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Arsenal Reserves show just how brilliant they are going to be

We are now in our third consecutive year of mega injuries.

To play Barca without

  • Van Persie
  • Cesc
  • Gallas
  • Arshavin
  • Ramsey
  • Song
  • Djourou

and do ok shows how sensational a side we are building at Arsenal.

And it was ok, for we took the game to them, and made the current Euro Champions, complete with their massive debt, really work and work to get the game safe.

And they were playing mostly our reserves.

Had we had our full team ready, five of those seven would have started and two others would have been on the bench.



The key point for Arsenal is that there is a move in the club away from the view that the injury crisis must end soon.  Our view now is that the injury crisis is permanent and we have to build around it.

We have to acknowledge that we will have seven or so top players out at any one time.

Which is why we are constantly bringing in more players and nurturing more players so that they will be able to step in as next year’s injury crisis takes shape.

That’s why it looks like this summer we will bring in at least two big name players and we will promote four or five from being fringe players to being a significant part of the first team group who regularly get games.

Additionally another five will step up into the fringe to replace those who are moving up.

In short next season our squad of players who will not feel out of place in taking on Barca and their ref will be increased by about seven, with five more in the wings ready to play in the case of dire emergencies.  So as the injuries pour in, we’ll be chugging along as normal, winning the games.

Now we have a week to prepare for the Tiny Totts, and in celebration there will be a special Tiny Totts Week.  Not every article will be about the Tinies, but there will be several, including some revelations that will have Totties hopping mad, and will bring several smiles to your face.

There will also be the regular contributions from our friends, and a smile or three along the way.

Don’t be depressed about the Barca game.  Our reserves done great.

Next year they’ll be doing even greater.

Tony

62 comments to Arsenal Reserves show just how brilliant they are going to be

  • t00farg0ne

    Yeah, too right. What we also have to note is that although Barca were without a couple of big players they had Messi and Xavi, their two best players. We were without Arshavin, Van Persie, Gallas and Cesc and all four of these would probably get into most fans top five Arsenal players. Like someone said in an article last week, we’ll be as good as Barca in 3 years but tonight and last Wednesday showed, we’ve not got far to go.

  • walter

    I finished my match report with the final conclusion today : Messi 4 – Weakened Arsenal 1.
    We can say we played the best team in the world but we did not have our full squad to compete. I think if Messi stays fit they will the CL again. Losing to the best team of the moment, with the best player of the world (for the moment) can happen.
    We gave some goals away, like the first that looked like a 1-2 Messi-Silvestre, and that goal came to soon after our goal. If we only could have kept them away for some 10 minutes I think they could have been started to doubt. But it wasn’t to be.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Denilson got booked for winning the ball!! WALOFB. Barcelona players rolling about – they don’t need to do that, they’re far too good for that, they can win football matches without playing pansies. Tell Guardiola to put the miscreants in a cold bath as a punishment!!!!

    If Diaby puts Theo in in 20 minutes, it could be 2-0! That’s life.

    Arsenal had 4 clear chances second half – Rosicky, Bendtner, then Bendtner and Theo offside. Barca had two.

    A Pressing clinic in the summer camp is in order!!

    And tell Song to look after his groin!!!!

    The season is not done….

  • walter

    It will be a great day for the D&G brigade I fear and for the pundits.
    Oh well, I will get over them. They have been waiting for this to happen.

  • walter

    It could be that I missed something as I think the choise of camera’s and replays were very bad, but it took the ref around half an hour to give us our first foul. If we blew in the Barca players neck we almost got booked.
    Not saying it was the ref but he gave us nothing if he was not forced to give it. Also noticed that we were not allowed to take quick free kicks and Barcelona was allowed to do this and lead to one of their chances in the second half. We always had to wait till the Barcelona defence was sorted out.

  • walter

    And now one week to rest our legs, hope that we get some legs returning from injury and who knows some legs returning that haven’t played for us this year ?

  • Sam

    Diaby was awful in both legs. His wrong decision today made the game turn from 2-0 in favour to 1-1. He dwelled for so long on the ball time and again and then gave away possession. It was almost if he was playing for Barca instead of us. He did the same in the first leg.

  • Jonny

    I thought Diaby had a mixed game but on the whole played very well.

    Clichy was just magnificent.

