The new season is upon us and to celebrate I want to have a look forward and a look back at the same time. Many of you regulars follow me on twitter and those that do know that I am getting married in a few weeks (mid-September) so blogging time is scarce at the moment and I’ll probably be hosting a number of guest posts over the new few weeks so keep an eye out for them and get in touch if you want to write something yourself.
First things first I believe that we are ideally situated to win something this season. I know we say that every year but this year is different as I said in this post last week.
I don’t want to get caught up on Van Persie as I’ve already expressed my feelings on this but I want to say this and I want to make it clear that I have tried my best to allow bias to dictate my views. I believe that despite United going close last year that there squad is completely underwhelming and that even the addition of RvP does not improve them that much (as their midfield is poor IMO) so I think we should be focusing on challenging Man City who haven’t improved much at all.
We’ve obviously had a fantastic summer player acquisitions wise but I think that we have improved across a number of areas. I wrote a piece on player wages and “dead wood” about how we have a large wage bill but maybe it was disproportionately dispersed. I believe we have changed this with our new signings and have made efforts to move on high earners who for one reason or another were not contributing much to the first team.
It seems as though team spirit is top of Wenger’s priorities this year and when I wrote a piece on team spirit I believed I was seeing the beginning of something special developing. With the moving on of players who don’t want to be at the club and replacing them with quality players who feel privileged to be at the club like Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla and even Arteta from last summer then I think that spirit is only going to improve.
Having a captain like Vermaelen who also feels privileged to be at the club and who isn’t in the last year of his contract and who doesn’t criticise his colleagues in the press can only help strengthen that team spirit. The title winning sides of 2002 and 2004 were built on team spirit. Sure we have quality players but they only became the players they were because of the quality of the team they played in and its spirit.
I believe that we will be defensively stronger this year as I mentioned before for a couple of reasons. Firstly our players are a little more settled and will hopefully remain fit and secondly I believe that we finally have a defensive specialist in the first team coaching set-up.
I must admit that I had my reservations over Bould’s ability to transform our defence considering his u18s weren’t exactly water tight but then I realised I was being unfair and that kids that young are still learning their positions and aren’t going to be the finished article. Lots of midfielders and strikers break into first teams around the world aged 16, 17 and 18 but very few defenders do so I guess that says something about being a young defender.
Pat Rice and Boro Primorac were both defenders in their playing days but I’m not so sure they worked that closely with our defence. Steve will and if he can teach our defence to hold a line like he used to do then we could well see a number of our defensive “frailties” ironed out quite quickly. Man for man I don’t think our defence is any worse that United’s so I assume that it’s a coaching issue and if anyone can get the defence working as a unit and our centre-backs curbing their attacking intentions then it’ll be one of the famous back four. I’m sure we’ll see the effect of Bould within the first 10 games and maybe a few more goals from set-pieces.
We certainly score enough to win the league now we just need to work on conceding less.
And that takes me nicely onto my next point. I’ve talked about being a team a number of times and this piece by Dave Seager of 1nildown2oneup and another one of his fine pieces on needing to share the goal load and I believe that we can share the RvP goal load and actually improve upon it so don’t worry about us scoring now he’s gone!
I think with RvP out of the picture both Gervinho and Theo will bag more goals. With new strikers in the team they may well feel more inclined to have a shot at goal and especially with RvP gone they won’t always be looking for him when they are in perfect positions to test the ‘keeper. As Theo showed in the Euro’s and with his many Henry-esque goals over the years he has the ability to put the ball in the net and I think he’ll easily get 10 this year and I think if Gervinho has been working hard on target practice that he too could get 10 goals.
Cazorla has been impressive recently both against Köln and for Spain and I can easily see him racking up 15 assists this year and maybe even hitting double figures himself and Arteta has already set himself a target of double figures however that’ll be across all competitions. Cazorla has excellent movement and although I initially thought Wenger would play him on the wings (not that I thought he couldn’t play CAM) I think the effect Rosicky had on the team last year will probably see Santi in Cesc’s role. I don’t think Santi is like Cesc in fact I think he is more like Rosicky with his movement, pace, trickery, ball control and vision and all of those things combined I think will suit Podolski and Giroud very well.
