Season finale should prove to be an Arsene Wenger love fest
It doesn’t matter who plays. It doesn’t matter who scores. It doesn’t matter who wins. The only purpose Sunday’s game will serve is to remind Arsene Wenger that the vast majority of Arsenal supporters appreciate what he has done for the club, and desperately want him to stay.
He will return for next season. We can all be sure of that. And as supportive as the Emirates crowd will be, it’s somewhat disingenuous. Many of the supporters that will be chanting the manager’s name on Sunday are the very people who have written on the internet or called into radio stations saying that Wenger has lost the plot. These same fans who will be singing at the top of their lungs, have questioned project Wenger. So it’s silly to see the world as totally black or white. Most fans never wanted Wenger to leave, but many of them are, for the very first time, genuinely questioning his philosophy. Nothing will be decided on Sunday of course, except that Arsene still has more than adequate support to continue with his master plan for the club.
Here’s the really amazing part of this young team that Wenger is building: most of them still aren’t close to their prime. That’s reason for optimism but also for concern. If it’s another two or three years before they really hit their stride, will anyone still be waiting patiently for it to happen? How many of them will still be with the club? Those are questions we can’t afford to have answered. The fact is simply that these players will have to achieve at the highest level next season even if it’s asking too much, too soon. The best way to help them do that of course, it to bring in a few players that have the experience and polish of a fully developed professional. As Andrei Arshavin has shown this season, an experienced professional in his prime is just a different type of player from a starlet struggling to develop. The biggest difference is consistency and that’s an ingredient that’s sorely lacking in the current Arsenal setup.
I’m looking forward to watching Sunday’s game because I’m curious about how the boss will approach the starting lineup and more curious to see if Adebayor is even present at the stadium. I suspect that his “injury” will keep him from the ground all together. Probably for the best for everyone. The sooner he’s sold, the sooner his funds can help us strengthen.
I decided to watch last weekend’s match at Old Trafford one more time today and I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of what I saw. The passing was mostly good, the effort was mostly whole-hearted and the defending was acceptable. But there were two things that stood out for me. First, you can see the players struggling to understand the formation at times. I really really really liked the high pressure that kept United pinned in their own half for long stretches. That’s Barca football and it’s a strategy I really like. But positioning was a problem at times and if this is a formation that Wenger intends to use a lot next season, then it’s going to take a lot of work to figure out which players belong in which position. More importantly, the players are going to have to better understand their roles in the formation. Cesc is a very talented player but he looked a little lost at times and lately it looks like he’s trying to make the perfect pass every time the ball leaves his foot. I’m sure he’ll rebound next season, especially with the addition of an experienced central midfield partner…(fingers crossed).
But the biggest problem with what I saw in the United game is a problem that we’ve had all season. Arsenal consistently get the ball into the perfect position to deliver crosses into the opponent’s box. Gibbs, Sagna, Van Persie, Arshavin, Nasri and Diaby were all routinely in good crossing positions against United. But every time, two things were missing that prevented these opportunities from turning into goal scoring chances: there was no one in the box attacking the cross, and the quality of the crosses was generally atrocious. Throughout this season, our crossing has been terrible. Gibbs and Arshavin have actually done a better job than most but Clichy, Theo, Nasri, and especially Sagna routinely waste glorious opportunities to deliver a quality ball into the area. Nicklas Bentner has proven that his best scoring touch is with his head. Van Persie may not be the most intimidating aerial presence but he can finish as well. What’s missing is the delivery. This summer our wide players need to go to crossing school. With our pace on the wings, if we deliver more quality crosses into the box it will get us more goals, and create more space in the middle as the defense overcompensates.
In other news, Alex Hleb has been running his mouth, saying that he and Flamini would still be at Arsenal if the wages had been right. (So much for my wild suggestion that he could return to Arsenal.) He’s suggested that Arsenal will continue to lose players because we don’t offer adequate compensation and that the recurring loss of key players makes it impossible for the Gunners to succeed. This is an interesting take on the universe considering that Hleb claimed to leave Arsenal because he was struggling with life in the London. I guess we’ll file that under “convenient excuse at the time.” Also, considering that Arsenal have among the highest wage bills in the Premier League, he’s got a bit of a problem with his logic. It’s also interesting that a man who just played about 3 minutes in the entire season and stunk up the pitch when he did play is now saying that he deserved more money. But ironically, Hleb probably cost himself millions by leaving Arsenal. Follow my logic for a moment.
Hleb leaves Arsenal for more money. Hleb goes to Barcelona where he barely plays. When he does play his performances are beyond terrible. Hleb leaves Barcelona in the summer no longer able to command top tier wages. Had Hleb stayed at Arsenal and continued to shine, he could have made an excellent wage for a longer period of time. By leaving Arsenal he shortened his top flight playing career and cost himself money. Q.E.D. Suck it Alex.
Not much else to say at the moment. Cross all fingers and toes that the results go our way and Phil Brown gets relegated. As you know by now, Cesc was cleared of all charges by the FA, which comes as a surprise to no one. Just another stop along the way on the Phil Brown self-humiliation tour bus. Unfortunately, after he’s sacked at the end of the season, he’ll probably join Sky or Setanta and become just another voice in the anti-Arsenal chorus.
Enjoy the match on Sunday. Even if you’re not attending, sing at least one song for Arsene. It’ll be an interesting summer and I’m optimistic that we’ll get the players we need. But there’s plent of time for that kind of talk in the coming months. I’m excited for next season already.
In Arsene We Trust!