By Walter Broeckx
Last summer was a bad summer. Well that is kicking in an already open door as they say in my mother language. We lost our top scorer. And we lost our main assist provider.
And because of the European championship a few of our players couldn’t join in pre-season from the start. And also the new players couldn’t join in pre-season from the start.
The result was that when we started the competition we started with almost half of the team having hardly played together before. It was a big problem and it took a while before the team started to know each other. We had games when it clicked and we played the opposition from the pitch. But then we also had games where it didn’t work at all. Where we struggled to find the right solution for the problems we faced.
One game we played superbly and the next game it was as if they never played together before. So lots of ups and downs. I usually remember the ups but there are other people who can’t get over the downs.
But the longer the season went on the more the group started to find each other. And it looks as if the team finally has found a good balance. It looks as if the teams has started to gel and seems to be playing as a unit. While at the start we seemed to play with 11 individuals most of the time.
I think we all know by now that we have four players who have scored more than 10 goals in the PL this season. And that is better than having one player who scores 40 goals on his own. Ok, if there is such a player available just get him I would say and add them to the four we have. But there are not many around who could do this that I know.
If we look at goals scored for Arsenal this season after 37 games we have scored exactly the same number of goals as we did last season after 37 games. 71 goals scored that is. In our last game we scored another 3 goals. I sure hope we add another 3 in this seasons last game if possible.
When we look at the goals conceded after 37 games we last season had 47 goals conceded and now we have only conceded 37 goals. So we conceded 10 goals fewer. We did let in two goals in our last game of last season and I really would like us to not do this again if possible.
I know that many said that Wenger didn’t allow Bould to train the defence. Well a former Arsenal employee started that rumour and it was picked up by the media and the well-known part of our fans that will take any opportunity to knock the manager down.
But let us suppose this is right and it isn’t Bould doing the defensive coaching. Is it then the work of Wenger himself? Or is the “dictator Wenger” line wrong and is Bould getting a chance of doing defensive work? Either way: we conceded 10 goals fewer compared to last season. That is the most important thing. And we have the second best defence in the league.
Another thing is that if we look at the last months of the league we see that the longer the league lasted the more points we have picked up. And if we look at the last 12 matches we see that this is the table :
|Points won 12 last games|
Wenger hinted at this in one of his press conferences. He said that it was important to build on this. And to continue this run and take it in to next season.
It also is rather amazing to see that if we could maintain this form even this team could have been fighting for the title. And it shows that if the team had started to find each other a bit sooner we could have been higher up the table.
And if we can add the odd player left, right or centre and bring in one or two more Cazorla-type of signings (what a player he has turned out to be) and have them in the group from the start of the season and make them gel with this group we have now…. I’m feeling rather confident that we might have seen the building of a new big team.
And indeed with the new players from this season having adapted more to the PL we can expect more of them next season.
But maybe more importantly: there is some kind of resilience and fighting spirit in this team. They seem prepared to work for each other when things don’t go as wanted. Even when there are moments in a game when we are on the back foot, the team keeps on working hard and doing a great defensive job. Only 8 goals against us in the last 12 games. A nice record and one to keep I would say.
If this summer we can avoid important players leaving, add a player where Wenger thinks it is needed and keep this group and the mentality as it is now alive…. I can’t wait for next season to be honest.
But first one more thing guys: go to Newcastle and take those 3 points.
- How the defence has improved and the forwards have met the challenge
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