The Goon Blog season review - part 2
The season is memorable for a lot of individual failings amongst the team – I know the word team means ultimately they all should take responsibility, but certain individuals just weren’t up to the grade, be it through just not being good enough but giving their all at the same time, or just through a distinct lack of effort at times.
GK: Manuel Almunia – 36 appearances
Last season the general consensus that whilst Almunia wasn’t world class, he was a good goalkeeper and there were far more important issues within the team to fix. Fast forward to 2009-10 the situation is completely different, early blunders and personal issues meant that he was out of the side for a while and given time to get his head right. The fans generally were sympathetic, a death in his family had clearly rocked him but after some time out it was assumed he would be back to the standard of the season before – however this was not the case.
Almunia has made far too many mistakes, some have said that with a better keeper we may well have won the league – thats hard on him, we did see some of his talent with a remarkable first half performance against Barcelona at the Emirates but the weaknesses were obvious again when they scored their goals. He doesn’t command his area or communicate well enough and thats why I think he will not be number one come August.
GK: Lucasz Fabianski – 10 appearances
Ten appearances too many. I have nothing personal with him, he has talent, he just can’t hack it mentally at this level at the moment, we have seen some great performances in the Carling Cup but he can’t bring them into the League and his brainstorms have led to important goals being conceded. A liability who’s future lies elsewhere.
GK: Vito Mannone – 8 appearances
Achieved near legend status almost instantly with an incredible display against Fulham to get us the win after a van Persie goal. He has talent but shouldn’t have to show it in Arsenal colours for a good while yet, he is young for a goalkeeper and only has a handful of senior appearances under his belt. A loan move next season would suit him just fine.
RB: Bacary Sagna – 40 appearances
Without being stunning, he has been solid and reliable all season. He is one of the best defenders we have but has been caught out at times this season, often being replaced by the more attacking Manu Eboue for home games, especially in Europe. One aspect he has to work on is his crossing, it is appalling and teams know when he gets the ball out wide 9 times out of 10 the delivery will be a poor one. Some improvement needed but not bad overall.
RB/RM /CM: Emmanuel Ebooooue – 36 appearances / 3 goals
A good season I think, he is a vital squad player and always, always gives 100%. Going forward he offers a threat and whilst the end product isnt always there, he can produce something special that can change a game. Above all, he is a real squad player. They all love him and whenever he starts on the bench he is always there as the players come trudging off at half time to give them a pat on the back. He is no Messi but he is a real team player and they are rare these days.
CB: William Gallas – 35 appearances / 4 goals
A very good season when he was playing, which wasn’t often enough in the last third of it. He was public enemy number one last season but his professionalism has always been brilliant and I think he deserved a better end to his Arsenal career than hobbling off after a few minutes against Barcelona after twanging his injured calf again. Many fans didn’t like him but I did, I’d go as far as to say he was one of my favorites – I’m using the term ‘was’ because his contract will not be renewed and he will be off on a Bosman. Must be replaced with an experienced, world class center half.
CB: Thomas Vermaelen – 45 appearances / 8 goals
What. a. signing. Immense really, there isn’t much more to say. Goals, tackles, general winning mentality and leadership – the guy has it all and is a future captain of the club. I could see him being at the club for the next ten years if all goes to plan, we need to find a world class partner for the guy, he deserves it and it would sort a lot of our defensive issues. Vermaelen played every league game up to the Wigan game – the guy is a machine.
CB: Sol Campbell – 14 appearances / 1 goal
What a return for the old man, we thought he was just there to make up the numbers but he has shed the pounds and put in some real brilliant performances, the pace he showed to keep up with Gareth Bale was like that Forrest Gump moment where the braces spring off and he sprints away. Inspirational and will hopefully sign another one year deal – he sure deserves it and we could do worse for a 4th choice center back.
CB: Mikael Silvestre – 20 appearances / 1 goal
He tries… oh he does try. Sadly he is just not good enough and despite having a very good career I’m thankful he will be released this summer. Do we buy someone to replace him or promote a youth team product should be the question – rather than will he or won’t he re-sign.
LB: Gael Clichy – 33 appearances
Missed a fair part of the season through injury but when he returned he looked to be approaching his marauding best once again. Seems a little mentally more secure than he did last season when he had several kamikaze moments that gave the opposition chances. Its good to see him back and he will be another important component of a needed strong defence next season – hopefully.
