A review of the season: How do we move forward from here?

In Arsenal FC on May 27, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

Morning all. A bit of Wednesday reading for you.

When you take a look back over the past season you probably have five or six lasting images stuck in your head. Here are mine.

First, the defeat at home to Hull. Second the win against Manchester United at home. Third, the Stamford Bridge win. Fourth the 4-4 draw at home to Sp*rs. Fifth, the penalty shoot-out win over Roma. After that, the 4-4 against Liverpool, and finally the debacle at The Grove against United in the Champions League.

Penalty shoot-out win against Roma - One of your lasting memories of the season?

There are some notable emissions, notably the defeat at Wembley. That is because I feel we were pretty close to winning that game and on another day we would have won it. Neither team played well and had we got a stroke of luck we would be the ones getting our suits fitted for Saturday afternoon.

There has been a lot of doom and gloom this season.

Two defeats at the Grove. Weak relationship between players and fans. Off the field matters, (Usmanov et. al.) Deteriorating relationship between some sections of the fanbase and Arsene Wenger. Negative press off the field.

Those are just a few of the issues.

On the other hand we have had a few developments that really could signal what happens in this clubs future.

The signing of Andrey Arshavin – in my view one of the worlds most gifted footballers. The transfer was long, drawn out and tedious but what a reward we got for putting up with endless articles declaring whether he had signed or not, or whether his registration as an Arsenal player was completed in time. He gave the team the impetus to improve, which they did a lot of this season. He adds experience and above all a winning mentality that can only be gained through winning something of value, something very few players in our squad have actually done. That’s why in the Carling Cup run I said we should field a slightly stronger team (that’s not saying the kids are bad, far from it), because once this side wins a trophy they will overcome a natural mental block in their mentality so they ‘know’ how to win something. Something as insignificant as a Carling Cup final victory could inadvertently make this team into the world class force they can be.

The emergence of players such as Alex Song, the improvement of Denilson and breakthrough of Kieran Gibbs. Song has the ability to be a top, top player and has really improved this season, at first he seemed lazy and a little confused but had all the raw attributes of a brilliant defensive midfield player. Recently he has been a rock in midfield and has improved his passing a hell of a lot, he is strong in the tackle and seems to put himself about more. His reading of the game has been getting better and better all season whilst he has also shown that he is pretty good in defence as well. Next season he will be a big player for us, his versatility is something every winning side needs.

Denilson: the guy has talent

Denilson: the guy has talent

Some fans and blogs seem to be on a vendetta against Denilson but I think he is a fine player and one that will be world class in three or four years. He quietly goes about his business, breaking up play and playing the easy ball whilst running his backside off to fill in the gap between the defence and midfield. Denilson has racked up a fair few goals and assists this season as well. Watch this space.

Kieran Gibbs’ emergence has also been a major positive part of our season as the left back conveyor belt continues to provide class players. Going forward he is brilliant, he has a hack of a cross and only a handful of players could even get near him, such is his pace. He seems positionally sound and that slip against United will only have served to galvanise him even more. He is a firm fans favourite and it goes without saying that he will be in England’s plans in the near future, Clichy has some big competition. Over a whole season you could see Gibbs getting four or five goals.

Off the field we have what looks like a good owner in Stan Kroenke, finally warding off a threat of a hostile takeover by the fat Uzbeki and bringing in a man who the fans like in a position that lay vacant for a fair while. Ivan Gazidis is good news, he supports Wenger but won’t be afraid to put his stamp on things. Me and the majority of fans like and trust Gazidis, whilst Kroenke has done nothing to be hated, he seems a genuine chap who doesnt try and make a quick buck out of his sporting assets. He also isn’t afraid to put his billions to good use.

How do we move forward from here then?

We have a damn good manager in Arsene Wenger, we have world class players in Fabregas and Arshavin, we have youngsters who have the world at their feet if they keep their development up. Jack Wilshere anyone?

The main priority goes without saying, keeping the players we currently have. Then we must add to that two experienced players and better defensive cover. A defender is a must, two defenders if Gallas leaves. One thing is for sure, Gallas and Toure are not a Premier League winning defensive partnership despite them both having been there, done that and got the medals to prove it. A no nonsense defender is a must, we don’t need another short athlete.

An experienced defensive midfielder is also needed. It might spell the end for one of our midfielders and I think I need a little more time to think about that, a Diaby loan would be a possibility. What would your views be on that?

We are set for another summer of Adebayor transfer speculation and to be honest if he went I would not lose any sleep over it. If Arsene Wenger sat down with him and told him pretty bluntly to start putting the effort in the Adebayor of old did I would be happy to still have him here next season, if he does nothing and stays the same old player he might as well go because he will just serve to worsen the player/fan relationship that I will move onto in a moment.

In my view Bendtner can become a better player than Adebayor, I have said it before even though I did have doubts in the middle of the season when he couldnt miss a barn door with a sniper rifle. Nik has it all in his locker and 15 goals for this season is no mean feat. I don’t remember many strikers getting considerably more than that in the third striker capacity at the age of 21.

Fans & Players: a relationship in need of rebuilding?