    The referee was once again awful…

  • Bill

    Wenger is a great Manager but sometimes his decisions seems to defy all logic. We are playing against the most mobile team with probably the most gifted player in the world and we play Silvestre… Arsenals slowest and most inactive CB. This is not the first time I have seen him make these decisions in crucial games its as if he chokes on these big occasions. Whats the alternative you ask…exactly what he did in the second half moving Sagna to CB and bringing Eboue at RB, after all who needs a big defender lumbering after Messi when a smaller quicker player would be more effective. With Eboue`s mobility we might have been able to put more pressure on their defence and we certainly would not have conceded three goals in the 1st half two of which was gifted by Silvestre.

  • If next season we dont have enough funds to buy quality finished products we should sell Rosicky,Eduardo,Vela,Silvester and Gallas coz of hs age. I think the money from their sales combined n their salaries can bring quality and finished products like Villa or Ireland or even Riera or unknown goal scorer Llorente then all will b good at emirates

  • Jonny

    Walter did you notice the quick free kick the ref allowed Barca? He did not give any permission and like last time this happened, was not ready when it was taken. These are appalling mistakes.

    Twice Walcott was cynically pulled back, when on a break but no card was issued.

    Barca repeatedly achieved the aim of keeping the ball or gently kicking it away to stop us playing quickly.

    The ref failed to stamp his authority on this game – though the crucial mistake was the linesman.

    That said, Messi was the biggest difference. What a player and still 22.

  • gunner cian

    WELL GUYS,WE WELL SHORT TONITE THAT NOTHIN NEW….ROSICKY CRAP,DIABY POOR,SERIOUS LACK OF QUALITY IN COVER,,,GREAT WE PAYIN OUR STADIUM DEBT EXTRA QUICK,,BUT MUST BE A BALANCE BETWEEN THAT AND GETIN A FEW MORE QUALITY PLAYERS……..STILL NOT A BAD SEASON WITH HALF A SQUAD,,,

  • walter

    I did Jonny, little things, little decisions all going Barcelona’s way.
    Last week we also had a ref that fell for every tumble from Barcelona players.
    But like someone said at the end of the day they had their 2 best players and we had a lot of ours missing.
    And Messi, what can you say… he really is the best player in the world. One can only admire his skills.
    But the day he is injured, Barcelona also will struggle to keep that high standard.

  • Jibzi

    Just so gutted, and is the first time we have not reached a semi final in any competition since 1997. Diaby makes the wrong pass at 1-0 up, and Bendtner is wrongly flagged for offside when he was through on goal (cant remember if we were a goal up or if was 1-1 at the time). Lucky rebounds fall to Barca and not for us for 3 of Messi’s goals, but we also scored off a rebound so cant really complain much. Denilson was unlucky, and not that he was wrongly booked, but he couldnt do to Messi what K.Henry, Gardner, Shawcross, Taylor and the other thugs do to us all the time and take the player out (not nice to see players injured by the way but with Silvestre in defence, what choice do we have). We had a few chances in the 2nd half but it wasnt to be in the end. So gutted.

  • walter

    In fact last week we stood and watched and this week we played better but they, well Messi, almost hit the net with every chance he got.

  • Phil

    Tony, this is the best blog, well done. I have watched the kids in the youth team and the reserves and share your enthusiasm. The problem is that, just like at the beginning of the season the squad players who old arsenal heads said weren’t good enough, just aren’t good enough, and they are stopping the bright young things from coming through. I would rather watch Eastmond than Denilson, Bartley than Sylvestre and very sadly, either Merida Vela JET or Afobe rather than Rosicky or Eduardo. Just look at how much passion Clichy put into this match. Marvelous. Diaby can’t make a decision to save his life. Give him no time and rely on instinct – fantastic. Give him the time to have to think – like playing the easy ball to Walcott on the right, and he freezes every time. I love the whole set up but it has huge inherent flaws especially when the best youngsters are frustrated by guys just a few years older than them who just don’t cut it and probably never will.
    But even if it all ends today it has been a helluva ride.

