Sunday, 29 May 2011

Gunner Or Gonner?

One of the most exciting periods of the football season is upon us...even though it is all over! The summer transfer market goes a long way to shaping the destiny of the premier league title almost a year before the trophy gets handed over to whoever splashes the most cash. It is also of course a chance for teams to shift the dead weight, get rid of those who would have been better served playing at left-back (in the changing room)

Here I am going to evaluate the current Arsenal squad and give my verdict on wether next season they will be a gunner or a goner. See what i did there :)

Wojciech Szczesny: Any player who can cram two z's into there surname before they even have a vowel is alright with me. The pole had a pretty incredible season; league debut at old trafford, champions league debut against Barcelona, and he more than held his own whenever he played even if he does lack experience. He probably could do with an experienced keeper behind him giving him guidance but this decision is easy: GUNNER

Bacary Sagna: A consistent player, making premier league team of the year, even if that was done to the general lack of quality in that area across the league. Didnt have his best season for me but his place has never been under threat, but then again, wh would ever feel threatened by Emanuelle Eboue?

Laurent Koscinielny: Everything that is wrong with Arsene Wenger's transfer policy. There is an abbundance of world class centre halves in world, even english, football, but la proffesuer has to be seen as a genius who can do it on a shoe string. So rather than spend £15 million on say Jagielka or Cahill, we get a bargain basement numpty with only 1 year of french ligue 1 experience. Nice one Arsene. started off poor with a red on league debut, at fault for the winning goal in the carling cup final and just never looked like impressing all year

Thomas Vermaelen: One of the easiest decisions on this list. The guy was immense last year, a real throw-back to the days of Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Steve Bould. And he can score goals too! So losing him right at the beginning of the season for almost the whole year was a major body blow and one we probably never recovered from. Getting him a solid partner next year should be of the utmost importance!

Gael Clichy: A tricky one. World class on his day and a player I would love to stay, but if the rumours are to be believed, he wants to leave this summer so whatever i think is irrelevant but hey-ho.
Gunner(but I doubt he will be)

Alexandre Song: A man mountain, he was incredible this season, getting better and better every game. He plays the 'Makalele role' ( I hate that term, what was it before he came along anyway?) so well, only with more goals. He adds the muscle we previously lacked in the midfield

Cesc Fabregas: Ok so he wasnt at his mercurial best this year, but he is still one of very few genuinely world class players at the emirates. He sees passes that no one else can see (except maybe Xavi, Iniesta, see where this is going). The only problem is where his heart lies and we all know he wants to be in Catalunya warming the bench for Barca. Still, I want him to stay for a long long time.
Gunner(but likely to go)

Jack Wilshere: Grew from boy to man in 1 season. An amazing full debut season for the youngster, even more so when you consider he had homework to get done along with training! He got better and better as the season progressed, gaining confidence and assurance on the ball that would befit a player 10 years older than him. His performance against Barcelona at the Emirates was amazing, controlling a midfield containing the worlds best. A future Arsenal, and England, Captain.

Samir Nasri: In the fest few months of the season, he was the best player in the league, without question. His goal return was excellent, his assists return was excellent, and he dazzeled us with skill. However after christmas things tailed off and his contributions became less and less. Maybe talks of a possible move to Inter Milan where weighing on his mind? Even so, with only 18 months remaining on his contract the equation is simple: Extend his contract now, or lose him on the cheap.

Theo Walcott: He's just gone sideways. Not got any better, not got any worse. 4 goals in his openeing 3 games of the season (including a hat-trick against Blackpool) left fans thinking a corner had been turned, but alas, it was not to be. The end product is still lacking on the majority of occasions and that is a problem that urgently needs to be adressed if he is to have a future with Arsenal. Just being a bit quick isnt enough if you dont know what to do with the ball. The first couple of months next season will be massive for him.

Robin Van Persie: Without a doubt, RVP was our MVP for the second half of the season, breaking records along the way; Most cosecutive away goals scored, Most goals in the second half of the season. What a shame he didnt have a first half of the season. Once again injury blighted his season and deprived us of a world class forward we desperately needed. Luckily hes signed on for another 5 years so happy days.

