Thursday 28 May 2009

Positive Vibes and Player of the Season

With the end of the season now comes a couple of months of self analysis. But before we get too far into the never ending debate of who Arsenal should sign, and having given Monsieur Wenger a bit of a bashing last week, I thought it would only be fair to try and put some positive spin on next season. So here are my three top reasons to be positive for next season:

1. Andrei Arshavin - What an amazing player he is. Its a long time since I saw a new signing and immediately said "wow". Possibly Reyes made a big impact in his first couple of games, but then faded. You probably have to go back to Vieira in 1996 for the last time someone looked this good straightaway. Arshavin just got better and better through February, March and to the end of the season. Wenger should build next years' side around Arshavin.

2. Alex Song - The beating this man took from most blogs until January was terrible. Not here though, since we've been banging this drum since day one. A powerful force in midfield and extremely adept at centre-back, Song is a real Wenger product of total football (although not great for 45 mins at right back against Everton). Alex Song is a terrific player and should play a major role next year.

3. A new system 4-3-3. Unless Wenger does something dramatic over the summer, then the chances of us playing 4-4-2 next year look remote. In fact, I don't remember the last time Wenger played a proper 4-4-2, and the 4-5-1 experiment has been a disaster. But something seemed different in the way Wenger lined the team up against Stoke - Diaby, Denilson and Fabregas were pretty tight in midfield, Arshavin given the freedom of the park on the left, Walcott on the right, RVP up top. It was pretty close to 4-3-3 and produced the first half blitz that we have not seen for years. With players like Walcott, Arshavin, Vela and Nasri at the club, we have the ideal candidates to play 4-3-3. RVP seems to excel playing right side for Holland's 4-3-3.

Its a bit thin really, but there you go. A fit Eduardo and Rosicky would help as well, but then an Arsenal season without a couple of major injuries is about as likely as Wenger signing Essien for £40m over the summer. Its just not going to happen. And so, swiftly moving on, where do we all stand on the player of the season? Its the blog-vote and the moment, but its worth some banter as well. The short-list is pitiful. Alex Song deserves a big mention, so does Kieran Gibbs, but no-one stands out at all. I can't point at a single player who regularly impressed the fans with their hard work, determination and desire to win, which are really the attributes fans usually recognise in player of the year awards. I have also decided that players signed in January do not contend for player of the season awards - sorry Andrei!

So my motley collection of awards go as follows:

The Lazarus Award - Emmanuel Eboue
Back from the dead with a vengeance. No-one does it quite like Eboue. He is the biggest cheating diver, possibly our greatest hacker, definitely one of the best crossers, best right-back worst midfielder at the Club. I have no idea what he will do next year, or even next game, but I am kind of looking forward to it.

The Try Hard Award - Denilson
Along with Alex Song, I have been saying all season that Denilson is not as bad as everyone says. Its just a shame that his name is not Claude Makele. Denilson had a bad patch in the New Year and played badly against Roma. But for the first half of the season, I thought the young Brazilian was carrying Fabregas through a lot of the games. And was making a half decent go of it. I am not going to predict great things for Denilson next season, but if his workrate and physical game continue to improve, he could be a very useful squad player for us. An unsung hero for the future.

Player of the Season - Manuel Almunia
There actually was no choice in the end. Almunia has also had some critics, but then some people are total idiots. Almunia has been the only Arsenal player to perform consistently well throughout the entire season. Although he wins the award by default, it should not be forgotten that he is one of the best keepers in the league. We all hurt a great deal when Ronaldo scored the second goal at the Emirates in the Champions League semi-final. The only reason we were still in the game is that Almunia had put in the performance of a lifetime at Old Trafford. If the gutter press has any sense, it will welcome Almunia in the England team without a second thought. He is England's No.1.

Let the banter commence.


1979gooner said...

amusing, definitely aboue for the lazarus award!

also agree with almunia for player of the season, he has been outstanding in so many games, he has made so few errors, he commands his box, he makes great saves, he stays calms, great keeper and he'll only get better, a great example of wenger's patience with players paying off

Jeff said...

Almunia's a decent shout for player of the season, and I'd love to see an attacking 4-3-3 next season!

Anonymous said...

I don't think any player has stood out this season,there hasn't been any consistent performances just fits and starts.Song hopefully will continue to improve but needs to be more mobile.Diarby has to do it next season as will denilson as both have been a disappointment.

I'm just going to wait and see what the new season brings and hope during the summer wenger brings in the 2/3 experienced players needed to blend with this young squad.

K man said...

Agree with Almunia. Very solid and consistent season. But it does say a lot that our goalkeeper gets the award.

Very hopeful that we can improve a lot next season. I really think that a couple of good signings would be fine.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Can't say anyone has stood out this season and for a few next season might be there last chance or shown the door?Wenger's switching of tactic's hasn't helped considering the amount of attacking players we have,he has to sell adecrapore as he is not only shown what a big headed mercenary he is,and doesn't live up to his hype,but i think a bad influence on the youngsters and dressing room.

I'm hoping wenger can bring in a couple of players in the right positions so help bring on the youth but give the team that right balance.

Anonymous said...

Eboue is not the best right back at the club. Sagna. Form is temporary, class is forever. Eboue will have period of form, but he does not have class (see diving, see kicking people, see whining like a little girl...).

Gooneroonie said...

It's a toss up between RVP and Almunia where Arsenal's player of the season is concerned - no doubt. Arshavin would have been the front runner had he arrived before January but no matter how impressive he's been in his short stint here, four months of football just isn't enough to be crowned player of the season.

It's Van Persie for me - he didn't show the consistency of Almunia, but he carried us through some barren months and scored and assisted crucial goals aplenty. It's been an excellent season for him having finally managed to avoid major injury.

Well played on your shot out for Denilson too - he's got far too much stick than is neccessary this season. He had some excellent moments, particularly in the beginning of the season and though he seemed to go off the boil a little towards the end you can't doubt his work rate. He's become a quality interceptor and given time to bulk up could be a more mobile and technical version of Gilberto in a few years which wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Also, 4-3-3 sure is a possibility and something I would be an advocate of - we certainly the capable personel to make it work.