As the season ended on a high with an easy win at home against a demobilized Everton team, it is important to review a season…There will be three posts: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…
Let us focus on the Good today and be positive despite the frustration of finishing 5th behind Tottenham and missing CL footie…
- I have not been to the grounds but apparently, the atmosphere within and around the club have vastly improved this year. There is a sense of positivity and unity, which was lost a few years back.
- Arteta-Edu have made some tough decisions like getting rid of marquee players like Ozil (last year) and Auba (this year) and also some less marquee players like Kolasinac, Chambers, Guendouzi…The squad was thin but seemed to adhere to the new team and game principles
- Our transfer window has been great. Ramsdale has been wonderful 90% of the games, Tomy was reliable when he played, White had a few wobbles but was overall very good and Odegaard has grown into his position nicely. There is still a question mark on Sambi as he did not play so much and on Tavares who showed some promises and weaknesses…
- Our young attacking players have performed admirably well when given the chance. Saka has had a very solid season and performed well consistantly throughout the season. ESR has been decisive, especially until February – when he was scoring goals for fun. Martinelli has been relentless too and deserved more goals and assists just for his attitude but overall, what a season for him! Nketiah did not play much until March but then when called upon, he delivered some goals but also and crucially a very good work rate and attitude.
- Partey-Xhaka, when fit was a solid double pivot and when Partey was injured, El Neny did a nice job too. We have seen the best of Partey so far but his injuries have limited his playing time. Xhaka has been our most reliable performer in the midfield – for all his flaws, he has kept healthy and did have a large majority of good games. He has also been working on reducing mistakes, cards and repairing his relationship with the fans…
- Laca was an able captain. Putting the team first and trying to motivate and guide his younger teammates.
- The team did create some expectations and played for CL footie until the last game, which was already a positive.
So we have a young squad that seems to be going in the right direction. The word is that AFC will have another 175 Mln EUR to spend this summer and that the Kroenkes will be backing Arteta-Edu to improve the team.
In the next few days, we will pbbly say good bye to either El Neny, Laca and Nketiah – it could be all or it could be none…Let us see. These 3 players always showed a good attitude and deserve praise for being good sports when on the pitch.
Focus on the positives in the post, we will have plenty of time to discuss the Bad and the Ugly later on…
Revelation of the year (a player that performed better than expected): Ramsdale and Tomy
Stand-out performer of the year: Saka
Most improved player: Ode/Xhaka (?)
Goals of the season: All our goals against Watford away (Ode, Saka, Martinelli)
Other good things:
Set pieces – with a new coach, we scored from set pieces for the first time in years and almost completely stopped conceding from corners. Huge impact.
High press – it started to work and resulted in pressure and goals
Playing out from back – almost no more calamities. In last days of Emery era I couldn’t bear to watch as any good pressing team overwhelmed us and scored
Culture – in life, organisations and certainly football clubs you cannot succeed without the cultural foundations … which when eroded take TIME to put back in place. If nothing else was achieve this year, then this has … and the importance cannot be overstated.
Youth – not just the current young players, who overperformed massively, but the pipeline behind it.
Experience – one more year of experience for this team is priceless …. look at Saka’s progression
Great Post RC
I have now got over the disappointment of the Spuds and Toon games and can appreciate the real level of achievement this young group has made this year.
Tony has added some excellent other ‘good things’ from the season.
I’ll add one more: our record against the ‘top six’.
At the beginning of the season the commentators and pundits couldn’t stop talking about our poor record against the big clubs, particularly away from home.
Well, this season was far from perfect in that regard but there was a definite improvement.
If we look at the ‘big clubs’ plus others vying for Champions League position, I think we can settle on:
Against those six teams (home and away) we lost 7 and won 5, including away victories at Man Utd and Chelsea.
And let’s not forget that we outplayed the eventual Champions, Man City, at the Emirates and were on the end of some appalling decisions by the officials in that game.
If we can go into next season with a new, dynamic striker we can expect to start converting some of our losses into draws.
If we had managed one more goal against, for example, Brighton and Wolves at home and Everton away we’d now be in the Champions League on the basis of three extra points from three draws.
I just have to be contentious, don’t I?
Good: we finished fifth, and avoided getting into the Champions’ League!
Yes, I understand that everyone’s disappointed at missing out, and it’s galling to be bested by Spuds. But to me, there are two positive aspects to this.
If we had qualified, how far would we have progressed? Would we even have qualified for the Europa from our group? How would our tyros have coped with the massively increased workload and pressure?
Squad members and Academicians would have had minimal opportunities, because of the need to put out a strong team every twice a week.
Secondly, at this stage of the team’s development, Europa is about right. They have a genuine chance of going deep into the competition. Fringe players, especially in the early stages, can be rotated in to rest the first xi and accelerate their own development.
