Arsenal 2010/2011 Preview
By Minal Vachheta
Arsenal finished the 2009/2010 season third in the league table, meaning they automatically qualified for the Champions League for the new season. This is a slight improvement on the previous season when they finished fourth, but is this enough?
Last season Arsenal scored 83 goals but conceded 41, this was a lot more than league winners Chelsea who only let in 32 and runners up Manchester United’s 28. It is safe to say the Arsenal defence wasn’t the strongest in the league. The gunners’ lack of defence also resulted in them throwing away vital points by losing nine games and drawing six. I don’t think any Arsenal fan will forget the Wigan Athletic game in a hurry where they were 2-0 up with ten minutes to go and ended up losing 3-2. Was this the game that summed up their season?
They began the season with three wins until Manchester United beat them 2-1 at Old Trafford, this knocked their confidence somewhat and resulted in them suffering a hammering at the hands of Manchester City. Important points were dropped throughout the season against teams like West Ham, Sunderland, Chelsea and Burnley. There was hope that things would improve in the second half of the campaign but these were soon dashed after a draw with Everton and repeated defeat with Manchester United. After a losing spell, the Gunners picked themselves up and started getting the wins they needed to maintain their challenge for the title. They looked very strong during this winning spell but soon all dreams of winning the league were destroyed after they lost three games in April, one defeat was to North London rivals Tottenham which had to have hurt the most.
So what does 2010/2011 hold?
Arsenal lost some first team players from during the summer break; Sol Campbell and William Gallas departed from the defence. Campbell proved to be a valuable asset at times during his second short spell at the club but both players were not 100% strong. Gallas wasn’t solid in his central role alongside Vermealan, it was time to pair Vermealan with someone who could stand by his side without slipping up. Philippe Senderos made his way to Fulham and to be honest this was not a huge loss, Senderos proved more than once that he can be a liability in defence. It was sad to see Eduardo go after everything he has been through but the truth is that after his injury he never fully regained his flair. He has never been the same player since the awful Birmingham game which is etched in every Arsenal fans mind.
The future is looking bright with the signing of Laurent Koscielny the central defender who has already looked strong in pre season friendlies; although some of the score lines still raise questions regarding the effectiveness of said defence. Arsene has added more fire power to his strike force with the addition of Marouane Chamakh. He has already scored in the Emirates Cup on his home debut at the Emirates earlier this month. With the signing of Chamakh this should increase the supply of goals, which are going to be vital in the upcoming season. Only fifteen league goals were contributed by strikers last season, twenty five came from the midfield and seven came from the defender Vermealan making him the fifth top scorer for the season. The strikers are called so for a reason, their role is to get up front and put the ball into the back of the net; hopefully with Chamakh this will be the case.
The final point to be raised regarding transfers would be the whether or not Arsenal need to purchase a goal keeper. My answer to that is yes. Arsene needs to invest in an experienced and proven goalkeeper before the transfer window closes, preferably even before season starts. Manuel Almunia can be fantastic in goal; he has put in some admirable performances in the past and has on occasion made saves that have been out of this world. However on the flip side he has also made some of the worst blunders in the history of goalkeeping and cost them many vital points last season. The odd admirable save is not enough to realistically challenge for the title, Arsenal need a confident goalkeeper that is solid and will not repeatedly make silly mistakes. Lukasz Fabianski is young but has some experience; he has played games for Arsenal in various tournaments. He has the idea of what goalkeeping should be but like Almunia he cannot implement this. Fabianski has also made horrendous errors not only last season but in pre season games in recent weeks too. He can’t be trusted to be Arsenal’s no.1.
With goalkeepers that have so many slip ups, this doesn’t help the defence with their confidence. The defence will always be second guessing the goalkeeper because they know the he is not strong enough. If Arsenal invest in a reliable keeper who knows what he is doing, the defence will perform better because they will only be concentrating on their job rather than the goalkeepers too. A new keeper will undoubtedly enhance Arsenal’s strength considerably.
Arsenal go into the new season knowing that Cesc Fabregas is staying for at least another season. This is what the club wanted as Cesc plays a major role in the team as the captain. He is also at the heart of the midfield and also a major goal provider, losing him would have dented the team’s attack significantly.
If Arsenal strengthen their back five with a rock solid goal keeper and the team as a whole plays with the confidence and determination that we all know they are capable of then there is nothing stopping them from being in the title race with Chelsea and Manchester United. They need to keep consistency in their performances rather than have yo- yo results.
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