  • gunner 4 life

    we had it in our hands & let it slip away we could have been 2-0 up but once again we let our selves down i must agree the ref was poor & not taking away anything from barcelona truly they are a great side, but oh how different it could have been if our key players werent injured, the likes of fabregas, arshavin, song, van persie, gallas,& im sure young ramsey would have gotten some playing time! im still proud 2 be a gunner we gave them a run for their money,there,s always nextyear barcelona beware!come on u gunners lets take the league!!!!!

  • Phil

    Oh and I almost forgot. Almunia Fabianksi and the Mannone are blocking
    Szczesny’s path.He is better than all of them, just like Casilas

  • Maverick

    Tony,

    You mentioned their debt, how much does Barca have, i didn’t know they had much debt because they are one of the richest clubs in the world! Not that it matters because the clubs like Barca will never get into trouble with the likes of Blatter because he shields them constantly like he does with Real Madrid, it is only other countries (especially the premier league) he is looking out on.

    If they have sooooooo much debt why can they manage to pay huge sums of money for players when they want them and try to offer crazy sums of money for the likes of Cesc?

  • tomboy

    aside from playing that one-two with messi for the first goal, silvestre also passed so lamely that he put whoever received it under immediate pressure and resulted in us never getting the ball out quickly. i think it would have been better to play with 10 men!!!

  • tomboy

    the heartbreaking things are that we gave away cheap goals, and that when we scored our goal, i really thought we were going to win it. and even when we were 3-1 down i though ‘well, we did it last week, why not again’. if just a few things had gone our way…

  • Alex

    I wrote this on another site but it bears repeating: I’m disappointed but not in the team. There is no shame in losing to Barcelona. Everyone else is going to lose to them as well. Arsenal never gave up and probably deserved a bit more than they got – probably not the win but 4-1 was harsh. Hopefully they keep their heads up and make a race out of the PL. Either way, I’m very proud of their efforts. They will come good. If we can get our strongest team out on a consistent basis, we are going to scare the piss out of everyone.

    Nice writeup as always, Walter.

  • Mark

    Like last season, we are short in defence at a critical time.

  • Alex

    Mark – we were short EVERYWHERE. We were short of forwards, center backs, Cesc (you are always going to miss him), defensive midfielders and attacking midfielders. It’s a process and takes time. Someone pointed out on a another site that Barcelona also went several years without winning anything – and that was with players like Deco, Ronaldino and Silvinio (all at their prime). It will come.

  • Lanre

    Well, after all said and done, we lost to a great side with us playing a make shift squad. I’d rather lose to this barca side than to red nose fungus-on or a jose defensive mourning-ho. Anyway,we gave a not to bad account of ourselves. And Walter, i agree with you about the ref. Granted,he didnt cost us the game, but he gave barca the pref treatment. I was screaming my lungs out when he was showing us cards and allowin the catalans to roll without as many touch. My brother told me to shut up. Told me that UEFA would rather have barca advance to generate more atmosphere and more money. Do u think it is true,Walter?

  • Lanre

    There’s a saying from here that “it is better for you to wait for the soup to be done than for you to get a cooked one outside. That way you enjoy it better n longer” This is what i think of this arsenal squad. PATIENCE. I hope some people will still be around as fans when it starts yielding dividends. As for me, GUNNERS 4 LIFE.

  • southern Indie

    Asenal can’t send their first Team against Barcelona. Shame on those EPL players who went out and destroyed arsenal free flowing by by breakings legs.
    If gunners are able to sent their first Team against Barca.
    Pep Guardiola will probably be saying that Barca lost to a better Team…

  • arsenal4

    What made me even more respectful for Barcelona is on how they defense as a team. Any time there’s a white shirt with the ball 3-4 Barca men will close down and make the Arsenal man loose the ball. Even Almunia have to keep kick the ball away instead do short passes.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t do the same.
    At least, we have a glimpse how arsenal will look like in 2-3 years from now 🙂 (by looking how gorgeous Barca played)

  • tim

    It’s tough for our team because we have to adjust to two standards of refereeing: the 1.) Shawcross-style-break-your-leg-challenges-represent-good-old-boy-English-football style and the 2.) grab-your-ankle-and-roll-around-after-you’ve-been-coughed-on style.

    And it’s despicable when you hear Andy Gray saying something like, “Wenger is screaming at an injustice, but I be there are quite a few English viewers thinking that he is getting what he deserved for all his whining.”

    I’m proud of our team for playing so well with so many players out. And overall, I think the past two matches will only help this squad out.

