Where Do Arsenal Go From Here?

I love being right usually but unfortunately my prediction yesterday that PSV will score at the Emirates and therefore Arsenal would need to score 3 goals to progress ended up coming true.

So what happens now?

I’m not sure to be honest. Arsene has a lot of thinking to do, and despite all the highs of the season with the young squad the fact is Arsenal have been dumped out of 3 competitions in the space of 11 days.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that Arsenal need a rehaul in the squad – we have a fantastic defence when all the options available, with Toure, Gallas, Senderos, Djourou, Eboue, Hoyte and Clichy who are more than capable at the back. Our midfield is also strong with Gilberto, Cesc, Denilison, Diaby and Flamini and we have Freddie, Hleb and Rosicky who can play out wide.

Our problem is in attack.

Arsenal create so many chances that the Chelsea, Blackburn and PSV Eindhoven games should have been finished in the first 60 minutes.

We do not have anyone who can put the ball into the net.

We don’t have a Drogba and we don’t have a Benni McCarthy – proper strikers and typical centre forwards who know how to finish.

These guys need one chance and they will score.

And unfortunately for us they proved it in the Carling Cup and FA Cup games against us.

Last night when Arsenal opened the scoring thanks to an Alex own goal, Cesc and Adebayor had big big chances to put the game beyond doubt.

I even ended up asking myself does Arsene actually practice finishing?

To create so many clear cut chances and not take them is criminal and has cost us the season.

The problem is Thierry Henry is not as direct as he used to be and for some reason seems less ruthless in attack. Possibly he is suffering from a lack of service from the likes of Vieira and Bergkamp who used to create excellent openings for him and feels that he needs to be more creative himself for the good of the team.

Van Persie’s absence has not helped, although can you rely on him to score 30 goals a season which is something we need?

He is the most clinical player in the team but we can’t rely on one man.

When we went unbeaten in the league you could pick out a number of players would could score – Pires, Freddie, Bergkamp and Henry were the favourites but we also had a knack of scoring with our defenders too.

Goals win games and we’ve been suffering this season.

23 thoughts on “Where Do Arsenal Go From Here?

  1. We cant complain. We were really poor in Europe this season. Even with Van Persie and Rosicky available. We were lucky to come out of the group stage. Arsenal only play when they have the ball. Denilson-Fabregas dont pressure the ball and win it. We need someone like Toure in midfield, Diaby & Denilson are young. Gilberto is ageing and Flamini is not good enough

    We had chances but PSV looked dangerous too, our defence looks fine but we are really toothless upfront. Adebayor will never be a lethal finisher. Baptista will never make it with that heavy touch of his. We need a striker or a scoring midfielder. Maybe Anderson of Porto, Ljungberg needs to go and maybe even Hleb who offers virtually nothing in the final third.

    Wenger needs to shake things up in the summer, does he have the funds? He always seems to believe that the team is good enough, full of potential, I dont want to put players ahead of the young players etc etc but If we can only score once(own goal) in 180 minutes against a PSV then we are not as good as we think

  2. All gunner fans including myself are disappointed.Even allowing for the dreadful injuries I have my doubt as to whehter the gunners can actually win the cl.
    I tthink the time hasn’t come for the gunners to do it.As such it’s better to lose at this stage than in a final with the the passing for all eternity allied to an inability to score from high balls.
    Finally Aw shd know the name of the game is winning and not playing pretty soccer only to get beaten.
    A couple of signings like a good central defender,goalie and out and striker will do the trick.
    All is not lost.Of course we must not be relying on potential.

  3. Our problem is just as much at the back. We need a new keeper. How many more games can we lose or drop points where the opposition has one shot on target. Villa, Everton, Blackburn in the cup, both legs v PSV, the list is very long this season. Even Chelsea had only three shots on in the CC final and scored twice.

    The problem has been highlighted more by the fact that the team no longer scores lots of goals, but frankly has been there for 5-6 seasons. Basically without an agile shot-stopper and no practising defensive set pieces, this problem isn’t going to go away.

