Arsenal 2011-2012: Season Review Thread

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Post by Mario on Wed May 16, 2012 12:46 am

We can definitely compete for the title next year if we get things right this summer, absolutely. Winning the title is another matter. I don't see how we can win the league against the opposition we're up against. Man City's squad is so powerful and getting over the line this year, with new signings in the summer, will just make them stronger. And Man Utd will be back, they have to be. Even with Glazernomics holding them back they will be smarting badly from being 60 seconds from the title then losing it. Then there's Chelsea and their millions who can always strike back if Roman stops being mental and sacking everyone.

And then there's what we have to get right. As we've already said, we need the signings, we need to keep the side together and we need to fix things on the training field. Look at these numbers and graphs: http://news.arseblog.com/2012/05/arsenal-3-3-norwich-by-the-numbers/ We have been steadily getting worse defensively since 07-08, conceding more goals from fewer shots whilst our attack remains steady. Not really the combination we are looking for and not a combination that wins major trophies.

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Post by Z. Derweesh on Wed May 16, 2012 12:57 am

I appreciate your opinions and the optimism. I just don't think we'll do enough next year to seriously challenge, whoever we sign. I agree with Eyal on his criteria for a successful season, for the most part - just to show we can, to seriously challenge for trophies, to show we're a force. I think winning it is out of our reach, definitely.

And yes, there are other things to be considered beyond players, which is organization and attitude. I don't have the answers, and I wonder if these things can change under Wenger at all. Our goals conceded has been increasing steadily as Mario pointed out (what about goals scored?). Teams seem to know how to contain us and how to score against us, maybe a change in tactics is required. I don't know much about these things, to be honest.

I don't know how much difference Bould will make, I don't know how much influence or effect the assistant manager has. I hope for the best.

I think conceding 10 less goals next season in the league will be a great start. And also about the defence - how about Skrtel? Seems he's itching for a move. He's a good player. One to consider? I'm sure he'd be interested.

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Post by ralph avedikian on Wed May 16, 2012 1:03 am

I don't think Skrtel would want to sit on our bench and be our 4th choice CB where he can play every game at liverpool.

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Post by Z. Derweesh on Wed May 16, 2012 1:08 am

Maybe, but he's good enough to challenge for a starting position I feel. Plus, he seems to already want out of the shambles that is Pool at the moment.

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Post by Sami Rockfeller on Wed May 16, 2012 1:36 am

Z. Derweesh wrote:I have a feeling Walcott might go. It's been very quiet on that front, it's all about RVP's signing. I have a feeling the club are ok with selling Walcott, and either that's what's going to happen or he will cave and sign a new contract, and part of the reason the 2nd scenario is possible is because I just can't think of who would want him/he'd want to go to. Not Man City or Man Utd certainly. Chelsea perhaps, but I think their wings are full - plus he'd be competing with Sturridge. Spurs never. Newcastle? It'd certainly be a step down. I'm sure Liverpool would love to have him, but again it'd be a terrible step down at this point.

Will he go abroad? He'd be a decent replacement for Hazard at Lille, but I doubt Walcott will want to play abroad. He's very concerned about his England place. Has Joe Cole done well in France? Nobody knows, and nobody will know. Unless it's Real or Barca (haha) then I doubt he'd move abroad.

I think he'll stay, but I don't think the club are too bothered about losing him, which is a bit strange.

I don't think Walcott will be a major loss. The club is probably holding out expecting him to sign for the money they are offering rather than what he wants. We have been scouting the likes of Suarez and Belhanda for quite some time now and quite frankly I think both of them are capable of replicating Walcott's form if not better. Besides if he doesn't sign we can always sell him to City for 50 mil. Also don't think Hoillet is the answer to anything, he's just another Walcott.

On other positions in the team, DM is surely a position we have to improve upon. I just read somewhere that Song is one of the most dribbled past player in the league this season, just goes on to show how much effort we're putting into defending. These flaws were not as evident when Arteta was playing because he would clean up all of Song's mess ups but his injury just shows the lack of discipline we have in our midfield.
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Post by ralph avedikian on Wed May 16, 2012 2:44 am

http://www.whoscored.com/Players/10599

Every time Song doesn't play well, we lose.

