A Realistic PrevIew of Arsenal's Season and Transfers
With the transfer window quickly coming to a close, it seems Arsenal have had a somewhat fruitless "close season" in what promised to bring in a host of new faces.
Arsenal have already concluded two of their preseason games and the season is only a few weeks away.
It seems proper to take a look at each individual player poised to play in the first team this coming season, and if they should be sold, loaned, etc., before the window closes this summer. (Note: Ratings are based off current and past performances, not off potential.)
If last season didn't say enough about his future, then the fact that he has yet to play a minute in Arsenal's preseason games does. He is 33 now, and how he is still on a club like Arsenal just blows my mind.
Wenger has claimed that he was weak nerves caused many of mistakes, either way it is time he makes for any other keeper Arsenal can find.
Rating: 2/10 Verdict: Sell, release, kill him for all I care, just get him off the team.
Constantly receives praise from Wenger, but the Arsenal fans are yet to see anything to believe he is the future No. 1 at this club.
I personally have never rated Fabianski very highly, and the Porto game last year gave me nightmares for a week.
He is still only 24, and keepers tend bloom later in their career. Although I'd like to let him stick around for a while, with two keepers behind him that are both younger and showing more potential, the door is open for any offers.
Rating: 4/10 Verdict: A loan would be ideal to another PL club, but if the right offer comes in, definitely sell him.
Showing glimpses of why he is on a club like Arsenal, but maybe it's just me, but every keeper Arsenal played last season looked shaky in two areas: crosses and holding on to shots.
He is 22 or 23, and if he can put together more performances like he did against Fulham, I can't wait to see him week in and week out.
His future solely depends on what happens to Almunia and Fabianski.
Rating: 5/10 Verdict: A loan should give him a wealth of experience, unless both Fabianski and Almunia leave, then keep for FA Cup games, etc.
Had a wonderful loan spell with Brentford last season, and recently rejected the idea of going on loan yet again this season despite only still being 20 years of age.
He has been touted by Wenger himself to become the future No. 1 at Arsenal, and he plans to fight for that place this summer.
He is definitely one for the future, but I would be surprised if he played more than the Carling Cup this season.
Rating: 5.5/10 Verdict: Since he rejected the idea of a loan this year, he will fight for a spot on the first team, even if it's the bench.
An underrated and solid right back that has constantly had a place in the side since his arrival in 2007.
Last season gave him a reality check when Emmanuel Eboue displaced him from the side for a few games, but he ended the season with a few good performances.
His crossing used to be horrid, but it was drastically improved last season.
He plays with an attack style, but is also an extremely solid defender (he is one of the best slide tacklers I've ever seen). Any thoughts him of leaving is blasphemy.
Rating: 7/10 Verdict: Keep, Keep, Keep!
Can play both right back and the right midfield. Although he often played midfield last year, he drifted in and out of games, seemingly getting lost on the pitch at times.
It's obvious he is more at home in the back, yet he surprisingly does offer a goal scoring touch at times when in attack.
That fateful day at Wigan seems far in the past now. He is said to be one of the most popular players on the team.
His close control and overlapping runs make him a perfect utility man for the Arsenal squad.
Rating: 6/10 Verdict: Keep, unless an unrealistic offer comes in for him.
Much of an unknown quantity when he arrived at Arsenal early this month. He is known for his positioning and quickness off the ball. He has had a drastic rise in the footballing world in the past few years.
After an impressive first season with Lorient in the French League, who only played a mere £1.7 million for his services, he arrives at Arsenal for a fee of around £10 million.
He will have high expectations after Thomas Vermaelen arrived for a similar fee last season and was hugely impressive.
After watching him play in the first two Arsenal preseason games, he clearly needs to bulk up for the English game (it doesn't help that Vermaelen was next to him, either).
It will take him time to adapt, and by time I mean more than it took Vermaelen last season. I wouldn't be surprised if he is NOT starting come the Liverpool game.
Rating: 6/10 Verdict: N/A
After tearing a ligament in his knee, he missed virtually all of last season. How he recovers will play a huge role in if Wenger looks to add another defensive signing before the window closes.
He seems stronger and a tad more built from the last time he played, which could lead to him starting at the beginning of this season.
However, he is not the answer to our defensive errors, and still needs much more time to mature, or be risk being sold.
