Arsenal Season Preview: Chelsea, Man United, Man City Beware!
The Last 72 Days
Hey, hey guys. Well I´m back from a long summer of football.
I went to the World Cup, played a bunch with mates either on the sandy beaches or fine green grass of Valencia, España, watched Arsenal win the Emirates Cup for the third time in four years (which is turning out to be quite the little preseason tournament with Lyon, Milan, Juventus, and Real Madrid all having come along to strut their stuff in recent years), and I´ve suffered through two months and change of tabloidiarrhea hoping for Arsenal Wenger to sign Frey, Schwartzer, Buffon, Friedel, Hart, Given, Lloris, Diege Lopez, and that's just between the posts!
It was certainly not the most barren year for summer football with the World Cup keeping everyone's attention for the most part. While I must say that being in Spain when they won the World Cup was a fantastic experience, and it was certainly nice to get away from the vuvuzelas which I had to suffer through during my time in South Africa, I was sad for Holland, and in retrospect I think the Germans played the best stuff and were the most deserving of the gold.
Interesting to note that Spain, a team who are renowned for their attacking brand of short passing football (sound familiar?), won the tournament with fewer goals scored than any other previous champion.
Anyway we were all pleased for Cesc and the rest of his Spanish team until Peehole and Pukey (Piyol and Puque, Puyol and Pique... never mind) pulled a Barsehole-ona top over our Captain's head and we had to listen to two months of garble and trash talk regarding our young Catalan captain and his Barcelona DNA, or whatever they were on about.
It was a truly boring experience, and I'm glad I took a fifth of the year off to give the blogging a rest because I would have grown extremely tired of listening to (Insert Name here) from Barcelona talking up Cesc and his Barcelona/Catalan/Spanish roots in order to play with the team that is Mes que un Club.
I do not envy my fellow bloggers but thank you Jamrock Rover, LadyArse, Arseblog, Goodplaya, Goonerholic, and others for keeping things interesting and spicy in a summer largely filled with Cesc Propoganda!
The Run Down
So what have we seen happen then since my last blog post?
Well rather than give you a day by day account of things, which would really defeat the purpose of having taken 72 days of blogging off, I will just list off the top 10 most important things that have happened and attempt to do so in semi-chronological order.
1) Marouane Chamakh signed on a free transfer form Bordeaux in Frenchland.
2) Theo Walcott missed out on a World Cup place.
3) Alexandre Song's Cameroon became the first team knocked out of the World Cup.
4) Bendter's Denmark got knocked out by Japan.
5) Carlos Vela's Mexico got done by a dirty offside goal which swung the game in favour of the Argentines...TECHNOLOGY IN FOOTBALL PLEASE.
6) Cesc Fabregas met Robin van Persie in the final of the World Cup. Arjen Robben had the chance of the match but failed to win it for the Dutch. Cesc put Casper the Friendly Ghost through on goal in extra-time and Whitey finished with aplomb. Sorry RVP, Hurray Cesc.
7) Emmanuel Frimpong, JET, and Jack Wilshire (again) were uncovered, dusted off, polished, and unveiled as new gems from the Arsenal academy with a string of promising preseason performances.
8) Nasri having missed out on a World Cup performance showed that he is hungry and looks a new player leading up to the 10/11 season.
9) Laurent Frogski signed from Lorient and while he looks decent he hasn't played against top opposition and looks awfully skinny. Djourou for me please.
10) Lots of Arsenal players got injured. SURPRISE SURPRISE.
Following on from that last point, and blending it with point seven, we go into the first game of the season away to Liverpool at Anfield (yikes!) with the distinct possibility of fielding Jack Attack and/or Emmauel Not-Eboue in the centre of the park against Liverpool, who will be very hungry after a season of poo-filled crap performances in the year just gone.
Denilson, Diaby, and Song, whom are often referred to in the same breath are all out injured, which really demonstrates our weakness at the DM position.
Bendtner is out until October, which is a real kick in the teeth for him because I'm sure he was hoping to kick on from the fantastic finish to the season in which he really solidified the Centre Forward role with some crucial goals in the run-in.
