Arsenal Season Review – Part 3 – The Midfield

Arsenal Season Review – Part 3 – The Midfield

Arshavin celebrates his fourth goalToday is the third in a series of posts reviewing Arsenal’s 2008/09 season. Last week I reviewed the performances of our goalkeepers and defenders over the course of the season and today it’s the midfielders turn. Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you think at the end by commenting.

Wenger’s gamble

When Mathieu Flamini, Gilberto Silva and Alex Hleb all left in the summer eyebrows were raised at Arsene Wenger’s decision to replace only one of the three players before the transfer window slammed shut. Indeed, while Samir Nasri was brought in to account for the loss of wide-man Hleb the manager took a huge gamble with his decision to refrain from bringing in a central midfielder to replace Flamini, who had been immaculate alongside Cesc Fabregas throughout last season, or Gilberto.

If the papers are to be believed then the manager was a whisker away from luring Xabi Alonso away from Liverpool but the fact remained that the club entered the new season with Denilson, Abou Diaby and Alex Song as the realistic options to partner Fabregas. And while none of the three were disgraced over the course of the season the stark reality was that neither performed anywhere near the levels achieved by Flamini and the absence of an enforcing, energetic, defensive-minded midfielder was one of the major weaknesses of the Arsenal team this season.

Despite playing more minutes than most of his teammates over the course of the campaign it is my opinion that Denilson was one of the weakest links in this side. It is harsh to criticise an inexperienced midfielder for being so poor, particularly when the team’s talisman and now captain Fabregas was injured for such a long period, but Denilson’s efforts were a huge difference to what Flamini gave the team last season. A neat passer he may be when on form but the Brazilian lacked the leadership and physical presence to boss games from the middle of the pitch and it cost our team badly in the early part of the season. Perhaps the most worrying thing about Denilson is that, to me, he appears the exact same player who ended last season and has made no notable progress over the course of the year.

Song the improver

In complete contrast, Alex Song had a season of real progression and was clearly Arsenal’s most improved player of 08/09. Some might still see the Cameroon player’s best position as at the back but he has developed into a really strong defensive-midfielder and ended the season as first-choice alongside Fabregas. While he struggled to cope when paired with Denilson, the return of the captain from his knee injury galvanised Song as player who is not only strong in the tackle and willing to work hard, but someone who can play a clinical final pass as well.

Despite being handed the captaincy from William Gallas, it’s fair to say that Fabregas did not have the season that he would have hoped for. He was slow to get going after an extended Euro 2008 campaign with Spain and struggled to express himself effectively next to Denilson in the early part of the season before tearing knee ligaments against Liverpool when on the brink of finding form. Fabregas returned after five months out to be played out of position in the hole behind the striker and despite hitting two goals against Middlesbrough, failed to dominate in the same way he did so many times last season.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest difficulties Fabregas faced this season was attempting to be the same player he was last season whilst carrying a less effective partner. The trust between Flamini and Fabregas last season was immense, so much so that the Spaniard had no fear rushing forward because he always knew the Frenchman would mop up for him at the back. Likewise, Flamini – as well as Tomas Rosicky and Hleb – were so good at maintaining possession and moving off the ball that it made things much easier for Fabregas to have an impact.

With Denilson alongside him he struggled to act with the same confidence and it was only once the more defensive Song started to establish himself that Fabregas became effective again. Fabregas will hope for better next season but with a full recovery from his knee injury now achieved and a fresh summer to look forward to, it would be foolish to think he won’t come back stronger. I do suspect, however, that his impact would be even greater if the manager was to sign an experienced, fully-established defensive-midfielder to give Cesc the freedom that he deserves.

Depth and consistency in attack

In terms of attacking players and wingers this season was largely a success. Nasri established himself as another Rosicky with his ability to keep the ball ticking over and scored some lovely goals, while Theo Walcott took a significant step forward from last season. The Englishman still has a tendency to make wrong decisions and give the ball away too often but his raw pace and an increasing ability to finish clinically caused problems for many opposition teams.

Emmanuel Eboue performed as a virtual utility player over the course of the season, covering at both wing-back positions and both wing positions as well as at central midfield in a couple of the early games. And while he was booed off at The Emirates against Wigan and I openly criticised him after that ridiculous red card against Spurs, Eboue responded with some decent late-season performances and *shock, horror* even a few goals towards the end. It was a typically bizarre season for Eboue but as long as he is happy to be used by Wenger as a utility man then he remains a valuable squad player for the club.