Rating: 6/10 Verdict: Keep, at worst he is defensive cover in case of injury.
Signed last January to add numbers to Arsenal's thin defensive line. He ended up playing a much more prominent role for Arsenal as the season wore on.
Still at 35 years of age, Sol was able to play at an extremely high level and was rarely caught out of place on the pitch, a task teammate Mikel Silvestre found very hard to accomplish.
He is as solid as a rock, the typical defender build you wish everyone had on Arsenal.
Rating: 7/10 Verdict: Even at 35, he adds quality to the team for a fraction of the price. Renew his contract as soon as possible!
Easily one of Arsenal's top performers last season. He arrived from Ajax similar to Koscielny this season, with very little known about him, and an unknown expectation.
He instantly became a fan favorite scoring a host of goals early on in the season. In fact, a few of goals even Robin van Persie would be proud of.
Although he isn't the tallest of the defenders, he rarely gets out-leaped for headers, and he is built like a stone wall.
He has great composure and...hell, I really find it hard to point out a glaring weakness in his game. One can only hope he gets a fellow center back partner as good as he is!
Rating: 9/10 Verdict: However long his "long-term contract" was when he signed with the club last season, it should be longer.
Played more last season simply due to injuries to both Clichy and Gibbs.
He is a far third in the pecking order to play left back at Arsenal, and with the rapid improvement of Thomas Cruise, he could move to fourth.
He plays a very attacking style and has loads of pace. However, he gets caught out of position far too often.
He might as well shift to a wing player with his style of play. He is by no means bad, but the quality of Clichy and Gibbs makes it seem so.
He will find it hard to get quality minutes this season if everyone else remains fully fit.
Rating: 5/10 Verdict: Loan or Sell
Had high expectations last season, but was the victim of a dreadful tackle vs Standard Liege which ruined much of his season. He looks poised to challenge Clichy for a lot of playing time this year.
He has been touted to also earn his first England cap in the near future. Blessed with pace, position, and vision he has also been a goal scoring threat for the U-21 England team.
Rating: 6.5/10 Verdict: Keep, we do need SOME English players!
Was injured for parts of last year which restricted him from really finding any form until late in the season.
His pace is second to none, scratch that, second to only Walcott, and he is a constant attack threat on the left side of the pitch.
He has been linked with moves to Real Madrid, Barcelona, as well as other European giants, but his future looks to be with Arsenal.
Rating: 7.5/10 Verdict: Keep, unless a bid of £20 mill or more comes in
Claims to play the defensive midfield position, but he truly lacks the grit and determination to play such position. A once highly-rated prospect, has seemed to lost the flare that comes with being born in Brazil.
He constantly drifts in and out of games, yet he manages to take a constant place in the starting XI.
He scores spectacular goals, although that maybe be once every 15 games. He needs to bulk up to play the defensive position, and develop some positional awareness skills!
OR Arsene Wenger can change his position and let him roar up the pitch a bit more. He plays too reserved during important matches to ever make an impact.
Rating: 5.5/10 Verdict: He is young, only in the early 20s, but if the right offer comes in, and we can buy an improved replacement, adios Denilson.
Once a victim of a horrific challenge against Sunderland a few years back (you know, the one before Ramsey, before Eduardo), he now seems to be fully over the injury.
He is constantly compared to Patrick Viera, however he has yet to fill that expectation. Diaby roams the midfield; most of the time I can't tell if he is playing defensive role, or alongside Fabregas!
Similar to Denilson, he shows only glimpses of potential, and frustrates fans more than he pleases them.
Rating: 6/10 Verdict: Sell if the right offer comes in, and we can find a replacement
Claimed by some Arsenal fans to be Fabregas's replacement when he moves off to Barcelona, however a freak tackle by Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City broke his leg and how he recovers is still to be seen.
He is still progressing on his road to recovery, however, there has still been no time frame for his recovery and how much he will play this season is unknown.
However, from what we saw last season, he looks mature beyond his years, and well worth that £5 million we bought him for.
Rating: 6.5/10 Verdict: Keep please
As selfish as it is, I can't be happier both Nasri and Walcott didn't go to the World Cup. France's awful World Cup campaign would have done nothing to help Nasri improve for this season.
Nasri is poised to have a huge season, using his World Cup snub as fuel to catch fire this season. His close control and touch allow him to play either wing position or even behind strikers.