I liked Tony’s points even more than RC’s, which were also entirely appropriate. In particular, these young men are going to be a year older and concomitantly more experienced. The sub-23s amongst them will have had another year to strengthen and grow both body and mind.
I am so excited for next season!
Odegard goal against Everton should be a contender ent
Thanks Tony, Rocky, Max and Fred for adding more depth to the discussion. It is definitely true that there have been quite some positives for us this season, including set-pieces and further experience for our players.
With the right transfer window, we could go and compete even more next year. It may be the most important transfer window for the club actually – get it right and set the club up for honors, get it wrong and…fight for Top 8…Newcastle, Everton and the usual suspects like City (already have Haaland), Utd, Liverpool (Fabio already joined), Chelsea and even Tottenham will splurge in the market…
We need 2 starters for sure (CM + FW) and solid back ups (LB, CB, Winger) so..let us bring the right players for our club…We really need that extra layer of quality. We need players that will take us to the next level…Philipps and Jesus could help us bridge the gap, for example…
A link for the French speakers: a podcast on AFC: a season a full of premises.
Overall very happy with our season. In the end it came down to lack of a recognized competent goal scorer. Spuds had two and bought one, West Ham have a couple, United have a legendary one and a couple other potentials. We honestly have nothing (no disrespect to Laca or Eddie – they both contributed immensely but are not goal scorers – yet in Eddie’s case). I have come to the conclusion and continue to say I think both Arteta and Edu were well aware of this issue but decided to fix the multitude of issues we have elsewhere. With hindsight I think they would have tried to bring in a player in January for CL qualification but I don’t think they expected to get that close. That’s my opinion for what it’s worth. I see immense progress in attitude and commitment, organization and steady progress in character which will improve with results.
I agree with Rocky’s comments about our key results, defeats h/a to Shitty and L’pool and the home defeat to Chavs (at the time) were almost inevitable (as he pointed out we were robbed at home to City and much the better team but couldn’t beat them). But of the “other teams, wins at Chavs and West Ham were highlights, beating Manure, Spuds and W/Ham at home and “practically”, taking 15 points from 21 is huge for this team.
Well done boys. Now lets’ enjoy the summer, bring in some players we need and move forward………….. !!!!!!!!!!!
What am I missing about Neves?? I have no desire to see him in an Arsenal shirt – especially not for 50m+. He’s an ok player for sure, but I don’t think it’s what we need. Anyone care to set me straight on that??
The French Open on the ladies’ side is full of surprises: Jabeur out, Osaka out, Krejcikova out, Muguraza out…bloody hell…Very open tournament but in the end we should see:
– Swiatek, Badosa, Sakkari and maybe one of Fernandez, Kvitova or a big surprise like Haddad Maia…Let us see
Giroud leading AC Milan to the scudetto
– World Cup (France)
– Nations League Cup (France)
– Champions League (Chelsea)
– Ligue 1 (Montpellier)
– Scudetto (AC Milan)
– 4 FA Cups + 3 Super Cups (AFC)
And he always played a sound part to these successes
Mike M – I could not agree more with you regarding Neves. We need more impact players…even Tielemans would be better…I think we should really aim for K. Phillips or D.Rice…
What a pleasurable read, which woke me from my summer slumber, RC.
Stick with GOOD…….since the bad and the ugly only make some ” happy”.
Didn’t realise giroud won ligue 1 nice
I think we could (should) have kept Giroud.
If we’d had him in the squad this year we’d be in the CL.
So true rocky, I remember when we replaced him when PEA I was so excited cause PEA had been one of my favorite player at the time but I never wanted us to get rid of giroud, why didn’t we get rid of lacazette sigh
Giroud won major trophies at all clubs he played for: Montpellier, AFC, Chelsea, Milan and the national team. He is quite underrated imho…I was disappointed to him go but…this is history now.
I hope we get someone with the same aerial presence and link-up plan in our squad this summer.
The way I see this season is Arteta has now completed Phase 1 of his tenure. It’s taken 3 seasons, but he’s been able to repair most of the damage caused in the last 10 years. The wage bill is nearly half of what Emery/Wenger left us with and is more evenly distributed. The average age and size of the squad have been slashed considerably. The attitude of the players looks to be much improved. Transfer/contract dealings look to be getting managed correctly for the first time in a long time. The club now have saleable assets within the squad. The fans (for the most part) are backing the team and the atmosphere at the club is the best it’s been in ages…and, he’s done all of this whilst keeping us respectable (if not remarkable) in the league and putting the building blocks in place for the way he wants us to play.
I think it’s clear that the owners are pleased with his work, and the new contract is a show of support for what he’s done so far, but Phase 2 begins immediately, and a positive summer will be key to moving us forward. I would guess that Phase 2 begins with increasing the size of the squad by at least 4-5 players (plus bringing some youth through), sorting the futures of Bellerin, Nketiah, Lacazette, Pepe, Xhaka, Saliba, Leno, AMN etc, and getting the side in the top 4 whilst managing a Europa League season and (hopefully) decent cup runs.
