Reasons for optimism.
I am traditionally a half glass full sort of guy; hence the optimistic opinion you are bout to read. I feel that going into the off season we can look at our current situation in a very positive light. Now I know that many people get annoyed with the Wengerism, “like a new signing” but I feel we have a number of players that I view in such a light.
I will start with the most obvious: Aaron Ramsey. I have been a long term supporter and admirer of the young Welsh man but I have also been equally disappointed with some of his performances over the last few seasons. When he first broke through into the first team (before he was Shawcrossed) I thought he was an exceptional talent, a player that could drive the team forward and make incisive contributions to our passing play. His injury set back has caused problems with his fitness, touch and confidence since returning but after a solid 10 performances in the team’s run in he has proved to be a vital cog in the engine room. I now think Wenger sees Ramsey and Arteta as a better partnership than Arteta and Wilshere because of Ramsey’s boundless energy and selfless play and thus frees Wilshere to play in front of the duo. With his confidence back and already 10 very impressive performances alongside Arteta, I think the Welshman will have a major impact next year which will genuinely seem like a new signing.
Second, and not as obvious as Ramsey, is another favourite player of mine – the Ox. Chamberlain had a pretty poor season last year, as many youngsters have in their second season of top flight football, but I have a feeling that this year will see him return as the bundle of energy, tricks and powerful forward play that saw him break into the England squad. The reason behind my optimism for Chamberlain is that I see him becoming a vital asset to our team in midfield. Wenger ultimately sees him ending up in the centre of the park but he is not necessarily there yet; so I think he will get a lot of game time on the flank for the occasions that players like Walcott or others are having an off day. Walcott will be more than aware that there is a young, highly rated player raring to start for both club and country and may have to fight tooth and nail to keep him out of the team. This can only be a good thing.
Another young English man, who some of you may know, Jack Wilshere seems to have recovered from his ankle knock (touch wood) and will have his first full preseason in two years to get back up to speed with the rest of the squad.
Finally, I am delighted that we have a centre back partnership that seems to work and understand each other. Last year we spent too long hoping that Vermealen would pull his socks up before Wenger finally cut his losses and gave Konscielny his chance; and the French man grabbed it with both hands. Knowing who your centre back partner is on a weekly basis is incredibly important and that Konscielny and the big affable German now have a full preseason to strengthen their partnership could prove invaluable.
Whilst these are not the only reasons for positivity; a perceived larger transfer budget, the competition at left back, the prospect of a few big name signings, Carzola getting his first year of prem football under his belt and excelling, no key losses to our playing squad to name a few, I feel these are four that we should be genuinely excited about. They may not be worth column inches in the tabloids but they leave me with a fuzzy optimistic feeling inside.
Mean Lean's Response
John, Aaron Ramsey is the perfect example as to why it is great to have quality young players in your squad. Often once they reach a certain age they tend to improve rapidly. Ramsey grew a lot in the final stretch of the season and I don't think it is a stretch of my own to say that our final resurgence was partly down to his energy and tackling.
I am very interested to see how Arsene uses him next season, a young player with an upward curve has often been given the chance to take that next step but with the pressure on and money to spend I wonder if Rambo will start the season as a squad member rather than Arteta's partner.
I am also interested to know what plans Arsene has for both Chamberlain and Wilshere. The latter whilst having the quality has not found his position in the side as yet. The Ox for me is a hugely underrated talent, still raw but has the lot in his locker. But as with Ramsey the need for a title push may see a starting place on hold.
It would have been nice to have had these players in 2006 at the ages they are now. We would have some team today if that was the case.
There are so many permutations and options going into the new season. Signings will be made, there is absolutely no doubt about that. Those new players will have an impact on the players you have highlighted, so seeing how the squad shapes up is very exciting for me.