    How did we get to the CL final? Clean sheets. How many have we kept recently in this poor run? One in 11 or 12 games.

    Lehmann and Seaman before have been a liability and Wenger has blundered by not solving this problem position. It’s not like he has had 10 years to find a decent keeper to replace Spunky. People will point out Lehmann’s pen save v Villarreal and even the great on v Madrid, but he cost us in 2004 v Chelsea and in so many more games. Once or twice you call bad luck 15 times this season you call a problem.

  4. I think you are correct about our defense, although I do feel that we are a little weak at left and right back. Clichy has been excellent however he needs competition and Traore is not the man for the job just yet. It’ll be a season or two before he comes through. We need to get someone in to challenge Clichy.

    Answer: Eric Abidal or Philip Lahm

    In central midfield we’re sorted but our wide players are not wide players, and we suffer because of lack of width. Hleb and Rosicky cut inside every time they get the ball. It’s boring and predictable. We need width on both sides for variety and flexibility.

    Answer: Sell Hleb, bring in Ryan Babel and Frank Ribery

    Attack-wise we have lacked an out and out goalscorer for years (Henry aside). RVP is top class and Adebayor can become a real asset, but sadly The Beast did not not roar … he has to go. We need a lethal goal mahine.

    Answer: Owen, Bent, or Eto’o

    El Tommo

  5. oh and freddie 9can’t get past anyone anymore, why is he still playing for us? sell camp freddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I am an ardent arsenal fan. Actually I am glad Arsenal lost. Then perhaps Wenger will wake up from his delusion that this current crop is good enough. Arsenal needs world class players if they are to win trophies again. Arsene way too sentimental and idealistic lacking ruthlessness. And this is relected in his team. 2004 seems so long ago. Arsene does not know.

  7. Trying to play pretty football is costing us time and time again. The first leg is a prime example. The ‘arrogance’ within the team to play like we’re 3-0 up from the very first minute is inexcusable. The failure to shoot either from 18yards or as little as 6 yards is constantly frustrating. Look at the number of goals that Lampard and Manure get from deflections because they shoot on sight. We will win the prize of having more goals in the ‘goal of the month’ competition than any other team, but its all we will win in the future as long as this attitude continues. Henry is the worst culprit and sometimes i’m sure his cocksure attitude rubs off on the team as a whole. Bad choice as Captain and team plays a s a ‘team’ better when he is not there.

  8. i think ur rite a left back and another centre half will do! lehmann has been surperb but its time for him to move on but that doesnt mean we keep almunia as no.1. Dont get me wrong hes got greatpotential but like were all sayin now its not potential we need to do the business!

    so keeper possibles: Shay Given, Jasskaleinen, Buffon.

    I really think senderos is clumsy and shaky! doesnt seem to be confident in anything he does! dont know what the rest of u think!

    defender in: woodgate
    left back: abidal

    midfield i think mans are rite ljungberg is finished so get rid of him! and players like denilson,flamini and diaby will come thru without doubt but for god sake we want trophies rite now and not wait till i have a walkin stick and kids of my own in their teens till we win 1! hleb is good i think he shud be told of whats expected from him! especially when he gets in the final area of oppsition!
    beast shud be offloaded too slow, first touch a waste, slows the pace down of the game!
    luks like he needs two seasons to adopt, cant wait that long reyes was far better!

    so release: ljungberg, baptista
    loan out: flamini
    bring in: frank ribery( which will allow rosicksy to play in the middle where hes best).

    upfront is the main concern weve been unlucky with henrys situation all season and then to top it off VP followed up with his injury!

    so i think bring in: eto and either ryan babel or robinho! some1 who can get a tally of 20+ a season other than va va voom!

    aliadiere shud be loaned out aswel hes lukin gud but another season will see the best from him!

    but will the funds be there for the purchase of these players! only arsenal and wenger know that!