    Wenger will certainly make changes in the summer, but the core is there, and as long as they stay together, I see no reason why we can’t be better than Barca.

    Keep on believing!

  • lordgunner

    Anyone think Busquet would be perfect playing with the Hull/stoke and other ape of team.He pass both trying injure our players,never really won any ball except if you include leg as ball of course and when somebody do a great tackle on him he is crying like a little girl on the floor like if somebody punch him.(before troll saying that ,yes Diaby was lucky that he was not yellow card).

    And of course the hate mob and the D/G brigade are on blaming Silvestre(good game)/Almunia(done his job and couldn t anything for the goal)/the tea lady(where is their tea ffs)/Denilson(who else to blame hey even if he does a great game he is not good enough)/lord Wenger( buy WC player now to seat on our bench,sell,sell sell) for us getting beat by one of the finest team in the world with one of the finest player ever (only 22 years old…scary)

  • arsenor

    The beautiful game!!the total propaganda game it should be called from now on,the blatancy of it all,and we have to just sit here and accept that thats just the way it is..the biased-ness of the decisions is dam right scanduless,as everybody else has stated,barca very good team,Messi,different class,but to have to sit and witness close up blatent,deliberate foul play to make the game in their favour,KNOWING jack shit will be done,leaves me really really diserlusioned as to what the point of it really is.
    Is their any such thing as honour left in this world today??

  • arsenor

    Everything is easy to say in hignsight but i knew an early goal from us would be damaging,i said that before we scored,and i felt i knew the concequences of what would happen afterwards,even at 3-1 down i felt quite confident that we would win the game,i thought if could get to the final 10 with that score,as bad as we were playing,and score one then(witch were quite capable of)we would have gone on and won.The defining moment though,alas,was super nik hitting the post with that headder…if only.

  • Gerald

    What’s done is done. I think we had a better game than last week.

  • cape gooner

    In order to win this game we were always going to need our fair share of luck. At 1 – 0 up, the linesman gave Bendtner offside when he was one on one with the goalie and the player in the left back position was playing him onside by a yard. The ball goes to the other end and Nasri deflects a Messi through ball onto the shin of Silveste and it bounces perfectly to Messi’s left foot.
    Walter, what is the story in respect of Eboue’s yellow card. The defender tugged at his shoulder as Eboue surged passed him. Eboue was strong and did not go down. However, he was being held and used his left arm to push the defender away. Does the second offence – the hand in the face – take precedence over the first offence – a professional foul?

  • Shevo

    The boys done good considering the number of injuries we had. This was a good yardstick as to what we need to do to move our game up to the next level. We have a really talented squad who could easily be doing to Barcelona next season what they done to us in this quarter final tie. Let’s not forget that without Messi it could have been so different especially with our full side. Can’t wait to play them again under different circumstances.
    Come on Arsenal.

  • Sean

    I’d go easy on the ‘Tiny Totts’ stuff ‘cos it looks like they’re a shoe in to reach a major final this season and they have won something since Arsenal last did.

    And with Wenger’s League Cup/F.A.Cup ‘policy’ (i.e. putting out teams too weak to win either of them) I’d imagine that any bookie would give you shorter odds on Tottenham (or Man. City or Villa or Everton) winning a major trophy next season than Arsenal.

  • walter

    No it doesn’t Cape Gooner. The ref should have given a foul to Arsenal as it is always the first foul you have to punish and accord the free kick. If you kick me and it is a foul and I kick you back, my team gets the free kick and I get a red card. On this occasion Eboue was pulled back and should have had the free kick.

    I wrote an article with my view on some things in regards with the ref (who was almost acting like Webb for United) and some other remarks that crossed my mind. Just send it to Tony.

    yesterday we missed our best players, luck and a lot of correct decisions from the ref.

  • AnonymousGun

    This is the proudest defeat I’ve ever faced in my arsenal life.. granted, I started with Arsenal following the Iceman – so not really long ago .. but yea.

    We lose to a better footballing team .. and we played with our 6th choice CB at the heart of our defense.

    No qualm at losing.