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Post by ralph avedikian on Wed May 16, 2012 2:47 am


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Post by John Foxall on Wed May 16, 2012 5:27 am

We've had a few players of title-winning quality at any time since we last won the title, albeit maybe not quite enough and not in key positions.

The one thing we've definitely not had is a title-winning spine. Sometimes one signing makes all the difference (i.e. how good and lucky a signing was Sol Campbell - we wouldn't have won in 01/02 without him), I think in our case it's minimum two, perhaps three. Certainly the experience and know-how lacking is not easily found.

In 07/08 having (a younger) Sol Campbell would've won us the title. Unfortunately there are no Sol Campbells on the market. But while some, such as Carvalho, cost a bomb, others such as Kompany are out there. Maybe our defence as it is can improve, but the current strategy just isn't solid enough. That above anything else is the problem.

As for Walcott, I can't ever imagine him being one of the first names on the team sheet. His utility so depends on how the opposition play and what positions other players put him into. It would be a mistake to give him silly wages - he is a player of limited talent. His goal tally is no improvement on last year and many of his assists were simple slide passes across goal, the real difficulty was in the ball through to Walcott, the Xavi-type pass that Fabregas was so good at. Sure he has to make the run but this type of player is not irreplaceable. I certainly haven't lost hope in Gervinho, who can be far more dangerous over 90 minutes and also appears to have a more enthusiastic work-rate.

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Post by Jenks1981 on Wed May 16, 2012 5:34 am

John Foxall wrote:We've had a few players of title-winning quality at any time since we last won the title, albeit maybe not quite enough and not in key positions.

The one thing we've definitely not had is a title-winning spine. Sometimes one signing makes all the difference (i.e. how good and lucky a signing was Sol Campbell - we wouldn't have won in 01/02 without him), I think in our case it's minimum two, perhaps three. Certainly the experience and know-how lacking is not easily found.

In 07/08 having (a younger) Sol Campbell would've won us the title. Unfortunately there are no Sol Campbells on the market. But while some, such as Carvalho, cost a bomb, others such as Kompany are out there. Maybe our defence as it is can improve, but the current strategy just isn't solid enough. That above anything else is the problem.

As for Walcott, I can't ever imagine him being one of the first names on the team sheet. His utility so depends on how the opposition play and what positions other players put him into. It would be a mistake to give him silly wages - he is a player of limited talent. His goal tally is no improvement on last year and many of his assists were simple slide passes across goal, the real difficulty was in the ball through to Walcott, the Xavi-type pass that Fabregas was so good at. Sure he has to make the run but this type of player is not irreplaceable. I certainly haven't lost hope in Gervinho, who can be far more dangerous over 90 minutes and also appears to have a more enthusiastic work-rate.

Your bang on with the spine talk. Hart-Kompany-Toue-Aguerro is an unbelievably good spine, best goalie? best CB? best mid? in the league?

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Post by John Foxall on Wed May 16, 2012 5:48 am

Jenks1981 wrote:Your bang on with the spine talk. Hart-Kompany-Toue-Aguerro is an unbelievably good spine, best goalie? best CB? best mid? in the league?

In a way Mancini was fortunate because there were already two excellent players to help make the spine of the team, they just had to complete the core of the side with the signings of Toure-Silva-Aguero. The rest takes care of itself. Those are the five really special players.

I don't mean to denigrate our CBs but there is something awe-inspiring in a title-challenging side about a tall, commanding CB that clears everything in the air and is a really imposing presence. Mertesacker is certainly tall but he's not a very powerful presence.

I hope that Bartley has a future at the club, from what I've seen he is quite vocal and looks like he actually wants to lead, as well as being... errr.. tall. Maybe I'm being too simplistic.

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Post by Jenks1981 on Wed May 16, 2012 5:50 am

Has he been any good at all for Rangers this season? Has he been playing CB?