  9. SILVERWARE BEFORE STYLE

    “I don’t think it is just people outside the game who have said their piece, I think even from within the club they have said the same thing – they are not ruthless enough, they are not winning matches,” said Platt.

    “Even the die hard Man United fans and Chelsea fans would say that if they had to sit down and be entertained by a football team then they would prefer to watch Arsenal play because they play an exceptional brand of football, but that doesn’t necessarily win you games.

    “They have lost games in the league by virtue of the same thing. They just do not have that ruthless winning mentality and whether there is a feeling that they have to go into the games and play beautiful, entertaining football, that can’t be paramount.

    “First and foremost you go out and make sure the game is won, and then you play your good football.”

    With captain and all-time record goalscorer Thierry Henry restricted to a substitutes’ role due to injury, Arsenal lacked a cutting edge up front and Platt believes Wenger must scour the transfer market for a new hit-man in the summer.

    “The solution is that they have got to bring players in who have that winning mentality first,” Platt continued.

    “They haven’t actually got an out-and-out goalscorer in there who will go and score 20 or 25 goals a season without Thierry Henry.

    “They have very, very exciting youngsters there but have they actually got that player who puts the ball in the back of the net, that player who says ‘It doesn’t matter how well we play today we have to grind out a 1-0 victory’?

    “Arsenal can have their champagne football if they want but they are not picking up enough points in the Premiership and they are not winning the trophies in the cup competitions.”

    However Platt – who won the double with Arsenal in 1998 – has faith that Wenger can stick to his aesthetic principles and still deliver a third great side in North London.

    “I think at the end of the day the Arsenal supporters would want to win things, and rightly so, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lose your principles and go back and be dour.

    “When Arsenal were winning things under Arsene Wenger – Championships, FA Cups – they were playing a good brand of football but they were winning games and I think that is what they have to get back into
    well said by david platt!

  10. why did AW leave Henry on the pitch when he was clearly injured? Surely a 100% fit Alliadiere would have been a whole lot better than Henry…..or Craptiste for that matter.

  11. for me
    OUT: Senderos, Baptista (and Reyes), Ljungberg, Flamini, Lehmann
    IN: Babel, Queresma, Craig Gordon, (re-call Bandtner), new centre back

  12. doom will remain a doom! arsenal will be going up up and up! so dnt be a fake fan doom have faith. wenger will defo sort smething out next season.

  13. Actually the problem of goals has been around for some time.As gunner fans world wide know, AW/Arsenal play the best football in the epl but are unable to win often losing to a team which has only one shot at goal.
    This scenario is becomming very common eg, Blackburn,PSV.
    Since Pires left the midfield has been shorn off a regular supply of goals.
    Allied to leaking goals late in the game then AW/Arsenal better wake up fast and know teams are going to stifle you.
    BF you play fast attacking soccer make sure your defence is above ,above average and can cope with all repeat all kinds of attacks.
    Only then will the beautiful soccer reap the harvest it deserves.

  14. All the words in the world will make no difference. Wenger will carry on with more of the same next year, and we will win nothing, but we will play a few good games and people will say how great our football is etc etc.,

    All the young talent in the world will not win us trophies, it’s the team who has mostly experienced top class players who end up with the winners medals!

    And I don’t know about anyone else, but hey are you getting to the stage as I am now that I sit and watch our game and get fed up with the endless and mostly negative pass,pass,pass game without an end result??? It’s great when it works but more and more often now it doesn’t and passing is boring without scoring!

    This current squad is way short of the right stuff needed to grind out a championship win, the likes of Senderos,Hoyte,Hleb,Baptista,Aliadiere,Almunia,Song,Adebeyor, all very average or below average players. Lehmann has his good points but has his weeknesses and Czech for Chelsea proved how a great keeper wins you games Lehmann doesn;t do that for us. And Henry I believe looks like a players who regrets not leaving last year, and is anyone else a bit sus about his injuries?

