The season is coming to an end and it is time for some introspection and reflection. Why didn’t Arsenal win this league title or any trophy this year? Wasn’t this league title there for the taking? Will the present squad provide us the fans with confidence that we will do better next season (when it is most likely that other teams such as Chelsea, City and possibly Liverpool will be better than they are this year)?
Guys, what does the Arsenal really need?
Do Arsenal need another holding midfielder? Another goalkeeper? More Central Defenders? Or maybe another Manager?
This season has been a disappointment to many Gooners (real Gunners and fair-weather Gooners alike). The haters have had a field-day.
Untold is a Forum for the true Arsenal fans who support the Gunners through thick and thin. But as true fans we also have to be honest with ourselves when things are not going right.
I am unashamedly proud of Le Prof as our manager. I think he has been a great manager to our club. Le Prof’s achievements are amazing (despite what the media and the AAA say). I however think Le Prof is now trying the impossible.
You cannot win the Premiership title without a top notch striker(s) unless you have another “lucky” season where all of Chelsea, City, Man Utd and others have a poor season. It has happened this year that all these top clubs had a dismal season but can we expect this to happen again any time soon?
Arsenal has a good strikers but not great strikers. Giroud is a good striker but he isn’t a great striker. Welbeck is a good winger but just OK as a striker as he is not (yet) clinical. Walcott, as well, is a very good winger but he isn’t a top level striker.
Let’s look at teams that have recently won the league title (or come very close to winning it) and remember who they had as their focal point of attack:
- Blackburn: Had Shearer and Sutton. A deadly combination.
- Chelsea: They had Drogba, Diego Costa, etc in the years that they won the league.
- Man Utd: They had Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. And then they had Ruud van Nilstelrooy. And they had other top finishers too like Chicharito. (Also take note that Man Utd noticed that Welbeck was a good winger but not clinical enough to be the main striker so they decided to sell him to …).
- Man City have had Aguerro as the main striker. Aguerro is brilliant as a striker. He is world-class.
- Liverpool: They nearly won it because of having a super-striker Suarez who scored nearly every half-chance.
- Leicester are probably going to win the league title this year because of Vardy (ably assisted by Mahrez).
- The Spuds could regrettably win the league title this year and this is due in no small measure to the clinical finishing by Kane and Deli Ali.
- And of course Arsenal, we used to win league titles when we had top strikers. Remember when we had the following top players as our strikers: Nicholas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Dennis Berghamp, and Ian Wright? Those were the days when we were winning league title after league title. Yes, those were the days when our beautiful football resulted in many victories and trophies. And those were the days when Le Prof could tell the world that his team was so good that it could go the whole season unbeaten. The skeptical media would ridicule him for saying so “because no team had done so in more than 100 years”. But Wenger and his boys would do it and not even bother to say “I told you so!”
This season and many recent seasons, we have failed to kill off the small teams after dominating the game. The pattern has often repeated itself: we dominate play, have 70% possession, have 20 scoring chances but often score just one or two goals. This failure to kill off the opposition would often results in us drawing or losing the match after conceding in the last 30 minutes or 15 minutes. This happens too often. And it makes us the fans very sick and angry. Angry because we are sick and tired of being “robbed” of deserved victories. As Arsenal fans we know we are already playing on a tilted field where often the referee makes decisions that nearly always favour our opponents. We therefore cannot afford to waste the clear and good scoring chances we create.
Against Palace, they had 30% ball possession and only had two shots on target but they scored one goal too. These stats indicate that Arsenal is wasteful in front of goal and our opponents are clearly more clinical. Why is that so? I don’t think our defense is poor because the stats show that there are only two or three teams that have conceded less goals than Arsenal in the league.
I have not checked the stats but I would think Arsenal needs many more shots on target than other teams to score.
And I also think Arsenal must have one of the lowest ratio of goals/possession ratios. If true, that would mean we have too much sterile possession i.e. we are not doing much with the ball besides passing it fruitlessly from one player to another. And whilst we are passing the ball around we are giving the opponent time to regroup and “park their bus”. Why are we no longer having the quick counterattacking football of the late 90s and early 2000s?
We seem to have lost our quick attacking football.
Maybe we should revert to a 4:4:2 formation when we play weaker teams like Crystal Palace. Why have two holding midfielders when playing against the weaker teams like Crystal Palace and Norwich? I think we should instead have two strikers in such games.
For as long as our Arsenal strikers don’t put away the many chances that our midfield creates we will never win the league. Arsenal is not a defensive team. We have an open and attacking style of play. This means we are always on the front foot. Attacking teams create many chances BUT they also are by their nature susceptible to be counterattacked. We will always give our opponents a chance to score. Unfortunately, as in the Crystal Palace game, we dominate, create many chances, score very few (or just one goal only), and give the opponent a few chances which they take.
If we are to remain an attacking team, we need a TRUE striker that knows how to finish off chances. If we do not acquire first rate strikers we will never again win the league under Le Prof.
Arsenal would have won many of the games we drew this year if we had a top striker like Thierry Henry or Anelka.
Another big problem that I have noticed is that we don’t have a dead-ball specialist in the current Arsenal squad. In years gone by if ever The Arsenal were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area we were almost certain that Thierry would score. The way West Ham get excited when they are awarded a free-kick, is the same way we used to behave.
So my wish for the summer is that Le Prof gets us a top class striker (or two). Welbeck is a genuine hard worker but he is no Thierry. Walcott is a good sprinter but he doesn’t have the Suarez-like finishing, Giroud is a good striker but he is no Anelka.
Arsenal needs a brilliant striker. We really do.
- Arsenal v West Brom Thursday 21 April 2016 – The Match Officials
- The 29 players signed by and linked to Arsenal 10 weeks before the transfer window!
- REF REVIEW WEST HAM – ARSENAL: A new entry in the table of shame
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page