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Season Preview – Arsenal, Are you optimistic?

Posted in Arsenal, English Premier League, Football, soccer, sports, Uncategorized by clash on August 10, 2007

So, here is the preview, I have been waiting to write. This coming Saturday starts another grueling season of English Premier League. Life is not easy for a player these days, this campaign that extend up to May will follow a summer break of 2 odd months, in which they have to fulfill their National duties, if they are required to do so. Success is not very easy for a player these days and it is more difficult in the case of football, which is a team sport. Same is the case with a Manager. So, after a small break Mr. Wenger has swung back to action, signing and re-grouping an Arsenal squad, which is relatively young and inexperienced, as they say. It has not been easy, David Dean’s exit, all those media mongering about the sad state of the club, the take over saga, Henry’s departure, and speculations about Mr. Wenger’s future. As a realistic person, i believe the club and the “young” players have decently withstood this stormy summer and have put up a great show in their pre-season games. The team is relatively stronger in all areas expect the left wing which was not duly filled after the exit of Robert Pires; but, at the same point this team comprises a whole bunch of players who can adapt to various positions, if they are assigned to. This flexibility, if put in to use the right way, will earn the team a decent run this season. As of now, I am not putting my feet ahead and predicting the positions in which the team will end up by the end of the season or the silver-wares that the team is going to bring. Rather i will discuss the possibility of a decent(subjective) run in the season with the talented young bunch of Arsenal.

Mad Jens should be the right man to cover the posts this season unless he commits some serious blunders that could work against him. He is a good shot stopper but has a nasty temper, he will have to keep himself cool to help the team cruise through this season and this is very important as he is one of the senior-most player in the squad. We have a good cover for him in Almunia – his blonde makeover is bound to garner some attention this season, if he is in the fray. Fabianski looks too young for the League, he will definitely play a role in the cup games. Defense seems to be most brittle of all the areas but this is bound to get over if Gallas; the new skipper and Toure strikes a partnership. Both of them are very talented players and if they gel together, ours will be a tough defense to crack. Sagna’s addition to the squad has definitely improved that area, as he seems to be a very comfortable and composed player, a quality which is quintessential for a defender and that very composure was what was missing in Eboue. Clichy on the left is one of the best in the Premier League, his blistering runs through that flank has always fascinated me and this season he will play a crucial role, if Wenger refuse to sign a left winger. This could be a tactical change that he is incorporating in the team as i watched couple of good assists from Clichy in the pre season. We are bound to see a Roberto Carlos in him. The Swiss pair, Senderos and Djourou along with Justin Hoyte provides good cover for these players. Though opinions differ among the crowd about the potential of these players, i expect Wenger to hold on to these players and give them more chances. They have physical advantage over the present set of defenders we have – Height. This could be vital while playing some teams. Especially Liverpool with Crouch.

That part of the pitch, which often dictates the game is the midfield and there is no dearth of quality players in Arsenal that can be employed in this area. We have an immense talent pool in this part of the field. Fabergas and Diaby will play a crucial role here, there is no doubt about the potential of Fabergas, who is already pitted as one of the best in the game. Diaby is a Vieraesque player, who provides toughness to the so called nimble midfield, he will be crucial for a good campaign this season. Denilson will pop in at times, though i believe he will replace Fabergas more often than Diaby, if such a situation arise. Gilberto seems to be happy holding that position but the current effort of Wenger to give the captaincy to Gallas and our “supposed” interest in Diarra makes issues a bit murkier. Diarra, a hard tackling youngster, if included in the team will bolster that ruthlessness which is supposedly lacking in the beautifully playing Arsenal. Hleb has been moved to interesting position – operating behind the striker. He has reveled in that position in the pre season games but to carry foward that success to the premier league will need him to put some effort in honing his goal scoring skills. He definitely is one of the underrated players in the league, I am hoping him to live up to the potenial. Rosciky, if not injured will operate on the left and will have a decent run this season with some long range goals in his kitty. Flamini; a versatile player who could be pitted in any of these slots in the midfield will surely provide some goals, if the situation demands. I think it was very crucial that Wenger held on to this player, even though rumours were aplenty about his departure. Eboue, who has been promoted up the order to the right wing will surely create some trouble to the opposition with his pace and crosses. I personally rate him good, though opinions differ. With Eboue on the right, Walcot’s chances are less unless the boss plans to employ him in some other roles. Surely, he will be getting some matches as the strategy employed against oppositions will vary accordingly and barely will a team without permutations of positions succeed in the league

Finally comes the forwards. We all tend to remember those fantastic goals scored by Henry when we think about forwards. This very transfer created the whole ruckus augmented by the media by belting out “crisis” stories about the club. But a closer look will provide a much valubale insight; that the club actually will not struggle with the departure of talismanic Henry. There is Van Persie, who was the leading goal scorer of the last season; even with the injury that forced him out of the campaign for a considerable time span.He looked stunning in all the pre-season matches and Wenger has already highlighted his importance for the team. He is touted to be the next in line to carry on the Henry legacy. This could be a proving season for Van Persie, if he can withstand the pressure and maintain himself without injuries. Eduardo seems to be a good prospect and going by my intuitions he will score some goals against the teams in the lower half of the table against whom we struggled last season. Looking at his outstanding performance for Croatia and in the Croatian league, he will be keen to maintain his goal scoring record and more over he seems to be the apt player for our style of game. We badly needed an alert player who could thrust his leg on anything that leads to the the opponents goal post. Last season we created innumerable chances and failed to convert all of them, so i am hoping Eduardo to be a panacea for this condition. Adebayor is a tireless work horse who can definitely chip in some goals. He with his staggering stamina and runs is capable of unsettling any good defence. He has scored some crucial goals last season, even though i am not expecting a great deal of goals from him, he definitely can make some difference if he is brought on. Nickolas Bendtner seems to be a bit slow for our style of game but he doesn’t lack the uncanny knack of slotting goals. He showed it in some of the pre-season matches. The work of forwards will be eased, if the midfielders can chip in with some goals and we seriously lacked this aspect in the last season, which cost us dearly. Fabergas, Denilson, Diaby, Helb and the ilks should contribute more so as to ease the pressure on forwards and for a good season.

In this part of the world where cricket rules the roost and every other person who knows football support Man U, I definitely belong to a minority who supports Arsenal. I have been following this club for the past 6 years or so and have been witnessing swaying fortunes of this club. Fortunatley for a retrograde like me, this club fullfilled the wishes of my political self; when they refused to sell over to someone across the Atlantic. With a whole lot of money which includes the fortunes from former U.S.S.R lurking in EPL,this club along with their manager defenitley stands out by keeping a sane tab on all those meretricious spendings (Wenger during his time at Arsenal, have won three league titles and four FA Cups and created the only team in the history of English football to go an entire season undefeated and has proven that new age football is not all about money spending). Even though football has moved out from its working class roots, it defenitely needs to be sane,not an orgy of spending. Wenger’s knack of picking obscure players and honing them for top flight is a challenge in itself, when compared to the other teams who bid for the “famous – exceptional talents”. This club which was started by the workers of Royal Arsenal,an armament manufacturer is trying to hold on to its rich past with the help of an exceptional manager of our era. It is a struggle to swim against the flow but a decent run in this season will augment that struggle and might help the board members to withstand that tide of money which will be pushed in and an eventual orgy of spending or as they call it “shopping”. So, it has not been wrong in being an accidental Arsenal fan because i have had enough reasons to be an everlasting one.

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