Aug 172012

Our summers are nothing if not dramatic. I’ve been largely ignoring it for the past few weeks – ever since van Persie’s original statement I’ve felt a little jaded by the whole thing, and haven’t had the desire to track it, or write about it, on a daily basis. Kudos to those who manage to blog without a break – goodness knows I needed one.

But now, it has happened. Our captain, our best player, the talisman of our football club, has left. And not just anywhere – to one of our fiercest rivals, certainly the club with which our manager has had the strongest and most long-lasting rivalry. It is a momentous day, and not for the right reasons.

Despite all of that, I feel strangely cold about the whole situation. Since his dreadfully worded plea to get the fans on his side, I, along with many of you, had accepted that is was only a matter of time before he left. With Juventus the only destination that wouldn’t sting, it became about getting the best deal possible. When the Italian club dropped out of the running, it became clear that United were a more realistic prospect than we had guessed at the outset. I don’t know whether that preparation softened the blow, or whether the fee we’ve managed to extract has helped (it certainly seems that we have been compensated for where he is going) but somehow I’m shrugging and looking forward to Saturday.

That isn’t to say that this doesn’t hurt from a football point of view. It does – we’ve lost one of the world’s best players, who has been performing at the peak of his powers for eighteen months. Those who write him off based on his injury record are wrong on two counts – firstly he has been fit enough for long enough to suggest that he will be fine next season, and secondly, he actually isn’t injury prone. Yes, you read that correctly.

Van Persie isn’t injury prone. He has been the victim of a number of poor challenges, which have caused a variety of impact injuries. Crucially, it hasn’t been the same body part each time – he isn’t a Michael Owen, who is only a few games away from twanging what remains of his hamstring. I’d actually compare him to Gael Clichy, who suffered a myriad of bad injuries early in his career, all through sheer dumb luck. Once that luck turned, his availability became constant, and the same is true of the Dutchman. So prepare yourself to see him play plenty of matches next season.

I’m sure many of you are angry right now. But frankly, if your ire isn’t aimed squarely at the player, it is misdirected. All his claims to be ‘always Arsenal’ are laughable – he has merrily gone to a hated rival, something a true Gunner would never do. I can understand his reasons, perhaps you can too. But he isn’t a Gunner.

My advice? Move on. We’ve signed three very exciting players this summer, and I think two more will come in before the end of August, especially if Alex Song does boost the coffers further with a move to Spain. We’ve survived big name departures before. We will again. I know we seem to be saying that a lot (which is an entirely different discussion), but we always survive.

As for van Persie? Could have been a legend, but is no more. Was a good player for us, a good captain too, but ultimately chose to throw loyalty back in the faces of those who showed it to him in spades.

Season preview

Time to move on from all that. We are tantalisingly close to the start of a new season, and despite the events of this week, I am more optimistic than I have been in years. Every year, I make a few predictions at this time, and last year‘s actually turned out to be pretty decent. So here we go again:

League Position – 3rd

I think we’ll finish behind the same two sides again this season – both Manchester clubs. However, there is a big difference – I think we’ll be closer to them, and further ahead of the rest. I’d go as far as to say we’ll be in the title hunt until March at the earliest, but ultimately fall short, perhaps by 7-9 points. I’m going with City to retain, with Spurs (yes, Spurs) finishing fourth. Chelsea are my tip to struggle this time around – I don’t think Di Matteo is the man to lead them over a whole season. Liverpool will take time to adapt to Rodgers.

Arsenal Players to Watch

Vermaelen – it might seem strange to pick one of our best players as one to watch this year, but I really think Vermaelen, complete with armband, will step up in a big way. Outshone by Koscielny last season, I fully expect him to take to leadership like a duck to water, and be one of the very best around.

Ramsey – this time last season, young Ramsey was placed under ridiculous pressure. Only a matter of months after recovering from a career threatening injury, he was asked to do too much in the absence of our missing midfield, and never really recovered. By the end of the season, physical fatigue had added to emotional strain, factors that too few fans accounted for. But his character is strong, he never stops trying and he never hides. Unless less scrutiny, I expect him to resume the giant strides he was making before that Stoke oaf came along.

Cazorla – seriously, just watch the guy, enjoy, and try to work out exactly how we got him on the cheap.

Gervinho – talent isn’t a problem, confidence is. But Gervinho has been showing great signs in pre-season, and is another I expect to raise his level this year.

Concerned about

Wilshere – this time last season I predicted a tricky campaign for Wilshere. Expectations were insanely high, such is the talent of the kid, and his nationality meant the pressure would be intensified. I said at the time that his first dip in form would be greeted with derision from the areas of the press who believed he had been hyped up far enough. This all still stands, but his long term injury almost guarantees that his early form will be patchy. He also doesn’t have the benefit of pre-season, and will return in the Autumn a step or two behind the rest. Keep expectations reasonable.

Diaby – such a talent when fit. Never fit for long enough. I would love nothing more than to see Diaby string 20 games together, to remind us how good he can be as much as anything. But I just don’t think he will – he has practically had to relearn how to walk after the consistent problems caused by that Dan Smith ‘tackle’, and that doesn’t lend itself to staying healthy under pressure.

Other titbits

Can we win a trophy this season? Yes, if luck falls our way. It will be a domestic cup if we get one, and you always need a little bit of luck to capture one of those.

Our defence will be much improved. Vermaelen + Koscielny + Mertesacker + Sagna + Gibbs + Santos + Bould. I like that.

Overall, I’m really quite optimistic. I’m sure many will consider that misguided, but for some reason I just think we’ll surprise people this year. What do you think?

