What Should we Expect from Arsenal this Season?
So the transfer deadline day has come and gone but there was no activity in North London. The red half at least.
Winning yet another FA Cup trophy was a good platform for the team and the players were aiming higher as well. The preseason campaign was wonderful and beating Chelsea in the Community Shield was a springboard for what I thought was going to be one Hell of a campaign. Arsenal had won every preseason game so it looked like they were taking no prisoners.
Then West Ham came to town and it was back to Ground Zero.
I was shocked with what I saw at the Emirates – the finishing was atrocious, there was little or no cohesion in the team’s play and to top things off, the veteran world class goalie had a nightmare debut. The win against Crystal Palace was scrappy no doubt, but it was highly welcome, bearing in mind that the team had lost three points in the curtain raiser. Then there was the game of two halves against Liverpool and most recently, that terribly disappointing win against 10-man Newcastle.
After witnessing the opening four games of the Premier League that saw the Gunners pick up seven points from a possible 12, there was a conclusion that was unanimously agreed by everyone connected with the club – the finishing was a major concern, not creativity and if the lads continued to throw away chances, it would do more harm than good in the long term.
The quickest ‘solution’ would have been for the club to delve into the transfer market to sign that forward that would improve the team but the manager made it clear that he wasn’t going to sign any player for the ‘sake of doing it’, which obviously meant that if he didn’t see anyone better than what he currently had, then there’d be no activity. There were a few targets here and there but in the end, no deal was brokered to bring any player to North London, which essentially means that we are heading into the full campaign with our current crop of players.
So what should we expect from Arsenal this season?
Starting with the team, the shaky defensive start to the season has become more stable in recent games, with two clean sheets on the trot against Liverpool and Newcastle. While the Gunners would have Petr Cech and some last-ditch defending to thank for the shutout against Liverpool, it was a different prospect against Newcastle but the home side’s red card ensured that the team would be on the back foot and it was a good clean sheet nonetheless.
Arsenal’s defensive resolve would be tested when they visit Stamford Bridge this month but I hope to see improved performances from the regulars while the backups would still put in a shift when they’re called upon. From what I’ve observed this season, Arsene Wenger’s regular back four is the combination of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the heart of the defense with Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin on the flanks. This means that there would be times when the likes of Kieran Gibbs, Matt Debuchy, Gabriel Paulista and Calum Chambers would have to put a decent shift when they are called upon, like the latter duo against Liverpool. Following Mertesacker’s illness, Gabriel kept his place and was solid.
In midfield, the Gunners are relatively stocked and even with injuries to Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere, the blow hasn’t been felt but Mesut Ozil’s absence was felt against Newcastle. With the manager’s
failure refusal to sign a holding midfielder, it’s evident that he’s laying his eggs in a Francis Coquelin basket with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini serving as backups. The Aaron Ramsey conundrum seems to continue and it seems that Santi Cazorla would remain in the deeper role, thus inhibiting his attacking prowess, for the good of the team. Arteta was faced with a similar situation and it seems Santi has followed suit.
My major concern is in attack. Alexis Sanchez isn’t up to scratch (you can’t blame him really), Theo Walcott isn’t a center forward (those misses against Newcastle tho!), Danny Welbeck’s fitness is a major concern and Olivier Giroud… well.
Wenger wants goals to come from the entire team and I’m hoping the players repay the faith the boss has shown in them with his reluctance to add a new player. It speaks in volumes for Arsene Wenger and the club. I just hope that it doesn’t come to
For competitions, I’d be honest. Arsenal doesn’t have a squad capable of winning the Champions League and it won’t be an easy feat winning the Premier League. The least I expect from the league this year would be a meaningful title challenge and I hope to see it come to pass. The squad’s best shot at silverware would be from a familiar source, the FA Cup, and with Wenger’s penchant for fielding ‘weakened’ teams in the Capital One Cup, I guess it’s just the FA Cup to be mindful about then.
There are a lot of games to look forward too, and I can only hope that the team matches the expectations of the fans.
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