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2010-2011 Arsenal Season Preview

The glaring image of the 2009-2010 season was of a team decimated by injuries limping to a 3rd place finish. It was better than the previous season when Arsenal were clearly out of the title before the season begun. But in 2009-2010 with an endless parade of first-teamers lounging out on the trainer’s table, Arsenal managed to reach above their head and contend for the title until April when the weight of injuries (and some really bad goal keeping) did them in.

Let Me Lead You To the Promised Land

The glaring image of the 2009-2010 season was of a team decimated by injuries limping to a 3rd place finish. It was better than the previous season when Arsenal were clearly out of the title before the season begun. But in 2009-2010 with an endless parade of first-teamers lounging out on the trainer’s table, Arsenal managed to reach above their head and contend for the title until April when the weight of injuries (and some really bad goal keeping) did them in.

So what is in store for 2010-2011? Well, it’s hard to say and it depends on who you ask. As a whole the team doesn’t look much stronger than last season, with the exception of the fact that long-term injuries heading into the start are limited – Ramsey is the real long -termer with Bendtner close behind. Other injuries are niggly or just players not being match-fit.

Obviously the goal is to contend and win silverware this year. The case for the team being too young is over. Many of the players have been blooded and matured. There is some real talent on the team and there are still some glaring holes.  And that is why when it really comes down to it, pegging where the team will finish is hard.

This is an important season for many but without harping on the obivous let’s take a look at our key areas shall we?


Do I need to mention how much of a sore spot this is? In Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski Arsenal have a dynamic duo of colossal blunder proportions. Picking one over the easy isn’t easy because they both come with sever faults. We went into them earlier but just to be sure, Fabianksi makes bone headed mistake after bone headed mistake. After claiming he was good enough to be Arsenal’s number 1 who goes out for the Polish National team and shows why absolutely he shouldn’t even be the number 1 of my son’s U7 team.

Almunia almost seems stomachable with the likes of Fabianski to compare to. But Almunia is no confidence builder either. As much as he says he is number one materials he doesn’t act one. His ability is questionable and while he is good at stopping shots his decision making is absolutely poor and causes too many bad things to happen.

Lying in wait are two goalies of the future Vito Mannone and Woijicech Szczesny. When deputised last season, Mannone showed real verve and steel but was prone to little bouts of showing his inexperience. When I think of Mannone’s role in the future I think of him as Arsenal’s number two. Bsed on all reports and everyone who has watched him play the real deal seems to be our keeper of the Szczseny. He is comfortable for a young guy in taking command and control of the defenders in front of him. HE barks and yells and does everything Almunia and Fabianski don’t do. He is aggresssive on dishing the ball out. Simply put he does seem to have what it takes.

What happens in goal is up in the air. For sure someone is going out on loan. Who that is remains to be seen. But let’s assume everything stays status quo, I suspect that Almunia will start and Szczseny will be the back up playing Carling Cup and possibly FA Cup matches.


Going into last season Arsenal fans were worried about an unknown filling in a starting role at CB for Arsenal. That signing Thomas Vermaelen turned out to be one of the best if not the best off season signing in the EPL. He had presence, learned from game to game, had strength and stell against opponents and had a penchant for scoring. He played pretty much through the entire season until the end when he suffered an injury that kept him out of the last few games of the season. With the loss of Sol Campbell and William Gallas. Vermaelen becomes the central point of the defence.

Who he will be partnered with remains to be seen. Johann Djourou is back from a season long injury but remains and untested commodity. The other defender comes to Arsenal much in the way Vermaelen did, as an absolute unknown and not raising a lot in terms of confidence of Arsenal fans.Laurent Koscielny was one of the best defenders in Lique 1 and had very good points through the pre-season. He did have some low points but that was too be expected. Ideally we would all like a more seasoned and “harder” player in this spot but for now we have to be happy with what we have and I expect Koosh (as I like to call him) to get the nod to partner with Vermaelen.

On the wings we have 4 solid players in Sagna, Eboue, Clichy and Gibbs. Expect Eboue and Sagna to rotate – one for away matches and one for home. Eboue also has the ability to be more of threat onthe attack than Sagna so look for him to start onthe wing where his agility might have an advantage against teams. On the other side is Clichy and Gibbs. If either starts we are solid but Gael Clichy isn’t getting younger and Gibs is a very hungry lad. His display against Hungary for the national team showed that this is a boy going places. He plays well and  is a threat with the ball because of his pace. His crosses still need work and this why I think Clichy will get the nod to start.

While many cried about our defencive weakness our back four last season were second behind Chelsea in allowing the least amount of shots on goal. The problem was those that did get through found the back of the net more times the not because of weak goal tending. Yes, we need some help here but I don’t think this is a woeful unit byt any stretch of the imagination.


Rejoice we are now talking about one of our strengths and with the services of Cesc Fabregas assured for at least another season the unit looks as capable as ever. I still have my issues with Denilson. I honestly don’t think this kid is good enough for Arsenal. Sure he passes well and every know and then that Brazillian ankle of his gets a wonder goal in, but let’s face it, he loses the ball to easioly and when called on to play a more defencive role he just doesn’t cut it. 

Diaby is another one who had fits back and forth last season. But I am not ready to give up on the big guy because I really like how he looked when he was on. He is good turning with the ball is big in the middle and has a tendancy to making some people look absolutely stupid. But on the down side he is apt to taking matches off or making costly boneheaded mistakes (example – the own goal against United last season). 

