End of Season Review
That’s the reaction I’m sure many of us had when Aguero struck what must have been the most dramatic winners in recent memory. A last gasp goal. A title winning goal. A goal that crushed the hearts of, dare I say it, the other half of Manchester. My cable TV hanged, but the 11 new tweets that appeared in my Twitter timeline in literally one second, basically summed up the euphoria, shock and of course, the disbelief among the United fans.
Obviously, as an Arsenal fan, this was a sub-plot to our more important race to a third place finish. But you just could not resist laughing at the many United fans who bought the hope of winning their glorious 20th title, which in my opinion, did not deserve in this compelling Premier league season. Seeing Nasri celebrate the title win was heart-wrenching and disgusting to watch though. It was akin to watching your french girlfriend who you had barely known for two years, shamelessly snogging her new, wealthy Arab boyfriend just one year after she left you. Painful.
Well enough with the meaningless sidetracking.
We’ve got the third spot! After a crazy campaign, we’ve done it, and well done to the lads! I have to say this though, I always thought somehow or another, we will play in the Champions League next season, simply because we are the Arsenal. And that somehow or another, for the WBA game, turned out to be Fulop.
While it’s always fun to remind the bitter, delusional Spuds fans who’s the best team in North London (We are, for the benefit of those who weren’t aware), I didn’t feel so good about our game/season last night. To win the game purely because Christmas came early for the hapless Fulop, didn’t go too well for me.
The first was a complete misread of the ball, coming out too early which ended up as a gift to our gleeful Benayoun. I think Benayoun deserves some praise for being in the thick of things though, always working hard, always effervescent. What a quality loan signing. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think he would make much of an impact when he first came, and especially when he couldn’t make the Chelsea first team.
The second should have been saved easily but somehow it managed to go in. Credit to Santos for shooting though. We always give our players stick for not hitting the ball when they should. Against Fulop though, I would have fancied every long range shot.
The third, need I say more? A complete disaster, punching the ball straight to Koscielny, who duly did what he could only do.
Perhaps we should exchange Almunia for Fulop, since it wouldn’t make too big of a difference and we could save on some hefty wages that could be used elsewhere..
With the goals we scored, how can anyone feel like we were deserving victors against WBA, when Fulop was in my opinion, the Arsenal MOTM. It’s typical of our season as a whole. A leaky defense; unimaginative in attack.
People could argue our defense has improved. I beg to defer. While Bosscielny and the Verminator are excellent individual defenders, you can’t help but feel we look very vulnerable at the back. We can look like a team capable of defending, and the next game we look like a hapless disorganised team at the back. The Spurs game (which we won 5-2 BY THE WAY; 5PUR2 anyone?) served as an excellent example. The opener by Saha was an unfortunate deflection, but the build-up was horrendous. An Adebayor pass basically bypassed our entire defense and made it look non existent. Shocking. But this is a testament to our defense. It happens, and many Gooners out there are not surprised. I don’t want to reflect back on the 8-2 drubbing though, because our team, and even our bench was so makeshift that even Wenger’s wife could barely recognise it.
In attack, after the departure of Cesc (I don’t want to mention Nasri because although he was brilliant before, he was never our creative ‘spark’), we looked short of ideas. And badly so. The over-reliance of RVP this season -he has been incredible this season mind you- is an example of how much we are lacking in the attacking areas. No more defense splitting passes, no more moments of magic from the center of the park. You could argue that Rosicky is our playmaker now, and that Song is evolving into a different role this season, but it’s a long shot to say that they could produce the wonders that Cesc could do consistently. We’ve never replaced him. Arteta fulfilled a different role, while the long term injury to Jack meant we had to wait another season for our midfield to reach its full strength. Without Cesc, our play had to change, and it’s obvious we were playing down the wings more, what with our pacy wingers Theo, Gervinho, and sparingly the OX. The number assists chalked up by Walcott further shows how much of our play has come from the wings as well.
It’s not doom and gloom though.
Albeit the shortcomings we had this season, we still improved our league standings from fourth to third (ironically when one could argue our squad has weakened), and this also shows what a topsy-turvy season this was. Credit to Mr Wenger for steering us to third after our appalling start to the season.
As Gary Neville said:
To be in third after the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy and the awful start they endured is remarkable and a tribute to the experience of Arsene Wenger and the ability of the players.
The outstanding players this season also deserves honourable mention.
Arteta for me was a standout performer, a consistent player in the games he played. You could see our midfield was shaky without his calming presence in the remaining games of the season. With Mikel, we could see out games 1-0 no problem, a feat most Gooners would deem a myth given our knack for messing things up when we are ahead. Perhaps his time at Everton played a big role, when they were known for seeing out games and holding out for a win or a draw. Arteta was never meant to replace Cesc. But what a player he proved to be.
Szczesny too has matured. From a cocky, crazy but confident keeper, he has become a consistent player, a calming influence between the sticks. With him around, crosses into our box were no longer a nightmarish affair. I remember a long, long time ago when a player called Almunia played for us, crosses into our penalty area meant shivering in our pants, hoping, twisting our fingers or whatever we could find, that he catches the ball. Not so anymore. Now when crosses enter our box, I would say, “Don’t worry, Szczesny will get it.” And then I would say, “Told you.” Also, after the drubbing at the hands of United, Szczesny has this to say on Twitter:
Its just about time for me to grow up, delete twitter and focus on football! Thanks for all the support I have received here
I think this says a lot of his maturity, and I was quite pleased by that. And what do you know, he has never tweeted again since.
And of course, Robin Van Persie. Do I even need to say anything about this Dutch master? His statistics and accolades speak for themselves. 30 league goals this season, Golden Boot winner, PFA Player of the Year, our captain, and arguably our best player this season. From assists to goals to winners, our RVP has stepped up to the plate and many would claim, single-handedly guide us to automatic Champions League qualification. Who needs Batman when we’ve got Robin?
There may have been other players, but these are the three that truly come to my mind.
It’s important we build on this next season, and hopefully gun for the title. It will be tough, what with City around, eager to retain their title, but we must have a go at it. To do this, it’s imperative that our captain stays at Arsenal. It would be devastating for me if he left, and even more so now that we’ve got third place secured. Whoever we sign, we must keep Robin.
Whatever it is, it has been a breathtaking Premier League season. A pulsating title race between the Manchester clubs, and an exciting chase for third spot that thankfully was eventually clinched by us.
Let’s savour the moment, and to the Spurs fans, mind the gap.