  • MoMONEY

    Like I said yesterday- I just wish we would have played Sagna in the center and Eboue on the right… Oh well whats done is done. Barca are out of this world and would have probably won anyways…

  • ArseneKnowsShit

    Y’ll should stop moaning oh ye Arsene brigades. The handwriting was well written on the wall. The difference between barca and arsenal is at brobdingnagian or vast. Now that crap called wenger as expected admitted he needs to spend (just to get the pressure off him coz we the true fans knows its a lie he won’t)…………..I’M SO PISSED TO EVEN GO IN DETAILS

  • Ian Trevett

    Tim – I noticed the snide remark by Gray as well. Totally unnecessary, biased and spiteful.

    To me, last night showed up our limitations at the moment, but this team is young enough to learn from this and grow. It also showed how poor most of the Premiership is. We dominate possession in every single game we play, but couldn’t get near the ball for much of the game. Most teams we play don’t even attempt to pay football.
    We did show some spirit by keeping our heads in the second half and the second half was less one-sided.
    Barcelona were superb over the two legs. They show what can be achieved by playing a passing game and it gives us something to aspire to.
    For now, Wenger needs to work hard to get spirits up. Spurs will be gloating about Messi (even though they aren’t good enough to even earn the right to play against him!). The only way to silence them is to win at the lane.
    Keep the faith.
    Well done everyone on the site for avoiding the kneejerk reactions and keeping it in perspective.

  • well-endowed gooner

    Tony, you’ve got to wonder why the injury crisis is permanent. Why does Gallas take 2-3 months to recover from hamstring injuries? Why does Diaby and Eduardo always succumb to niggling injuries? Why can’t van Persie ever complete a full season? Why can’t Djourou?

    There’s something wrong with the Arsenal medical staff. van Persie’s injury was misdiagnosed, and he was allowed to go to a quack for placenta treatment. Eduardo and Diaby have been on-and-off ever since their injuries. Gallas was able to declare himself fit, whereas most other clubs would’ve got a qualified doctor to assess his recovery and the likelihood of his injury recurring with such little match fitness. We do things the wrong way at the Arsenal, and instead of buying new players who’ll just become injury-prone after being treated by our medical staff, maybe we should look into the philosophies of the people treating our players.

  • well-endowed gooner

    And Tony, isn’t it a departure from orthodox Wengerism that you’re advocating signing 2 “big name players” in the summer? Isn’t that a slap in the face to the great kids at Arsenal? Won’t that kill their development?

    Your lack of faith in the Arsenal is disturbing.

  • Davi

    Yes, I was hopeful before the match started, but I cant feel down about the result.
    How can we hope to stand up to, what is when fully fit, one of the best sides of all time? Especially when we were missing 5 of our absolute best players. Players who would always start a game when fit. RVP, arshavin, song, gallas, fabregas – If you were going to ask who our five most important players were at the start of the season, Id have picked these players. Probably only vermaelen is on their level now imo. On top of that several of those who started were rated as doubtful, so you cant be too hard on rosicky and denilson for example.
    It’s just like when Utd easily knocked us out when we were missing at least 3 of our back 5 and several other important players in both legs – what do you expect?
    It’s not making excuses, you just have to accept it. It wasn’t our day.
    I just hope this doesnt affect the players too much because I still feel we have a chance at the league if we can win our remaining games. With song back in the side we will definitely look a bit better, and not every team is as good as barcelona.

  • Davi

    The only signing Id really like to see, apart from chamakh, who is apparently already signed, is a centre back. Purely because we are short of numbers, and silvestre looks to be a bit past it.
    We should have djourou back, who I think was going to start alongside gallas this year until he got injured – I think wenger wanted to introduce vermaelen slowly – and I think hes good enough to. And Nordtveit will come back and I expect will act as another backup defender/midfielder.
    To rely on these players and campbell, who cant play more than one game a week, is a bit too much of a risk however, especially given djourous injury record, so I’d like to see another CB brought in, or maybe even a DM to allow song to cover the CB spot more easily.

  • Davi

    Actually, scrap that, we should just play eastmond more!