He has looked deadly so far in the preseason, scoring 3 goals in two games (including a peach of a free kick).
Rating: 7.5/10 Verdict: KEEP!
Where to begin describing this kids future. Seemingly everyone has compliment his playing style, and finally everyone else can shut up that we don't have any good English talent.
At only 18, he is still clearly making a case for playing time with the first team. His vision, is eerily similar to another Arsenal player, Cesc Fabregas.
But don't assume I can saying that are similar players, because they aren't. Wilshere is faster than Fabregas, and attacks the defense much more. One can only hope all this pressure on him isn't too much to handle; he is 18 after all.
Rating: 7/10 Verdict: Keep, unless a solid loan offer comes up (other than Bolton)
Again maybe selfish, but getting cut from the World Cup squad should serve as a reality check to the man once deemed England's future.
His pace is ridiculous. When he gets going, it's as if he got shot out of a gun. However the problem has never been getting to the ball, or even his touch afterwords. It has been the end product. Maybe 1 out of 4 crosses will reach a player (even if they aren't on Arsenal), and he has missed his fair share of clear cut goal scoring chances.
All Arsenal fans are hoping that this off-season served as a crossing and finishing camp for Walcott.
He is still only 21, and has all the tools to do well, it's just a matter of putting them together. I mean, even Messi said Walcott was an amazing talent!
Rating: 6.5/10 Verdict: You're not selling a player with this type of pace
The Russian is known for scoring clutch goals against big competition and his deft touches around the box.
His dedication and worth ethic have sometimes been questioned during the past year, as he was often times caught walking back after making runs forward.
He looks to improve off of a decent season last year, by taking his game to a new level.
In the preseason, he seemed to doing a lot more on the pitch than last season, being a more selfless player and setting up players more often.
Rating: 8/10 Verdict: Every winning team needs a Russian (right?)
Last season was a breakout season for Song, who has become a vital part of Arsenal's starting XI. His strength and tackling have improved ten-fold form previous years.
It was clear that Arsenal needed a replacement for him in case of injury, when he went down towards the end of last year, and since then Wenger has been on the look out for someone to help fill the "Song Role" in the side.
This season looks to be a continuation from last year for song, maybe even better if Arsenal can find another defensive midfielder to partner him in the center of the park.
Rating: 8.5/10 Verdict: KEEP, I mean, unless a big offer of like £30 million comes in.
Had a stop and start season last year with nagging injuries. When fully fit, he adds a good touch, and vision on the pitch, however he is rarely fully hit.
Another player who had a serious injury and never truly has recovered from it, similar to Eduardo.
If Rosicky's injury worries are behind him, then his future lies with Arsenal, but if the first half of this year is stop and go again, January could see him go back to Germany.
Rating: 6/10 Verdict: If Arsenal are in the market for another midfielder, the he should be sold to make room, however, he is said to be Cesc Fabregas's best friend on the team....so.
Really, it's hard to get started on this topic without stopping. Honestly speaking, Fabregas is going, maybe now this summer, but surely sometime.
And the fact of the matter is, who really wants to deal with another summer of speculation like this one? Arsenal need to hold out for his true evaluation of between £50 million and £60 million, and then let him go.
Arsenal need to move on eventually, and although it was much earlier than we all expected, it's clear Wenger needs to starting hunting for a replacement, maybe not for today, but clearly for tomorrow (Mesut Ozil anyone?).
The man had a fantastic season, scoring 15 goals in less than 30 appearances in the league says it all.
His season ended early with leg injury suffered ironically against Barcelona. His vision, his touch, his finishing are everything you could dream a player would have, and not to mention at the age of 23! Too bad Barcelona are a bunch of wankers!
Rating: 12/10 (yes, a 12) Verdict: Hold out for a year, so we can look to find some replacements, and maybe get you one trophy for old times sake. I wish we could keep him longer, but you know...that whole Barcelona thing.
The young Mexican is in desperate need to excel at Arsenal. Having done well at the international level, Arsenal Fans have yet to see a solid run of even decent games by Vela.
He is beginning to attract interest from other clubs because of his lack of playing time at Arsenal, however having now claimed the No. 11 jersey this season, it is clear he is still in Arsene Wenger's plans. Time to step up, or get kicked out.
