Aug 132009
 

Two days to go.

After getting last night’s pointless international friendly with Holland out of the way, it is time to get to the real action – this weekend the Premiership finally returns. It seems like forever since that final day victory over Stoke, meandering through transfer rumours and over hyped warm up games, but we’re back. At last.

And so it’s time for a look at our squad, how the summer’s gone, and what we can expect from the following nine months. With the World Cup on the horizon, it is a big year for many players, and they may have just had the longest break from football they’ll enjoy in a long time.

So let’s get to it.

Defence

So far, this reads: Toure out, Vermaelen in, but with the hidden extras of the return from loan of Senderos and Traore. Even if, as seems inevitable, Senderos moves on to Everton, Wenger has already indicated he will be replaced. That, to my reckoning, puts us a centre back and left back up on last season.

Which is ironic, really, because this is where the press seem to think we’ll suffer the most. Certainly it would be a worry if Gallas or Vermaelen picked up a long term injury, as the backup is not of their experience or quality, but look at United, Liverpool and even Chelsea – where are their reserve centre backs? We suffer more because ours are more injury prone, not because we have fewer numbers.

If Senderos is properly replaced, I think we’re fine here, I really do.

Midfield

The good – offensively we are packed with possibilities, even with injuries to Nasri and Rosicky. We still have Cesc, Diaby, Denilson, Ramsey and Wilshere, which makes seven players who can fit into what appears to be two attacking midfield berths. No problem there.

The bad – defensive. Song is the prime option, with Denilson his likely backup. We could turn to Djourou if our centre backs remain unscathed, but it is hard to argue that we’ve got enough numbers here, especially with Song likely to miss a crucial month while the African Nations Cup is played. If we are to make another signing before the window closes, I desperately hope it is here.

Attack

As with the defence, the media have put two and two together and made seventeen. Losing Adebayor = weakened. But that doesn’t really make a lot of sense, given that we signed Arshavin in January and have got Eduardo back from missing essentially the whole of last season.

So it seems to be three from Van Persie, Bendtner, Arshavin, Eduardo, Vela and Walcott, which is a nice mix of pace, power and skill. I don’t see a problem here at all.

Overall

We are generally regarded as the weakest of the top four, based on last season’s poor showing and the losses of Adebayor and Toure. But we’ve replaced unhappy with hungry (Toure-Vermaelen) and lazy with exciting (Adebayor-Arshavin) since the window shut last September. Given that Toure’s legs are going (if not gone), and Adebayor lost all connection with the fans, a £15m profit is great are bringing in the experience and leadership qualities of Arshavin and Vermaelen, two traits we are supposedly short of.

Add to that the return of Eduardo and the possible return of Rosicky, and we’re up personnel-wise, without including Senderos, his possible replacement, or any other new signings.

And add to that the improvement that the likes of Song and Denilson showed last year, and we’re looking a lot better than the press will have you believe.

I’m not saying it’s enough to win the league yet, because I have a horrible suspicion that Chelsea will be nigh on unstoppable this season once they get going, but I think we’ll have a better season than the last, and certainly a lot better than is being predicted.

Stay optimistic. It promises to be fun.

  7 Responses to “Groan’s Pre-season Analysis 2009-10”

  1. In attack we’re absolutely fine. If he can stay reasonably injury free I’d back eduardo to be top scorer this year. Arshavin will chip in with plenty of goals and assists. Then theres van persie whos an excellent player of course, and maybe vela will get a run in the side and he’s going to be something special.
    We also have bendtner and walcott who I think can be excellent if used intelligently. Tactically, they are very useful players to have.
    I think we’re fine from the DM pov to be honest. It would be nice to get someone in that position, but I think we’ll get by.
    Id really be pleased if we signed hangeland or someone similar. He played almost every game last year and it means djourou could cover DM as well if need be. Who knows, he might prove himself to be better than denil and song. My guess is diaby would play a more withdrawn role if song and denilson were missing however.

  2. At last, someone giving us all a balanced summary of where we are at as a club entering the opening day of the season and with two weeks remaining of the summer transfer window. Our young squad will have improved a lot more than those that are packed with 28+ year olds. This, I believe, will mean that we have a much more solid 2nd string than last season, filling in well when injuries rear their ugly head. Incidentally, the average age of our 1st XI (if all fit) is not that young and has a wealth of experience.
    There are also a number of international captains and former club captains in the side. I say this because a lack of leadership has been mentioned as a possible reason for Arsenal struggling last year.

  3. Wenger has huge faith in Diaby. I suspect he will play him DM. Another suprise DM could be Eboue. Am I crazy ?. You tell me .
    You didnt talk of the GK. Al is a strength for me. Not Fabianski.

  4. A good article overall.

    I certainly agree that we are strong going forward and we have a plethora of options. We don’t need anymore strikers or attacking midfielders.

    Defensively we are short I’m afraid. For starters, I disagree with Davi re: DM. Song is a great backup, but he is not yet experienced or skilled enough to play everyday on a trophy winning team. Perhaps in a year or two he will get there, but he still has someway to go. I’m not sure why we should have to “make do” with center back Djorou, as cover for DM. Given our stature as one of the biggest and most wealthy clubs in the world, I do not think Song as starting DM and Djorou as a backup reflect our standing. One shred of hope is that Wenger recently said Song was one of our CBs, so maybe he’s planning on signing a ready-made DM.

    As far as the back 4, I think we are ok at the moment. I’d much rather sign a world-class DM than a CB if I had the choice, but signing both, in my opinion, would bring us silverware this season.

    Unlike many in the press and around the blogs, I will reserve judgment until the transfer window closes. I really think we are a DM and CB away (not another striker, i.e., Chamakh) from winning something…we are very close. I just hope the signings are made!

  5. my concern is a long term injury too Sagna? who will deputise for him down the right side of defence & get forwards to help Theo/nasri?

  6. wazza, that’s Eboue’s job.

  7. […] The fact that we’re being written off in all corners is fantastic if you’re a betting man, as the odds you can get on any Arsenal success are superb. Consider this – last season we were 5/1 to win the league. This season our odds have gone out to 8/1, despite all the sales the top four have made. Are we really in a far worse position than last summer? I don’t think so. […]

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