Posts Tagged ‘trophy’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Arsenal

12/08/2010

Arsenal

Last Season: 3rd

New Signings: Koscielny, Chamakh

Key Player: Robin van Persie

Ones To Watch: Jack Wilshere

Needs  A Big Year: Laurent Koscielny

Would Quite Like: A new goalkeeper and another centre back, but in terms of the season a first trophy since 2005.

Prediction: 2nd

Thoughts: TThe biggest story at the Emirates this summer was whether Cesc Fabregas would leave Arsenal and join Barcelona. After a fifth year without a trophy and a particularly spineless end to the season, Arsenal’s captain decided he had had enough and was going to rejoin his boyhood team.

Fine you might say, Cesc had given fantastic service and no one could begrudge him wanting to win things. However Barcelona were clearly not well versed in how transfers work, where if one club wants one of the best midfielders in the world, they have to pay what he’s worth, especially if he still has five years left on his contract.

Still an Arsenal player for now.

Instead, there were two derisory bids, and a daily quote from a Barcelona player about how Fabregas was being held prisoner, had Barca DNA, and Arsenal should just let him go. Seeing as Arsenal were very much in the position of power and Barcelona had spent what little money they had on David Villa, it meant Fabregas has to stay another year.

Is this the most important decision of the summer? Well yes and no. Nobody can deny Cesc’s influence and he had his best season for Arsenal, finishing as top scorer having played an advanced role. This will no doubt continue, as whatever his personal ambitions may be he’s professional enough to still do his best for Arsenal.

However the decision not to have a new goalkeeper in place for the opening day game with Liverpool has far greater ramifications. Yes, there’s still over two weeks of the window left, but despite being linked with the likes of Schwarzer and Marchetti, it is not guaranteed that a replacement will come in.

Crap meets crapper.

Manuel Almunia, for all his faults is still better than Lukasz Fabianski. While they are both the proverbial good shot stopper, neither seems able to deal with the mental pressure of big games and the physical pressure of high balls swung into the box. That Wenger views Fabianski as having the attributes of a No.1 keeper is worrying to say the least.

The lack of new keeper and the dearth of cover at centre-back (Campbell, Sylvestre, Gallas and Senderos out – Koscielny and fit again Djourou in) mean the same issues from last season look likely to rear their ugly head. As an Arsenal fan, it’s most frustrating. Knowing we are so close to winning the league but not addressing the clear issues preventing us from doing it is careless to say that least.

If you consider that they lost all four games against United and Chelsea last season, but were still in the running until late throwaway defeats to Wigan and Spurs, suggests that it only needs a player or two to help with that final step – that player or two being the aforementioned goalkeeper and extra centre back.

Needs to quickly adapt.

The talk emanating from the club over the summer suggests that it’s finally got through to the players what’s needed. No more slacking off when two goals up, no more being bullied by the more physical teams in the league, etc.

I think the impact of Sol Campbell’s half season cameo shouldn’t be underestimated. He came into the squad and showed what it takes to achieve something you want; that there’s no escaping hard work if you want to win. Though he’s left, his attitude seems to have rubbed off.

In terms of the squad, things generally look quite good. Marouane Chamakh has finally joined and should be an improvement on the departing Eduardo. The Crozillian never truly recovered from the horrific injury he sustained and coupled with hypocritical reaction to his dive against Celtic meant a change of scene was probably best. Chamakh is by no means prolific but gives a different option, and should prove useful in tough away games.

Vela stays for now and gets an upgraded squad number but the important news is Robin van Persie being fully fit again (albeit a couple of weeks behind in training). His injury really hurt Arsenal last November. Remember all the talk of how Arsenal could score 100 goals after all the big wins early on? The goals per game ratio went right down after RvP was out. They continued to challenge without him but with Bendtner also out at the time, you had the bizarre situation of Andrey Arshavin playing on his own up front, which was no fun for either player or fans.

Arguably Arsenal's most important player.

The Russian had an average season, nearly always played out of position. I think bigger things are expected this season. The midfield is boosted by Fabregas staying and Wilshere being ready for regular first team football. I would expect him to be ahead of Rosicky in the pecking order sooner rather than later.

Two players who failed to make their respective World Cup squads will be particularly determined to shine this year. Samir Nasri looked very sharp in pre-season and has a previously unseen seriousness about him. Similarly, Theo Walcott will want a season where he doesn’t pick up lots of small injuries. A run of 20-25 games in a row would do him a world of good. If he hits his target of 20 assists he’ll have had a great season.

Bounce back seasons ahead.

Once you factor in Song, Diaby, Eboue, the emerging Frimpong, Denilson and the hopefully returning Ramsey and you have more than enough options.

As discussed earlier, it’s defence where there are issues. There are currently just three centre-backs, at least one more is a must. Full backs are covered with Eboue and Gibbs being the reserves for Sagna and Clichy. Gibbs in particular excites me, I think he’ll be the first choice left back by the end of the season.

In terms of tactics I think Wenger will slightly adjust the 433 of last season seeing how overrun it caused the midfield to be. The benefits it brought to Fabregas and van Persie’s game make it worth sticking with but perhaps a slight switch to make it a 4231 instead with Fabregas advanced behind van Persie and two attacking midfielders/forwards playing either side of them will do the trick.