    I’ve heard many names thrown around about who we could buy to bring us back to the top, again all very well but we know Wenger won’t buy big, he never does. Ideally we need Buffon,Babel,Ribery,Woodgate and a big striker/goalpoacher (dont’ know who just yet – would love to get Drogba as he would be great for us!)

    And to those of you who keep on with the Arsene knows – does he??? well he hasn’t shown that he does for 3 years now!!

    And for those of you who say stop the criticism or go to Chelsea – think about this – how long are you prepared to go on saying this? How long are you prepared to sit back and hope that AW does the right thing? Like I said it’s 3 years now since we won the Championship and things are getting worse not better – and just to make the point clearer, I am sure Liverpool fans back in 1993 when they had not won the league for 3 years after dominating it for 10 years were saying much the same – but here we are and they have not won it for 17 years, do we want to end up the same????? No well thats why something needs doing now, and that means the club spending money on players either with or without AW in charge.

  15. Well first of all i think that arsenal needs some players in and certainly some players out…1st Senderoes should be out NOW and a big defender comes in maybe alex or micha richards he is great..2nd baptist should NOT sign he is rubbish just absoulote piece of shit we do not need this big slow UNscoring beast, we need a striker badly and a one that scores goals as well maybe i would like to bring villa or torres to arsenal but i guess they are a bit expensive but THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN A GAME IS TO SCORE AND WE DO NOT HAVE A PLAYER ACTUALLY WHO CAN PUT THE BALL IN THE NET so we need a good striker..3rd ljunberg is becoming useless realy dont get me wrong i love freddie but he lost his ability to get past players and he doesnt score at all so replacing him would make sense and i have to say ribery is the perfect replacment because we need a midfilder who scores, We lost pires, freddie and reyes so we need someone that helps when the strikers arent scoring because Fab doesnt score at least for now( i think he will in the future like lamps) and hleb do not score even rosicky doent score enough…3rd Lehmann is not getting younger The one who i would like to see him in arsenal is akineff he will be a great goalkeeper Buffon will be very hard to buy especially that arsene needs to improve the attacking department

  16. I’m Arsenal til I die
    Arenal til I die I know I am Oh yes I am I’m Arsenal til I die.

    We need a new keeper – that was already know – but not alot else, a wide player – Ribery.. Babel etc – but I can’t see a better midfield in Europe, The back line when fit Eboue or Hoyte, Kolo, Gallas and Clichy as excellent. So it’s down to the strikers – some of this is down to how we play – but a single new striker Eto would be nice could see us dominate next season – I still believe without changing anything we can dominate next season.

    We have lost three games in a couple of weeks – 3 games we should have won. These things do happen – there are so many fair weather supporters it make me sick.

    With players like Denilson, Diaby, Cesc, Walcott who have their whole careers ahead of them and are all knocking on the international scene, players like Gallas, Henry, Rosicky, Hleb & Rvp who are all now experienced internationals – things are not that bad.

    Cheer up gooners – next season will be great and see some positives – if your a betting man – you’ll get better odds.

    Remember it was a World Cup year as well – the games the players have played and the injuries we have had and some of the ridiculous decisions (thanks FA) has all added to a disapointing season – but the potential is there – we have beat Man Utd twice and it looks as though they will win the league so if that is a yard stick – it doesn’t look so bad .

  17. This season has shown the Arsenal faithful that the Club has some extremely talented young players with a lot of future potential. However, having a selection of youngsters with lots of potential is not alone sufficient for a big club. To charge the ticket prices they do is unreasonable considering Arsenal were trophyless last season and will remain so this season. It is only the 8th of March and the best we can realistically achieve now is 3rd in the premiership which is rather unacceptable.

    The reasons as to why Arsenal lost the Carling Cup final, were knocked out of the FA cup by a poor Blackburn team and were knocked out of the Champions League by a very average PSV team are 3-fold…Lack of passion, inability to finish and lack of quality in set pieces.
    Arsene said before the PSV game that they had been practising their set pieces this week after an inept display against Reading. If this was true it did not show and it was most definitely too little too late.