In Breif:

Manuel Almunia:         lets face it, hes just really, really, not good.                                 Goner
Sebastien Squallaci:    Why? just an awful excuse for a defender                                   Goner
Johann Djourou:          Excellent when called upon, solid and relieable.                          Gunner
Keiran Gibbs:              Needs to improve defencively but clichy's natural successor        Gunner
Abou Diaby:                Seems to have a fear of shooting, do something with it!               Goner
Denilson:                     Wants to go, i'll open the door for him on the way out.                Goner
Tomas Rosicky:         Just adds nothing, what is the point of him? Goodbye.                 Goner
Aaron Ramsey:          Awesome on his return from injury, will be amazing.                   Gunner
Andrey Arshavin:       What a waste of £15 million. Such promise, never fulfiled           Goner
Nic Bendtner:             Played out of position, but still woeful.                                       Goner
Marouane Chamakh: Started off well, but then stopped when RVP returned.             Gunner

Thats all this week, feel free to leave whatever comments you like in reference to the blog. Next week; who is going to come in for us?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

In review

So that's it. The football season is once again over for arsenal fans.  But where did a season that promised so much to start with go so badly wrong?

I think the first thing to remember is that at the beggining of the season Arsenal were all but written off by all the pundits, unlikely to finish in the top four we where told. Our squad is too small, not enough depth, not enough experience. How could we possibly compete with the financial might of chelsea, manchester united and manchester city? Tottenham are on the rise and surely this could be Liverpool's year. Well we should them all right? Right? Erm, not quite...

We did manage to finish in the top four, but we had led the league for so long, against all the odds. Our threadbare squad doing me proud. In the middle of February everything was looking great, we were flying high in the league, still in the FA cup, about to face Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions league, and, perhaps best of all, a Carling Cup final to look forward to. A chance for our first silverware in 6 years. Since Patrick Vieira smashed home the winnig penalty in the 2005 cup final. Things couldnt possibly get any better could they? Nothing was going to stop the might Arsenal on their charge for four trophies, the unprecedented quadruple.

Nothing perhaps, except the ineptitude and inexperience of an Arsenal backline that wouldn't look out of place in a pre-school. A backline that was lacking in a true leader , an organiser, someone in the mould of Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Steve Bould. If only someone, or 60,000 people every week, had pointed this out to our esteemed manager.

For in the 90th minute of our first Wembley appearance since the famous two towers where brought down to be replaced by the arch, the dreams of all Arsenal fans where brought down in much the same fashion as the old marble. A simple long ball down the middle, the bread and butter of defenders and goalkeepers the world over. Except at Arsenal. For we do things a little differently. As Laurent Koscielny, several million pounds worth of centre back, forgot the one golden rule of defending. The one thing any school boy will tell you; if in doubt get it out. But oh no. To cut a long story, hes a muppet, Wojciech Szczesny isnt old enough to know better and Obafemi Martins decided to pick this one moment in his Birmingham career to do something useful. Cheers Oba.

Oh well, it was only the Carling cup, we still have the big three to look forward to. And who's next forus? The mighty Leyton Orient, bring it on. Promptly dispatched  5-0. And a hat-trick for Bendtner? Wow things are on the up.

 So on to Sunderland and our relentless pursuit of the league title we hadn't won since 2004 and the mighty invincibles. This should be easy. But 90 goal free minutes later it was clear to see that Birmingham was a little more than a blip. Confidence was low and we never looked like scoring. Not ideal when your next opponents are the mighty Barcelona.

And so it proved. We were hammered. Destroyed. Not even a single shot on goal. We were humiliated. Out of two cups in the space of two weeks, about to head to Old Trafford for an FA cup tie, and not looking like we could buy a win, as if Wenger would buy anything anyway.

We lost again. This was not good. We were becoming a laughing stock. Out of three of our four, our season was decending in to farce. We only had the league to play for, but four draws out of our next six games put paid to that. Even though we then beat Manchester United we knew our season was over. A season that promised so much but ended with so little. Not even the guarantee of Champions League football next season. The doubters were proven right. Finishing the season in fourth, 12 points away from the league champions.

And there we have it. A season that offered so much but ultimately gave so little. But will i give up on my Arsenal? No chance. I'll be there next season, fighting our corner, cheering us on, defending the un-defendable, Because there is no better feeling than seeing your team lifting a trophy, any trophy, on the final day of the season, and its even sweeter when its the team you have worshiped since you were a boy.