Monday, May 16, 2011

Arsenal FC: Ramsey, Wilshere and 10 Positives from the Gunners' Season

Arsenal supporters were deflated after yet another disappointing home defeat by Aston Villa and signaled the end of a disappointing season, which started with much optimism. It has been frustrating for every supporter who have been tormented by their side's inability to win the elusive trophy and this season, they capitulated meekly after the defeat in the final of the Carling Cup.

Arsene Wenger looked a forlorn figure on the touchline and has looked like a soldier defeated in the battlefield in the last few weeks. Despite all the supporters' various criticisms of the side, one must understand that he is an intelligent managers and though he will not admit his side's inability in public, he will be doing his best to sort out those aspects in the summer.

He has been frugal in recent years but there are indications that he will try his best to strengthen his squad as this summer will be crucial for the Gunners. The Frenchman has been quick to defend this season by saying there are a number of positives. However, it is tough for supporters to see the positives when their side are in free fall towards the end of season.

After six years of trophy drought, it will be hard for the fans to believe that next season will bring success to Arsenal and their supporters. However, the positives outlined in this article are reasons why supporters must hope for the best.

1. Jack Wilshere's Emergence

The English International was on loan at Bolton in the latter half of the 2009-10 season and the manager was in doubt at the start of the season whether to loan him out again. However, he retained the services of the teenager and he has made remarkable progress to establish himself a spot in the starting eleven.

Wilshere has formed an excellent partnership with Alex Song and Fabregas and has shown immense determination to succeed. He has shown the right spirit and has demonstrated great maturity for his age. The highlight of this season for Wilshere would have his wonderful performance against Barcelona in the first leg and he could have won it for Arsenal had Bendtner been not missed a gilt edged chance.

2. The Performances of Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny

Manuel Almunia has never instilled confidence in the Arsenal supporters and the fans were craving for Wenger to sign just about anyone to displace the error-prone Spaniard. However the French tactician did not sign any new keeper and installed Almunia as the no.1 keeper for this season. After some half decent performances, he had a horrific game against West Bromwich Albion in which he also sustained an injury.

Lukasz Fabianski replaced him in goal but again, he had a reputation for making blunders and had had lapses in concentration in the past. But after saving a penalty against Partizan Belgrade, he finally showed the quality that Wenger regularly used to talk about in the past. He was excellent in many games notably against Wolves, Everton and Manchester City but was ruled out for the season in early January.

Wojciech Szczesny has since stepped up and has shown immense promise to establish his claim to be the no.1 keeper for the Gunners for the future. He has made mistakes but has shown the calmness and authority that is a rarity for young keepers. He will continue to grow as a keeper but the emergence of the two Polish Internationals has given a lot of confidence to the fans regarding the goalkeeping situation.

3. Robin Van Persie's Prolific Goalscoring form

Arsenal fans have always been quick to point the injuries to van Persie as one of the main reasons for their trophy drought and his injury early in the season was a huge blow to the Gunners. However, he has been prolific since returning from injury and in only half the season, he has had his best goals tally in his Arsenal career.

The Dutchman has been hugely influential for the Gunners in the latter half of the season and is in prime form. The 27-year-old is in prime form and can contribute a lot to the Gunners in the future. His only problem has been injuries but he has seemed to be more fit than ever in the second half of the season and if he can be fit, then Arsenal supporters will be confident that the goals will flow from the lethal boots of Robin van Persie.

4. The development of Nasri into an Integral player for Gunners

Samir Nasri's 2009-10 season's highlight was the sensational goal against FC Porto which is easily one of the best Arsenal goals in recent history but he was inconsistent in the previous season. This season has seen Cesc Fabregas and Van Persie miss a number of games but Nasri has stepped up to become one of the integral players for the Gunners.

He was in red-hot form before the turn of the year after which he has not been that good but he has been a lot more consistent this season with 15 goals to his name which is more than the number of goals he had scored for Arsenal before this season. The star midfielder's contract extension could be vital in the summer and it is one of the most important things in Wenger's agenda in the summer.

5. Theo Walcott's Goals and Assists

Walcott is a player who has always shown that he is a player who can develop into a high quality players provided he worked on his decision making in the final third of the pitch. Last season was largely unsuccessful for the Englishman and led to him being dropped from England's disastrous campaign in South Africa.

