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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Season Preview: We Are The Arsenal

Good morning,

            Behind the famous cannon of Arsenal, there is a short motto that lays directly over the heart of this year’s Gooner faithful. “Victoria Concordia Crescit” which means “Victory Through Harmony.” After an offseason like the one we just endured, that should ring truer than anything right now. There is also the word, “Forward” written just beneath the famous cannon of Arsenal. If and when our captain departs, which looks to be completed by the weekend, Arsenal will move forward as it has always done. After the 1979 FA Cup victory the Highbury faithful were shocked to hear that Liam Brady would be moving to Juventes. However, the club moved on and now Brady is back home at Arsenal working with the youth of the football club. I have no doubt that after Cesc and Nasri leave the club will move on, and win trophies, without them. No player is bigger than the club. When a player is no longer committed, we sell them. Which is what happened this summer. So while some may moan and complain about Arsenal not being a big club anymore, I refute that. We’re bigger than most clubs because a Frenchman who fancies himself a football god will not hold us ransom. The simple fact is that Arsenal will start this coming season with players who want to be here, players that will give their all to the Clockend faithful. I would take that squad over whatever Money City has this year. 
            I think the way the boys perform tomorrow, will be a strong indicator of how the rest of the season goes. We know that RVP will score; we know that TV5 will be consistent but all our questions lie in the middle of the park. Will Rosicky step up? Can Ramsey fulfill the potential we saw two years ago? Are our youngsters really up to scratch? Arsenal is a team that relies heavily on possession, confident players that play on the ball well. So with Cesc gone there are bound to be questions. We haven’t seen an Arsenal side without Cesc for 8 years. There should be questions because our captain and best player is leaving but Cesc leaving is not an excuse to batter our manager and players. We all know that our team has problems with confidence, and yet we’re not making it easier on them by booing at preseason friendlies and constantly predicting doom. Highbury was one of the best stadiums because the fans were faithful and always got behind the side. When Henry stepped out onto the pitch there, he knew all of the fans there would get behind him no matter what. The fans must make the same effort for our lads this year too. When Gervinho, Miyaichi and the whole team come home, they should expect to be buoyed by support not flattened by criticism. This season is bound to be hard on the team, they go into the season with an outlook that is not familiar to them, their expected to fail. Let’s not make it any harder on them by turning their home a hostile place.

            I think if Mata and Cahill are signed a lot of the volatile reactions we saw at the Emirates cup will be avoided. I think we will sign them and they will add both class on and off the pitch. The Arsenal Football Club has always been a winner that mentality would no doubt be taught at the youth level as well. I rate Frimpong and Lansbury highly. The midfield will be solid, as it always had. I think more pressure will be put on our forwards this season, more than usual. A lot of the scoring threat from our midfield is gone now that Samir has left.  That means Chamakh will be expected to produce, and will fall under the microscope early and often if he does not. Since Nick is also leaving, more pressure will be placed onto the shoulders of the Moroccan. I believe he has the quality to score the goals, we saw that last season, but his confidence is low. Whether he regains form is yet to be seen, I don’t count on it though. I am excited to see Afobe be awarded the chance to shine in the first team; he gives us options to be able to rest RVP and also will probably gain experience through the League Cup this year. 

Gervinho is an exciting signing that we’ve already seen a lot of potential from in the preseason. He offers pace and great off the ball movement, which will open up space in the middle for RVP and Arshavin to work with. I’m pinning a lot of hope on the Russian this year; I think we need his contribution more than ever this season. Theo is injury prone and I think he still has a lot to add to his game, Arshavin must remind us why he excited people so much during Euro 2008.
            Our backline has always been pegged as the Achilles heel of AFC. Time and again the fans have heard a new CB will be brought in, and here we are on the eve of a new season and the only addition made to the back line is a younger replacement for Sagna. That was not the kind of movement I wanted to see this summer, and while we have been linked with many names, none have arrived. I’m still of the belief we’ll see that other CB brought in, but I would have liked for whoever that is to be able to be involved in the preseason preparations. Adjusting to Arsenal’s style of play will not be easy, but we must have faith the Wenger has done his research better than last summer and will bring in the CB to fix our woeful defending of set pieces. 

