Soccer Magazine

2011/12 In-depth Preview: Arsenal

By Thetoaststaff

Last Season: 4th I think it is safe to say that this summer has been excruciating for Arsenal fans like me. After the pathetic collapse down the stretch of the season in which Arsenal proceeded to choke away every single trophy opportunity within their grasp, fans begged Arsene Wenger to shore up the squad with solid signings. So far, that wish has not become a reality. Wenger and members of the Arsenal board insisted all summer long that reinforcements were on the way. We now sit here one day before the start of the season with only 1 signing who will see significant playing time in Gervinho. Although the other two signings of Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are expected contribute to the first team, their purchases are for the future.
This summer should have been about Arsenal adding reinforcements to an already talented team. This summer became about the never ending soap opera involving the future of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. This is the second summer in a row where Cesc has been linked with Barcelona. It was nauseating that every day to wake up and read the same rumors and lame quotes from Barcelona players about Cesc’s “Barca DNA” and how he was miserable in North London. Honestly, this whole Samir Nasri conflict caught me a bit off guard. I knew that he had one year left on his deal but I figured we would be able to resign him at some point. As the news started to leak from the Nasri camp, it became apparent that he would not resign at Arsenal and would be leaving either this summer or next. The choices then became whether he would stay one last season at Arsenal and walk away on a free transfer or sell him now to Manchester City for a respectable 20-25 million pounds. Both sagas look like they will be coming to an end shortly. Arsene Wenger said yesterday, “We hope it will be sorted out very quickly one way or the other. We'll know very quickly." It seems like there will an announcement prior at prior to the Newcastle game and resolution on these will be coming to an end with both Nasri and Fabregas leaving. I certainly understand why both Fabregas and Nasri are leaving as the team has not been winning. I wish they would both step back and look at the bigger picture. Fabregas in particular was on his way to becoming an Arsenal legend. He could have been mentioned in the same breath as Henry, Adams, Bergkamp and so on if he would have stayed and focused on leading this team to trophies. Wenger has said over and over that leading this team to success would be much more satisfying that hopping on the already dominant Barcelona bandwagon.

It is understandable that Wenger has not brought any midfielders due to the pending status of Nasri and Fabregas. I am guessing that when these two finalize moves, Wenger will bring in some midfielders. This week we have heard about a possible move for Brazilian Jadson of Shakhtar and of course there are still the Juan Mata rumors which have been running strong for weeks. What I don’t get is why it has taken so long for Wenger to buy a CB. Arsenal has been linked with the same group of English CBs for months. If he wanted one of them there should have been no point in waiting. Call the team, agree on a fee and bring the player in. Overall it is hard to even make project this team going forward. Even without Cesc and Nasri, this team has loads of talent and a plethora of attacking options. RVP still looks to be in the best form of his life. I would also be interested to see a midfield combination of Wilshere and Ramsey in the middle of the park. I believe with Cesc gone we won’t so much worry about possession and finding that “killer ball” but use our speed and play a more counter attacking game a la the Invincibles. I also love what I am seeing from Gervinho so far and he looks like he will become an instant hit in the Premier League with his pace and skill.
This will be an important month for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Who Wenger brings in to help this squad will go a long way in setting the tone for the season. If we bring in 3 or 4 quality plus as well as start fast in the Premier League and qualify for the group play in the Champions League, we have a shot to win every trophy. If we start out slow and lose to Udinese in the Champions League Play Off, Wenger will be hearing calls for his head. Six years of no trophies has worn down his equity and his commitment to not buying players may end up being his downfall at Arsenal. I sincerely hope that correct decisions are made and Arsenal finally ends their trophy drought. Right now I would say they have a good shot at 4th and possibly another Carling Cup run but as currently constructed, that is the best this team can hope for.

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