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A Big Preview For A Big Season

A Big Preview For A Big Season

Saturday marks the beginning of a big season for Arsenal. Not because it's the start of the fifth season since we won a trophy, but because this is the season that we win the league and/or the Champions League. Despite selling Adebayor and Toure this is the best crop of players we've had since the Invincibles, and they have the potential to surprise everybody. Adebayor - mercenary I don't want him at the club. Toure - not been the same since his Malaria scare two years ago. I believe that our strongest line up is:

Sagna, Gallas/New CB, Vermaelen, Clichy
Song, Nasri
van Persie, Eduardo, Arshavin

That attacking four of Eduardo, Arshavin, Fabregas and RVP is the best in England. By a mile. Look at our rival's equivalents:

Man U - Rooney, Berbatov, Valencia, Giggs?
Giggs - old
Berbatov - lazy
Valencia - goes missing in big games
Rooney - tracks back too much doesn't score enough

Liverpool - Torres, Gerrard, Kuyt, Riera
Torres & Gerrard - Geniuses (or is it genii?)
Kuyt - Admittedly pops up with some important goals but not fit to lace RVP's boots
Riera - Not even in the same world as Arshavin let alone league

Chelsea - Anelka, Drogba, Lampard, Zhirkov (or Malouda?)
Anelka and Drogba - effective
Lampard - Fat but admittedly quality player
Zhirkov (or Malouda) - Again not in the Arshavin league.

I know formations change somewhat and that's a bit of difficult comparison to make but there simply is no argument that in an attacking sense no other team really competes with Arsenal on that basis. They just don't. Arshavin is now thmost exciting player in the premiership, it is time to compare him to Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka and the rest of the elite. He is in that club. Only Torres is good enough to join him in that group according to FIFA.

As for central midfield. Song will give us the solid deep lying midfield presence we crave, breaking up play and using quick simple distribution to build our attacks. Nasri has the energy, determination, speed and strength to zip around the midfield giving us the Flamini style presence we missed last year. Alongside Song I believe they will form a formidable central midfield pairing that, with Cesc, we will have a midfield to rival any team in England. Are Mikel, Essien and Malouda that much better? Are Mascherano, Aquilani and Gerrard? How about Anderson, Carrick and Fletcher? No they aren't. Don't underestimate Nasri playing in central midfield (because that is where he will play) he can be a world beater. Especially with Song next to him. Fabregas will finally have the chance to roam forward and not worry too much what's happening behind him.

Defence. Admittedly our weak link. Positives first though. Sagna and Clichy are thbest full back combination in the country. Man Utd boast Evra and Rafael, but whilst Evra is proven quality Rafael is still very suspect defensively, I can't wait to see Arshavin unleashed against him. Chelsea have Cole and Bosingwa. Bosingwa is disillusioned with Chelsea's desire to sell him/use him as a makeweight for Ribery, so I don't expect he will be at his best and Cole (whilst being a money grabbing whore bag) is a quality defender. Combined though they don't match up to Clichy and Sagna. As for Liverpool they have Insua and Johnson. Insua is a talent, but too young to no if he really is all that. Johnson is a top player going forward. But, as he showed against Holland, defensively he is weak, he gets turned for fun by anyone quicker than a snail, and is prone to rash challenges when he gets frustrated. So at full back I think we can be optimistic that we are the best in the league.

However we do lack height in the middle. But does it matter? If you watched Vermaelen in the past he has a tremendous spring that allows him to dominate in the air against players much bigger than him. He is very strong and can stand up to the bruising tactics of Drogba, Davies and co. Gallas will be more comfortable without King Kolo next to him, and hopefully go back to the quality player he has proven himself to be. I don't think our central pairing can compare to Man Utd, Chelsea or Liverpool. I wish I could justify saying that we do but we simply don't. Not yet. Gallas and Vermaelen could prove me wrong but Ferdinand/Vidic, Terry/Alex and Carragher/Skrtl are all better. They are better balanced, and they have the height. This is important but our defence is still good enough to stop any attack in the world on the day, so all they need is to work hard and stay focussed and our lack of height won't matter. There are ways around it. Look at Cannavaro. Yes he always played with a big man next to him, but Cannavaro himself could dominate in the air against people much taller than him. I remember watching him for Madrid against Valence, and he was marking Zigic ( all 6ft8 of him) and Cannavaro dominated him in the air.

In goal:
Man Utd - VDS - Old, prone to mistakes
Chelsea - Cech - Not the same since his head injury
Liverpool - Reina - good player

Almunia isn't far behind them. In fact he is as good as VDS, more dependable than Cech and less rash than Reina. Almunia is a top class goalkeeper and we can compete against the other big four teams in that area.