Samir Nasri who started last season on the injured list, looks like a man on a mission – he looked good through the entire pre-season and reports frmo France say he was pretty good for the national team. When asked about this season he said he wanted to step up and noted that he wasn’t just hungry for success he was starved. If he continues in the form he has been on, and builds on the flashes he showed last season, I think NAsri can build a tandem with Fabregas that could cause teams fits. Both are good players, Fabregas is special, Nasri is just good – damn good. They can play off of each other. I like them as our starting midfielders supported by the Cameronian wonder Alex Song.

Songaldinho surprised everyone last season. I don’t think I remember anyone out there saying they say this kid as the DM the team was so desperately needing. But he was. He was solid throughout and if you didn’t think so, you only needed to  watch both Barca matches to understand how much this team missed him. In the first game against Barca, Song kept Messi in check and limited any chances he had. With Song on the sideline for the second leg and Diaby and Denilson trying to cover Messi, we suffered and Messi ran free. The rest is history. 

The midfield is rounded out by Rosicky, Wilshere and Ramsey and an assortment of first time first team youngsters. Ramsey is out on long term with his ankle injury. If he can mkae a recovery physically and mentally, then the midfield has another special player in the making. HIs future midfield partner is Jack Wilshere who had is first taste of the national team this past week. Wilshere has been on a path to prove he belongs with the team. His spell at Bolton gave him the much needed EPL and first team experience he wanted. Now he is eager to show he belongs. He is getting that chance and I belive he could be instrumental in mounting a sustained run for the FA Cup.

The midfield is strong and in good hands. I expect them to be trouble for teams.


Run through them – Walcott, Arshavin, Van Persie, Bendtner and new boy Chamakh. This is an attackers delight. When interested Arshavin is as skilled with the ball as anyone. If he learns what to do with the ball when he has it, Walcott will slice defencive units appropriately. If he can stay healthy Van Persie could be the next coming of Dennis Begkamp. Nicky B is Nicky B and if he ever realizes to use HALF his talent he might actually be the striker he is in his own mind. New boy Chamakh, definitely looks like he is up for it and gives us the needed presence in the air we didn’t have last year.

I am in now way worried about our ability to put the ball in the net.


Regardless of what you think the talent up front and in the middle is as good as any of the leaders in the EPL. Maybe more so. The question still remains about the back side of the team. Without a true number one keeper I am not confident in winning the EPL title or Champion’s League. It is that simple, Fabianksi and Almunia may net you the Carling Cup or the FA Cup, but they are just too damned accident prone to do win when it counts – in the big games. If Arsenal sign a Mark Schwarzer, or Shay Givens as has been rumoured, the chances of winning the EPL and Champion’s League improve dramatically. Right now they are fair at best.

The talent of the team is going to keep them in the hunt. The lack of movement by every other team except City means that nothing has really changed in the teams around them. If everything stays as it is, I think Arsenal are set to finish 3rd or 4th. Before the kool aid drinkers kill me and ask for Arsenal fan club card – it hurts me to say that –  I want my team to win every year. A lack of improvement in the keeper area though will limit us in the ability to do that.

The Rest of the League:

The fight for number one in the EPL has never been tighter. That seems to be the key phrase this year. I think you have to  view City and Spurs as serious threats but you have to wonder how much. SPurs haven’t added a single player to last years squad. Peter Crouch could be on the way out and their are already mounting injuries at the back. Fat ‘Arry that saviour of English Football believes he is at least 3 players short of being a true contender. Who am I to disagree with a Spur manager on that.

My dislike of City is not unknown to anyone. Again they are the most active team in the transfer market spending money but as everyone else is saying – is it wisely? They have gotten some tremendous players but as Madrid and City showed last year, you could have all the talented players in the world assembled in one place, if they can’t play as a team they will not win a damn thing. Real went out and got ourhino to manage their lot and build a team. Roberto Mancini has yet to impress me that he is capable of doing that at City and it is why I think City may still struggle to ifnd that elusive Champion’s League spot.

Our old nemesis’ United and Chelsea remains as they are – always a threat to win the league. But you have to wonder if cracks aren’t starting to show. United haven’t done much to improve themselves should Rooney go out for long times. Hernandez is a great signing but it remains to be seen what he can do over the long haul of an EPL season. Berbatov is Berba and hasn’t not shown he is worth one penny of the big fee he was signed for. The new guy from Portugal is from a 3rd tier team and you have to wonder about that. Sure United are linked with WC star Mesut Ozil but that hasn’t materialized and I don’t hink United have the funds to pay for him.

Chelsea are letting players go.  Defencive players in particular. And while I tend not to read too much in to the pre-season, their defence has looked worse then ours has. I am telling you right now, the WC showed teams how you should play against John Terry and that is to attack him directly with speed. He is losing his agility and when you do that and spin him around he will give up like he did in SOuth Africa. Still Chelsea have arguably the best striker inthe EPL in Didier Drogba, amd the best left back in the world in Ashley Cole, and Carlo Ancelotti gives them stability in management they haven’t had since Jose resigned. In my pained opinion, until they fall apart and until someone shows otherwise the Chavs have to be considered the favourites to win the league.

So if I were a betting man I think the table could fall out like this for the top 10:

1. Chelsea
2. Arsenal
3. United
4. Man City
5. Liverpool
6. Spurs
7. Everton
8. Birmingham
9. Aston Villa
10. Fulham

Again a lot could change that. The new 25 man rule could really change the make up of teams. There could be really solid players available for many of the lower tier teams and that could push them to marked improvements. Either way, I am looking for another exciting season.

Play On!


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