    All three problems are ones that should be and can be addressed by Arsene.
    Passion has nothing to do with whether the players are English or not, it is solely a reflection of their manager. Rafa, Fergie and Jose all express their passion in an aggressive way. I bet their half-time team talks are very heated and they most definitely get their players fired up when they need to. I know for certain that Arsene is extremely passionate about his football generally and especially so when it comes to Arsenal Football Club but I don’t feel he expresses it in the right way to his players. During both PSV matches the Arsenal team returned to the pitch after half-time with the life sucked out of them.

    Set pieces must be developed. Arsene may think it’s ugly football but tough, they are essential and more so to Arsenal than any other team. Teams will sit back and defend against Arsenal because they know they can nick a goal with a set piece or a counter. They don’t worry about fouling Arsenal or giving away corners because they know that they won’t concede from one of them either. It has shown itself to be the perfect tactic to beat Arsenal and now pretty much everyone has taken notice. Logically, if Arsenal becomes better at set pieces then opposition teams have less incentive to defend so heavily against them which means that their free-flowing attacking style of football will be vastly more effective.
    However, their free-flowing attacking style of football will only be effective if they can finish the chances that they produce. Currently I believe there are only 2 capable finishers in the whole of the Arsenal squad. They are Robin Van Persie and Tomas Rosicky. Thierry Henry is a spectacular finisher but as far as top-level football goes he seems to be completely disabled at the moment. Hopefully he’ll take a breather for the rest of the season and recover fully for the next.
    Finishing is down to ability and practise. I believe that most of the Arsenal players have the ability but I don’t think they get the required practise. I have the impression that Fabregas, Denilson and Walcott could all become fantastic finishers given the practise and the confidence.

    Arsene has got some truly quality players, but others just aren’t right for the team.
    I’ll start at the back…Now that Jens Lehmann isn’t trying to get into the Germany World Cup squad his performances just aren’t good enough. He’s made some fantastic saves this season to keep Arsenal in big games but he’s also making too many errors. Tonight against PSV is a prime example. What was he doing when Alex scored that header?
    Almunia is a decent keeper but he’s not good enough for the number one spot at Arsenal and I doubt he’ll want to stay at number two for next season as well. I strongly believe that both should be replaced. Carson would be an excellent steal but there are MANY fantastic keepers out there at the moment!

    Next on the list is Senderos. He too gives some fantastic performances but he also makes too many errors and he lacks the pace required to make up for them. Getting hold of Woodgate to complement Toure, Gallas, Clichy and Djourou would be interesting. As far as the right-back position goes like many Gooners my mind has not been made up.

    In the midfield the problem lies with the “wingers”. Hleb has some beautiful footwork but he doesn’t want to be a winger. He continually moves into the middle, leaving his fall-back to be the sole defender and attacker down the right (unless a forward makes the run in his stead). He frequently gives the ball away during ridiculously selfish runs that go nowhere and they generally lead to a punishing counter by the opposition. He’s not a fighter either. There’s not enough effort or desire in him to win tough matches…and I haven’t even mentioned that he can’t shoot to save his life!
    Sadly this season should also be the end of Freddie too. I was there at his debut against Man Utd and he’s always been one of my favourite players but he’s just not good enough anymore. He’s lost pace, he can’t beat his man, he doesn’t have the touch to make killer runs and he doesn’t have a good enough finish to supplement these inadequacies. He looked tame on the left against PSV. This might all just be due to rustiness after a lengthy time out from injury but I don’t think so.
    I’m a big fan of Rosicky but the left wing isn’t the right place for him either.

    Baptista’s “bulldozer runs” that offer Arsenal “something else” would be absolutely fantastic if he were half-decent but he’s not. He’s not worth having.
    I don’t think anyone really wants Reyes the whinger back either which puts Arsene in a difficult situation considering how much he paid for him.