Rating: 5.5/10 Verdict: This is a make or break season Vela, if he doesn't get a lot of playing time, he will want out.
The Dane got ample playing time last season due to various injuries. Despite taking a lot of criticism for his finishing last season, he did score multiple goals, and a few clutch ones (Hull City, Wolves).
His height added another dimension for the team. His first touch is simply dreadful, and despite his poor finishing (Burnley), he still adds a lot to this team. Plus, he can still play on the wing, even if he plays a bit, well, awkward out there.
However, should Arsenal bring in another striker, say Lory Remic, he might find a whole lot harder. Especially since Walcott claims his future is at striker as well.
Rating: 6.5/10 Verdict: Keep, he was the only one fit when we needed a striker last time, so who knows. If a nice bid comes in, it should be seriously considering, however.
He arrives with a much expectation to score goals, which sometimes Arsenal have lacked from their strikers. He is known for being very good in the air, and should add a good compliment to RVP up top.
He plays very well with his back to the goal, and knows how to bring other players into the game, something that suits Arsenal very well (and something Bendtner cannot do).
He seems to fit the system very well, but he just simply isn't a huge goal scoring threat, but should rack up assists.
Rating: 7/10 Verdict: N/A
It is so hard to rate van Persie because he hasn't finished a whole season. Wenger said he could be mentioned in the same breathe as Messi if he says fit, well, I think I can speak for everyone when I say, I hope so.
You name it, RVP has injured it: ankles, quads, hamstring, calf, knee, he done it all. However, the time he has played for Arsenal over the seasons, he has produced some of their best goals.
He is blessed with a wicked left food, and a great touch. He can turn almost any defender and punish keepers. He said he wants to score 30 goals and have 20 assists this year, I will hold him to that then.
Rating: 8.5/10 Verdict: Keep, he is by far and away our best striker, he just needs a supporting cast for when he is unfit.
Young Guns: (Ratings based off preseason games and last season)
The only young players I can see factoring into the first time this season are:
Looks like a powerful forward, and has good pace. However makes silly passes far too often. Should get a shot in a few games, if not gone out on loan. Rating: 7/10
Played a few games last year, and looks to have improved a bit. Needs to bulk up. Rating: 6/10
Might be one of the most improved players this off-season. Plays like Song, but with more of an engine, chasing the ball all over the pitch, hassling players, and always getting stuck in.
Clearly will fit into the team, but more so next season than this one. Rating 7.5/10
Nordtveit- After a third successive loan spell, he returns to the Red and White to challenge for first team time with such few numbers at center back.
He looks vastly improved form his loan spell, although they deployed him at center mid while on loan for a bit.
He is composed on the ball, and good in the air. He needs to convince Wenger not to buy another center back to ensure first team in the future. Rating: 6/10
Lansbury- Has grown several inches since last season, and bulked up a bit. Scored a composed finish in their preseason game. Should play Carling Cup, maybe a few PL games if injuries let him in. Rating: 5.5/10
Simpson- His agent claims he is in the shop window now, awaiting offers. He scored a brace in their opening preseason game, which may have convinced Wenger to keep him around for one more year after a good loan spell with QPR last season. Rating: 6/10
Transfers: So after going through the team here is who most likely will be or has already been sold this summer:
Out: Eduardo, Gallas, Silvestre, Rosicky, Almunia and Denilson
Loan: Mannone, Emmanuel-Thomas, Frimpong
With that here is who needs to come in to challenge for honors this season:
Keeper: Anyone, seriously...anyone but Almunia or Fabianski
Defense: Phil Jagielka or Per Mertesacker
Midfield: A defensive midfielder, but we haven't even been linked with any recently, which is depressing.
Mesut Ozil, I am ashamed Wenger has waited this long and still hasn't even put a bit in for the German star.
He has all the tools needed to play at Arsenal, and I would be largely disappointed if Wenger lets him and go to another club. Especially if Fab leaves as well. He is worth every pound you spend on him.
Striker: Connor Wickham, if we can get him, otherwise none, unless someone special becomes available.
Prediction: With the current squad right now, we are poised to challenge for second place at best. I would expect the exact same as this year, third place, with a gab between the top two and Arsenal.
However, if we sign a new goalie, and one defender even, it could go a long way to closing that gab, and giving us new blood could bring more fight for the title. Either way, we need at least two more new faces to compete for the title.
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