The Bolton aftermath: Lessons that have been learnt and what must be done
The Bolton aftermath: Lessons that have been learnt and what must be done
I just realized how important my esteemed readers are to me. I wrote in my last post that I wasn’t going to mention my readers till next season but I just realized that I wanted to act like a student in high school that decided to register a subject in his school certificate exams because he sucked at it in his school days. With four games left to play, Arsenal just has their pride to play for.
It was expected that the media Vultures, haters and cuntbutlers alike where going to start pointing their bloody fingers at Arsenal after another disappointing campaign it seems that there will be drastic changes next season because AW the Alchemist has finally admitted that his squad needs to be strengthened. He says,
“We have the quality that is for sure. We have to strengthen the squad where it needs and make the right decision on that front. It’s always on my mind every day. The team has had an outstanding attitude and will not be rewarded because of small things, but small things cost you”
There’s one thing I love about Arsenal’s manager AW the Alchemist: The way he talks to the media Vultures. He generalized every flaw Arsenal has had this season as a small thing.
AW the Alchemist said all season long that he believed his side still had the calibre and ability to achieve their first EPL triumph in seven years but after his side managed a meager 8 points from a possible 21 in the business end of the season, his team brought out the white flag and are presently 9 points behind Man Utd with only 4 games to go. Throughout the season, Arsenal created chances, boasted the weight of possession and ultimately had their chance to secure victory in most games, much like the story all season; Arsenal simply didn’t have the hunger and mentality to really kill games because of their profligacy in front of goal.
This season promised much for the Red and White but a lot of factors contributed to Arsenal’s present trophyless predicament. The most notable include injuries to key players, referee incompetence and defensive frailties. If Fabregas and Walcott were present in the Carling Spoon final or if Szczesny ended the Barcelona game and played in the FA Cup quarter final, we might have had a different outcome. We all know how many soft penalty decisions were given against us with the fondest being the penalties Mr. Dowd gave in the Newcastle game. If Wilshere passed that ball to rVp in the Nou Camp, Arsenal would have played Real Madrid tonight because rVp would have done better than B52 in that exact situation.
Before I write about the lessons I feel that have been learnt, I will briefly write about the positives I feel we can take from this season.
For most of the season, signs were good because Arsenal were challenging well for four pieces of silverware but Arsenal’s weakness and bad luck can be clearly chronicled. Facing Barcelona and Man Utd in the Champion’s League and FA Cup was bad luck, and we were beaten by both of them. Both these teams are world class, top five in the world, and it was unfortunate that we had to face them but the Carling Spoon was a little different. A stupid mistake, but essentially Arsenal’s inability to wear down Birmingham handed the Spoon. In the league, the hangover from cup disappointment transcended onto the field, and although it was a largely encouraging season, competing against teams who cost multiple times what ours did, it looks as though we will finish third. AW the Alchemist has acknowledged that he will need to strengthen in the summer, and with his skills in the transfer market, we should be able to challenge in earnest next season.
The last couple of seasons Arsenal have not invested in any way close to the same rate as our rivals, and it’s shown on the pitch. While other teams buy in proven quality in place of young talent, we’ve sold proven quality and promoted our young talent. It’s a good business model, but not the perfect way to win titles. But it seems that the Kroenked One will give AW the Alchemist a nice transfer kitty to work with this summer therefore we will expect fresh blood in the start of the 2011/12 campaign.
Djourou and Nasri came out from the shadows while Szczesny and Wilshere took their chance to become vital pieces of Arsenal’s playing jigsaw puzzle. All of the above players have been capable, we’ve just been waiting, and it’s a relief that they have begun to realize their potential. Nasri, who didn’t even get into the French World Cup squad, has taken the Premiership by storm this season. A Player of the Year nominee, he has proven to be quicker, stronger and have more cutting edge than most gave him credit for while Wilshere, Djourou and Szczesny are all young players who have been waiting for the time to shine. Wilshere won the award for the Young Player of the Year and will probably get over 100 caps for England before he hangs his boots. Djourou has been, for me, the best central defender we have had this season. While he is still capable of making a mistake, this can be attributed to age, and he definitely has all the right elements to become a solid defender, with Thomas Vermaelen, for years to come. Szczesny had a baptism of fire, starting for the first time in the league away to Manchester United. His distribution was poor, but apart from that he was solid. Since then he has improved his distribution, not let a massive mistake (in the Carling Spoon final) affect his confidence, and you’d have to say he’s probably now the first choice goalkeeper at Arsenal, at just 21. African Blondie Song has had a great season, the venom in rVp’s boot has been more potent than a viper. Despite the Barcelona issue, Cesc Fabregas has been on form. Theo Walcott is also becoming a serious danger when he gets into form, despite his supposed lack of football intelligence.
You can’t deny that player performances this season has been a major positive and it will spur us to get even better next season. Listed below as the lessons I feel that have been learnt from another trophyless campaign.
