A season that promised so little, delivered on that promise, finally it's over as we stumble across the finish line into third against the odds. Or is it against the odds? we could have wrapped it up a few weeks ago but didn't and when eventually did, thankfully it was a case of "Deja not so Vu". This last game had Norwich written all over it, when Benayoun scored that first goal, the superstitious in me feared the worse. But thankfully we didn't concede the equalizer this time, but not for the lack of trying.
I don't know what to make of this season, It will surely live long in my memory for some good reason and some bad ones. After the first six games we had, reaching third - only the 2nd time in the past 6 seasons mind- seems like an achievement, and it is; but if you take a closer look you'll see that what happened at the start of the season is of our own managers doing and lets not forget that during the end of the year we were just 6 points behind Man Utd and now we finish 20 points behind them. but I guess all things considered we've achieved what we wanted, automatic qualification to the champions league and we actually finished in a better league position than last season.
So now I can finally look forward to next season and how we need to improve to have a chance at winning a trophy. Firstly I'd like to have a look at which positions we need to strengthen. I know many will disagree with me, but in order to challenge next season we need a new signing in almost every position with the exception of left back and maybe center back. I would have added right back but unfortunately I don't think Sagna will be fit at the start of the season & I don't believe that Jenkinson is quite ready yet.
I'll talk about the players we WON'T sign this summer, the players I think we should and could buy, and finally what I think will actually happen. So to get one thing straight, we will not buy any player that other clubs of similar or bigger stature to us are interested in buying, we won't go into a bidding war with the likes of City, Utd, chelsea ...etc. so Hazard won't be coming, the likes of Falcao, Cavani, Gotze won't be coming and I don't think Yan M'villa will be as well. I know there has been lots of rumors and twitter went into meltdown a few days ago, but I just can't see it happening, but if it does (I hope it will) it would be fantastic.
The players we can buy are players that are quite good but no other big team want, like our first signing which is an amazing piece of business, no one seemed to want Podolski so we got him and for a bargain price. I really think we need a new creative attacking midfielder, someone that can give that crucial cesc defense splitting pass, I would suggest Christian Dannemann Erikson from Ajax, he has amazing skill and has scored and assisted 28 goals this season besides he would cost half the amount City or united are going to pay for Hazard. Shinji Kagawa is another player that would be great but there's talk of interest from Utd. There are two other creative players that are available at the clearance bin in Spain that I think would be a risk worth taking, they are two players that have been great until they moved to the wrong club at the wrong time, I give you Ibrahim Afellay and Nuri Sahin of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Both players have amazing qualities but haven't been given the chance due to an amalgamation of injuries and an amazing talent pool at both their respective clubs. I think both will be looking at moves away in the same way Van der Vaart, Sjnieder & Robben did a few years back. Speaking of Robben, he said he would leave Bayern, and we know Chelsea, Real & Barca won't go for him and if City and Utd get their Hazards and Modrics, that leaves us, Milan & Juventus as possible destinantions, could be an amazing signing if pulled off.
For the right back position we need some one that is 29-30 years old so has experience and most probably Arsenal would be his last club so wouldn't mind playing a sub role when Sagna returns to fitness, there are a lot of options but I like athletic bilbao's Andoni Iraola for instance, but I'm sure there are a few even better options out there.
Song has been great this season, in an attacking sense, his lofted balls to Van Persie are a thing of beauty but defensively not so great especially when neither Arteta or like last season Wilshere there covering for him. So we need another player in his position especially with the African Cup of nations taking place again next season and the possibility of Cameroun not qualifying twice in a row is next to none. Of course I hope the M'Villa deal goes through but in case it doesn't, Bibao's Javi Martinez has been great in their run to the Europa league and Copa del rey final, he's 23 but has played nearly 200 games for bilbao.
Strikers, at the moment we have three strikers, two of which almost never get to play due to Van Persie's amazing form and that both of them aren't that good, so both of them should be shipped out in addition to Bendtner and Vela both of which look like they want to leave...good riddance i say. That leaves us with RVP ( hopefully he signs), Walcott and Podolski, and no, Rio & Joel Campbell aren't ready yet, so one more striker would be a great addition.Demba Ba looks like he has a release clause of two packs of cigarettes so could be a great addition and cheap, yes he hasn't been as good since playing out of position but we all saw what he's capable of when playing in the RVP role, so could be used to rest Robin. Clint Dempsey could be next season's Arteta for us, of the same age, has been playing in the prem for ages and we would give him his only chance at playing in the champions league (or maybe even winning a trophy). We could even try to sign Henry on a one year deal, maybe its just the emotions but he played around 120min and scored 3 goals (dubious goal panel my ass) that's more than Chamakh and Park combined.
