Arsene was as open and honest as always in the Shareholder's Q&A at the AGM. There were some answers that revealed nothing new, for example the fact that we are taking all the cup competitions more seriously was already obvious. There was also some rather interesting replies which were a tad more revealing.
I found Arsene's reponse on our defensive frailty particularly interesting. Arsene admitted that we were poor defensively last season, too many goals conceded and too 'open in the middle'. He also commented that he felt a key to improving this was the way that the midfield contributed, we have certainly seen this change in practice this season; the whole team presses more effectively, we have also seen both Song and Wilshere patrolling fairly deep just in front of the back four.
Arsene also gave his support to our midfielders who can both attack and defend, it seemed to come down to finding the balance in the end. It was encouraging to hear that Arsene openly acknowledges the defensive problems and that he is working very hard to fix them. Overall I don't think that there's any doubt that we have looked better defensively this season so far, it will take time for the new players to gel and for things to solidify further, the early signs are definitely encouraging though.
Injuries. It was fascinating to hear that a large proportion of these stem from the International games and bad tackles. There is not much that Arsenal Football Club can do about this. Arsene then explained how one serious injury can lead to a long run of niggling injuries, it can take months, even years for players to find a sustained level of fitness following a bad injury.
Inexperience. Over the session this was a recurrent theme and to me it seems that Arsene has realised it has been a bit of a problem. Arsene has addressed this by bringing in experience in moderation, he also knows that the experience gained by our young players in recent seasons should see them gain the attributes that come with experience. Arsene gave his backing to Manuel Almunia as our no1 but one can't help but feel that Lucasz Fabianski's recent form must be having a real impact here.
Ivan Gazidis' speech revealed our excellent financial results, the net debt is down from about 300 million to 135 million, with our only remaining debt being the stadium's mortgage and some other sustainable ventures. Ivan also spoke of the club's proud traditions and our other achievements such as Vik Akers' amazing work with the Arsenal ladies.
In conclusion it was another interesting glimpse into the mind of one of our greatest ever managers. It is refreshing to see that Arsene can see exactly where we have gone wrong in recent years, he can see that our defense has not been good enough and that our lack of experience has been a serious factor. The season so far has not been perfect but how often is it? It has definitely been an improvement and I think most of us are generally encouraged by what we have seen thus far. If we can get certain players fit and become that little bit meaner defensively then we have a very good chance of achieving something significant this year. Come on you Gunners!
Arsene is spot on on the injuries. Look at a player like Rosicky. It took him a year to get back on the field after his injury, and then another year to get back to full fitness. Now he is the player we bought from Dortmund. I just hope Ramsey recovers a little more quickly.
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