  • christianjimmy

    Regardless of the final score, I am still proud to be a gooner – and it is no disgrace to lose to such a talented player and team. Barca were better than us, no denying that, and deserved to go through (though if Messi had been an Aresnal player, who’s to say what the final score would have been…)
    If injuries hadnt taken such a big toll on our season I’m certain that the D&G’s would have really struggled to find anythign to complain about. As it is, they’re really trawling the depths to complain:
    Wengers tactical naivety? Blissfully ignoring the fact that it is wenger who has turned us from little more than a mid-table club who viewed it as success simlpy to get into european competition into a club who play such beautiful football that we are second only to the best team in the world in attractiveness, and only a bit furtehr behind that in terms of being able to compete with them.
    Lack of strength in depth? Conveniently ignoring the fact that this team was at its bare bones last night AFTER losing virtually half of the ideal starting XI.
    Not spending enough? ok. I’ll grant you that I’d fancy Messi in the red and white shirts, but lets face it he is unbuyable now. (bar some kind of ridiculous debt creating bank loan of £150million+ and who could imagine a football club eagerly entering into that much debt for no guaranteed pay off… oh wait… yeh)
    So in conclusion – we’re out of europe, no shame in that. Got to focus on league now, will be difficult with the injuries we’ve got, but lets get together behind the team and support them! Lets trust in Lord Wenger to draw lessons from this defeat, and in the players to gain a new vision of what they can become if they work hard! They’ve learned the hard lessons before, and they’re young and eager to keep learning. In Arsene we trust.
    C’mon you gunners!

  • critic

    did ok???????!!!!!! we were hammered when they were not at their best!!!!

    Wenger sells future when it becomes present. He is not a tactical genius.

    Arsenal in past 3 years haven’t won against manu and chelsea when it mattered, instead in last 6 meetings arsenal were hammered. It definitely shows wenger has lost the script. He doesn’t buy anyone can’t hold on to what he creates. He is mostly ineffective in convincing stars to stay back and to top that he doesn’t replace players when they leave, instead he buys one for the future…lol.. 😀

    tell u what it wudn’t have mattered even if everybody had played.

    The 100s of article that u have written about arsenal’s future, their so called golden 30’s or 40’s or whatever, is an ideal view, but seldom in this world things happen ideally. The moment one of them becomes star he would want to leave and wenger statement will be ” fcuk off i will create another one” and ppl like u will always praise the future.

    People like u are known as pure DREAMERS, but to dream is one thing and to achieve it, is another. One needs right actions.

    bottom line is there’s no doubt that wenger’s vision is gr8 but it’s application is a joke.

    P.S- one needs to spend to win titles either on both buying players and salaries or only salaries.

  • ~The bottom line is that Manchester United have postponed their debt crisis for a few years with the bond, but they still have a cash crisis, and unless a multibillionaire buys them, they will do a Leeds.

    Liverpool are much closer to doing a Leeds and still looking for a buyer.

    Man City and Chelsea both have a problem with the new Uefa regs about entering the Champs in 2 years time, and the EPL can do nothing but say, “we don’t like these benefactor regs”.

    All those clubs also have aging squads. We are the only one of the bigger clubs set fair to survive.

  • AnonymousGun

    Annoying peoples like above made me often stayed the heck out of any blog after each and every defeat.

    They spout every nonsense and proudly parade their “I TOLD YOU SO” ..

    The night will be starless if used to blocked the word I had for them.

  • AnonymousGun

    Opps .. Tony sneaked a post! My post is referring to the one above Tony’s!

    >_<!

  • Issac

    Many of you guys may not agree with me on this one! But We bottled it. We can talk about Messi as many times as we like but you will see that they will not go pass Inter. I just believe that even refusing to point fingers, the turning point is that wrong choice of Diaby. When we had the ball going forward for the possible second goal, he wrongly chose to pass the ball to Bendner instead of using Theo pace on the right. At 2-0, this was going to be a completely different game.I also cannot understand that we allow Messi so much space to do what he liked. I bet anything here, they will not go past Inter. Even with the players on last night we could have buried them very early. They were not as good as in the first leg.

  • Sam

    Actually they didn’t do great. Unfortunately Sylvestre was rubbish and gifted Messi his equaliser. Obviously Messi’s great but it was the same bad defending that we’ve seen all season.
    Rosicky, as much as I love him, had an awful game. His decision making, passing and finishing were awful.
    Denilson is a good prospect, but simply isn’t quick enough to play at the highest level (see Stokes goal in the FA cup).
    I like this blog and admire the optimism, but please be balanced, we got trounced last night and bar the comeback, were totally outplayed in the first leg.

