Arsenal - A Big Preview For A Big Season
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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.

The Journalist

Writer: Regiboy Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 13 2009

Time: 3:29PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
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.
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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
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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).
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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.
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13/08/2009 16:04:00

Denilson is the better of the two, but Mikel is clearly taller.
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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.
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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".
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13/08/2009 17:08:00

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13/08/2009 17:15:00

does any1 know if there is an vital arsenal league in ?
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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.
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13/08/2009 18:05:00

And what will Tottenham do Huddersfield Yiddo? And Tuscan3000 - Arsenal players don't dig in and fight? Maybe we rely too much on our quality of football to make comebacks but I've still seen us dig in and fight plenty of times in the last couple of seasons. As ever, let's wait til the end of the season before writing us off.
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13/08/2009 18:34:00

What I mean when I say Arsenal don't fight, is adversity doesn't seem to bring out the best in the team. When your players are being fouled and the ref isn't giving them anything - it rarely seems to spur them on. Mourinho and Fergie have been able to instill a siege mentality in their teams where when things go against them they just play harder. Arsenal on the other hand either carry on with an air of arrogance in the belief that their philosophically superior brand of football will get them through, they bicker among themselves or they whine at the ref and complain in the media. They seem to lack a leader who takes responsibility for his troops, pulls them together and demands a performance. Having said all that, I've nothing against Arsenal, they are my 2nd favourite team to watch when they are playing well - but thats just my view on why they won't win the league this year. Best of luck with the injuries though! Lady luck has certainly deserted you in that department in recent years - hopefully its liverpools turn now!
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13/08/2009 18:51:00

nice try mate....but this kind of analysis is always open to criticism, i would leave it to the deluded lot down the road to create for their own team instead
fran merida
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13/08/2009 18:58:00

Anyone that thinks Sagna wouldn't easily get into any EPL team's starting XI clearly doesn't watch enough football. Best right back in the league.
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13/08/2009 19:01:00

In fact, we might have two of the top three right backs in the EPL.
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13/08/2009 19:08:00

Ah, it all seems so easy on paper. The fact is, I don't think our bench is a match for the others around us. Look at the United players listed, Paul Scholes alone has won more than our bench put together (allowing for the fact Rosicky is on our bench, which is wishful thinking indeed). I agree with some of what tuscan says, when Arsenal went 1-0 down four or five years ago, it was just delaying the inevitable. Nowadays Arsenal lack the belief and togetherness for a long Premiership season, we haven't got enough players with experience of doing it when it counts. Hence, we always do alright until we comeup against Chelsea or United, who swat us away like a troublesome fly.
Little Dutch
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13/08/2009 19:39:00

Denilson is not better than Mikel IMO. Denilson is a decent player and the stats back that up but Mikel has a better passing range, is better in the air and has that cynical edge. As for Arsenal players not liking it up em and throwing it United and Patrice Evra who have being doing just that for half the week because michael Ballack blocked the poor little fella?
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13/08/2009 20:02:00

But we beat both United and Chelsea last year LD..., although i know what you're saying
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13/08/2009 20:25:00

its not ice hockey iceman10 - the block as you put is known as a foul. To clarify, at no point did I say that no one else in the top4 throws tantrums - but bringing up the community shield further illustrates my point. The ref made a mistake, the team felt it was an injustice and they didnt give up until the equalised. Anyway, the fact that you rate Mikel says everything. Wenger gets good money for his signings but he'll never be able to match the genius of recieving £12M for that waste of space.
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13/08/2009 23:19:00

I dont overly rate Mikel I just think he's better than Denilson. For the record I also think we will finish fourth but not because we lack backbone or we throw tantrums but because we lack quality in depth and key areas. I also hope im proved wrong and the new formation we are using goes some way to rectifying some of our glaring deficiencies.
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13/08/2009 23:39:00

I disagree,its a very simplistic and optimistic view. 433 is a great formation if it is played right like Barca played it last season,hardworking and disciplined midfield and forwards ready to backtrack when we dont have possession but bursting forward with pace,movement and creativity as soon as we get the ball. If AW gets his/our team to play like this,he gets 1or 2 more QUALITY players b4 the window closes,then we have a good chance to win something this season.
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14/08/2009 00:26:00

What a load of crap and deluded Arsenal fans, how many points did you finish behind Chelsea last year? Those are the stats that tell the story. You are a weaker side this year than last and this season it will be Man City's large and decent squad in depth rather than Aston run out of steam Villa you'll be fighting with, oh and of course the mighty Spurs.
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14/08/2009 07:52:00

Sorry Regiboy, this is one of the most ridiculous pieces I have ever read on here. I am mystified as to how you can say we have a better midfield three than all the other ' top 4 sides '. Were you at Wembley and the Emirates against Chelsea ? I was, and we were outplayed. Were you at Old Trafford and Emirates for the CL semi against United ? I was, and we were outhought and outplayed.
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14/08/2009 08:05:00

