We seem to have more new Arsenal shirts this season than signings, and along with that we have lost 4 attacking players and brought in one.
The captain, the record goalscorer and probably the greatest player to wear an Arsenal shirt. Some people believe that we’ll be better off without him, while others think Arsenal are going to suffer next season.
And while there is no doubt Thierry is a fantastic player, I’m with Arsene when he thinks it’s time to move on and see what the young team is made of. Arsenal seem to play better without Henry at times (Manchester United & Chelsea away last season) and there was no doubt that some of the younger players were simply overawed by the great mans presence. His departure should signal some of the young guns to step up and show the club and the fans what they are made of.
No doubt we’ll meet our old captain again later in the season in the Champions League! And hopefully knock them out in the process a la Vieira…
What can you say about this guy? Sometimes he does the sublime, and at other times he looks completely out of his depth. ‘The Beast’ struggled with fitness coming from Real Madrid so only really had half a season to prove himself – and in most eyes failed.
The biggest problem was that while he was tough he seemed to lack the finesse and had a knack of missing simple chances at the wrong time. He scored 4 in the Carling Cup against Liverpool at Anfield but when it mattered – in the FA Cup against Blackburn Rovers and in several Premiership matches where Van Persie and Thierry were out injured he simply didn’t take his chances – literally.
We all love Freddie, because he’s one of the few players who has that bottle to put himself where it hurts and score that goal. His attitude on the pitch was spot on, appreciated by Arsenal fans and he always managed to score the important goals – none more so than in the 2001-2002 title winning season when Bobby got injured.
But the problem for Freddie in the last couple of seasons was that he lost that extra yard of pace, and missed the incisive through-balls of Dennis Bergkamp. There’s no doubt Freddie was one of the best finishers we’ve ever seen – his goalscoring ratio proves that – but in the last two seasons Ljungberg scored 1 goal in 43 appearances. Even compared to the feeble goalscoring records of Hleb and Rosicky that is a poor return for a man whos game is all about scoring goals.
We all wish him the best!
Jose Antonio Reyes
His departure was one of the most obvious transfers of the summer – the only question was the destination. Over the last few weeks, it could have been Real Madrid, Lyon or Athletico Madrid, and in the end it was the latter.
The pity was he was a talented footballer, but after the mauling at Old Trafford the kid was never the same again. His form up to that point from his arrival in January 2004 was sensational – he helped complete the invincibles season with important goals against Fulham and Portsmouth and he scored a load of goals before OT. From then on his confidence was shattered and this wasn’t helped with his apparent relationship with Thierry Henry. I thought it would have made sense for Jose to return with Henry leaving for Spain but it wasn’t to be.
Mart Poom & Jeremie Aliadiere
Good Carling Cup backups but can be replaced in the squad by the kids.
Eduardo da Silva
Most Arsenal fans are quietly excited by this guy, even though he wasn’t involved in the Emirates Cup due to work permit problems – but hopefully they will be sorted for the Amsterdam Tournament next week.
Everyone knows that he scored 34 goals in 32 games in Croatia and while people will say it is an inferior league (and rightly so) there’s no denying that with that kind of total this guy has a natural goalscoring ability that Arsenal could do with – especially with the high number of chances we create in every game.
He might take some time to settle or he could take Arsenal like a duck to water. We’ll just have to wait and see…
Looked good in the Emirates Cup at right-back and even more exciting was the performace of Eboue at right-wing. The linked up well and with Sagna in particular he has seemed to have settled well into the squad – and didn’t look phased at all. He also looks to get forward when he can which is something Arsene will like about him.
Another positive is his strength in the air. Against Inter Milan in particular, he managed to win the majority of headers and was solid overall. Of course, he’s going to need time to settle in with the back four but the early signs are good.
Only 19, Bendtner has looked half-decent in pre-season – scoring the second goal against PSG and setting up Mathieu Flamini for the first. He’s still very young and I don’t really expect much this season from the guy, especially with Adebayor, Van Persie and Eduardo ahead of him in the pecking order. He is a good option to have on the bench though when we need something different up front.
Arsene has called Lukasz ‘one for the future’ but looks like a decent signing. We’ve yet to see him really tested yet so we can’t really know what Wenger’s plans are for this kid. Reports have generally been very positive though so we’ll see if he’s able to give Jens a run for his money, unlike Almunia who seems destined for eternal reserve duty.
The Emirates Cup could have been an insight into a change of position for a couple of players – Hleb and Eboue in particular. Eboue showed that he has the pace, skill and technical ability to do well on the right wing, and his experience at right back can only mean good things when linking up with Sagna – although whether Arsene puts Eboue back in defense for the start of the season remains to be seen.
Hleb, who has played the last couple of seasons on the right has been tried out in his natural position of a central attacking midfielder. The positives are that his excellent ball retention and distribution links up the midfield and attack seamlessly and gives Arsenal that smoothness that we have been lacking at times. The only downside is that when Hleb plays in that position it would be only behind one striker instead of two which would be much more effective. But the problem with two up top and Hleb behind is that Arsenal would be without two wide players in midfield and therefore be too narrow.
We’ll have to see what happens with that.
Eduardo has been touted to play wide in a Pires-style role scoring from the left. I’ve yet to see whether this guy has the genuine pace and skill to play in such a position as from the clips I’ve seen show to me a natural goalscorer. That’ll be interesting to see if these murmurings end up being true.
In terms of numbers, we have enough in defence, enough in attack and the central midfield is fine. In most positions we have two players/options:
GK: Lehmann, Fabianski, Almunia
RB: Eboue, Sagna
CB: Toure, Gallas, Djourou, Senderos
LB: Clichy, Traore
CM: Gilberto, Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby, Flamini, Song
FW: Eduardo, Van Persie, Adebayor, Bendtner
The only position where we struggle is in the wide positions, where we have Rosicky and Hleb – who we know prefer (and perform better) playing in a central attacking midfield role. At times, Arsene has even deployed Diaby out wide and we might see more of that next season unless another wide player is brough it.
But then again, we have Theo Walcott.
You feel that this is the season where he is going to shine. We saw glimpses of what his is capable of last season and Theo could be the reason why Arsene hasn’t brought in a wide player – because he fully intends to give Theo his chance.
And if performances like the one against a full-strength Chelsea team in the Carling Cup Final are anything to go by then why not?