Marked as one of the players likely to play alongside Fabregas in the middle of the pitch, Abou Diaby played mostly as a support-striker or left-winger and endured a relatively difficult season. I still like the Frenchman immensely as a player and think he has the close control and inventiveness to make it at Arsenal, but he was caught with the ball far too often and had too many poor performances. He remains a favourite of Wenger but with an abundance of attacking-minded midfielders at the club it is getting more difficult to see how he can establish himself going forward. Next season will be an interesting one.

Arshavin’s impact

Although Alex Song was the big improver of the midfield this season it’s undeniable that Andrey Arshavin was the best performer. Brought in during the January transfer window, Arshavin immediately looked at home in England, making up for a lack of fitness with an abundance of skill and consistently committed performances. Wenger has often spoken of his reluctance to bring in experienced players in fear that they will kill off the younger players, but the signing of the Russian showed that this is not always the case. 

Arshavin is proof of the impact that established players can have on the younger players around them and his signing was a huge factor in the squad’s ability to turn around a poor first half of the season and notch up a 21-game unbeaten run. His on and off-field manner suggests he is one of the true good guys in football and that combined with that amazing four-goal haul at Anfield has practically established him as an Arsenal cult-hero.

Looking to next season

In summary, our current midfield situation at the end of this season is largely the same as it was at the start of the season. We still require an established, hard-as-nails defensive-midfielder to guide the much-improved Song and Denilson and provide Fabregas with the partner he needs to become the effective attacking player he was last season. Someone like Momo Sissoko from Juventus would be perfect, although he might be understandably difficult to lure away from Juventus.

In terms of attacking midfielders things are looking good. Arshavin has been a revelation, Nasri has been a consistent performer, Walcott has improved and Eboue and Diaby remain very decent back-ups. Add to that the fact that Rosicky is likely to start the season ready and raring to go and we certainly have the quality in this area of the pitch.

Looking at our overall playing style the main improvements I would like to see from this season to the next is an increase in the pace of our build-up play and an increase in the amount of runs into the box made by the midfield players. Players of the past like Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires perfected this to an art-form and while it would be unrealistic to hope that the current crop of midfielders could do it to the same effect, it would be great to see a few more players making an attempt next season. Too often we were left pinging crosses into a lone man in the box and with a side as attacking as ours, it simply wasn’t good enough.

Anyway, that’s it in a fairly long and detailed post. I hope you enjoyed it and stay tuned for Part 4 of the Season Review tomorrow. Cheers.

Have your say on Part 3 of the Arsenal Season Review by leaving a comment.

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42 Responses to “Arsenal Season Review – Part 3 – The Midfield”

  1. james
    May 19, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    its amusing to the point of ridiculous that diaby and song are seen as capable of being winners. Just look at the strength of manu squad to know the gulf in class. Wenger lacks tactical adaptedness to match the likes of hiddink, benitez with the constant promise of potential to come.
    Can wenger match the very best in the champions league, unfortunately NO. a couple of lucky runs over the years do not warrant such loyalty.
    Best manager of arsenal of all time, YES. capable of leading the club to greater heights , highly doubt it. Wenger has gone as far as he can.

  2. StarGhazzer
    May 19, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    Partially agree with the part about Denilson. While it is true that he has not been able to emulate what Flamini gave us last year; it is unfair to say that he did not progress.

    Denilson did not appear comfortable in his new role early in the season, as he still consistently charged forward into the box. But as the season went on, he became more aware of his defensive responsibilities and tend to keep his game simple. No more fancy tricks, just sweet simple passes and accurate positioning to block passing channels. A bit like what Gilberto used to offer us. It’s undeniable that Denilson has yet to bossed a single match, but even Vieira didn’t manage that at the age of 20. The only thing is that Denilson might have been thrown into the fray too early than expected.

    Song on the other hand, showed great improvement but only after the FA cup match vs Cardiff where he was possessed by Fabregas and gave two beautiful assists. Ever since he has shown good progress, but that doesn’t take away the fact that at the beginning of the season he appeared too clumsy and shaky. I’m happy with Song’s transformation, but he’s clearly not as far ahead of Denilson as people think. In fact his actual contributions and influence to matches do not appear as impressive statistically as compared to Denilson.

    One more thing… Very few blogs dare to criticise Fabregas this season. The departure of Flamini might have restricted his freedom to roam, but he didn’t really appear to be marshalling the midfield as well as he did in past seasons. Being injured for months and being played at an unsuitable role (AM) didn’t help either. I love le captain no doubt, but I can’t help but think he tends to be overrated by bloggers and pundits a lot. Hopefully a good rest this summer would revitalise him and we’ll see the true Fabregas next season.

