Sunday, 8 May 2011

Arsenal have had a good season, honest!

I believe Arsenal's problems this season can be summed up very easily as follows:
  • Until this group of players win something they won't have the confidence required to win things and will continue to throw away crucial points (catch 22)
  • Since David Moyes alleged that Cesc Fabregas called the officials cheats we have had incredible bad 'luck' with decisions from referees and linesmen
  • We have had terrible luck with injuries again this season at crucial times
  • At home, the fans don't really get behind the team as they should
  • We've been a bit unlucky with the run of the ball at times
I saw an incredible OPTA statistic this week which other blogs don't seem to have picked up on: If all the shots in the Premier League this season which had hit the post had counted as goals, Arsenal would be 12 points clear at the top of the league. I can't really get my head round this one. Are Arsene Wenger and his team coaching the players to hit the post or what?

Anyway, despite what a lot of Arsenal fans seem to think, we have had a good season. Disappointing, but better than most pundits expected before the season started. With three matches left we are six points off the top of the table and still in with a chance (however small) of winning the league. If Chelsea beat Manure today we will be three points off the top with two matches to play.

If you had said to most Arsenal fans before the season kicked off that we would lose Thomas Vermaelen for almost the entire season and still be in that position, I think most would have been happy with that. It is only the way that things have panned out, with Arsenal throwing away crucial points, that has made it seem so disappointing.

If we had had the Verminator available in these crucial matches, would we still have thrown away all those points? Would we have conceeded four second half goals against Newcastle after being 4-0 up at half time and going down to ten men? Would we have conceeded a late goal against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final and gone on to lose the match (with its consequent effect on confidence with crucial matches against Manue and the Catalonian National Diving Team
coming up shortly afterwards)? Or thrown away points at West Brom, Sunderland and a few others?

We will never know for certain but I would suggest that we would have won at least a couple more matches where we have dropped points and that could have made all the difference.

I've already said enough about referees and our home support in previous posts, so I won't go on about them again, otherwise I will seem to paranoid and grumpy. The lack of confidence and belief will take care of itself as soon as we get lucky and win something.

With regard to injuries, until the new year we seemed to have turned the corner (TV apart), but then we asked the players to play too many tough matches in a short period and the inevitable happened. This is something that Wenger needs to address. And if he doesn't have the confidence to play his backup players more often then he needs to get rid of a few of them and bring in some in whom he can have the confidence.

For me, it has been obvious for some time that Almunia, Denilson, Rosicky and Vela are not good enough. I should clarify this a bity: I used to rate Tomas Rosicky as a players but he has not been the same since his long injury. However, I think we have a ready-made replacement in the form of Aaron Ramsey. Provided, of course, that we can hang on to Cesc Fabregas. Similarly with Almunia - Szczesny, for me, is a perfect replacement and Fabianski will make a good backup now that he seems to have gained a bit of confidence. Vela has always looked promising but he hasn't developed and his loan spell at WBA has convinced me that he doesn't have what it takes. Denilson - well, he's Denilson, enough said, but, again, I think in Frimpong we have a ready-made replacement.

There are a few others on whom I think the jury is still out. Diaby still looks to me like he will eventually turn into a good player, as backup only, if he can stay fit. I did say 'if'. However, I don't think this can be relied upon and with Scott Parker likely to leave West Ham at the end of the season, I think he could be worth a punt - provided that West Ham don't want any more than about 8 or 9 million for him tops.

Squillaci has unarguable had a poor first season, though I have seen enough from him in recent matches to believe that he could come good eventually. But can we take that risk if it potentially means the difference between winning the league next season and not? I don't believe we can.

The solution put forward by most fans and pundits has been to buy a big strong bloke at the back but I would like to see Miquel and Bartley being given more chances next season. I know what people will think of this: yet more youngsters, what we need is a good experienced player. But I really believe that these two could be the real deal and they will only be fourth and fifth choices in what otherwise (with Vermaelen back) looks like a good collection of centrebacks.

Johan Djourou has looked good this season and could be even better next. Should we, despite this, confine him to the bench? If not, how good a player are we going to be able to bring in who is prepared to pick the splinters out of his arse for most of the time? That said, if we can pick up a top quality centreback at a not too astronomical price, it might be worth considering.

Chamakh and Bendtner I'm really not sure about. Bendtner has shown glimpses of what he can do, but he's inconsistent. I certainly don't think we should be using him any more as a winger and that means we also need to sign a new wide man. Eden Hazard would be a dream, but if we can't get him Taarabt might be a good option. We still have Ryo Myaichi nad my name sake Wellington to come, but by the time they are ready Arshavin will be ready to be put out to stud back in his native Russia. Chamakh, like Squillaci, has had a tough first season but has shown promise at times. Personally, as long as we sign a winger, I would like to see both players kept to compete as backup for RVP, but if either of them isn't happy then let them go.

So, that's all sorted then. If we bribe a few referees and get rid of that idiot Wenger (who is only our most successful manager ever) and give me the job, we will be sorted!

Enjoy today's matches and keep your fingers crossed for Arsenal and Chelsea wins. And please leave me some comments - I get lots of people reading my blog but nobody ever seems to leave any comments. It only takes one or two to start it off and others will follow. Goodness knows, I've surely given you plenty to talk about today.

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