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Post by John Foxall on Wed May 16, 2012 5:59 am

No idea really, I only read the loanee reports on arsenal.com

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Post by Vanig Bostanian on Wed May 16, 2012 8:47 pm

http://arseblog.com/2012/05/squad-assessment-part-1/

So the season has ended and we can take stock of where we are and the way we’ve performed. I’ve decided to a player by player analysis of each player and assign them a mark, just like in school. I just need to find a red pen with which to scribble on their report cards.

It’s broken up into two parts (today and tomorrow), and we start at the back with goalkeepers and defenders.

Goalkeepers

Wojciech Szczesny: Established himself as number 1 and the fact that Arsene Wenger chose to play him when injured, and requiring pain-killing injections, says a lot about the faith he’s got in him and the other options he has. Made some mistakes but I think these are necessary for a young keeper and he’ll learn quickly from them. Perhaps needs some competition next season to push him on but overall positive. B-

Lukasz Fabianski: Played just 6 games, didn’t really do anything wrong, but obviously the manager prefers an injured Szczesny to him and that must spell curtains for his Arsenal career. D

Vito Mannone: Made one substitute appearance against Olympiacos in the Champions League and provided one of the comedy moments of the season when trying to scissor-kick a ball he could have picked up. Has had a good loan spell at Hull by all accounts but like Fabianski will probably leave this summer. D

Manuel Almunia: Sat on the bench a couple of times, didn’t play once. It’s over.

Defenders

Bacary Sagna: Mr Consistent but a season blighted by injury. He returned and immediately improved us but seemed to struggle a bit towards the end of the season before that Norwich bloke broke his leg again. All the same a crucial part of our back four, you could see how much more effective Walcott was with him back in the side, so let’s hope he makes a full and quick recovery. B

Carl Jenkinson: Thrown in at the deep end, struggled as you might expect then, when presented with a chance to fill in for Sagna, spent months out with a stress fracture of his back. Has plenty to learn but works hard, crosses the ball well and there are positive signs. C

Per Mertesacker: I like him and I think he brings an organisational quality to our defence which we missed, especially in the final stages of the season. He made a couple of mistakes as he adapted to English football but criticism of his lack of pace misses the point. Others have plenty of that and make errors. I think he’ll be important next season as we try and find proper balance at centre-half, and I think he was a good, steadying influence on a team that was all over the place at the start of the season. C+

Laurent Koscielny: Our second best player this season and makes a lie of those who say Arsene Wenger can’t sign defenders. Quick, committed, stronger than last season, and at times carried the defence. If this improvement continues he’ll be a real force next season. Deserves all the plaudits he gets. A

Thomas Vermaelen: I love his character and spirit, as well as his determination to get goals (6 league goals this season is a great return from a centre-half), but his forays forward have left us exposed at the back. Also guilty of a number of slips/errors for which others would be crucified. Am not fully convinced that he and Koscielny work as well together as they might. Should do better. C

Johan Djourou: Went from being reliable and strong to timid and flaky. Not helped by being asked to play at full back when he’s clearly not a right back, but will surely acknowledge that his performances have not been up to par. Now firmly fourth in the pecking order, he’s got work to do if he wants first team football. D-

Sebastian Squillaci: Started just four games (2 Carling Cup, 1 Fa Cup, 1 dead rubber Champions League game) and looks like a player bereft of any confidence whatsoever. It hasn’t worked out for him and I suspect he’ll be gone in the summer.E

Kieran Gibbs: Again a season affected by injury when he might have really kicked on, but I think there are positive signs. The competition with Santos is interesting and the block against West Brom may well be one of my favourite moments of the season. C

Andre Santos: The cuddly maverick himself. He’s quite something, left back/inside left/free-roaming playmaker. He plays with an enthusiasm that’s great to see and despite a torrid introduction to English football, improved as he adapted. The injury was a shame, but he’s capable of contributing high up the pitch, something we haven’t had from left back for some time. He’s also better defensively than given credit for and has a stabby tackle that’s very much his own. C+

Others (ungraded): Ignasi Miquel played 9 times and acquited himself quite well but you have to think he needs a loan spell next season in order to progress properly. Nico Yennaris had a couple of interesting and encouraging cameos but the same must apply to him too (he actually went to Notts County on loan but only played twice).