Arsenal don’t really have natural wingers who can play in a 442. You just get central midfielders or wide forwards out of position. It might be case of dropping an extra player (Diaby or Denilson) back to sit alongside Song with Fabregas ahead of them. Van Persie will be the central striker with any two of about eight players filling the wide roles in the 3.

It worked very well when the Dutchman was fit and the added bonus is Chamakh could take up the role were he to get injured. I would like to see more solid set-ups when playing the big teams as last season Chelsea, Man Utd and Barcelona had much fun drawing us out of position and hitting us on the break. In these games a four or even five men in midfield would work; there is enough pace in the side that the lone striker would never be too isolated.

Yes it is five years since we won a trophy but my players have great potential.

In terms of prospects, despite what many writers are saying, I think Arsenal will improve on last season if they sign a keeper before the window shuts. A simplistic theory you might think but if you consider that a top keeper is worth around nine points a season (that’s three match-saving performances – not unrealistic) then Arsenal will be very close indeed.

A slight tactical adjustment and they’ll be pretty close to that elusive trophy. Maybe even close enough to win it. No new goalkeeper or centre-back and it will be the same old problems and the usual 4th place.

T.

Arsenal

Last Season: 3rd

New Signings: Koscielny, Chamakh

Key Player: Robin van Persie

Ones To Watch: Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs

Needs A Big Year: Cesc Fabregas

Would Quite Like: A new goalkeeper and another centre back, but in terms of the season a first trophy since 2005.

Prediction: 2nd

Thoughts:

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Weekly Photoshop – England vs USA

15/06/2010

WINNER: Another week, another £100 first place prize!

In case you missed it there was apparently some kind of soccerball game between the USA and England the other day. There wasn’t too much build-up and post match analysis from what I can recall…

England’s opening World Cup was indeed this week’s Photoshop theme in the Guardian. Hard not to focus on Rob Green really.

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england usa rob green top kill

Might be time for Capello to try a top kill strategy on that leaky problem of his...

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England USA Rob Green Obama vuvuzela

Obama was pleased at managing to influence the super high stakes game of straw football.

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More here.

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T.

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Archive.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 5

15/06/2010

Running Total: -0.8 units

Another day, another wrong prediction for a match winner. I can’t help it if Paul le Guen in all his infinite wisdom chooses not to play his best midfielder (Alex Song) whist also deciding to play his best striker Eto’o out on the right-wing. I think I’ll avoid picking teams to win until the second set of group fixtures.

There was some success with choosing a goalscorer the other day so I’ll try my luck again. Brazil face North Korea tonight (quite why Portugal vs Ivory Coast isn’t prime time I’ll never know) and it’s likely to resemble shooting fish in a barrel.

Robinho for some reason tends to play twice as well in international games as he does in club football (well before he moved to Santos anyway) and should have some success against a team I know nothing about. Luis Fabiano is obviously another good shout as is Kaka, as is etc, etc.

Let’s go with Robinho over Fabiano due to the marginally better odds. Again I’m playing safe and backing anytime goals rather than first or last.

Bet of the day:

Robinho to score anytime vs North Korea @ 11/10

T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 4

14/06/2010

Running Total: +0.2 units

Finally a betting tip came off yesterday with Miroslav Klose getting the second goal in Germany’s 4-0 thrashing of Australia. The man is a born World Cup scorer, how I wish he was playing for the country of his birth… Anyway, the returns mean we’re in profit, albeit by a fifth of a unit. Got to start somewhere huh?

A quick one today. Cameroon face Japan in the mid-afternoon game and should be far too strong for them. Japan have never won a World Cup game on foreign soil and are pretty goal shy at the best of times. Despite throwing a pre-tournament hissy fit, Samuel Eto’o hasn’t pulled out and should get plenty of opportunities to get on the score sheet today. Alex Song meanwhile should be able to negate Japan’s main threat Keisuke Honda in central midfield.

I think Cameroon should be odds on to win this, yet they’re only at around evens. Those odds are good enough for me, you are doubling your money after all.

Bet of the day:

Cameroon to beat Japan @ 11/10

T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – Day 3

13/06/2010

Running total: – 2 units

So for the second day running the suggested bet didn’t quite come off, with England failing to breach the USA in the second half having gone in level at half time. England are notorious slow starters in World Cups (just five opening wins from 13) so the final 1-1 scoreline was not surprising. I had a feeling I should have gone for under 2.5 goals.

Today sees Slovenia v Algeria, Serbia v Ghana and Germany v Australia in the evening match. There are clear favourites in all three games negating any value on a straight victory. I do like Serbia to win at just over evens (6/5 or 11/10 depending who you bet with) but it’s difficult to know how much Ghana will miss Essien’s presence.

Instead I’m going to try a pick a goalscorer in the evening game. I think Germany should beat Australia without too much trouble – I don’t see where the goals are in the Aussie side once you stop Tim Cahill or a past it Harry Kewell.

I imagine Germany will be starting with Miroslav Klose up front. He already has ten goals over two World Cups and will be looking to score in his third tournament. Australia are quite a physical side and his aerial presence will be important to Germany finding a foothold in the game.

With Ballack out injured I suspect Germany’s play will focus more on getting it out wide to the wingers Schweinsteger and Trochowski who can provide crosses for Klose. I reckon it’s risky to be on him as first goalscorer so let’s go with him scoring anytime at just over evens.

Bet of the day:

Miroslav Klose to score anytime vs Australia @ 11/5

T.


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