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We've shown we can compete says Samir

We've shown we can compete says Samir

French midfielder Samir Nasri regrets that the failure to claim any silverware this season will deny the team the credit they deserve in maintaining a challenge in the major competitions through to their late stages.

Successive defeats following our exit from the CL including an inglorious late capitulation at Wigan has led to the predictable crowing and demands for 'wholesale` changes to the team from pundits and ex-players. Others have called for complete changes in our playing style and an examination of what they claim as multifarious mistakes in policy and strategies since we last won a trophy 5 seasons ago. Nasri, while welcoming the potential signing of Chamakh, wants no such major surgery saying "I am hoping that our squad will stay unchanged because we are really good and with a year more experience, we can achieve some great things next season."

Perceptions change quickly in football and in little over a week the praise the team has earned for its fighting spirit has dissipated among an understandable sense of disappointment as the hopes developed over the season have faded even though pre-season expectations and predictions have been exceeded for the most part. A couple of results can change the mood very quickly and across town our network neighbours, who had been reaching for a line to the Samaritans after defeats to Sunderland and lowly Portsmouth, the latter of which put them out of the FA Cup, are encouraged enough after just two home wins to be claiming that it is now their destiny to win the Premier League next season. Rationality doesn`t come easily to football supporters it seems.

Samir has no doubt that a plague of serious injuries, Arsenal were missing 8 players who had made up the first choice starting line up in the early part of the season against Wigan, was a primary contributor to our falling short this season.

"Injuries happen and it is part of football, but I think if we had not had those injuries, we would be top of the Premier League and still in the Champions League," said the French midfielder.

"Apart from Arsenal, I do not know a team playing without five of its best players in the quarter-final of the Champions League like we did against Barcelona and to be in such a high position in the league."

It's often hard to see any season as successful without a trophy to show for it but it is possible to finish a season with a sense of hope and expectation based on what has been achieved so far and the conditions under which that achievement has been made. Samir has no doubt that there is merit in what we have done and every reason to look forward.

"It is annoying. The work we do is not getting the credit it deserves because we are not winning silverware," Nasri said adding "This season had proved that we have everything to compete and we have learnt so much."

The club is in good shape on a number of counts and in many ways our domestic peers have more problems than we have. This summer will bring departures and recruits as every summer has always done. Perhaps not on the wholesale scale that some are demanding as that would prove counterproductive. Those that do come in will be joining a core body of significant developing talent whose best times are in front of them. There is every reason, based on what we have seen this season to expect to continue to compete for the major trophies next season and with the little bit of fortune that always goes into winning trophies the more visible rewards will also come.

In any event our unique record in being the only club to win a trophy in 9 successive historical decades has another 10 years in which to be extended - so what`s the hurry?

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Date:Wednesday April 21 2010
Time: 10:18AM


Samir is right of course, it's just unfortunate that these comments have been extrapolated by the press following the Wigan game. I'm encouraged by the fact that there has been little talking from the Arsenal camp since Sunday. The players owe a big performance on Saturday and they have to realise that, I think it'd be no bad thing if they were exposed to just some of the criticism they will be receiving this week. A lot of the respect they earned this year will have been blown away in that ten minutes at Wigan, it's totally 100% up to them to claw that back now and finish the season strongly. If they continue to limp over the line, the dissenting voices will grow stronger. If that prospect bothers the team or the manager the slightest bit, they'll do all they can to prevent it happening.
Little Dutch
21/04/2010 10:43:00
I think the priority is to understand why we suffer so many injuries and the level of competency of our medical staff. Up until recently, i thought it was bad luck but now i am not so sure. As for the players, i hope they watched the pressing of Inter's players last night, guys like Etoo, Zanetti, Lucio who have wont everything in football and still do the hard work.
21/04/2010 11:01:00
Could our medical staff have prevented RvP's ruptured ligaments, Cesc's cracked fibula, Ramseys broken leg or Nasri's broken fibula? What would they have been able to do about Gibbs broken metatarsal? There is a myth building up that there is somewhere some responsibility at the club for these injuries while there is always room for improvement the truth is that the club is as advanced as anyone in sports science and the fitness and well being of its players. There was a good article on the official site which tried to answer some of these questions:
21/04/2010 11:26:00
GF, the leg break Nasri suffered in pre season was bad luck. The ankle injury Van Persie suffered under a tackle in the international friendly was bad luck as well as was the leg break of Ramsey and the hairline fracture suffered by Cesc Fabregas. Thats 4 unlucky injuries in 1 season - quite high. It is the muscular injuries which need further probing by the medical staff. Nothing one can do about fractured ligaments or bones.
21/04/2010 11:30:00
Damn. Swear I didn't see your comment before I typed Amos.
21/04/2010 11:31:00
I don't think anyone's saying every single injury is the fault of the medical department, but even in the examples cited above- Fabregas' fibula was considerably weakened because he diagnosed himself that he was able to play on with injury against Birmingham when the physio didn't even look at the injury. Gibbs picked up a foot injury three days before the Liege game when he broke his metatarsal and played anyway. Van Persie was allowed to select his own treatment for a total of three weeks before the club even bothered to look at his injury, as a result he had the surgery three weeks late. Had they looked at him straight away, he would have been back for the West Ham game. Fabregas has injured the same hamstring four times this season, Gallas, Diaby, Walcott, Denilson, Arshavin, Fabregas and Bendtner have all this season been injured, come back and lasted less than 90 minutes into their comeback before succumbing to injury again. Djourou's knee innury was misdiagnosed in August, we were told he was out for a month. By mid September, it became apparent he was out for the season and obviously, by then the transfer window had closed and we were light in that area. We were fortunate that Gallas and Vermaelen recorded flawless injury records before the signing of Campbell. To dismiss these trends, by no means exclusive to just this season, is to bury one's head in the sand.
Little Dutch
21/04/2010 11:38:00
The original Gibbs injury was to his right foot playing for the U21's he broke the metatarsal of his left foot against Liege - but then he wouldn't have been playing at all but for an injury to Clichy. Didn't we have all potential left backs out at one time this season? There are always improvements to be made and things that can be handled better but little that defies simple bad luck. The existing team is a hugely experienced one in the field of sports science and they have apparently also recruited another physio with 15 years experience of working with elite athletes. Much as we would like to find some wonderful solution to the number of injuries we've had the biggest single benefit is likely to come from being a bit luckier with them.
21/04/2010 12:23:00
I don't believe in luck. Particularly when we've such a persistent history of misdiagnosis/ rushing players back. The evidence is there and it's irrefutable.
Little Dutch
21/04/2010 12:38:00
The evidence is there of key players picking up much longer term "niggly" injuries as well. Said it the other day that the main reason for the bulk of injuries is Wenger not having as much faith in the back up players he's brought to the club as he says he does.
21/04/2010 12:46:00
The broken legs we have suffered have been a result of bad tackles not luck (including Diaby’s on Nasri). RvP and Gibbs were injured due to bad tackles and I suspect that some of the “smaller” injuries have been down to bad tackles as well. There is a question to be asked about our medical team but I think the way we are “played” causes a lot of problems and I can’t see why this would change next season either. We could be looking at a long injury list then as well!
Sir Henry
21/04/2010 13:39:00
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