    Lastly, despite how much he’s improved, and worked very very hard, Aliadiere is not good enough to be at Arsenal. He could be starting for an average Premiership side but he shouldn’t be in the ranks of one of the top four.
    The Arsenal team needs better finishers, better strikers…speaking of which Adebayor is having a laugh if he thinks he deserves to be on £35000 a week. I’m not yet convinced by him at all and until he learns to finish better than a schoolboy (and I’m speaking of actual schoolboys not Theo Walcott) he should have a rethink about his extra pay request.

    I have ideas of who I’d buy instead and how I’d change the team but since I’m not a Premiership manager I doubt my ideas are particularly outstanding. What I do know is that Arsene needs to rethink his team sheet and I hope that next season it includes some quality, pacey wingers who can finish like Pires used to do. Quite hopeful, I know!

    There are definitely still reasons to be optimistic though…I feel that there are some fantastic players at Arsenal of which some show themselves to have even more untapped potential. Players like Clichy, Denilson, Traore, Song, Walcott, Van Persie, Gilbert, Bendtner and most of all Diaby. Combine their potential with the established quality of players like Gallas, Toure, Gilberto, Rosicky, Fabregas and Henry and you have the makings of a truly exceptional team. I just hope that Wenger builds on it in the right way…

    Anyone else agree?

  18. With the exception of a few posts… what a load of rubbish. If one more person jumps on the “ryan babbel, frank ribery, samuel eto” bandwagon, I will shoot myself. Show some originality for fucks sakes. Have any of you seen these guys play recently… Ribery apart, they arn’t exactly setting the world alight. Also, I missing something or do you completely forget that Arsenal is not Man Utd, not Chelsea, not Liverpool so does not have a budget of 40m to spend on 3 players at the drop of a hat. We already have the players to do the job, and I firmly believe that we can win the league next season.

    To say VP isnt a 30 goal a season player is strange… he had 17 before he was injured… who is to say he wouldnt have got 25-30 had he been fit all season?

    Gallas has been injrured most of the season. He is undeniably one of the top 3 defenders in the world and if he stays fit, will be like a new signing for us next season

    Hoyte, Djorou, Denilson, Diaby, Traore… have all developed really well over the season so far… Diaby is another just back from a long lay off… and the experience these players have gained, will be invaluable for next season.

    TH14… again.. injured most season, scored 10 in 16 starts… not a bad ratio. We are blessed to have him, end of. How much disrespect can you show to a guy that basically carried us for 3 seasons on his own… fans are fickle these days… but unless you followed arsenal back in the early 90s you have been a fan during the wenger years and so have been spoilt.

    Between TH and RVP them they can easily score 40+ a season… with Adebayor giving giving us another option… so no strikers needed in my opinion… Im still convinced Ali can step up… so bring back Benditer and thats 4 good strikers.

    The only area of the field I can see us needing a replacement is in goal… Jens is off and it would do us well to get someone in who is established as confidence stems from a solid gk and def….

    Other than that, show some bloody respect for the man who has changed the face of English football for the better and who has dragged Arsenal kicking and screaming out of the George Graham era and who is on the verge of giving us a team that will be a benchmark for years to come…

    Peace

    TOPCAT

  19. I found this article written after the PSV game… Sums up everything far better than I ever could…. well worth a read.

    The marvellous thing about Football is its ability to bring out an opinion in everyone; some are good and some, as regular readers of this blog will attest, are pure unadulterated drivel. I have however to say, that a lot of what is being said about Wednesday night’s Champions League exit is pure crap. I understand and share everyone’s frustration at what has happened, and for some of the other matches this season but let not our sense of disappointment get the better of us. The fundamental problem with this season is that there seems to be a sense of the morning after the night before about it. The events in Paris and the football played in getting there has raised expectations to a unfeasibly high level; at the outset of 2006 – 07 I commented that I wanted a tangible improvement on last time around. We’ve had it so far as I observed in the build-up to the PSV match and if it sounds a bit “I told you so” then perhaps you will allow me that indulgence. For today at least.However let us not lose sight of the fact that were it not for a dodgy Lasagne that we would not have even been in the Champions League at all. Last seasons Premiership barely merited a top four finish yet that is what was earned. The team underperformed domestically last season of that there is little question; we should have finished a comfortable fourth, perhaps higher on paper but instead it was a nail-biter. So it came to this season and before it started – even after the win at Old Trafford – there was talk of a title challenge. It is never a problem to have lofty aspirations; they are a problem when reality is not taken into account. As Flint put it so eloquently in yesterdays comments, this is the second year of a five year rebuilding plan. In fact sod it; you can all read the comment:

    What you do not seem to understand is that we are 2 years into a 3-5 year cycle of rebuilding a side. I would say that at this moment in time we are actually overachieving,by some distance.

    The good thing is that we are creating the chances & have scored just 1 goal less than Man U at home.

    I would agree on the set pieces but it should be said that not once this season have we been able to put out our 1st choice defence= imo Eboue Kolo Gallas Clichy. On top of that we have had so many injuries that a settled side has been impossible.

    Jems was considered that best keeper in the world cup.
    Unfortunately players get past their best & it is time to move on. We miss them but the Vieiras & DB10s just don’t grow on trees.

    I am convinced that we are on the right lines, have a squad of players that are more talented than any in our history, and the future should be very rosy indeed.

    You should also remember that there are no easy fixes in football and no instant success.

    Keep patient we are all disappointed about last night but you have to go through those to make the eventual success so much greater.

    There are ‘favourite’ targets in amongst the criticism have been Hleb, Adebyor, Baptista, Senderos (!) and the completely idiotic suggestion that the Club have gone as far as they can with the current Management. Put the recent cup exits into perspective. In none of them were we totally outplayed. In none of them were defeats by more than one goal. In all of them we had enough chances to win each and every one. Is that the sign of a squad that needs a major overhaul? Perhaps a tweak here or there but in fairness to the players and Arsene, who could have predicted the injuries and suspensions that have left the Club with just two forwards for the next League match (or possibly up to another five, if the hefty tome that the hacks want is thrown at Adebayor this afternoon).

    There are two fundamental problems that Arsene has had to address this season. Firstly, the number of injuries this season has prevented the appearance of key players across the whole of the squad. It has not just been limited to defence or attack or one or two individuals; defence has been affected, attack affected, midfield affected. There seem to have been an inordinately high number of hamstring and groin strains. When Graeme Souness was in charge at Anfield, his training methods were criticised, something that cannot be levelled at Arsenal. However it is either pure bad luck or else something is amiss. The impact of this is that it has been a rare occasion indeed when Arsene has been able to field his strongest XI. Moreover, Arsene has had to rotate the squad regularly – an art he himself has admitted he has yet to get fully to grips with. The chopping and changing of the side though means that the understandings that are key to a successful side do not get built upon, perhaps best indicated by the paucity in the number of clean sheets in defence. Compare the instability to previous campaigns, there has not been one comparable to this one under his reign. Maybe it is football karma that after so many seasons of relatively low injuries that so many are occurring this season. More than anything though, the serious impact of injuries has shown with Thierry Henry. For most of the season, he has been playing with Sciatica or a foot injury or been unavailable. Affecting his form on the pitch and his demeanour, it has been a huge blow. That he is not the Clubs top scorer this season says it all. Previous years have seen him in the twenties in his goal tally by now. This time round, he will be lucky if he even reaches twenty goals for the season. A huge blow. One that could maybe have been coped with had someone else stepped up to the plate. They did – Robin van Persie which says it all. Not in a demeaning way, just that he will be back for maybe the last three weeks of the season, out through injury. The equivalent? Taking Drogba and Lampard out of Chelsea, Rooney and Ronaldo out of United, Ronaldinho and Eto’o from Barcelona. If you take the two top scorers from any side, they will struggle.