Now, the fans. Players such as Eboue, Bendtner and Adebayor have all been

Fans & Players: a relationship in need of rebuilding?

on the recieving end of some pretty bad treatment from the fans who are right to voice their opinion at the product they are getting for their money. However, they are also there to support a team that has millions of other fans around the world that would jump at the chance to be sitting in their very seat and not boo their side. It is counterproductive no doubt. Eboue and Bendtner, to be fair to them, conducted themselves in a very dignified manner and have let their feet do the talking, they have won the fans back with some committed and good performances. Adebayor on the other hand took a different approach and had a massive strop.

Undoubtedly the players could have done more to keep the fans happy, the away support in particular didn’t always get the thanks it deserved from the players and Wenger has admitted he will talk to his players and encourage them to show their appreciation to the fans after every away game. It has to be said that Robin van Persie has been a player who always goes and applauds the fans.

With a little work this team could go a long way, no rebuilding is needed but at the same time Wenger is now in the most important part of his tenure and needs to meet the same levels of expectation he created himself. Factors have changed, billionairres have started to throw money around, the structure of the club is changing but the fans need to be pleased to keep the football club stable, I am optimistic it will be addressed in the summer.

One thing is for sure, there is no better man to oversee it than Arsene. He knows our problems and he will fix them.

’til tomorrow.



7 Responses to “A review of the season: How do we move forward from here?”

  1. Good article.

  2. Good post mate, i can only hope Denilson improves but as of yet his not good enough (ready) to be consistant in our starting eleven.

    Sorry but it’s obvious. 😉

  3. That’s good stuff, Goonblogger. A lot of thought and gumption goes into writing these things, and I appreciate your effort. 🙂

    I agree completely that we DO have a quality side. OK, maybe this year wasn’t the best for results, but we did have some performances that lead me to believe the trophies are on their way. I am especially excited about Gibbs’ future in Arsenal kit, and I thought the recoveries of Eboue and Bendtner from some pretty low-lows speaks volumes about the mental capacities of the side. I don’t think I ever recall a player actually getting booed off the pitch by the home fans, but it happened. And fair play to him for not only keeping with it, but putting in some nice performances later in the season. And Bendtner is due to come good. He’s got the tools, and if his latest interview is anything to go by, he’s got the footballing brain to make that next jump as well.

    I’ll be interested to see if Nasri takes on a more defensive role next season. He seemed to welcome that later this year, and made statements to the point that while it’s not his regular position, he really thought he could grow into the role given time and coaching. I love the attitude of Samir, and he’s one of the guys to build around going forward.

    Shava. Geez…what can you say about the guy? I used to live and work in Russia, and spent a good amount of time in Saint Petersburg where Zenit play. Unfortunately, I had no idea who I was looking at the couple times I saw Andrey suit up for them back in 2004, but by the time his transfer rolled around, I was well deep into the Shava bro-mance. haha Class. World Class. Smart, tough, tenacious and a winner. He’s going to be a holy terror to opposing sides until his playing days are done.

    I’ve done some year-end surveys and each time I have selected van Persie as my POY. I know…we’ve got a bit of contract stick with him at the moment, but I don’t think that’s anything major. But his play in January and February was just over the top. What was it…5 or 6 weeks that he scored or assisted on EVERY GOAL? How do you do that? Robin just put the team on his back & said “Follow ME!”. That’s the kind of leadership I want from him and what Arsenal needs to be successful.

    Cesc. Well, he’s Cesc. It was a tough season for him. Too many matches he was out of position, playing too far forward. Needs must though, with the injuries and whatnot. I fully expect him back to form next year and again firing that beautiful Arsenal attack. Oh…and tell Xabi not to kick you in the shins again, mate!!

    Ade. Ummm…yeah. Brilliant goal at Villareal to get the draw. Utter shite against United. Both times. Either decide you want to play for Arsenal and give everything you have, or tell Arsene you want to collect your paychecks someplace else. It’s really that simple. But…if you can get your head ’round and play ARSENAL FOOTBALL…then do stay.

    And finally, I am a Gooner. Plain and simple. And Arsene Wenger is our man. That does not mean I always agree with him (yes, Arsene, you SHOULD have started Shava against Chelsea), but it does mean that I believe in him and support him 100%. There isn’t anyone else I want managing our side.

  4. Yes Wenger like every person makes mistakes, some bigger than others, but coaches such as SAF also make big mistakes but dont get as much negative press, if SAF said that line about Perez there wouldnt have been days and days of inane drivel about his future.

    Arsenal get a rough ride sometimes and i think next season the squad could be league challengers if the right players are brought in and brought at the right price.

    And for me, the only man capable of doing that is Arsene.

  5. i wish some fans or most fans to understand ADE , ,, i believe he’s a great player ,,and do u guys know that ,, its hard to play up top on yr own ,,he does it like almost every game he play ,, i mean really ,,well i just hope really ,,

  6. thank god for arshavin , with dodgy strikers we need him fit :] at least he is from russia and he wont be hiding when it gets cold!! look at the ones who go sick arround xmas…. man u dont have the same trouble. lets have a better mix in the club.

  7. well for me crouch is a better hold up man by far than ADDY (sorry to say it) more effort from that man….. i have never seen poorer movement off the ball than from him and benty….. thank god for a quality midfield

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