We had an absolutely outstanding view from the Upper Tier in the East Stand at the Grove, shame then about the game, which was real end of season stuff and a turgid affair settled by a trademark Bentner header….
There has been a lot of moaning, groaning and gnashing of teeth amongst those of a Gooner persuasion, and the last three months have been truly horrendous but let’s look at it in the round.
At the start of this season if someone had offered us a third place finish in the League, a European Cup Quarter Final plus decent progress with the kids in the Carling Cup, we would have bitten their hand off. Lets face it.
The Club is in a major period of transition both on and off the field with turmoil in the Boardroom and big changes in the team as Wenger looks to build his third great side.
As an occasional observer at the Grove and more often on TV I have a few things to toss into the general end of season naval gazing that obviously ensues from a season of such highs, and very disappointing lows.
The game continues to move on at breakneck speed and I am not the only one who thinks that Le Boss would benefit from employing a really top notch First team Coach in order to bring in fresh, possibly more scientific ideas and to take some of the day to day pressure off leaving Wenger free to pursue new players.
Rice obviously does a great job, but sometimes players need to be out of their comfort zones and challenged a bit more on a day to day level.
As regards the squad; it’s too thin, any muppet can see that and I agree with the general sentiment that Wenger should have strengthened the squad in January.
He protested that the talent wasn’t available and yet it’s obvious we needed another centre back. Woodgate was there for the taking and ended up with the Spuds.
Are you telling me that if Arsenal came a calling that a player of his stature would have opted for a Mickey mouse outfit with about as much chance of Champions League football as Hull City?
A trick well and truly missed given some of the pantomime defending that’s gone on recently in front of Almunia.
Which brings me neatly on to the fans desperation to sign a new keeper. Why?
If anyone can point out a goal that was the Spaniard’s fault this season, then fair dos. But I bet no one can.
He is better than Jens Lehman. OK, I admit to thinking that the German is a prize idiot and others will point to his part in the Invincibles team, but come on any sensible person can see that Almunia is quality.
He exudes confidence, is a good shot stopper and because of his awareness the spectacular save is rarely needed which is perhaps why we don’t appreciate him as much, and with the impressive Fabianski I reckon we are well covered in this particular area.
Gallas, whilst a reasonably solid defender is a disaster in the armband, setting a horrendous example and giving the message to the opposition that Arsenal are easily rattled and can’t handle pressure, ergo the Birmingham fiasco when instead of reassuring Clichy in the wake of his mistake that led to the Blues soft penalty winner, the toys came out of the pram which would have emboldened and watching United or Chavski staff enormously.
Eboue. The guy is a disgrace, and as a writer in the Gooner put it; “If Milan are interested then I’ll drive him to the airport myself!”
Petulant indiscipline and a fuse so short that he makes Mark Dennis look like Lineker, plus a poor scoring record means he has to go in the close season. Whilst Diarra is an egocentric toddler who could do with going on Super Nanny, Wenger had a great deal more to work with here ability wise and I was disappointed he didn’t persevere a bit longer.
Fabregas is a total genius, and whilst he went off the boil along with the rest of the team, you have to consider he is still only 20 and consistency comes with experience.
The Flamster wants off if the esteemed Fourth Estate is to be believed, but I think Wenger should do all he can as the guy is a tough competitor, does it in big games and is versatile. A Must Keep player who brings the best out of Hleb and Fabregas, and whilst we are capable of playing some of the best football in the world, solidity and the ability to defend a lead would come in handy.
And it’s that infuriating inability to make sure goals aren’t conceded when in front that has cost Arsenal dearly this season. Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge have been witness to this Achilles Heel, but the piece de resistance came at Anfield in the wake of Walcott’s wonder run and set up for Adebayor to virtually secure a European Cup semi final we switched off and conceded a penalty in the cruellest of circumstances.
Thus Wenger has to seek out a decent centre half and a mid field enforcer to ensure we can kill games when required and be a bit more street savvy when playing against the cloggers from Lancashire in the guise of Wigan, Blackburn and Bolton.
As for goal scoring Adebayor and Bentner, game as they are won’t return twenty goals between them on a consistent basis, let alone on an individual level and van Persie is always crocked so David Villa looks like a good bet on this front.
There are plenty of positives from this season; the emergence of Sagna as a world class right back, the continued progress of Clichy and Walcott and the biggest surprise that is Alex Hleb as a creative tour de force.
If Wenger is willing to spend some cash, and actually try to win a Cup as a starting point, then next season could be very exciting indeed.