  3. butterfingers
    May 19, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    nice post spanish and you haven’t gone all out on a vendetta to slag off some players but diaby was such a big dissapointment this year and it doesn’t help having the new viera title hanging over you but he should really pass more than try and dribble through 5 players as that is not the wenger way. for such a tall player he should be getting a few more headers towards goal than he has or even away from goal for that matter.
    Arsharvin was awesome and just what we need someone to pull their sleeves up and give it a go as nasri is awesome for little spells then disapears but his 2 goals against manure at the start of the season made me expect more but he was a huge improvement on hleb. Would liked to of seen more of vela and ramsey as they didn’t get much of a chance but when ramsey did get a game he looked a bit nervous unlike vela who to me is going to be better than theo in a couple of years and I just hope he stays.

  4. Anonymous
    May 19, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    I think Nasri disappears in some games coz he will be doing some defensive duties that some of our players tend to neglect.In fact with some games he played so deep that u thoght he was a holding midfielder.

  5. D
    May 19, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    thats a good post, really optimistc but i am pesimistic. the way AW acts, and ur admittance of AWfearing bringing on experience, then our challenge to the other three big clubs will always come in as a drop. those clubs kno wht they want n they go for it whole heartedly, AW doesnt,and thats the big difference. one day you might wake up to find that he is selling Cesc n RvP. Well, thats how AW acts. unpredictabe.

  6. tish
    May 19, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    I totally agree with u SF on the review,Fab needs strong back up.The Flamini-Fabregas midfield worked wonders last season so it would be good if he got s’one to partner with very well.

    Diaby is also gud only he needs a lot of improvement,hez got it all,the body and height,seriousness is what he lacks sometimes.Kudos to Song,Walcott and Eboue.
    I look 4wad to a series of wins nxt season.Even better,hoping that we will be unbeaten in the PL both home and away in all games?I really am a dreamer am I?

  7. warui
    May 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    I agree with your good analysis. To add to it, I think we need a good striker near if not equal to Henry. Then add a tall defensive midfielder and tall CB period!

  8. jay-jay
    May 19, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    @ SF – Sissoko cannot play in England, he has proved that while playing at Liverpool, same as Senderos, they are both talented defenders which is why Italy is good for them but England is more than just defending and they cant handle it.

    I think we need a world class defensice mid – Cambiasso, Mascherano, Essien, Flamini or Pirlo. If we buy a world class DM we will also get a world class CM in fabregas so its kll two birds with one stone scenario. We need a CB, Silvestre gone, Denilson on loan, Ade gone, Another ST and a DM, plus any youngsters he may find (you know he will find one).

  9. Fatboy
    May 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    Absolutely spot on analysis SF. It’s been a bit harsh on Denilson this season, as in my opinion, the man is really an attacking central midfielder. His creative passing and runs into the box make him a natural understudy to Fab, NOT a hard-tackling defensive midfielder. He doesn’t have the physique for it. I know people will quote stats saying he made more tackles than anyone else, but the DM role is also about reading the game, positional awareness and the timing of tackles and runs. I just don’t think this is Denilson’s game. Song has come on leaps and bounds yes, but he still has the look of a headless chicken at times. He works very hard and you’re quite right to say he will improve further under the guidance of a quality, experienced DM brought in during the summer. Rumour is that we’ll be back in for Alonso, which I would welcome. Firstly, because he’s had agreat season at Liverpool, but also because he’s a mate of
    Fab’s, which will help keep him happy. Regarding the wide players, I agree that this is probably the only area of the squad where we have strength in depth.

    Nasri’s done well, my only criticism being that he sometimes does a good impression of a crab- going sideways instead of forwards. Walcott’s had a good season, taking onto account his long injury. Yes. he’s still a touch naive, but he can still be devestating. It’ll be interesting whether Rosicky comes back as good as before- you never know after such a long layoff what type of player will return.

    I agree about Diaby getting caught in possession too much. He’s so languid, he needs a rocket up his arse at times, but he definitely has the ability to make the grade. I think he’s looked better in european games, when he gets half a second more time and half a yard more space.

    I think Eboue’s great. I know that’s not necessarily a poular view, but the bloke works his socks off and is happy to fill in anywhere, or keep the bench warm. You’re right about his card at Spurs, but I think he offers us more than he loses us.

