Friday, 12 August 2011
Squad Season Preview - Part 1
Going into the new season, it's clear our squad is short at the moment and is very likely to get worse before late Saturday afternoon. However, before we start the season I will be going over the personnel we do have in the squad, and if together they are capable of making a serious title bid. I'll start with the 'keepers.
I can comfortably say that I will not be too worried about our goalkeeping position this season. That is something that I have not been able to say since Lehmann's departure, and even when he was our number one sometimes I was sceptical.
Sure I would love to bring in Reina, who wouldn't? But In Wojciech Szczesny we have our number one for the next decade or two, and although he will make the odd mistake, his confidence is admirable and he is the best option we have.
The big Pole is 6ft 5in and commands his area like a proper goalkeeper, and some of the saves he made last season were incredible. In his PL debut he was our best player at Old Trafford, in his CL debut he helped us beat the best team ever. Szczesny is the present number one, and the future number one of Arsenal football club.
Even Szczesny's understudy doesn't scare me when he plays - something rare for an Arsenal goalkeeper. Fabianski was unlucky to lose his place last year due to a freak injury and will be wanting to win it back as soon as possible.
In some instances he is even better than Szczesny, and against Wolves he literally won us the game. Something that barely of the any other big teams could do at Molineux. Mannone and Almunia still scare the living daylight out of me though, so in any injury crisis (something that happens frequently at the club) we can be expecting the worst.
Hopefully the defence will be improved as soon as possible, because currently it is not good enough to win the Premier League. You could even put up a credible argument that it is weaker than it was last season, which does not put us in good stead.
At left back we waved goodbye to Gael Clichy and welcomed back the injury prone, defensively dodgy Armand Traore to compete with the injury prone, defensively dodgy Kieran Gibbs. Unless one of the progresses quickly, and without too many mistakes we will struggle against quality right wingers, although since we've had Clichy playing there for the last few years hopefully it can't get too much worse. (Spiteful I know)
At centre back we have the Fantastic Four in Vermaelen, Koscielny, Djourou and the tremendous Squillaci. In back up we have Ignasi Miquel, who is very promising but young and not ready for too much important first team football in an Arsenal shirt. Here is a quick summary.
Vermaelen's absence probably cost us the title last summer, and if he stays fit we will have much better organisation. Djourou looked good at times with Koscielny, but makes too many errors and has giant lapses in concentration, hopefully he can improve on this though. Koscielny can be excellent at times, but is still learning and that is clear for all to see. He makes irrational decisions and cost us a lot of penalties last year. As for Squillaci....he was a good player but his errors last year seemed to have sapped all his confidence and, together with age, he is the shell of what he used to be and will never be good enough for us.
I am confident we will reinforce the centre of defence in the very near future and hopefully that signing will have the qualities that some of our others (most except Vermaelen) lack; Defensive organisation, Leadership, Good in the air, Winning mentality.
At right back we have Mr Consistent, Bacary Sagna who is the best right back in the league, and one of the best in the world. His deputies are Eboue and Jenkinson, but with Eboue facing a likely exit Jenkinson will make the step up into the first team. The young Englishman seemed very bright in pre-season - despite the hilarious own goal - and will end up being a bargain signing at only 1 million.
I'll do the midfield and strikers later, partly as this is getting too long but also because there may be significant changes to the team.