First, I’d like to say that I am not going to predict Arsenal drop out of the ‘Big 4’ this season. This is not to say I don’t think it will happen or that I would rather them remain in the much-coveted group; instead it is merely too early to make such a bold statement. Pre-season has barely started, let alone the actual season. And pre-season can’t really be used to gauge the form of a team for the upcoming season anyway – see Tottenham’s campaign last summer. Plus, there’s still time for the Gunners to add to their squad.
However, IF one team were to drop out of the top 4 next season, that team would have to be Arsenal.
I think that the loss of Adebayor to City is worrying for a few reasons. First and foremost, (no matter how much you hate him) remember that he’s scored over 40 goals the past two seasons. This isn’t a record that should be brushed aside. He also gave Arsenal something different in attack, in that he’s tall, strong, athletic and quick. He added real presence to an Arsenal side, something not many in the squad could do. His mere size and ability to hold the ball up at the other end of the pitch, forced defenders onto him, much like a top-tier wide-receiver in American Football. This freed up space for his teammates in attack, and allowed them the time and space to express themselves in that ‘Arsenal’ manner. Thierry Henry attests to that luxury here. I feel that without Ade in the side (and without a similar replacement), Arsene will have to change their approach to some games, which may take some getting used to. Finally, they’ve sold their star striker to a league rival looking to overtake them this season. A striker who now has a point to prove. This could be dangerous.
Many have bid Ade ‘Good Riddance’ as his flirtation with AC Milan, general lack of interest and ability to stray offside brought most fans to the brink. That’s fine and I can see why people feel that way. However, the gap he leaves both in goals scored and size could really come back to haunt the Gunners. I’m not an Arsenal fan, so I don’t have faith in Eduardo, RVP and Bendtner to step in and efficiently do the job. First of all, I doubt the first two will get through the season injury-free, Eduardo’s still coming back from his horror injury and Bendtner just hasn’t proven himself yet. Not to mention that Adebayor won’t be holding up the ball or attracting defenders anymore. Most fans have come around to this, as the calls for Arsene to spend have been louder and more desperate than ever. But will he?
Another area of concern for me (If I was an Arsenal fan), would be the midfield. Samir Nasri broke his leg in training yesterday and will be out for three months. He was an integral part of the team last season and impressed a lot of people. His loss coincides with Rosicky’s return, which some may feel will lessen the blow. However, Rosicky hasn’t played a competitive match in 18 months and after such a lengthly layoff, he’ll need time to get back into the groove. How a team starts can often set the tone for the rest of the season (will a team be playing catch-up or not?) and these injuries do not bode well for the start of the upcoming campaign. The basis of another excuse-ridden season, perhaps? Hopefully not – we’re all sick of excuses by now.
Injuries aside, the midfield is the same old (I mean young) story. They’re all just one year older. But how long have we been saying this? They may do well against some sides, but as the season wears on and the matches start to get more important, the ‘young guns’ continue to fire blanks. Inconsistent, and inexperienced – the list goes on and has been exhausted, which is why I won’t go into it anymore. After years of waiting for them to mature and make a push for the top, Arsenal fans are beginning to tire of excuses. This quote from the famous Arsenal blog, Le-Grove is an example:
“If Denilson doesn’t work out again this year, lets not see the ‘He’s so young’ card being played. We know he’s young… we’ve been told 4 billion times and it wont rub this season.”
Arsenal fans need only recall the ease in which United dominated the midfield over 180 minutes in the Champion’s League. Yes, they might have taken 4 points off them in the league, but that’s not the point. The point is, as the season wears on and the important games pile up, the young gunners simply do not have the mettle to deal with it. This has been proven time and time again, but the club have failed to address this problem. The talent and potential in the Arsenal midfield is unquestionable, but it’s been clear they need some help. Are Arsenal fans ready to wait another long year for their players to ‘find their feet’ or gain ‘maturity’?
A comment agreeing with the previous author sums it up quite eloquently:
“i f****ng hate this ‘trust the players’ bullshit, f*k that we’ve trusted them long enough and got f*ck all back for doing it… how about trusting what we think now and buying some proper f****ng players”
If I was an Arsenal fan, this is the general point of view I’d hold. I’d want Mr. Wenger to go spend some money. Some real money on some ‘real players’. He doesn’t need to go out and get a £30 million-plus superstar – he should look into some proven, experienced players with leadership qualities that would benefit the young team. I think it’s important to note that the fans haven’t lost faith in him, it’s just that the money should be there to spend and there are clear areas that need reinforcing. It’s about time, don’t you think?
But wait, the transfer window is still open so isn’t there a chance Arsene will go out and spend? Not, if you are to believe what he says. Apparently, he believes the current squad is strong enough and there is no need to replace Adebayor or shore up the midfield. He could just be trying to fool us in an attempt to do business without the glare of the media, but other bloggers (including le-grove) aren’t so sure.
Last season, Arsenal finished 18 points behind the champions, but perhaps more worryingly, 11 points behind third place. Now is this post-Adebayor squad going to improve or even regain this spot? Is the competition significantly weaker? No, and this is what would worry me if I was an Arsenal fan. Again, I’m not predicting a drop out of the top 4 (yet) but as le-grove puts it:
“Faith without the memory of success is tough to muster up…”