Saturday, 10 March 2012

Arsenal Look To The Future

Arsenal's recent revival has got Arsenal fans very excited about their chances of not only a top four finish, but possibly even a top three finish. It may not sound like an overly successful season for Arsenal to finish in the top three, but given where the club were at the end of August it's something most fans would settle for.

When Arsenal were demolished 8-2 by Manchester United in late August and proceeded to snap up any player they could on deadline day things looked foreboding. Arsenal had the whole summer to bring in players to strengthen their squad, but they only got involved at the last minute. There was one piece of business completed a lot earlier though, and it could prove to be the best piece of business by Arsene Wenger in a  long time.

When he signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain early in August he spent a lot of money on a player with real talent and who looked likely to be a star of the future. Wenger has slowly introduced Chamberlain to the Arsenal team, and the young man has not disappointed so far. He has mainly been used in a wide role, but it looks like he might be earmarked for a central midfield role in the long term.

He showed great energy, maturity and dynamism when he played in a central role in Arsenal's 3-0 win against AC Milan on Tuesday night. Not only can he take players on and beat them, but he has incredible body strength for an 18 year old. His decision making is top class for such a young man too, and the future looks very bright for him in an Arsenal shirt.

Arsenal have yet again had severe injury problems this season, and Jack Wilshere has not kicked a ball for them so far. The thought of Wilshere and Chamberlain playing alongside each other in the Arsenal midfield for years to come is one that warms the hearts of Arsenal fans. I am sure that both players will go on to star for Arsenal and England for years to come.

If Arsenal are to get the very best out of both of those players it's vital for them that they sign players of real quality to play with them. They also need to make those acquisitions to convince Robin van Persie to stay at the club after this summer. He has only one year left on his contract and the best way to convince him to stay is for Arsenal to make a statement in the transfer market.

It looks like the message has finally got through, and Arsenal are attempting to set up the deals they need before this season ends. If the rumours are to be believed Lukas Podolski will join them from Cologne this summer, and he's exactly the type of player that is needed. He is a top class striker who can play anywhere across the front of Arsenal's attack.

His capture will hopefully be the first of a few high profile signings this summer for Arsenal, as they look to invest their profits in team rebuilding. He has played over 90 games for the German national side, and scored 43 goals in the process. He has also got an impressive scoring record so far this season for Cologne.

For Arsenal to continue to rebuild their team they will have to offload a few players this summer. Despite Arsenal not being able to compete with the wages paid by mega-rich Manchester City and Chelsea they still pay some of their average players far too much. If they can manage to offload a few of the players who have flattered to deceive over the last few years it will be a great boost for the club.

The problem would seem to be that other club's will not match the wages Arsenal play those players. Some of them are out on loan at the moment, but they might have to return to Arsenal this summer. Hopefully Arsenal can offload those players as soon as the transfer window opens, and make way for the influx of genuine talent.

Wenger has been accused of being over reliant on his youth project, but the possible capture of Podolski is further evidence that he is prepared to invest in experience. He signed Andre Santos, Mikael Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Park Ju Young last summer, as well as taking Yossi Benayoun on loan. Those players have loads of experience between them, and they're welcome additions to the squad.

The Arsenal defence has had it's fair share of criticism this season, but it has never had a chance to play as a settled unit. In the last few games Arsenal have managed to keep an unchanged defence, and it has been an important factor in their rejuvination. The inclusion of real full-backs in the team has also helped Arsenal to attack much better s a team.

I've never been overly sure of Kieran Gibbs ability to defend, but he certainly adds a lot to the team going forward. On the other side Bacary Sagna is still probably the best right-back in the Premier League. It's no coincidence that Arsenal are a more efficient attacking unit with two full-backs to plat at full-back instead of central defenders.

The team have an opportunity to continue their current streak of four Premier League wins in a row against Newcastle on Monday night. If they can approach that game and the rest of their season as they have approached their last three games I think they will finish third. It's something I would have settled for when the transfer window closed at the end of August.

There is always next season for football fans of any club, but I genuinely have a good feeling about Arsenal's chances next season. As long as RVP is convinced to stay at the club, and the money that is available is invested I think Arsenal can bring their game to the next level. They have shown recently that they are still capable of beating almost any team, and a stronger squad would only improve that.

If the players can carry the current attitude and commitment into next season there is no doubt that they can end their current trophy drought. It would be a huge bonus for the club if they could finally solve their continuing injury problems as well. Imagine the current Arsenal squad with three top class addition, and a season of few injuries too.

Those injuries can be reduced by having genuine options in the squad for Arsenal, and using them at the right times too. There are very few top class teams  who have a recognised starting 11, and Arsenal need to ensure players can be rested when it's needed. There's a lot of "ifs" in there, but I cannot deny that I'm looking forward to Arsenal's final 11 games this season and what happens afterwards.

Hopefully it's time for the cream to rise to the top again, and for Arsenal to yet again dominate English football.

That's it for today.

Here's a look at how Chamberlain played against Milan on Tuesday night.

See you tomorrow


  1. I think from the word go this season I felt that Champions League qualification is what this season was going to boil down to. Unlike previous years, the way the summer went and what happened last season just left us in a situation where this was always going to be a tough year. We're in a good position at the moment, but as Spurs have seen recently, these things can change quickly.

    1. I left my season preview until the transfer window closed and I more or less said that the season was almost a write off in terms of actually competing. A domestic cup win & third in the league was the height of our ambitions and with the cups gone third is all that's left. It's not pleasant to write off a season but if it helps to build for the future and clear out the deadwood I can take it.