One last thing about finishing 5th below Spuds (again !!). I sent this to a Spud fan friend of mine after a bit of friendly shit talking by him. I hope it helps keep a little perspective:
(My son) Liam was born in Sept 1997. He was 8 the fist time he saw us finish outside the top 2, 19 before he saw us finish outside the top 4 and in those first 19 years, three EPL titles and never below Spuddies. Last 5 years not so good to be fair. During my lifetime we’ve won the League championship 6 times. I’ve seen us win the FA cup 11 times and lose another 4 finals. Spuds last won the League championship 3 years before I was born. On my 58th birthday tomorrow I’ll have seen them win 0 League Championships 4 FA cups and lose 1 final. Enjoy that 4th place. Well done Totteringham. 😂😂😂😂
Pure class! Happy Summer!
Spoiler Alert: The Bad post will come tomorrow…
Until then, focus on the good 🙂
For the PSG fans and/or haters and/or followers, next week, PSG CEO will present the new club sporting structure, including the new sporting director (apparently L. Campos) and potentially new manager (although rumour has it that Pochetinno could now stay)
PSG Chief and L.Campos want to add more French talent to PSG. Names include: Claus, W.Fofana, A.Tchouameni, C. Nkunku and Ekitike
Donna – Fofana, Marquinhos, Kimpembe – Hakimi, Tchouameni, Verratti, Mendes – Neymar – Messi, Mbappe
Navas – Clauss, Kehrer, Ramos, Bernat – Pereira, Gueye – Diop, Nkunku, Dembele – Ekitike
6 recruits: 1 CB, 1 RB, 1 CM, 3AM, 1 ST
Departures: many players expected to leave too…
Where should we put Pepe: in the bad (poor season) or the ugly (poor transfer?)…I hope for his sake that he goes back to France or moves to Italy, Spain, Germany.
Arteta wants to bring Saliba back to AFC as he will have more opportunities for game time. He will be used in the rotation in EPL, FA Cup, League Cup and European Football.
Our 4 CBs would then be: White, Saliba, Gabs, Holding
It is no Liverpool or Man City defense but it s definitely quite good.
I like those four but Holding is definitely limited. He tried to play Son like he did Costa in the cup final and got sent off (somewhat harshly to be fair). He will be good against certain types of forwards but fast intelligent mobile strikers I’m a little worried. Can’t see Saliba or White against Haaland for example but Holding maybe. Anyway my point is Saliba is the type of player we need to bring in. Like Eddie, he’s a player that will add to our squad but will not start immediately. If they want to play for their spots, they will be great. If they decide not, not much we can do about it.
Crazy thought of the day…Luis Suarez is free, he is still a good striker and he is always phenomenal in his attitude…Would he be a good recruit for us?
Let’s not forget Tommy and Tierney in the CB conversation. They can definitely the left and right sides as part of a back 3, and Tommy was even used at CB in a 4 at his old club, so the depth is there. Just having a look at the relegated sides, and I’m not sure about Suarez, but I wonder if Dwight McNeil could be an option if Pepe was to leave. Only 22 and has developed the right attitude at Burnley in terms of working hard for the team. Has always looked their best player and never out of place in the PL. He’s had a poor season in terms of goal contributions, but in previous years he’s contributed in a very poor Burnley attack. I wouldn’t say no to Nick Pope either but I can’t imagine he’d want to battle for a number one spot when he could walk into a lot of PL teams. Foster might be an option though as an understudy for a year or 2. Watford have a couple of interesting attackers too in Sarr and Dennis, who may be looking to move on now they’ve been relegated. Norwich…..are shit! 😂
@LBG – Not to harp on but my Spuddie pal then proceeded to say the FA Cup is a worthless trophy and the Invincibles drew 12 games and won the title with less points than Shitty and Liverpool’s recent winning teams, hence they are better. The fact that in 2004 we won the league by 11 points is apparently irrelevant.
My point about the deluded Spuds is that they continue to compare themselves to us during one of our worst periods since the mid 80’s, yet compare us to the best teams in Europe when arguing that everything we’ve done sucks.
The fact is that we’ve also won 3 doubles and that this century, and the FA Cup has only been won by Wigan, Leicester and Portsmouth outside ……………. wait for it ………….. the “top 6” !!!!!. That would be Arsenal 7, Chavs 6 Liverpool 3, Manure 2 and Shitty 2. Who’s missing???
It’s comedy gold. Long may it continue. Forever in our Shadow !!
El Neny extended for 1 year and one year in option. Our reliable Pharaoh 🙂
Re “Good” post comment. Surprised you still have him as a Spudite friend!! Any of mine ( including one or two more distant family) either gave up talking footie with me a long time ago…or gave me up as a friend! (Reall, really, really, NOT, upset).