Arsene Wenger, Cesc Fabregas, Eboue and Thierry Henry have all come out talking up our chances of winning the Premiership next season, they all seem to sure that there will be a big difference next time around.
The question is what will be different?
Lets put aside transfers for now because we don't really know what Arsene's budget is right now, there has been talk of finances being very tight right now because of the stadium payments and the money from the Highbury flats won't be coming in for a little while yet. Our players will need to improve just as Manchester United have this year. This is where I feel each individual will have to improve his game.
My guess is that Lehmann, Eboue, Gallas, Toure, Clichy, Hleb, Cesc, Gilberto, Rosicky, Van Persie, Henry is pretty much Arsene's strongest side when everyone is fully fit. Jens Lehmann was in super form early on in the season and was the best last season. The latter part of this season he looks like he has become complacent and has lacked concentration. When he had the world cup to work towards he was in superb form and he must get that form back for the whole of the season. Jens collects far to many bookings for a goal keeper and gets wound up far to easily for his own good. I don't know why Arsene lets him get away with this. Do you think Ferguson or Mourinho would accept his behaviour? But we all know that an on form and focused Lehmann can be as good as Petr Cech.
Eboue is a right side midfield player converted to a right back by Arsene Wenger, just as he did with Lauren. He took to the position like a duck to water last season. He outplayed the likes of Zidane and Nedved in the champions league and he added alot to our attacking play which has been generally weaker than the left over the years. Eboue's final ball has come along heaps and bounds this year and has had assists in a number of games His defensive play has really dropped this year and is seen as the weak link defensively in our side. This is something he really has to overcome for the new season. Not only this but his play acting and theatrics have been a major embarrassment and disappointment to all Arsenal fans. Eboue really excites me and I really hope he can learn from this season and get back to what we saw defensively from him last year.
Gael Clichy has probably been our most improved player over the course of the season. He came back from pretty much a year out and looked shaky first of all but he has worked hard and has got back to his best. His positional play is alot better than what it was at the start of the season, maybe Eboue should take note. What Clichy could learn from Eboue is his final ball. Often Clichy does alot of good build up work and his pace takes him to fantastic positions but his cross ends up over the bar or too long.
William Gallas is known as one of the best defenders in European football but we have not seen much of it this season due to injuries, form and poor defensive teammates. Hopefully if his head is screwed on right and he can let his feet do the talking then after a full pre season alongside Toure then we can see a great partnership.
King Kolo has always been a crowd favourite. His pace, energy and commitment is wonderful to see. Sometimes Toure just plays on instinct and does not use his head enough. I think he has played to many games this year and his form has suffered in recent weeks. As with Gallas, Toure needs the summer to charge his batteries and a full pre season alongside his partner to get the best out of him. I'm looking forward to watching his first long range free kick hit the net next season.
Alex Hleb has been extremely inconsistent throughout his Arsenal career so far. I believe that if Arsene spends some cash this summer then Hleb will be the one to make way. But if not then we need to see the obvious goal tally increase as it really isn't good enough for a player of his ability. And make no mistake about it, this lad really does have ability. His link play can be top quality, he links up with Cesc and Rosicky really well, the downside to him is that he tends to link up with the opposition as well.
Cesc Fabregas will only get better and better. He is dominating games alot more now than last year and has put on muscle. Like most of our side he really needs to add goals but that has been coming at the end of this season. I have no doubt that he will be working on that over the summer and we will see more of a goal threat this season. So far Cesc has the top assists in the league this year. I think Cesc will be the key man in the Arsenal team next season.
Gilberto has been one of the plus points this season. We can't ask much more from him next time sound. He has protected the back four as much as he could throughout the season. Its highly unlikely that he will reach his current goal tally as the penalty duties are surely going to be returned to Thierry Henry. Having said that we can hope that he can be key in the opposition penalty area on set pieces.
Tomas Rosicky has had a start stop campaign. The little Czech international has been given the job of taking over from Arsenal legend Robert Pires. His goal return has not been good enough but we must not forget that his is his first season in English football. The team looks alot more fluent and creative when he is in the side. I believe that he can be at the same level as Fabregas giving time and injury free. Tomas will be a key figure next season.
Robin Van Persie took over from Thierry Henry this season as the main goalscoring threat. He has begun to convert huge potential into match winning performances. Arsenal's team have been critised for not shooting when in good positions, well its fair to say that this doesn't apply to Robin. Van Persie doesn't need a second invitation to have a blast or a curler when on his dangerous and artistic left foot. We missed him badly after the victory against Manchester United. If he continues to improve next season then it will be like signing a new 25 million player.
Then there is our captain and record Arsenal goalscorer Thierry Henry. Last season was his worst in an Arsenal shirt. There was alot of speculation about being tired from the world cup, regretting his Barcelona decision or injuries. I personally think his form was down to injuries. Since he arrived from Juventus he has hardly missed any matches but this was the complete opposite. Henry himself said that he was playing through the pain time and time again. So much so that he had to stop running at players the way he used to. This is what made Henry, Henry. If we can get that Henry back pulling out on the left and running at the right back and the Henry playing on the last defender waiting for Cesc, Rosicky, Hleb etc to make that final pass then we will convert alot more goalscoring chances. Thierry has won games by himself many times during his Arsenal career in the past and we cannot forget how much we have missed him.
We hope that Arsene can add a few players to this squad. But I do feel like we have enough quality in the squad if they can all perform to their maximum and that the players give 100% in every game and not only turn up for the big games.