You cant call us deluded and then call your team "mighty" and expect us to take you seriously, now p*$s off.
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14/08/2009 08:06:00

You forgot Ramsey on the bench
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14/08/2009 09:03:00

I think this season is mostly a matter of everything coming together. Yes, we have great attacking individuals, but we had an incredible amount of draws last season, depsite scoring the same no of goals as the others. We conceded more goals overall, which points to a deficiency in defense, but a key factor will be whether we consistently manage to break teams down, and not just retain possession in their half. All the ingredients are there, and I really hope that we will find the winning formula early in the season.
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14/08/2009 09:07:00

No 1 problem for Arsenal: Injuries. There must be something wrong with our medical team or fitness program. 6 or 7 players are injured right now, and the season hasn't started yet.
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14/08/2009 09:30:00

Berbatov is not lazy, thats just his style and he's been told by Fergie never to change it and i firmly agree with that too. Rooney tracks back because he's been told and most of the time he doesn't play thorugh the middle anyway. That will change for next season. Valenica goes missing in big games??? How many big games has he played for us?? Fabregas is not part of any attacking four! He's a CM and he's there to create the goals not to be another striker or even a second striker! To be part of an attacking quartet, he'll have to at least score 10 goals a season. Eduardo, Arshavin and RVP are good but CERTAINLY not the best! Eduardo has never played a full season and Arshavin is not a prolific goalscorer. Are you judging these players based on their goal return or are you going by just their ability to play 'good football'? Something that hasn't won you much anyway in the last four years?
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14/08/2009 11:21:00

Is this lad really comparing a central midfield of Cesc, Song, Nasri, Denilson, Diaby to that of Mikel, Essien, Lampard or a Gerrard, Mascherano, Aquilani or even Anderson, Fletcher, Scholes and Carrick? Sorry Arsenal fans but if you genuinely believe what this supporter of yours is writing, then you have some serious problems!
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14/08/2009 11:25:00

from all of at Pompey, we wish you well. (except for our game with you coming up). Hope you keep the your top 4 status & give the spuds a good stuffing. PS. Can we borrow some cash please!!!
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14/08/2009 12:59:00

You asked the wrong people for money, i shall direct you to manchester
Gooner SA
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14/08/2009 13:59:00

I personally believe we have a good chance of success this season, but I have to say I'm not sure the article looks at it in the right way. We have had teams made from great players before and had no success. We haven't even got a proven formation for this team yet. Honestly, I'm still a member of the sometimes unpopular group who believes our midfield is too lightweight. At home, this is less of a problem, but football is a game played almost as much in the head as it is with your feet. A Chelsea player walking into Stamford Bridge along side the likes of Essien, Mikel, Ballack and Lampard, with Terry, Drogba and Anelka also alongside you will not exactly be intimidated by Nasri, Fabregas, Song and Denilson. With the support of the crowd and the assurance of having the physical advantage, a team such as Chelsea will be winning far more 50-50s than we will, and will therefore dominate midfield, not enabling us to show our superior technique, possibly leaving the players likely to make a goalscoring impact isolated, and leaving our fragile defence very exposed. At home, the familiar surroundings and support can compensate for this. As for labbeling players, such as the way you label Berbatov as being lazy, this can all change when seen in applience to the machine in which he opperates. For example, many outside fans thing Bendtner is a waste of space because he has missed so many goal-scoring opportunities. We know, though, that his work-rate is great, has great footballing intelligence and provides our other forward players with space. In the context of our team, these our usefull atributes. Berbatov can link up play with subtelty, leaving Rooney to maraud as he wishes, and is an excellent finisher, compensating for Rooneys sometimes faltering goalscoring qualities. As for your proposed 2nd XIs, I'd actually say only Liverpool's was noticeably weeker than ours, and for some annoying reason they never seem to suffer as many injuries as us. There are hundreds of different strengths and weaknesses for each team in the league, not all of which will be seen clearly during the season, and it is easy to view them only as you desire. I think we have a very good chance to achieve something brilliant this season, but this is not confidence - it stems from the fact that we've successfully got a team to challenge, we're by no means better than anyone else. With our tempramental squad, there are so many things that could go right or wrong during the course of the season which will define how we feel come May, possibly even earlier. All it takes are a couple of bad early results and one or two injuries for any top side to completely change the way they see their chances of success.
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14/08/2009 22:45:00

F*ck me, I had no idea that post would be so long! Sorry!
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14/08/2009 22:46:00

Rob, you are spot onmate. Games are WON and LOST in midfield, and thats where we fall short. We can play any formation that we like but it still won't make up for the fact that Cesc is largely on his own in there. Our lack of quality midfielders is the very reason why we are going 4-3-3.
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15/08/2009 10:47:00

Optimistic is how I'd describe this article. You really do underestimate our rivals.
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17/08/2009 16:25:00


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