    This season has seen a number of players out of form and people get on their backs. People have been on at Henry, some even suggesting the Club sell him or maybe that he should have gone to Barcelona this season. Had he done so and suffered the same injuries, some would no doubt have gloated. I however beg to differ. Had he gone for say £25m, an expensive replacement would have had to have been purchased; no guarantee of success and how long before the same Henry critics turned on his replacement – “We should never have sold Titi”, a mantra that would have been heard. Baptista is instead the target. A player who came with a big reputation, from a year where he was dropped to the bench at Madrid, confidence dented. So we expect him to walk into the Arsenal squad and turn it on straight away, without time to adapt to the English game and when it does not happen, the criticism starts, ignoring injuries and moving to a totally different culture and language. And it becomes more vocal as time goes on. Presumably the same sort of people on Adebayor’s back last season. How much of a turnaround has there been in his case. Immense. Perhaps some on the wain now, with critics resurfacing, expecting him to be Henry’s replacement at the top of the scoring charts. I am not convinced he will ever be a twenty goals a season player, he is not that sort of striker. Fifteen maybe, touching twenty but no more.

    The midfield has also failed to contribute in the goal stakes with the exception of Gilberto. Fabregas ought to get more for a player of such prodigous talent. Hleb is definitely short in that department, Rosicky should be scoring more; both of these are hugely talented individuals. Much is said of how Pires and Bergkamp used to chip in with their share of goals and this is true. But none of the above are direct replacements for either. The team is set differently, Rosicky adapting to English Football, which appeared to have happened prior to his current injury. Hleb seems to be a player who you either love or infuriates the hell out of you. Me, I fall into both camps. He has superb close ball control but put him in an area for a shot and the majority of the time he will pass, as if his brain whirs into action and screams, “Cannot compute! Cannot compute!” yet he has shown when he choses to remain calm, he is an excellent finisher.

    That is not to say that the results thus far are due to bad luck; lapses in concentration have been equally costly. Very few of the goals conceded could have been avoided in Home games. Most with better application could possibly have been avoided. Some argue that these are unforgivable given the salaries paid. Sorry, that does not wash – paying someone £50k a week does not eliminate mistakes, that is just the economics of the industry. Where I have issue with the lapses is in their repetitious nature, poor marking at set pieces indicate that concentration is dropping, previous errors not being learnt from. Everyone makes mistakes but to repeat them is pure sloppiness.

    But despite all of this, we are not too badly off. Most teams would be happy with the state of play, even twenty years ago Arsenal fans would have been ecstatic with fourth place. The problem is that expectations have been raised by Arsene’s success and the fickle nature of some supporters forgets or is not aware of the previous decades of disappointment. As supporters we are not without criticism ourselves. The atmosphere at the new ground leaves a lot to be desired but that is a result of dispersement of supporters who had sat together previously, new supporters “bedding” themselves in and Corporate Seats. Leaving the ground early as in the PSV game is diabolical. Surely the team deserve our support until the final whistle? We were quick enough to criticise them when the left the field after defeats at Bolton, etc., when they failed to acknowledge the travelling fans so the team has a right to question us, where were we when they needed us?

    All told though, enough of the navel-gazing, look forwards not back and learn the lessons of the season to ensure that we are in the Champions League next time round.

  20. Hello , im Thierry Henry , i hope that the fans of Arsenal are not angry about me leaving the club , to be honest the reason i left is because i didn’t feel happy about the support i got up front , i thought that Robin was my best partner that season , but when he was injured Emmanuel was upfront with me , he was good , and i bonded with him but he didn’t pass alot , he kept on going by himself , and everytime he kept missing i was getting more and more inpacient so i decided to ask Arsene to buy players like Shaun Wright-Phillips , Ryan Babel , Frank Ribery , Flarent Malouda and Fernando Torres , but he kept on with the same team that couldnt finish a shot , so i dicided to tell him if it stays like this for another month , i will leave the club for a team that offers more than 10 Million than after a month , Barcelona offerd 16.1 Million to buy me , so i was off to Spain , i feel i should play in one of the biggest clubs in Europe now.

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