So, that’s it for keepers and defence. Tomorrow we can look at the midfield and attacking side of the team.

Other than that there’s very little going on this morning. I have nothing to say about departed players who criticise Arsenal fans for talking about him while he continues to talk about Arsenal. The hypocrisy and classlessness is stark enough for most people to see the true colours there.

And while the Invincibles have rightly been named the best team of the Premier League era, the whole concept of a ‘Premier League era’ is a load of old bollocks. It ignores the fact that football, and great football at that, existed long before Sky and the marketing men got their greedy hands on the game.

“We’ve never seen anything like this”, bleated the pundits after an admittedly exciting end to this season, but frankly anyone who thinks Man City struggling to beat off 10 man relegation fodder at home is more worthy than Arsenal having to beat the reigning Champions by two clear goals at their own ground – and doing so in the final seconds of injury time – is off their rocker.

Till tomorrow.
This one is very related and well done.

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Post by Vanig Bostanian on Thu May 17, 2012 9:31 pm

So, yesterday I looked at the keepers and defence and sent them home to get their report cards signed by their parents otherwise they’d get 100 lines (I must not do that thing I do which makes us concede goals”).

Today it’s time to look at the middle and top end of the pitch and see how they got on. Starting with:
Midfielders

Mikel Arteta: A signing we should have made a couple of seasons ago, in my opinion, but one we had to make last summer. Comparisons with Fabregas were understandable but off the mark. He had more creative freedom at Everton but modified his game with us. He was metronomic in midfield, he made us tick and until West Brom on Sunday we didn’t win a league game without him. Chipped in with some important goals and made himself a crucial part of our midfield from his first game. I think I love him. A

Alex Song: After the Norwich game there was much discussion in the pub about him and I think it was Gunnerblog who nailed it – he’s not a defensive midfielder, he’s just our most defensive midfielder. Some of his passing this season was sublime, the assists for van Persie, the one for Henry against Leeds and others highlighted the creative part of his game and his talent there. But in other areas he frustrates as we’ve discussed in recent weeks. Still, the positives outweighed the negatives but I wish he’d stop trying to cuddle the opposition in the tunnel before games. B

Aaron Ramsey: When Cesc left it was Ramsey to whom the manager turned to fill the very large gap the former skipper left, and I’m not sure it was one of Arsene’s best decisions. His first full season after being Shawcrossed and the pressure on him to perform in a struggling team seemed to weigh him down as the season went on. That said, I saw enough from him to be encouraged for next season. I know he doesn’t convince everyone but I just have a feeling this will be a campaign which will stand him in good stead and I think he’ll be better next year. D

Tomas Rosicky: Looked to be having another average season until something sparked in February and we saw the Rosicky we always thought we were getting. Energetic, sparky and a big, big part of that seven game winning streak. His pressing and non-stop movement played a huge role in those wins and he finally looked like a player who was enjoying his football. Provided one of the quotes of the season with his ‘In football years I’m 29′ and should be a valuable squad member, if not an automatic starter, next season. B-

Yossi Benayoun: It clearly took some time for him to convince the manager that he was right for the team and strangely sat on the bench most of the time when we went through that poor run in January and the cup defeats in Milan and Sunderland. But in big games, particularly against Sp*rs and Man City at home, was picked to do a job and did it well. Enjoyed a fine end to the season, scoring goals which turned out to be very important, and all in all added something to the team. I don’t see us trying to make it permanent, but as loan signings go this was very effective. B-

Francis Coquelin: Mr Versatile. Not out of choice but because he had to be. Right back, left back, midfield, he did it, and I think showed that he’s got a bright future ahead of him if he continues to work hard. Notable that it was 3-1 at Old Trafford when Arsene pulled our Coq off and we all know what happened after that. Encouraging. C+