I really do hope Wenger has learned some lessons this season and we do end up signing 2 or 3 players like the players I mentioned above, because frankly we need them to challenge, even more so for the fact that we don't know how long it will take for Wilshere & sagna to get back to their best & contrary to what he keeps saying, Diaby is unlikely to suddenly uninjured, he'll always be and should be released from the club to make way for wages of players that actually can play.
And now onto the sad part, the part where I predict which players Wenger will actually sign, none of those I mentioned. I think we'll get Kalou on a free transfer and a defensive midfielder we haven't heard of. I hope more than hope I'm wrong, but I've been let down many times before, and for those who say signing Podolski this early shows a change in Wenger's way, no it doesnt. Chamakh's deal was concluded at the same tiime and so was Gervinho's and look how the rest of the winndow turned out.
Hopefully I'm wrong and we'll see some great players joining our great club, helping us challenge, winning us trophies and putting us back to where we deserve to be. Bring on next season....
P.S. No article of mine would be complete without talking about Gervinho, I've said before that I don't rate him at all, now I think he's just rubbish. Before the West Brom game, he's had ZERO shots on target since january, he's had no assists and all his passes are either over hit, under hit or just wobbling to its intended receiver. But I'm willing to see how he does next season.
Mean Lean's Response
Firstly, I just want to point out that there have been serious delays on the articles from readers. I shall be churning them out over the week so if certain parts of some articles seem a little dated then it is my fault, I hold my hands up. Apologies, I have not had enough time to read through and respond to those articles.
I agree that last summer was somewhat of a shambles and clearly mistakes were made which derailed our start to the season. It cost us massively. Every Gooner knows that but what puzzles me is something that you say at the start of your article.
"...you'll see that what happened at the start of the season is of our own managers doing"
It certainly isn't just you, this has been said many, many times over. Why, without an ounce of proof do we accept that this is the managers doing? So many people from three parties are involved in transfers. We do not know how much the manager had to spend before CL qualification, we do not know how much of that cash he had available to him, we do not know if the board wanted sales of Cesc and Nasri before the second spending spree. (The first being Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson etc) We also do not know how Barcelona and Manchester City acted and the timing of their actions.
Another common accusation is that 'we should have sold Cesc and Nasri early and then bought early'
That is easy to say from our point of view but if Barcelona are offering us a packet of crisps and a can of Sprite for Cesc Fabregas then selling early is not an option. But I digress and this is old ground.
Mistakes were made, by who is unknown. Probably due to a long list of people including the manager I would assume.
I agree with you about the desire for a creative passer although with Rosicky's form and Wilshere's ridiculous talent, I wouldn't be surprised to see Arsene bypass that area and look to other areas in the team.
Great call on Ibrahim Afellay 26 and Nuri Sahin 23 who are typical Wenger transfer targets. Talented players who are being overlooked at their clubs and who are still young enough to reach their best years. It will be interesting to seen where they end up. I certainly think we could do much worse than either of them.
Out of interest, why do you think we will sign an unknown defensive midfielder?
To be honest, whether we know of his purchases or not is irrelevant as long as they have the required talent and character. Not many knew of Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Song and many of our past top players like Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieria, Emmanuel Petit and many more.
The most important thing in my eyes this summer is that we keep the best players we have. Even if we did just that, I believe we would be a much better team especially now that we have most of the players together for pre season. Once we keep our best then I trust the manage to add the needed quality to push us to compete further. How far remains to be seen.
I really like Gervinho, I like that he can make a predictable attack totally unpredictable. Clearly he is nowhere near the finished article and it is hard to know how far he will go given his scope for improvement probably isn't as high as someone like Oxlade-Chamberlain for example.
His performances at the start of the season gives me hope but his level dropped after the ACN. He has everything in his game before the final third of the pitch but we have to remember that it is his first season in the Premier League and at a new club.
I hope he works hard on his finishing and final delivery during the warm summmer weeks, if he can then he will be an important member of the Arsenal squad.