he’ll grow weary of the constant dicking around by Barcelona? Maybe he’ll look at the two challenges and decide that building Arsenal into a Champions League winning team is the more rewarding path? Maybe the thought of playing with Juan, Gervinho, and Gaz Cahill will excite something in him?

    By not putting in the transfer request he has left that door wide open. Yet another shrewd move by the kid with the granite will.

  • jermy

    With these two latest (Strong) rumours…we can see what AW is up to

    He’s playing hard ball with barcawhores – mpay up or shut up…knowing full well that Cesc IS going to go…so he’s ensuring he gets as much moolah for him as possible…he’s bringing in Mata and holding onto Nasri in the hope his plan works and Nasri does indeed sign a
    new contract and shoring up the defence with Jagielka….

    We still need a goalie though…Shez is going to be the business but isn’t quite ready for a full season….Given would have been ideal….also we do need a new left back Enrique woould fit in very well…..Baines is a no go if we do get Jagkiela, as there’s no way Moyes will let 2 of his defence go.

    Sorrrted!

    I hope! :fingerscrossed:

  • yemi

    i agree with @ devday: on the article, but i alos see the point @ Domhuaille: is trying to make here.

    My answer to the GK situation is this. I will like schzezney to remain number one, but i will also want an experienced GK who can help mould him into a world class Gk.

    On the defensive side, Clichy has always been one of our best players until talks of him leaving started coming up 2 seasons ago and he has never been the same since then. Gibbs is also not the answer to clichy leaving (he is not yet there) ,Jose Enrique or baines would be an improvement. we need a better LB so that is doom.
    Our CB surely needs improvement and i believe an english player would be better because i believe they are more committed. Cahill would be an improvement , samaba would be too even though he is not english. Jagielka is not tall so i don’t fansy him so much even though he is a good defender but will he be so much an improvement on djourou/KOS? i dont think so, maybe.
    Jenkinson is definitely an improvement over ebuoue cos he is a better defender and a better crosser of the ball. yes he made a mistake in preseason friendly but ebuoue also cost us 3 points against liverpool with a bit of inexperience defending
    Asides those, i think we also need an out an out striker. Get Lukaku and we are ready to roll.

    In summary,
    We all agree that we needed improvement in some key areas namely GK, CB, LB, RB2, DM wingers, striker.
    Have we improved in those areas ?
    -GK (No, we remain the same but not worse)
    -CB (marginal improvement with the return of TV)
    -LB (No, a bit less)
    -RB2 (Yes, We always talked about a backup for sagna and i believe we have that in Jenkinson)
    -DM (Marginally in quantity with the inclusion of frimpong, If we get a CB, i think KOS can also play that role)
    -Wingers (Yes, With the signing of gervinho)
    -Striker ( No, Nothing on that front, but we need an out an out striker)

    Not all doom and gloom, but not yet uhuru

  • Gooner Get Ya

    On the cusp of a new season and we already have two long term injuries…déjà vu anyone :-) PS. Wenger sign some f**king players.

  • Bonathan

    I think wenger sees gervinho as being able to play the central striker role as well. Thus far we are told that gervinho is more of a winger. but there’s no doubt with his physique, pace and eye for goal that he could be converted to play there. We all know how wenger has converted players to different positions in the past and I think wenger will be looking for him to cover there striking position just as much as he will the wide position.

    Also, i think we’ll see us adopt a 442 a little more this season. Not as our main formation, but i think we’ll change to it more than we did last season when appropriate. In this instance i see him (and walcott also) both being given the chance to play as a roaming striker.

    certainly, i can’t see walcott ever being a lone central striker. he just does not have the build, but gervinho could. IAs i said though, i think we’ll maybe see a little of walcott this season as a striker in a 442 now and then.

  • Berth

    Squillaci isn’t helping Djourou he is damaging him