Emmanuel Frimpong: I was going to say he didn’t play enough for us to get a mark but checked and he made 14 appearances before going on loan to Wolves where he picked up another serious knee injury. There’s something about him, for sure, which may have more to do with his character than his footballing ability, but it’s up to him to prove it’s the other way around. You don’t want to curb somebody’s natural enthusiasm for the game (and it’s clear he loves the club and thinks like a fan which endears him to many, me included), but you suspect somebody needs to have a word to ensure his focus remains fully on his footballing career. Everything else should wait until afterwards. D

Abou Diaby: Definitely didn’t play enough to warrant a mark for his performances, but ignoring him for that seems a bit silly. I have huge sympathy for him because of his injuries. His ankle is in very bad shape and doesn’t seem to be improving despite countless rests and surgeries. We may have to make a difficult decision this summer, especially in the era of the 25 man squad rule, and whatever you might say about a player picking up £X thousand a week, it’s sad to see one of our players kicked and fouled to the point where he can barely play a few minutes of football in an entire season. But that should be the basis on which his future is decided, not sympathy.
Forwards:

Robin van Persie: What more can you say? His goalscoring record was phenomenal and he did it game after game after game. Deservedly the winner of all the individual awards on offer this season, yet he’ll be only too aware – like us – that this is a team game and his team were nowhere near winning anything. Finishing third gives us a good platform to keep him and keep him we must. Whatever he wants, give it to him. A+

Theo Walcott: Provider of the other quote of the season where he talked about having consistency ‘in patches’. There’s no doubt he’s got a connection with Robin and on his day is exciting, direct and effective. Which is what makes the other days, when he’s quite the opposite, so frustrating. His stats look good, but our eyes tell us he can do better. The posturing over a new contract seems a little off to me as well, but I guess that’s the nature of the modern game. Like others, can and should do better. C

Gervinho: One of the big summer signing and he started quite brightly, scoring some goals, making some important assists (the one for van Persie in Udinese for example), but as the season went on his effectiveness dwindled and he looked more and more lightweight. Went away for the African Cup of African Nations In Africa and came back like he’d had malaria with a side order of Ebola on top. Still has a lot to prove, in my opinion, and was ultimately a disappointment. D-

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: The other big summer signing showed exactly why Arsene paid all that money for him but also why he eased him into the team. He’s got so much to learn about the game and you can’t help but love the way he plays, the way he’ll shoot from distance, take people on and so forth. I think frustration with other players saw people demand more from him than he was able to give at this early stage of his career and I’m not sure it was helpful. However, he’s going away with England for the Euros and can only benefit from that (once he stays away from John Terry). C+

Marouane Chamakh and Ju Young Park: If the injury many of us feared had robbed us of Robin van Persie for a few weeks or months, I shudder to think where this season would have ended up. Both of them look utterly pointless as Arsenal players and I just cannot see a future for either of them. Chamakh’s career started so well but since Robin started scoring has responded to that challenge by almost giving up, while the whole Park situation will surely go down as one of our most bizarre transfer deals of all time. Time to say goodbye to both. F

Andrei Arshavin: I have to say I questioned the loan deal to Zenit at the time, simply because it was unprecedented to lose a ‘name’ player at that stage of the season (we had just lost at San Siro and the Stadium of Light). But sadly all Arshavin was at that stage was a name. The mercurial talent was long lost beneath a pudgy belly and an unwillingness to work for the team. He should have been a star, he ended up a black hole from which nothing good could escape. E

Thierry Henry: I don’t want to grade Thierry because what he did and what happened is just something we should enjoy without analysis. Shame the idiots at the Dubious Goals Committee took the Blackburn goal away from him, but it was a cameo to be savoured, not rated.



And that’s about that then. Overall I think there are plenty of encouraging signs and things we can be positive about, without ignoring certain areas of the team should definitely be improved this summer. We can see that efforts are already being made, bringing in Podolski already gives us a better option that Chamakh, Park and Gervinho but if we really want to challenge next season we have to do more.

It means plenty of work this summer for Arsene, Ivan and Dick Law and Order, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks. Over to you chaps.

And I’ll be back tomorrow with an Arsecast of some kind. Till then.
http://arseblog.com/2012/05/squad-assessment-part-2/

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