AW the Alchemist has paid the price for not getting Vermaelen’s replacement in the winter transfer window
Bolton’s Gary Cahill was defiant in his performance which epitomized just how poorly AW the Alchemist has been in the transfer market. Djourou and Koscielny have no doubt performed strongly throughout the season, but as strong as they may be, neither really boasts of the title mentality or calibre a side like Arsenal requires. Arsenal was unfortunate to lose defensive leader Thomas Vermaelen in August to a season-ending Achilles injury, but the Gunners have never really boasted a title-winning defensive line, in a long time.
After letting Gallas, Silvestre and Senderos go, AW the Alchemist was gifted the perfect opportunity in the summer to secure the services of quality centre halves but ultimately went for the cheap options of Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci. With the January transfer window coming up, we all thought that AW the Alchemist would have brought in a new center back put he put his faith in the news from his physios that the Verminator would make the Barca game. That has cost us dearly in many games in the turn of the year with the most noteworthy error being Koscielny’s cock up in the Carling Spoon final.
Clichy has lost the plot and must be sold off or be allowed to compete with a better left back
Arsenal’s central defensive woes may have always been a skeptical prospect for a number of years now, but Gael Clichy isn’t exactly doing much better as Arsenal’s veteran left back. The Frenchman, who is renowned as one of the best left backs in the Premier League, has failed to perform consistently and convincingly for some time now despite being a veteran and leader in the young Gunner’s squad.
Since a stellar 2007/2008 season in which the 25-year-old was named PFA left back of the year, the French international has endured inconsistent performances. There is no denying Clichy is a quality full back who possess great speed and stamina alongside being a more than handy attacker, however, at times, the former Cannes defender is a liability in defence with attackers often exposing the frailty of Arsenal’s left side. Clichy’s most notable error this season in that Champions League group stage game against Shakhtar that turned out to be the turning point in group H.
Clichy’s future has come under concern in recent months with talk the Frenchman is being targeted by the likes of Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid. With English international Kieran Gibbs a delightful prospect who due to Clichy is unable to receive adequate opportunities and the speculation Everton’s Leighton Baines could be coming to the Emirates, it may be time for AW the Alchemist to sell Gael Clichy or allow both of them to fight for their place.
Walcott still needs to improve a bit
Despite claims that he lacks a footballing brain, Theo Walcott has done well to become an immense goal threat, and although the constant injuries woes are still evident, the form that the Englishman showed in December, January and February was superb and will aid the speed machine greatly.
However, despite his goal threat, 12 goals this season, Walcott still fails to be as potent as he possibly could. Too often does the English international drift in an out of games despite offering such a threatening attack with his speed. It was much the case against Bolton, Walcott on the right wing as being defended by Paul Robinson, a considerably slower and older opponent.
However, Walcott failed to properly penetrate the Bolton defensive line despite occasionally looking sharp. Similar to what was raised about playmaker Samir Nasri, Walcott needs to see a much larger amount of ball if he is to become the defiant superstar that is clear he can become.
Despite all this, there are steps that can be taken to make Arsenal challenge for honours next season. They include,
Holding unto El Capitan at all fucking cost
This is one which may create contrasting opinions with many believing that he must be sold and Arsenal needn’t keep him any longer. There have been several questions raised about his commitment and his form in general. I for one believe that that he still remains motivated to achieve success with Arsenal and his performances are still top class.
I don’t really question his passion and have always believed that he isn’t a vocal leader. He is fairly subdued on the pitch, and so for some, it gives a feeling that he is no longer interested in playing for Arsenal. For one I believe that he never stops trying, and while his teammates have struggled to finish off some of the chances he has created, he has been playing fairly well in recent times.
It is true that he has been unable to replicate his great form from last year but this is due to a variety of reasons. For one he has been in and out of the team with injury and often Wenger has used him far too quickly which has resulted in him picking up an injury before he has fully recovered from the previous one. Another reason why some people believe that he has been below par is because of the fact that he has struggled to score goals like he did last season. This season he has scored just nine goals which pales in comparison to the 19 he scored last season. But when it comes to assists the numbers are fairly the same with him having 17 this season, just two less than the number he had last season.
El Capitan has been in imperious form over the last few games and I do believe that he is nearing his best. Fabregas’ influence on the team is often lost when we watch the match. For a normal viewer, the influence is decided with what a player does with the ball in his feet but it is the movement of Fabregas that is so crucial to his team. Fabregas represents everything AW the Alchemist hopes to achieve through his long term vision: signing young talent and converting these players not just into good players but into world beaters. When you talk about world class players at Arsenal there are only a few: Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen. And of course Cesc Fabregas. Selling any of these players would be a step backwards for the club and Arsenal cannot afford that. They are in a situation where selling a top class player would further derail the continuity of the long term goals. Arsene Wenger’s vision is based on turning these players into world class performers and then building the team around them. It does not involve them being sold off when a ‘big’ club comes calling.
