It looks like everyone has written us off for next season, and call it blind optimism but I’m excited about the coming campaign.
The bookmakers have given us around 10/1 odds for the league (and some are as high as 12/1) which is bookmaker speak for ‘not a chance in hell’. I mean when Derby visit the Emirates they would shorter odds than that!
I guess the biggest test Arsenal have to face is the strength of the other 3 forces in the league – Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. Until a few seasons ago Liverpool and Chelsea weren’t even in the picture – it was either Arsenal or United for the Premiership.
There’s no doubt that Eduardo da Silva and Bacary Sagna will add to our young squad, and a few more fresh faces would help the cause but the new season could see our team challenge at the top. If you look at our squad, there is so much potential for big seasons from several players:
Robin Van Persie is going to be spectacular.
This will be his 4th season at the club after joining as a 20-year old and without Dennis Bergkamp or Thierry Henry the Dutchman is now the main man. There’s no question about who will partner Thierry – it’s now all about Van Persie – will he be joined up front with Eduardo or Adebayor?
I’m sure you’ve seen his goals from last season. The goals against Manchester United at home and Charlton Athletic away show his ability to score goals without even thinking while smart finishes against Blackburn (home) and Watford (away) display his sheer ruthlessness in front of goal.
This guy is that good.
Â£2.5 million? That could be the bargain of the century.
Then we have Emmanuel Eboue.
For me Eboue is highly underrated by Arsenal fans. Through out Spain, Italy and France Eboue is thought of as one of the best right-back talents in Europe with his ability to attack down the right and support the attack. He is prone to a bit of playacting which sometimes detracts from his playing ability. There is a question about his defensive qualities but he (along with Clichy) kept Double Player of the Year Ronaldo quiet twice last season.
Gilberto Silva, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy were the consistent performers last season, and you can rely on them to give everything next season. Gilberto added goalscoring to his repertoire last season with 11 goals which for a defensive midfielder is exceptional. Toure as usual was a lion at the back, although he suffered from a lack of a consistent partner alongside him. Gallas will probably start the majority of games because of his experience but I’m still wary whether he is Kolo’s best partner. I personally think Djourou and Senderos help the team better than with Gallas, but maybe that’s just me.
The jury is still out on Emmanuel Adebayor. There’s no doubt he has the talent to become a decent player and we’ll find out this season whether he’s got what it takes. He only managed to score 12 times last season which when you compare to midfielder Gilberto is comparatively poor.
Then we have the wingers; Rosicky and Hleb.
Alexander Hleb has something to prove this season after a couple of average campaigns. I am a fan of Hleb and on his day his ball retention and distribution is exceptional – just take a look at the goals he set up for Rosicky (Liverpool, FA Cup) and Flamini (Chelsea, Premiership) last season. He knows where to play the ball and is one of the few players in the squad who will hold onto the ball in the final third. I’ve always thought that he had his better games alongside Henry and Van Persie (a la Reading away) but with Titi out of the picture Hleb will have to adjust his game.
Tomas Rosicky is another guy who is a quality player but like Hleb has probably suffered from being played out of position. When both players arrived at Arsenal they were central attacking midfielders but have been groomed to play out on the wings – and whether they are comfortable playing there is still debatable.
I suppose 6 goals each in their time at Arsenal gives you the answer.
Reyes was the only player on our books who gave the side some natural width but he looks destined to stay in Spain, which is a shame because he was a good player.
Then we have the new boys, Eduardo da Silva and Bacary Sagna. With Eduardo we have signed a poacher who has an eye for goal, so we’ll either get a Francis Jeffers or an Ian Wright. God I hope it’s not a Francis Jeffers… The positive is that although it is the Croatian league, scoring 34 goals in 32 games is still impressive, and at least shows he is a natural goalscorer.
Sagna is an interesting signing. With a reported fee of around Â£7/8 million you wouldn’t think he would be just warming the bench until Eboue jets off to the ACN. People have said Eboue could play further up in right midfield which wouldn’t be the worst idea – and it would at least give Hleb some competition.
And then of course we have Cesc Fabregas, who for the last couple of seasons has been exceptional and is improving all the time. The team basically revolves around Cesc and looks dis-jointed without him in the side. The tempo of Arsenal’s game is dictated by Fabregas and he is simply an unbelievable talent.
How many 20 year olds can say they’ve had 3 full seasons at a top club, a World Cup campaign and Champions League Final under their belt?
He is possibly the most experienced 20 year old in World football today.
I’ve mentioned before that the first 10 games or so will determine how Arsenal’s season pans out but with Arsene’s Young Guns another year older and more experienced why can’t it be our year?