  • goonergerry

    If there is one thing this season has taught us is to not expect players to be world beaters or even fully up to speed immediately after they return from a major career threatening injury-players like Rosicky, Eduardo, Diaby may take a season or 2 or it may not happen at all. Some players with less serious injuries like Van Persie may take time to play at the standard they did and rushing them back doesn’t work. Others with promise underachieve- like Vela and perhaps Wilshere has this season- doesn’t mean they are no good- just means we have to be more patient.

    Given the challenges and obstacles we have faced through injury,we have done massively well to get into position to compete this season. However, though we have several great players- most are very similar-Diaby, Fabregas, Arshavin,Nasri, Rosicky, Walcott- all capable attacking midfielders- but not good at defending. The only fringe players who really could step up next season are Merida if he stays, and Wilshere both are also attacking midfielders.
    Exactly who can replace Song in a big game next season Ramsey? he is at his best attacking the opposing box.

    Though we have got into position to compete, in crunch games against the best- do not kid ourselves we have been let down by poor defending every time (Chelsea, ManU and Barca). Any team with a world class forward has done well against us this season not just Messi. If we do nothing about our defending in the close season – we will continue to underachieve. If the stories about Chamakh and Rodellega are true then fantastic that would make us far more efficient up front. However, we need further investment in defensive capability all over the pitch- at centre back, keeper and another defensive midfielder. With 3 centrebacks in their 30s all are out of contract at the end of the season- we need more than 2 big name signings. If you want to stop world class centre forwards you need a world class centreback.

  • Chris66

    The truth is that this season was about 4 gambles:

    1. Relying upon Bendtner and the returning Eduardo to replace Adebayor – This has partially worked as Bendtner has made some big strides but was held back by his injury. Unfortunately Eduardo has not recovered and it is really sad to watch him flounder. The lack of a sharp finisher has really cost us both in terms of big games (where we did have chances) and goal difference when we convert so few of them.

    2. Relying upon Song to play DM as opposed to buying a proven player – This has worked brilliantly and it is hard to think of someone you could have rather than Alex. Unfortunately we don’t have any real cover for him yet (Eastmond shows promise and Denilsen is an interceptor as opposed to a destroyer so it changes the way the defense is covered)

    3. Relying upon Djourou to step up – This is a sad one as this could have been a huge season for him, but when he got injured we scrambled, first by retaining a clearly unrated Senderos and then signing Sol, who has been great but can’t play much. Vermaelen has been a great success but the lack of cover has cost us.

    4. Not signing a top class goalkeeper – By any measure this one didn’t pay off with an inordinate number of goals over the season coming from poor keeping or lack of understanding at the back. Al has been better recently but even during his best game vs Barca he cost us the first goal.

    Ultimately it is #1 and #4 that will define our season. The striker one was understandable as we still had hope for Eduardo but could have been addressed in January when the writing was on the wall. I will never understand the keeper situation but there you go.

    Gambles made for a variety of reason, some financial some philosophical (or dogmatic depending upon your point of view). It will be interesting to see how Arsene reacts to the Barca fixtures. Will he see it as a sign that he is on the right path and it just needs more time, or that there was a gulf in class that he needs to bridge more directly?

    He is a proud man so I suspect we will see a bit more money spent than some on this site expect. He won’t wreck the project but I think we will see a bit more of the surgical Arsene from before the Emirates move (and cost) than we have in the last few years.

  • Paul C.

    Chris – fantastic post. I couldnt agree more. I like the way that you are very accepting of the gambles and their results.

    EVERY decision a manager makes is a gamble. Contrary to what many believe, spending 100m on new players is a HUGE, MASSIVE gamble and one that could ruin a football club if it didnt pay off. AW has taken many gambles in his time at Arsenal and a good majority of them have paid off very nicely.

    My own thoughts on your (accurate, in my view) 4 gambles:

    1. As soon as the decision to release Ade was made, I never thought he would be replaced. Let’s face it, had RvP and Bendtner been fit all season we never would have missed Ade even for a moment. We were unlucky to lose BOTH RvP and Bendtner at the same time in mid-season. And all of us expected Eduardo to rebound. That has been a huge dissapointment and I wonder if Eduardo will be sold this summer with Chamakh coming in. I actually think this gamble has worked.