Finally they say the title is won by the bench. (Based on what I consider our rivals strongest first XIs)

Arsenal - Fabianski, Djourou, Slivestre, Gibbs, Eboue, Wilshere, Diaby, Denilson, Vela, Bendtner, JET (possibly), Rosicky,Walcott

Man Utd - Foster, Fabio, Evans, Brown, O'Shea, Scholes, Wellbeck, Nani, Tosic, Owen, Macheda, Park,

Liverpool - Cavalieri, Agger, Degen, Plessis, Lucas, Yossi, Babel, NGog, Zhar

Chelsea - Turnbull, Ivanovic, Fereira, Carvalho (if he stays), Manciene, Belletti, Ballack, Mineiro, Deco, Cole, Kalou, Sturridge

Is our bench really much weaker than those of our rivals? Only Chelsea have notably more experienced players on the bench. Man Utd and Liverpool certainly don't. I wouldn't swap our bench for any of the teams there, even Chelsea.

So all round I don't see why people are so pessimistic. We have a young squad, who will only be better than last year. Eduardo and Rosicky will be like new signings since they pretty much didn't play last season. Cesc will have licence to roam and we have Arshavin for a whole season. I still believe Wenger will sign two new players by September 1st, and we will be in a very, very strong position to start the season. If we stay relatively injury free we will win something. If not everything.

Right I'm off to the bookies to put a grand on Arsenal to win the league.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Thursday August 13 2009
Time: 3:29PM


Essien is probably the most complete central midfielder in Europe. Mikel is a very good defensive midfielder he has the height and cynical edge (he's a F*cking cheat and he does it in good areas) that puts him above Denilson IMO, he's a bit of a Song/Denilson hybrid. Add lampard to that and they have the strongest central three. Uniteds central midfield I believe has lived off the the Ronaldo fear factor for the last few years, teams were so petrified of him they forget that you are actually allowed to attack them and they literally played the whole of last season without a real holding player. Liverpool losing Alonso could be massive he was the key component that allowed Gerrard the license to play so freely. Mascherano is a bit like a dog with a bone and without the calming influence of Alonso next to him they will suffer.
13/08/2009 15:34:00
Ugh, hasn't Giggs retired? Wasn't that what the whole bull***** player of the year award was for?
Ozi Gooner
13/08/2009 15:48:00
iceman10 - just to clarify the height issue. According to ESPN soccernet, Mikel is of the same height as Denilson, 1.80m, but heavier by 2 stones. In fact Denilson is taller than many of famed defensive midfielders, including Macherano (1.77), Flamini the great (1.77), Lassana Diarra (1.75), and Matuidi (1.75).
13/08/2009 15:52:00
Im quite sure Mikel is about 6ft 2in but I could be wrong. He certainly wins more in the air than Denilson does.
13/08/2009 16:04:00
Denilson is the better of the two, but Mikel is clearly taller.
13/08/2009 16:39:00
Nice to see some positivity, I've never understood the ground on which we're constantly being told that our squad's so much weaker than the others' either. Liverpool's bench is spectacularly average. An Song, Cesc, Tommy, Arsh, RVP and Eddy in a 433 make up the most exciting front six in the league without a doubt. We've got as good a chance as anyone for the title if we keep key players fit.
13/08/2009 16:44:00
You're entitled to your opinions on the rest of the top4 as much as anyone else - so allow me to give you mine. Cech and Reina are the two best keepers in the league and VDS has far more experience and is a consistent calming influence on the back 4 as evidenced by that measly EUROPEAN CLEAN SHEET RECORD he got last season. Almunia wouldn't be any better than second choice for any other team in the top 4. Your defence will conceed more goals than any other in the top 4 and as for the players you have backing them up - there is not a single one who could make the bench at the other three clubs. Your attacking players - Fabregas, Arshavin, RVP and Eduardo are incredibly good and I would agree that as a unit, playing to their maximum capacity, they probably are the best. However, I would say that history is against this quartet lining up together more than four or five times this season as their bodies don't seem to respond very well to the rigours of the premier league. Whilst the players at the other clubs might be SLIGHTLY inferior in terms of pure class - they'll probably play more games than those guys. For me, you'll finish 4th because there is no one in your 1st XI who cannot be dominated by players who are more physically imposing or who are simply more determined to win. Arsenal are always referred to as a young team because they have no men in the team - regardless of age. Like boys, when the chips are down, arsenal players don't dig deep and fight - they curl up cry, complain and throw tantrums because "they don't like it up them".
13/08/2009 17:08:00
13/08/2009 17:15:00
does any1 know if there is an vital arsenal league in ?
13/08/2009 17:41:00
What a bull***** article. You can dissect every single one of your players in the style you just did and find a pony flaw with them, and make it out like your gonna be in a relegation battle this year. Pathetic and totally deluded. I mean "Alumunia is more dependable than Cech". Drogba "effective" Berbatov "Lazy" Get them red specs off son!!!!! You will do very well to finish 4th and fend off City for 1 more season before the enevitable.
13/08/2009 18:05:00
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