CB: Johan Djourou – 1 appearance
He lives?!?!? Cant be counted on to have a part to play next season after this one was a write off. Hopefully he can get back to full fitness. Hopefully not promoted to partner Thomas Vermaelen and kept as cover.
LB: Kieran Gibbs – 7 appearances
Season curtailed by what I’m told was a career threatening foot injury as his bones were crushed in a challenge by a Standard Liege player at the Emirates in the Champions League group stages. A great talent that would have been in with a shout of getting in the World Cup squad if he was fit. Will be back next season pressuring Clichy for the left back slot next season hopefully.
LB: Armand Traore – 12 appearances
I don’t know what will happen to him really. He might stay but he won’t get much first team football, on his day he can be a really good player, those days don’t occur too often though. A good third choice to have though.
CM: Alex Song -38 appearances / 1 goal
A very good season from him, you only really realised how much he gave the side when he wasn’t there. His control has greatly improved, as has his passing, he has a bite in the tackle and that aggression you really need from someone who plays in that position, the only nailed on starter apart from Cesc in the midfield – he really is the anchor of all our attacking play and he doesn’t get as much help as he should from the third midfielder, whoever they are. He has come along way from that player who was miles out of their depth a few years ago to being, in my view, one of Europe’s finest holding midfielders. He has a lot to learn still but he is improving all the time.
CM: Cesc Fabregas – 36 apperances /19 goals 16 assists
Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe how good this guy is, and he has only just turned 23 as well… One of the best seasons from an Arsenal player in my book, he has added goals to his game and we are not talking 10-15 goals, he could well have racked up 25 goals if he wasn’t injured at various stages of the season. His attitude is outstanding and he bleeds Arsenal red, he played on with a broken leg and to me that shows how much he loves this club. Whether he leaves for Barcelona is not a debate for this season review but if he does, my word will we be hard pushed to get someone half as good to fill his boots. Stay Cesc, please.
Some of the goals he scored were quite brilliant. The ones that stood out for me were the goal against Sp*rs and the double against Aston Villa – pure passion, talent and will to win. Him, van Persie and Vermelen are the only players with that mentality in the team and my word we need more of it.
CM: Abou Diaby – 40 appearances / 7 goals
A guy blessed with some outrageous talent but only rarely do we see it. What we see mostly is the lazy, cumbersome and somewhat ulta laid-back player who drives fans mental. He has got some important goals and it seems that his injuries have finally abated and allowed him to get a fair few games under his belt – what I just can’t forgive is the half-arsed displays at the end of the season though, it hurts as a fan to watch stuff like that, its this that might have started to push our captain away from this club and if that happened I would hold something against him and other members of the squad.
I’d love to see him become the player his talent threatens – I just can’t see it though.
MF: Samir Nasri – 34 appearances / 5 goals
Started the season with a broken leg, but from then on he didn’t make the sort of impact I expected. I’m convinced he can’t play in the same attack as Tomas Rosicky and so one of them may well have to make way for the other to shine. He could be a fantastic player but how he fits into our system I just don’t know, next season will be a big one for him. Could do better.
CM: Denilson – 28 appearances / 6 goals
Whilst last season I was always willing to defend the Brazillian, this season he hasn’t made the same sort of impression. I know what Wenger sees in him but sometimes he just doesn’t seem to want to run, take the United break for instance that pretty much sealed the game for them at the Grove this season, he was jogging back to the penalty area – jogging! It was his man and he allowed him to breeze past him.
He to show he wants to play for the Arsenal or he can pack his stuff and leave.
MF: Tomas Rosicky- 33 appearances / 3 goals
First and foremost, its good to see him back playing after almost two years out with an injury that nearly ended his career. He can bring something to the table and his passing is up there with the very best in the side, he has lost a yard of pace but he makes up for that with his brain – however, he has a reticence to shoot, something he never had when he first joined the club. He needs to shoot more because it really can pay off (think back to the Bolton game). He is a good player to have in the squad and I quite like his feisty temperament, he isn’t afraid of booting a player into the air if he gets annoyed.