Ramsey is still out, and will be for quite some time.
And Almunia...well unfortunately he's not injured. I hope Fabianksi can string two good games together and gets over his jitters, because while we should not have a great deal of confidence in him just yet, I am of the opinion that he could be a good goalkeeper whereas Almunia isn't going to get better. He's shown us everything he's made off whereas I think Fabianski has got a bit more to him; I just think he needs a run in the team and a little boost of confidence.
Ins and Outs
We've brought two lads in from Ligue Un. SURPRISE SURPRISE AGAIN. I would love to have some stats about what percentage of Wenger's signing have either come from France or had French nationality.
Kolsicienly or something, and Chamakh. I'm excited about Chamakh, my personal jury is still out on the Polench dude.
Leaving the Club were three pensioners, Gallas, Campbell, and Silvestre.
Gallas was never my favorite Arsenal player, but there is no denying that he was a quality centre half who chipped in with some important goals during his time with the Club. I think three things soured his Arsenal career: The fact that he came from Chelsea in the Cole deal which we obviously lost out on big time, his pairing with Kolo Toure (too similar), and his captaincy.
He is simply not Captain material, and we saw last year and the second half of 2008/2009 that his form greatly improved when he didn't carry the burden of looking after other members of the team and just got on with his football.
Campbell made some nice cameo appearances for us last season and he used to be my favorite player when I first started PROPERLY supporting Arsenal, so the whole romantic nature of the situation was certainly amplified for me. It would have been nice to have him around, but I don't think we were going to pay him the wages he wanted or give him any more playing time than we gave Silvestre during his time with the club.
Silvestre...well if anyone has his name on their top they are idiotic. That's all I have to say about that.
Then we saw Eduardo leave. I think Martin Taylor really robbed us of a fantastic player there. Since that injury he never was the same physically, and I think since the Celtic incident he was never the same mentally. That miss against Spurs last year or two years ago really summed it up. One on one with the keeper and he tries to curl it around him, missing horribly. It was a sad demise to the Arsenal career of the Samba Croat. I liked him a lot. I liked him a lot when he and Adebayor formed a lethal partnership in early 2009. Sad stuff really.
Some youngsters have gone out on loan and Simpson is going to go somewhere, but nothing that is going to affect out title challenge. Which brings me to...
Our Title Challenge
We finished 11 behind last year, having playing a third of the season with no striker and a ton of games without Cesc or RVP. I don't think we had the chance to field our strongest 11 once last season and whilst we haven't addressed some of the biggest flaws in the squad—our leaky defense and mental goalkeeper being the two biggest concerns—we still were within a shout until the Barcelona match last season, so there isn't a HUGE amount of work which needs to be done to make up the ground.
Chelsea are a year older and haven't made any inspiring signings; in fact they have cut down the size of their squad too and have some injury problems. They too look a big shaky at the back; looks like Terry and Ivanovic will be together in the middle with the latter having hardly played there and the former not having the greatest season in 2009/2010. However, Chelsea are Chelsea and I'm sure they'll be alright.
Man Utd look to have made a brilliant signing in J. Hernandez. He's got Michael Owen written all over him, and the original Michael Owen will struggle to get into the team as a result. Then Nani, Ji-Sung, and Valencia will kick on and you've got the makings of a title contender. They are my favorites to take it this year; let's just hope their central midfield continues to suck, and Giggsy and Scholesy's legs finally give out on them.
Man City have spent 100,000,000,000 Euro and bought all the defensive midfielders in the world. They have some great players but they probably are a little light up front to make a real challenge at the league. I reckon they'll finish fourth. They will sack Mancini and next season will be when they REALLY start kicking on with Pep Guardiola at the helm. He's got Man City DNA don't you know?!
Spurs...pfff...Good luck against Braga.
Alright that's it for now folks; I've gotta head back to work. It's been real. I hope you'll comment, subscribe, add me as a friend on Facebook, and stalk me on Twitter. Look to the right to do it up!
I missed you guys,
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