He has improved substantially this season and his crossing and end product has been much better though it still has room for improvement. Though he has been affected by injuries, a total of 12 goals and 11 assists this season shows that he can be a very important player in the future. If he can continue his progress in the next season, he could be key to the Gunners' hopes next season.

6. The Consistency of Bacary Sagna

While the Gunners have shipped in a number of soft goals this season, one member of the back four has been solid throughout the season and was rightfully named in the EPL team of the year. Sagna has been one of the most underrated players in the world and deserves this recognition for his consistent performances for the club.

His crossing has been wayward at times but he has shown great commitment and desire in every game and has been let down by his fellow defenders on a number of occasions. The France International has been at his best this season and his form is important to the Gunners next season as well.

7. Alex Song's progress in this season

Song established himself as a starter in the defensive midfield role in the 2009-10 season and has progressed in this season as well. Though he has had some poor performances this season, he has certainly worked hard on his passing and the attacking side of his game which has also included some crucial goals scored by the Cameroon International.

He has a tendency to give away cheap freekicks and foul players even if they are going nowhere. But he will improve with experience and his presence in the team is very important for the Gunners. It would be better for Song and Arsenal if Wenger can sign an experienced player like Scott Parker in his position so that he can have more competition and also, learn some things from an experienced player.

8. The Partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou

Arsenal's defence leaked a number of goals this season but in the months of January and February, Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou formed a formidable partnership in central defence and the Gunners enjoyed a spell of excellent security at the back. The duo have shown that they can play well together and are important for the future of Arsenal.

Their performance in the big games against Chelsea and Barcelona were the main reasons for Arsenal ending their run of poor performances against the big sides. Though Koscielny has made some costly errors this seasons, it has been more due to the inexperience than the lack of quality. He has been excellent in a number of games and is likely to improve further.

It was not expected that Johan Djourou would start as many games as he did this season and it is important that he has managed to stay free from injuries for most part of the season. He has been impressive in a number of games and though he did make mistakes towards the end of the season, it has been a good season for the Swiss centre back.

These two defenders will continue to improve in the future and have shown that they have the quality to succeed at Arsenal. They will benefit from this season's experience of playing a number of games and by playing alongside the experienced Thomas Vermaelen.

9. Aaron Ramsey's return from the horrific injury

Aaron Ramsey is one of the most talented youngsters at Arsenal and his horrific injury in the last season was a huge blow for the Gunners. Another former Gunner Eduardo could not cope with the demands of the EPL since his horrific ankle injury and many supporters were concerned about the psychological impact the injury could have on Ramsey's career.

Since returning from injury, Ramsey has made a total of 19 appearances which includes loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City. In recent weeks, he has started for Arsenal more regularly in place of the injured Fabregas and though he is still some way off his best, he has shown enough quality to believe that he can fulfill his immense potential.

His performance against Manchester United was excellent and he capped it with a well taken goal. It would have provided a huge boost to his confidence and the Welshman is ready for tougher challenges in the future.

10. The New Signings Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny

There are a number of Arsenal supporters who are clamoring for the signing of established quality players for the Gunners in the summer unlike Wenger has done in the recent past. The manager signed Marouane Chamakh, Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci in the summer and Squillaci's signing has already been deemed as a mistake by most Arsenal supporters.

Chamakh has divided the opinions of Arsenal supporters because he was scoring a number of important goals in the first half of the season while he has contributed extremely less since the return of Van Persie. He has been extremely committed on the pitch for the Gunners and has also scored a very respectable 11 goals in his debut season at Arsenal.

Though Koscielny started the season with some mistakes, he has developed into an excellent defender as the season has progressed. Fingers will be pointed at him for his error in the dying minutes of the Carling Cup final but he has shown great mental strength to bounce back from it with a string of good performances.

Chamakh and Koscielny are two of the most committed players at Arsenal and their determination to succeed at Arsenal could be important for the Gunners to have a successful 2011-12 season.

Also, Wenger did make a January signing this year and loaned him out to Robin van Persie's former club Feyenoord almost immediately. Ryo Miyaichi has shown great promise on loan at the Dutch club and can be important for Arsenal, probably not in the next season, but in the future.


fausty said...

Great read. Well done, mate.

Vijay Murali said...

Thanks for your kind words.. :)