    2. HUGE SUCCESS. Will get better. Nobody could have done better than Song has done this year.

    3. Like you say, losing Djourou was an unforeseen calamity that is still being felt. He would have transformed our defensive depth.

    4. I can understand why AW gave Almunia the no.1 jersey this year. I also think it is time to move on. The question is, how much do you spend on a goalkeeper. The prices some are quoting (upwards of 20million) are nothing short of insanity. For that price I would prefer to stick with Almunia. I dont see any ‘keeper out there worth that kind of money.

  • Chris66

    Paul

    I think time is a big factor here. A number of our best players are just about to come into their prime (Sagna, Verm, Clichy, Song, Cesc, Nasri, Theo, VP and NB) and so we don’t want to get caught with a gap between them and the next batch coming along, which looks really promising, then we need to make some changes. I think that is what will be most on Arsene’s mind.

    I think when it comes to the top players it value the incremental of being just a little bit better. At this time (and I hope I’m wrong) we look like we will miss out on the title by just a few points and maybe some goal difference. Therefore the incremental value of having a goalkeeper or a striker who is 10% better is massive. This isn’t an argument for paying extortionate fees but I really believe that this year there are actually going to be very few clubs with a lot of money to spend and those that do (Man City, Chelsea, possibly Real Madrid) won’t necessarily be after keepers, or if they are then their current keepers won’t want to hang around and play second fiddle.

    Price is of course important but we also have to look at how long they solve a problem for us. Remember Dave Seaman was considered “expensive” when we signed him. If we were to get someone like Joe Hart or Hugo Lloris there is every chance that we wouldn’t need another one for a decade. If Szechney is the answer then let’s go with him but I’m not sure that a few games at Brentford are enough but if that is what Arsene decides at least it is a positive move rather than sticking with something that we know won’t work.

    The striker is different of course as there will always be a big premium for them, but we are really looking for a number 3 striker (behind VP and NB) so we are much more likely to find that for the $10M range. Unless the at lad at QPR or Vela can do it, but those are huge gambles again.

    In my view it is worth the expense for the 2 or 3 players that can push this team on which wouldn’t fundamentally alter the financial picture of the club over the long term.

  • Paul C.

    Chris – I agree with you in theory, but David Seaman was quite obviously a potentially great ‘keeper when Arsenal signed him. There were no doubts about his ability and his comfort with English Football. I don’t see any other ‘keepers out there that are the finished article and therefore worthy of paying that kind of money. Lloris looks a good shotstopper, but on the few times I have seen him looks quite frail when challenged and seems unable to handle the high balls. He may have just had bad games when I watched and obviously the scouts will have seen far more of him but I wouldn’t say he looks a “can’t miss” guy. Akinfeev has had stinkers every time I have seen him so I certainly am not high on him.

    Almunia is a good shotstopper. There are few better than him. We all know it is in different areas where Almunia’s weaknesses are. So the question is whether any of these other guys are actually stronger in those areas where Almunia is weak. That I just do not know.

    If there was a truly top-class ‘keeper out there for 10million or so then I would say “go get him”. But 20million is what you pay for a top-class and proven striker, not a goalkeeper.

  • paul

    please arsen spend cause we wont win jack and its breaking my heart and give arshavin a kick up his ars

  • walter

    I think if Chamack is coming next season we will have enough choice for the centre forward position. And the chance of losing the 3 of them at the same time for a long period is …. not big I was willing to say but this is Arsenal and … so it could happen.

    The problem with Eduardo is that he is affraid. It really makes my heart bleed when I see him. He always is trying not to put weight on his standing leg. But to shoot at goal you need a good contact with your standing leg but at that split second it is vulnerable and unconsciously he wants to avoid it. That is the reason why his shooting is so poor lately. I have suffered from it also and it was the reason why I never got back playing (The first years I was unable to do it physical). In his build up play he does rather fine I think but it is at the moment it really counts you can see his mind changing for a split second.

    We can only hope and pray that he will come good. Maybe next week ?

  • Jazbo

    Maybe these people would be happy if we were a mid table side doing nothing and going nowhere.

    Give it rest you moaners or go and peddle your rubbish at Le Grove !!!

    I watched a great team beat us when we had more than half our first team missing, get a grip people !!!