CM: Aaron Ramsey – 29 appearances / 4 goals
What a season he was having, really announcing himself on the scene with some passing displays reminiscent of our Catalan captain. He is much alike him and has no shortage of confidence yet is not cocky which really is something to behold these days. That injury he sustained should affect him in the long turn but only time will tell. Eduardo lost something after it happened to him – my first real admission it has – hopefully it won’t be repeated as he is such a good player with massive potential to become a club great.
Get well soon, Aaron.
Jack Wilshere & Fran Merida
Jack has been on loan at Bolton for half the season and has done well, he looks comfortable mixing it with the cloggers and will hopefully have a decent part to play next season, there is always the option of another loan spell for him though. Quite a talent.
Merida looks set to leave for Athletico Madrid (Its a done deal). He scored two lovely goals for us this season and only had a handful of appearances and its sad he is going home – he is genuinely talented and at one point was looked upon as another Spanish wonderkid.
FW: Andrey Arshavin – 39 appearances / 12 goals
A strange season, he battled on through injury when our forward line was decimated and got some important goals – however something wasn’t quite right. He didn’t seem to be giving 100% and lacked the drive he seemed to have in the four months he played of last season, a guy with massive talent, he didn’t showcase it as much as he should have and could easily go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Hopefully next season we will see the best of him because if we do, we are in for something really special. He averages a goal every 3 or so games which isn’t bad for a player out of position.
FW: Theo Walcott – 30 appearances / 4 goals
He has shown flashes of improvement, slowly. Its been tricky for him with injuries but he strung together 30 appearances this term and that is a significant amount of games. He only scored four goals but his finishing seems to have improved and he does have a knack of scoring in big games which is no bad thing. A B- from him this season, could do better and needs to do better.
FW: Robin van Persie – 20 appearances / 10 goals
A lethal start to the season, especially in the league. He was relishing the new system with Cesc Fabregas feeding him passes no other player could and was scoring more often than he ever had before – then the inevitable happened and he got injured… story of the season perhaps? Story of Arsenal’s season maybe? He got his ankle ligaments ripped off when he got tackled in an international friendly and we didn’t see him again until the Sp*rs game at WHL, and by then it was just too late.
Next season could be his year though – injury permitting.
FW: Nicklas Bendtner – 31 Appearances / 12 goals
The stats don’t do him justice, he missed 3 months with a torn groin and before that was being played out of position – he stepped up when we really needed him though. We were in the title race and clinging on by our fingertips and more than just the once the Dane got us the winner. At 22 he is still very young for a striker.. 38 goal Drogba wasn’t even a professional at his age. I’m a massive fan of his and he is one of my favourite players, with the arrival of Marouane Chamakh he is going to have a war for places on his hands but with his self belief he will make it, believe me.
FW: Eduardo – 32 appearances / 6 goals
Its sad to tell you the truth. I don’t want to write this but quite frankly I think he is better off leaving and starting over again. You can’t blame him for not being the player he was before and whilst there are flashes the real Eduardo is there you just feel he needs a change of scenery to get back to what he was. Its been a poor season for him but we should get a decent fee if we do sell – if he stays I hope he recaptures the form he had when he first joined and looked one hell of a striker.
FW: Carlos Vela – 20 appearances / 2 goals
I really don’t think he is cut for this league. The once wonderkid has a hell of a lot of talent but it just doesn’t want to seem to come out in England. He spends half his time traveling back from Mexico and the rest of the time looking for his passport. I want him to make it but just can’t see it happening right now. One of him or Eduardo looks set to leave with Chamakh coming in.
Manager: Arsene Wenger
I’m one of his biggest fans but he has do try something different now, he will face unprecedented pressure to spend if Cesc goes and was under big pressure to spend anyway. We have the money and if we don’t spend it, it defeats the object of playing in a shiny new stadium and skimping on squad investment – he is a great at the club – the greatest manager probably – but he needs to win something now and address problems in the squad, mainly the defence and the goalkeeping situation. He is the right man for the job at the moment but if these issues aren’t addressed my thoughts might change, sadly. He needs to take a long hard look at the squad. Is it fit for 60,000 fans paying the highest ticket prices in the world to watch? I really don’t think so.
There needs to be change, a lot hinges on these next few weeks and I hope everything goes to plan or it is going to be one very long summer and another summer of doom and gloom – we need to go for every trophy on offer next year, we are not in a position to pick and choose anymore after a 5th consecutive season without silverware.
Thanks for reading, if you got this far!