Podolski has the ability to start and finish movements and I’ve already put a bet on him getting 15+ premier league goals. Giroud looked good in Germany and I think he’ll be a real asset however I have a sneaky feeling that he’ll start slowly like Henry did before really coming into his own. An anti-Chamakh if you will. I think the first few games will be tough for him but then I think he’ll find his Montpellier feet and finish with over 20 goals. I’m not one for predictions (certainly not public ones) but I think we are going to see at least 45 goals from our front three and possibly 30 more from our midfield and rotation players. So that’ll be 75 premier league goals in the bag and that’s before we even consider the defence weighing in with a few goals (I have a feeling that Per will get 4 or 5 this year and between him, Dave and Vermaelen they’ll total at least 12).
Regardless of if Song stays or goes and however replaces him I think it is vitally important for the balance of the team for at least one player to purely sit and protect the defence the way Song used to do before he starting going attack crazy.
I believe that with someone playing that “holding” role we can focus on the fluidity of our game more and allow our attackers to move and play at pace. I’ve always hated the Barca-lite tag that we’ve been given because I don’t think we play like Barca at all. Sure we keep possession well but Barcelona play an extremely slow game whereas we have always been (under Wenger) a team with devastating speed. Not pace, speed. We used to ping the ball around like it was nobodies business and could have the ball from our six yard box and in the other net in less than 14 seconds and under 6 passes. I saw glimpses of this against Köln and hope that it continues because the speed of our game is what used to blow other teams away.
So in summary, we have a better team with better harmony, an ever improving team spirit, the ability to play at speed, a defence full of quality individuals that will learn to play as a unit and will be almost impenetrable for it and most importantly a group of players that can share the goal threat.
The only thing that I’m not sure has changed or not and it’s something that Wenger and the club can’t do themselves and that is fan mentality. Our support means so much to the team and can make a real difference. We saw in the Olympics what home support can do for the team in helping carry them that extra inch and making it difficult for others to compete. I blogged on fan support in this piece and I really hope that this season will see an end to boos and jeers from the home support. If we can crack that then we have a real chance of breaking our trophy duck this season.
Before I go I want to congratulate Jack on getting the #10 shirt and without wanting to jinx anything I think he can become the second legend in my lifetime to wear the famous #10 for Arsenal.
I’m really pumped for our game tomorrow and looking forward to us chalking up our first 3 points of the season (I will also be an Everton fan on Monday night between 8pm and 10pm BST).
And my last blogging action before 2012/13 official gets underway I want to share with you once again some of my favourite blogs that I have written and read over the past season. Enjoy.
- I blogged in May about Wenger still having “it” when it came to transfers in this post and talked about needing to bargain hunt in this post and Wenger has done it again (as I said in this post) he has proven he still has it and has brought in top players for bargain prices.
- Piece on Mertesacker
- Proof that North London is red – history lesson to give the Spuds
- Piece on formations (352 & WM) with Giroud
- That’s just the way it is – Lyrically inspired post
- How bad are the deadwood?
- Transfer spend & wage comparison
- Financial Foul Play
- May The Fourth NOT be with us – One of my favourite pieces
- Sandro Rosell interview by @blogwhenhewant2
- Selling RVP was right by @goonerdave66
- Excellent full-back piece by @blogwhenhewant2
- Part Deux: Kloppelganger - How we win by @blogwhenhewant2
- Impossible dream by @goonerdave66
- Ode to Diaby by @goonerdave66
- Arsenal’s poker face irks Fergie by A Cultured Left Foot
- Caramello man by @blogwhenhewant2
- Don’t name the rats by @blogwhenhewant2
- We wear the white hats by @blogwhenhewant2
- Cologne and defending by A Cultured Left Foot
- Over reliance on Robin must be solved by A Cultured Left Foot
- Rosicky renaissance by ArsenalDepot
- Arsenal’s mystery dance by Swiss Ramble
- Arsenal 5 – 2 Spurs by YAMA
- Anfield ’89 by Gambeano Snitch
- Rival clubs by @thesquidboylike
- The Podolski contradiction by Arsenal Vision
- Unsung Heros by ChroniclesofAl
- Why Rambo will come good by Cookie El Gooner
- Curious case of Bendtner by Wrighty7
- Sol Campbell by Suburban Gooners
- Arteta to be our Makelele by @goonerdave66
- Santos’ Samba Feet by @goonerdave66
There were so many more great pieces that I enjoyed reading but I can’t list them all so sorry if I missed any out but these were the ones that stuck with me for one reason or another.
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