Also currently Fabregas is undoubtedly one of the world’s best midfielders in football right now and there are few players who can be signed to replace him at a decent price range. That means it would be tough to replace him and while Arsenal have the likes of Nasri, Ramsey in their team, these players are not ready to replace Fabregas especially the latter while some see Nasri as capable of replacing Fabregas. Fabregas is currently one of the best Arsenal players and his creativity and vision are essential for the club and Wenger should hold on to his prized player if Arsenal are to push for the Double next season.
We should also remember that according to Forbes, Arsenal is the 3rd richest club in the World behind Real Madrid and Man Utd so we don’t need the peanuts that broke Barcelona will have to offer.
Signing the right players this summer
AW the Alchemist has hinted that he could make a big transfer splash in the summer but said that he would make only a few changes to the squad. So Arsenal fans can look forward to around two to three players being added into the squad. Some fans have been calling for the Gunners’ boss to go sign, Manuel Neuer who runs out of his contract this summer and will not be renewing it with Schalke 04. But they should ask themselves if Arsenal actually need another goalkeeper with Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski showing so much promise.
Another player that most fans would love to see at the club is LOSC Lille Metropole’s BioHazard of Eden. He may be undoubtedly be one of the most promising talents in Europe right now and he would be a great addition to the squad but once again he does not represent a pressing need. With Ryo Miyaichi and Henri Lansbury coming through the Arsenal ranks, Arsenal needn’t sign the Belgian midfielder.
But what Arsenal does require is a defender. There have been some calls for Le Boss to sign an experienced defender in the summer but that notion I believe is false. Last season Arsenal had the likes of William Gallas, Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre in their squad and yet their defense was hardly better than this season and some would even say it was worse than this year. He signed Squillaci who despite being extremely experienced as turned out to be a major disappointment.
Arsenal should sign a defender that is already established, a player who has proven himself and not an unknown talent. This summer Wenger signed Laurent Koscielny, a fairly unheralded player and he has proven to be a great buy but the problem with signings like him is that they lack experience playing at the top and they lack the leadership that Arsenal requires.
While Koscielny has all the traits required to become a top notch defender he is not what you would define as leadership material and what Arsenal require is a towering centre back, a person who can add not just solidity to the defense but also leadership.
Now I have always believed that Arsenal’s defense is far better that some people give it credit for but the fact remains that both Vermaelen and Djourou are injury prone meaning that Arsenal’s defense may just be missing their two best defenders. That is why Arsenal need to sign another solid defender who has all the traits of a top notch player.
Immediately the player that comes to my mind is Giorgio Chiellini. He is of the right age, has plenty of experience and is extremely versatile. Another player is Jan Vertonghen. The Ajax defender is another no-nonsense defender who would be a welcome addition to the squad. Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund would be another good addition to the squad.
But Chiellini would be the best bet in my opinion.
Wenger has a penchant for signing unknown players and while they may come cheap and they do have potential they lack experience at the top level which is required for Arsenal to clinch trophies.
Flushing out the below par players
Every team has sub-par players and so does Arsenal. Arsenal has the likes of Denilson, Diaby, TR7, the Squisha and Manuel Almunia.
These players have shown that they are just not good enough to play for Arsenal and their time to go is up. By keeping such players, Le Boss is not just wasting space on the squad he is also increasing the wage bill. It’s tough to fathom that these players could have their futures at Arsenal and the best thing would be to sell them now itself.
The media Vultures are predicting that AW the Alchemist is set to clean out the squad and he looks set to axe the flops. This would be the ideal move both in terms of the future and the present. We have seen Denilson struggle time and time again this season and yet some believe that he should be kept because he is young. Sure he is young and has potential but the reason he should be sold is far simpler: he is simply not cut out to play the Arsenal style of play. The only time he is used is as back up to Alex Song. But he lacks the attributes to be successful in this role and so he will always struggle to be successful at Arsenal.
Almunia and Squillaci have been truly shocking this season and keeping them is unnecessary. Also in both the departments there are plenty of promising youngsters coming through who can have bright futures at the Emirates. Removing such players is especially helpful considering the recent limit on players in your squad and it also reduces Arsenal’s fairly large wage bill. Instead Wenger should give an opportunity for Arsenal’s youngsters as back up players and he should look to give them the occasional run in the domestic cups.
I just hope that AW the Alchemist gets it right next season but no matter what he does, we the fans still have to respect his decisions because he had been at the helm of affairs for 15 good years. The only managers that can count for longevity include Sir Alex Chewie, Thomas Schaaf and David Moyes amongst others.
In other news, Gunner Ryu Miyaichi was voted as the 5th best signing in the EreDivisie unlike Chamakh and the Squisha that entered the other category according to Goal.com
AA23 is wanted again by his only other club and previous employers Leningrad FC.
The tweet of the day goes to @sickipediabot’
“@sickipediabot: I can’t play FIFA anymore because it’s just too unrealistic. I just won the League….with ARSENAL”
Be the judge of that.