Gibbs is also another unknown going into the season; no pundit or fan questions his quality. His injuries are another matter though. If Gibbs does indeed stay healthy than that would be fantastic, but I seriously doubt he will. Traore is decent cover, but I would feel nervous about him being the only other option for a tie like Barcelona, if that were to happen. Seeing how those two play tomorrow and against Udinese could mean additional cover is brought in.

            I believe trophies are coming this season, but not in the form of a league title or European success. I think Wenger will focus his energies on the domestic cups. The FA or League Cup titles will be the competitions that we see the most focus on. I don’t know if that is the right plan but I’ll take any trophy at this point.

            Right, so on to Newcastle. I’m going to take a stab at the starting line-up and see how right I am:




Gervinho-----Van Persie-----Arshavin

            That is the backline that I think will be preferred up until at least Christmas. Like I said before, the CB will have to adjust to the passing game Arsenal plays. Kos has had a season to adjust and can form a good partnership with TV5. The midfield is makeshift I think, with Ramsey and Rosicky not being sure of becoming starters this season. Wilshere is hurt and Mata has yet to come in. I believe both would be preferred and Frimpong can challenge for a role as well. AOC is a possibility to usurp Rosicky’s spot, depending on Rosicky’s form at the beginning of the season. Our forward situation will be more stable, with Miyaichi providing depth and spark from the bench. Chamakh and Afobe will be challenging for the #2 spot behind RVP and Theo can play anywhere up front. Even with departures, this is an eleven that can play with anybody in the world; the real question is our depth. 

Hopefully we won’t have to see to many of the substitutes this weekend. Eventually though the quality of the reserves will be tested, I hope Wenger’s faith is placed well. Otherwise we might see a media crucifixion come midseason of our beloved Arsenal.

Let’s remember this though: We are Arsenal till we die; let’s act like it. Victory comes through harmony, let’s rally the troops and head to the Tyneside with new vigor.

Right, so that’s it for me.


Follow me on Twitter: @thad4dified


Davi said...

IF mata were to sign (it's pretty clear now he won't be joining) then he would probably play a wide role in this team.
Don't forget lansbury as one of those challenging for the centre of midfield. I think this could be a big season for him. He's a classy and hardworking player, and he may prove more reliable than ramsey this year to be honest.

Davi said...

Oh! And it looks like Campbell will be signing. If he gets a work permit, I think he could be a major addition. He can play on the wing or up front. Technically he's great, he's fast and his finishing *looks* spectacular. If he does join, he could be a big deal for us.
The main question marks are in defence. Not convinced we will get a new CB in this transfer window now, so it really depends on how big an effect TV can have on the team.

Thad_Is_Whats_Up04 said...

Well said guys. I do think Lansbury is excellent, however he's going to have to make the most of his limited chances. When he plays, he's gotta be class. Then he'll feature more. On the topic of transfers, I think Eden Hazard would actually be the better signing. Check out his dribbling, he's amazing. And hopefully at least one centreback comes in, if not Cahill then Dann would do nicely. Just not Samba, I'd have an anxiety attack.

US_Gunner said...

Honestly, Wenger has a 20 mil purse and somewhere around 55 mil coming in from the transfers. I feel like her should get some depth in Hazard (now that he can splash the cash), a defender in cahill, jagielka, mertesacker or samba even and then surprise everyone with a shock move for lukaku or benzema with the remaining cash.

The board must want replacements of excellent caliber for these two superstars leaving, otherwise they'd be folding for bigger paychecks.... The club is bigger than that. I can't wait to see what happens, hopefully Wenger pulls the trigger.