Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday April 7 2007
Now, I know that Gooners everywhere will be feeling like they've just been sat on (crushed) by Michelle McManus following Arsenal's first ever defeat at The Emirates stadium but let me tell you that it's not all doom and gloom.
Let's drown our sorrows today, for tomorrow is a new day and the new season is a mere 4 months away, and I wouldn't mind betting it will be a season to remember. This season and last has been a period of transition for Arsenal, just as the last 3 years have been for Manchester United (despite the fact that they have spent plenty of money).
The Arsenal first team squad has been plagued with injuries this season. Henry will have missed most of the season, Gallas missed 3 months, Baptista has suffered several injuries, Rosicky has spent a total of around 2 months out, Van Persie has been out since February and walcott has been playing with a bad shoulder for most of the season.
Imagine what losing Rooney, Saha, Scholes, Giggs and Ferdinand would do to United! Or if Chelsea lost Terry, Lampard, J.Cole, Drogba and Shevchenko...see where I'm going? So just avoiding injuries to so many key players next season will see an instant improvement in results.
Then there's the biggy - the youngsters. This season has seen Diaby, Adebayor, Walcott and Denilson experience their first full season in the Premiership. Diaby has had the added handicap of recovering from a career threatening injury.
Adebayor has been excellent this season, leading the line superbly in the absence of Henry and Van Persie, I'd say he has exceeded everyone's expectations - even Arsene Wenger's. Oh, and he's still only 21.
Diaby's sensational performances have drawn comparisons to Arsenal legend patrick Vieira. Indeed the great man himself has even come out recently and said he sees a lot of similarities in their game.
Theo Walcott had a great start to the season. He made his debut on the opening day of the season and set up the goal that ensured Arsenal's first Premiership match at The Grove didn't end in defeat. Since then he has suffered a quite serious shoulder injury, an injury he was forced to play through due to injuries to other players. He'll be back with a bang next season.
Then there's the dynamic Denilson. He arrived in the final minutes of the summer transfer window from Sao Paulo as a completely unknown player. Most people, including Arsenal fans scoffed when Arsene Wenger said he had a bit of Gilberto's defensive stability, Cesc Fabregas' passing ability and Rosicky's tenasity. I had the audacity to criticize Wenger when he brought him on against Sheffield United when we were 1-0 down but of course, Le Boss was right once again. It's a well known fact that Brazilians take a long time to settle into the Premiership so imagine what this lad will be like next year after such an impressive debut season.
We also have to consider that the class of 06 will have another season's worth of experience, one of only 2 or 3 things Arsenal have lacked this season. Clichy, Eboue, Toure and Gallas will have the summer to get used to playing with each other, Van Persie and Henry will at last be able to spend pre-season getting to know each other's's game without having to worry about preparing for a match. Rosicky will have his first pre-season with the club and provided Wenger want's to keep him, Baptista should have adapted to life in the Premiership.
That's without Wenger signing anyone. I'd expect to see one or two of Ribery, Babel or Robinho arrive in the summer. Arsenal have lacked goals from midfield this season, something all three of those players can bring.All three have something else Wenger likes in his players - versatility. Ribery can play anywhere across the midfield, Babel can play on either wing or up front, as can Robinho.
Add to that the return of Bendtner and Muamba from their loan spell at Birmingham. Both players have been fantastic in the Championship and it'll be interesting to see if they can make the step up to the Premiership. Bendtner I'm sure will make it, if he's patient enough.
So Gooners, that's just some of what we have to look forward to. I hope it helps relieve some of the depression of losing to West Ham, if not go and seek professional help because you have serious issues.
The future's bright, the future's RED & WHITE!
Date:Saturday April 7 2007
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