So today the 2015/16 Premier League season kicks off. The first game of the new season presents a tough one for Gooners to want anyone to win the fixture – Man U vs Spurs, I’ll be hoping for my normal which is 0-0, 22 man brawl, points deduction and suspensions, it would be funny to see ManUre lose on the opening day after spending £80m this summer, but wanting Spuds to start off with a win at OT, no thanks.
Enough talking about bile inducing teams, time to focus on us.
Looking through BBCs pundits forecast of the league placings most still put Chelsea as the team to beat, strangely quite a few think we are finishing second and four brave souls even put us down as winners, I say strangely because for the last four years we have been the pundits pick to drop out of the top 4, have the pundits finally woken up to the fact that Arsene has been steadily building a very good squad of players and are a lot better than many have given us credit for over the last couple of seasons.
Coquelin personally rediscovering his natural position was the turning point of last season, prepared to do a job that no one else in the squad can do, according to Arsene there was a time when Coquelin fancied himself as a bit more of a box to boxer, despite Arsene telling him to focus on being the best at what he could do well rather than being average in a more flamboyant role, the lad can do more than break up play, he is actually a good passer too long and short. But his aggression and will to get in the face of his opponents has been a real catalyst for others in the side. It also hasn’t done any harm that his selection and continued run in the side means no one at the club is guaranteed a place. No matter what the wages or assumed status within the team.
I also think the way Alexis approaches football will have been a wake up call to the squad, here is a player gifted with immense talents on the ball, but who is prepared to work his socks off when not in possession, it feels like he may have had a similar impact to that made by Bergkamp. I’m not saying before Alexis arrived that the team was full of drunks and partying types like Bergkamp found on his arrival, but Alexis shows that talent with ball at feet is only half of the equation, the other half is made up with how you play, with passion, with commitment but most of all intensity. Alexis showed up, every single game, that hust has to rub off on others, especially our younger players.
Last season as we all know was reasonably successful, a second FA Cup in as many years, and a fantastic run from February onwards apart from that Champions League game with good results against teams we have not always done brilliantly against in recent seasons.
At the end of last season the populist position was we were still a striker, a centre back and a goalkeeper short, we’ve added the goalkeeper and for some that’s enough to put us right in contention, Cech is undoubtedly good, is he really that good? Let’s hope so.
Perhaps we will still see another addition or two to the squad, but it is all ready quite full and would take some juggling, Arsene has already got his work cut out keeping the current squad happy.
After the Community Shield Maureen wanted to tell everyone that we left our principles in the dressing room and came to put ten men behind the ball, whilst I’m not really sure that’s true, do we need to sometimes play like that if we are going to win the title, or can we do it playing open attractive football every weekend? Some say that our trip to the Etihad last season was a sign that we are ready to change, whilst we may have sat deeper that day I still think we played the better football when we had the ball, and as soon as we got the ball we were making purposeful movements forward. We have played defensive against teams before, Barca would be one I could think of, but in those games when we got the ball we did nothing with it, so I don’t think parking the bus will be the answer, I think it’s collective defending and having players who can get the ball out of tight situations whilst still moving forward with adventure.
Other than those few games where we will have to worry more about our opponents in the main I expect us to continue with the possession football, and lots of little one twos, the key to this being successful is movement and speed.
4-5-1 or 4-3-3 have been our stock in trade formations for the last few seasons, I think this was altered slightly last season to more like 4-1-2-3, that formation has allowed us to be tighter at the back as full backs are not required to push on constantly, this left us a lot less exposed than in previous seasons.
I wonder whether that’s why Theo is being moved inside to compete with Ollie for the number 9 role, he is not the greatest when it comes to running the touch line with the ball with only an opponent or two for company 9 times out of ten he will end up overrunning the ball or crossing to nothing or stopping waiting for support and being relieved of possession compare that to Alexis, Ozil and even Ox we have better players to play those wide roles who do not require full backs to bomb up the pitch to help them out, they can trick their way past a couple of opponents and change the direction of play without losing momentum of attack.
Is this our year
Arsenes first squad post Emirates contained Cesc and friends and in 2008 we had a good chance of winning the league only for it all to fall apart in February, I think the current squad is at a very similar stage in terms of development and having grown together, the failure of that side to win a trophy plus increasing financial pressure eventually led to the break up of that squad before they had really achieved anything, this current squad whilst picking up a couple of FA Cups is at a similar stage, we need to really challenge this season, it’s ok if we come up short by a point or two, but we really have the squad to push Chelsea and City all the way. Let’s hope we can at least do that starting with West Ham.
Written by Gooner in Exile