  16 Responses to “Premiership preview 12/13 + a few van Persie thoughts”

  1. Agreed with pretty much all of that. I think for once we won’t drop out of the title race due to being idiots (I’m tired, can’t explain it clearly) but rather just because we’re not quite good enough and the others are better. But I think it’ll be a nice 3rd, rather than a meh 3rd, if that even makes sense. Tired.

    Definitely think Gervinho will be a hit this season, Walcott too, and that’s because of Cazorla – most of the service last season was focused on you-know-who, and we didn’t really have a proper playmaker. Now we do, and I think we can expect goals to be shared around more equally, and the wide players especially to get more chances to score.

    Also share your stance on the Van Persie news. Shrugged and can’t wait for the new season. Partly because I’m optimistic about it because of our signings, and partly because I’d already accepted he was off and was going to be a dick about it.

  2. You re delusional. The loss of 2 of our 4 best players, including our captain/striker and best midfielder is a gap unlikely to be plugged by the new signings. Unless wenger grasps the importance of rebuilding the spine of our side and getting players at the centre with the calibre, leadership and spirit of likes of Adams, vieira, Henry and seaman, we will compete for nothing. Wenger has lost the winning mentality.but he’s generating a lot of cash for our owners.

    • In the last twelve months, Wenger has signed a LOT of players. I find it odd that so many think that won’t continue.

    • Makes me laugh when the only arguement people have is you are deluded, you are delusional.
      Christ sake, that was last seasons word for the follow the herd brigade, surely you guys have managed to work out a new word for this season? Or have I completely mis judged you and you are far more stupid than I put you down for?

  3. Hopefully RVP ‘s exit will make the others more determined to fight for the title.By that I mean 90 min plus whatever time is added on. A repeat of the games where we surrender 2 goal lead or even four goals is criminal.I don’t have to give a detaield record.I will highlight some.
    2-2 Liverpool cl sf. Lost 4-2.Arsenal 4 Spurs 4.(Spurs scored 4th goal in 90 Plus min.
    Arsenal 2.Man U 2(Henery’s time)MU scored 50 sec after Berkgamp put Arsenal ahead.
    There could be more .
    Suffice to say this is a constant failing and must be eradicated if WEnger harbours ambitions of winning the epl,not qualifying for cl.
    The buck stops with Wenger. He must tweak his tactics.Why not adopt the tactics of the enemy who play to win.He has gone on record as saying fans come to see pretty soccer.Nothing could be more wrong. Winning is the name of the game. That’s why Feb once remarked that if you can play anti soccer and win,why not.
    As for red faced ,he thinks he can win the treble with RVP.Well with Ronaldo he cant do it. What makes him think RVP can provide the crucial difference. I hope he gets Barcelona in the cl final and lose.That will be really great.I can’t stand the sight of this bearlike guy munching . He may as well munch his own faaeces when MU are losing.

  4. yeah sure..get over it..we have since 99 and we will in the future…we can be happy..we just have to accept that were no longer a football club…our joy should come from producing and selling off great players for top dollar….every year…thats our ambition and should be welcomed by us Gooners…
    who cares S’land…no worries…points ..who is far more important…
    after all we’re living the american dream….right ???

  5. Agreed…& also with Mark85. We should aim better than 3rd. After all we have manage to climb from the 4th to 3rd placing with all the issues thrown to the club. We still up the with the best. Wishfull thinking but you can never predict the League. Have a strong mentality and persevere, well do fine. What say you. Stick with the Club while the rest ga go to H@$%.

  6. The three new guys are exciting and all credit to Wenger for tying them up. Myself I`m also looking forward to seeing how Coquilen and Eisfeld fair and of course the return of Wilshere and Sagna. All in all a season to look forward to.

  7. Honestly too jaded by the whole premier league crapstorm to be bothered writing properly. Just pity the punters who buy jerseys with players names on them. Maybe we should introduce velcro lettering?

    Kissing the badge should be a yellow card offence.

  8. Just a phone call our talisman gone, why did Barca officials even wasted their precious money and time to have travelled all the way from Spain to London or don’t they have Arsene Wenger phone number? I am Sick and tired of the so called Arsenal (selling) board, selling rvp to ManU shows that we have totally surrender, gone the days of revalry between Kean vs Viera, when Arsenal were always a threat to Ferguson but ManU never see us as their main threat again, winning mentality had gone out in Arsene Wenger’s memory, the phone call was simple, since u can’t compete why not release rvp for us? Shame!

  9. Good article, RVP – glad it’s over and we can move on. We have the exciting prospect of the Ox one year on, and others who have another year under their belts Szcesny, Jenkinson and agree with your thoughts about Gervinho. Frimpong anyone?
    If we sold Song that would be far worse, 3 years on his contract and a definite Wenger favourite, can’t see this happening to me its a typical Barcelona tactic to unsettle a player.
    Let’s hope we get a few penalties at home this season……..

  10. Lets give a chance to the coach “Arsene Wenger” to remove those who take themselves to be biger than the club, and remain with those who will do what he and the club need.
    “Room for the younger talented players to try also”.

  11. Looking forward to the coming season. We’ve not managed to win the league for 8 years with the players we had but now have a squad made up of entirely new players. Strange how these players leave and blame the club for not winning them titles, surely it’s the other way round, the players win titles for the club?

  12. I agree with most every thing that you’ve said , and the replacements brought in more than compensate for players who have gone out. However , any team that needs to do well needs to have a certain amount of continuity . Which is why I don’t think we can realistically challenge , it’ll take time for out players to bed in , a cup is hopefully not out of the reach.

    With regards to walcott though , I wish we would leave him out when we play sides like Sunderland , he’s got virtually no place to run behind and his movement eventually becomes very static. Those are the games where Benayoun helped , perhaps someone else on the wing would be more helpful . Maybe Chamberlain , but I worry that Walcott becomes so ineffectual when we play at home against sides with 10 men behind the ball.

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