So it was a season of two halves for the Arsenal this term. From August to early January we dominated practically every game, played brilliant football, and lost only twice in all four competitions, all of which we were still involved in at that point. The highlight of these four months was the 7-0 victory versus Sparta Prague where we played better than Brazil in the ’70’s and Walcott got his first Champions League goals.
Then three events saw the beginning of Arsenal’s downfall.
Tuesday, January 22, Arsenal’s 5-1 loss to Spurs
Saturday, February 16, Arsenal’s 4-0 loss to Manchester United
Saturday, February 23, Eduardo breaks his leg against Birmingham
Starting with our dismantling at Spurs, between then and our last fixture of March, the win at Bolton, we have nose dived in terms of results. We drew 6 times in all competitions, against AC Milan, Birmingham, Aston Villa, Wigan, ‘Boro, Liverpool, and Liverpool. And we lost against Chelsea. Then the final blows were dealt.
Arsenal’s 4-2 loss against Liverpool at Anfield
Arsenal’s 2-1 one loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford
So three depressing events let to our season ending. Two were avoidable, one wasn’t, and if one hadn’t happened, we could have been winning the title, not Man Utd. Also, we exited from both competitions because of questionable penalties.
Basically we need to look at the time when we fell apart, February to April, Birmingham to Man Utd, and ask our self what happened. Well here are all the results
Birmingham: 2:2 Game of Eduardo’s injury. McFadden 29, 95, Walcott 50, 55
Aston Villa: 1:1 Senderos og 28, Bendtner 94
AC Milan: 2:0 First English Team to win in San Siro. Fabregas 85, Adebayor 92
Boro: 1:1 Aliadiere 25, Toure 86
Chelsea: 1:2 Sagna 58, Dorgba, 72, 82
Bolton: Taylor 14, 44, Gallas 63, van Persie 69, Fabregas 90
Manchester United: 1:2 Adebayor 48, Ronaldo 53, Hargreaves 73
Now, one of two things happened in everyone of these games. 1. We went in front and ended up drawing or losing. 2. We went behind and then could only get a draw.
So, moving onto the the topic of this summer, what could we do to make sure that doesn’t happen again? Well, to find that out, we have to ask ourselves a few questions. What do you need to keep a lead, or come from behind to take the lead?
For Question #1, you need a solid defense. Clichy-Toure-Gallas-Sagna has one weak link. William Gallas. He is not a leader, nor a true Arsenal style player, nor a good partner to future legend Kolo Toure. We need a huge, dominating, no nonsense, inspiring centerback, a new Sol Campbell. That could be anybody, but I expect Wenger to sign a center back, even if it is just as a replacement for Senderos. Next, you would need a Defensive Midfielder, experienced and inspirational, to break up opponent’s moves, and start counter attacks. This player will be first on Wenger’s list for this summer.
For Questions #2, you need goals from midfield, and reliable goal scorers up front. Up front we have three reliable scorers in my opinion in Bendtner, van Persie, and Adebayor, and Eduardo, is he makes a full, healthy return. However, more importantly than reliable strikers, is goals from midfield. Three of four midfielders should be giving regular goals. Rosicky (when fit) and Fabregas are the only ones that can do that right now. However, I have faith in the emerging Walcott to become a regular goal scorer on the right wing. Hleb and Eboue cannot offer us regular goals. I’m just hoping Rosicky’s surgery works.
If van Persie’s injuries continue I think Eduardo should take his first team spot for 2009/10, and Bendtner will come in on the the bench. If Rosicky’s injuries continue, he will be replaced my Carlos Vela, if he is a success in England.
I think that this squad has the perfect blend of youth and experience, and has a good enough second team. This team will challenge for the title next year, to the very end, and i predict AT LEAST second place in the League, and probably another trophy else.