    Arshavin has been the buy of the season in the Premier League. Fantastic, superb and brilliant in every way. Workrate, skill, attitude, he’s got the lot. If ever there was a case of spending big on established players, Arshavin is the example. Let’s hope AW takes note.

    Overall, midfield is our strongest area. If we invest in an established SDM, I think we’ll have the personel the challenge anybody.

  10. TDP
    May 19, 2009 at 7:08 pm #

    Song has improved more than Denilson, but the young Brazilian has certainly moved forward from his cameos in midfield towards the end of last season. The problem is that neither of them are ready to be used as regularly as they have been this season; see Ferguson’s deployment of Anderson, Evans and Rafael for the appropriate way to provide these youngsters with experience going forward. Unfortunately, Song and Denilson have had far too much responsibility thrust upon their shoulders in a crucial area of the pitch. This is a level of responsibility that neither player is quite ready for.

    For me, both are very solid squad options at the moment and can be brought on with games at the right times with an experienced player in front of them.

    Finally, I can’t stand the vitriol that Arsene has been subjected to; he is the greatest manager this club has ever had and the entire image and representation of the club from the style of play down to the 60,000 seat Emirates stadium is almost entirely down to him. Diego Maradona dragged Napoli to league titles almost single-handedly…Arsene Wenger has had a similar impact on this football club and it saddens me to see fans driving him away when he has built title winning sides on a shoestring and continues to battle against the gargantuine financial muscle of his competitors. Ferguson buys players who are stars or are certain to be stars; Arsene Wenger buys players who no one else sees that potential in but him. This is just one of the reasons we should be thankful he is the manager of Arsenal Football club.

  11. anicoll5
    May 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    Good piece Senor Fry and 90% with you on the content.

    Like several other posters I think you have under-estimated Denilson’s contribution and the work he has done throughout the season. If anyone had told me that we would be facing a eight to ten week period with no Cesc from December and still comfortably had snagged a CL berth, a CL semi final place and a FA Cup SF place I would have larfed.

    The other point you dont touch on is last August Rosicky was due, according to Le Boss, due to play in September, then October, etc – it was not until well into the season that it became clear that an experienced and creeative player in midfield would miss the whole damned season.

    If I was pointing to a “things I would do differently” moment I would aim at selling Gilberto to the Greeks for £1 million
    FFS – £1 million !!!!!!!

  12. rilub
    May 19, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    God Im sick of it! the season hasn’t even finished yet and there are some people who are saying we will win fuck all next season!
    Im sure all of these are the newer more spoilt fans! As they do not have a clue what it was like to support Arsenal of yester year! Don’t get me wrong i do beleive that alot has to change next year, but if it doesn’t it still wont stop me fulling believing that Arsenal will win the lot come August! That blind faith that i have in the bottom of my heart makes me a true fan! it’s such a shame that i can no longer say that about my other fellow gooners!

    This blind faith raised it’s self on Saturday lunchtime when i was surrounded by celebrating united fans and throw in a y** or two and a couple of Happy hammers! who all took it apon themselves to remind me how shit we were this season and how next season would bring a host of World class players leaving the club and a mid table finish was on the cards! At that point im remembered was i love this game and why i love my club and i defended them like my own kids and was filled with optomism for next season!

    So i for one will be backing this team and this manager as i do every season and i like all true gooners believe!! SO GET BEHIND YOUR CLUB AND SUPPORT THEM!

  13. Kayo Burgess
    May 19, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    i agree with mostly everything you say, however I have ONE MAJOR DISAGREEMENT…

    THEO WALCOTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In my opinion he has not improved. Too many a time he has:
    – lost the ball while dribbling
    – missed easy opportunities to score due to lack of composure
    – fallen over due to the inability to control his pace and lack of strength
    – failed to run back and help out the defense when he loses the ball.

    Frankly, I think Gooners who love him are blinded by the fact that he is English. If he was of another nationality he would not be in the first team and would MOST DEFINITELY NOT BE PRAISED and idolised the way he is. Eboue for me, although slower, can at least control the ball when he runs and has proven that he can play quick one-twos and help build up play. Walcott on the other hand can only run down the wing and kick the ball into the penalty box, only for it to be booted out by the opposition or ineffectively struck by one of our attackers. He has no other aveneue and no other attributes to his game.

    Given what we paid for him, I think we got ripped off. He hasnt yet started to contribute and age is creeping up on him. Hes 20 now, and doesnt look that much closer to being a polished character than when he arrived at 17. I don’t see any improvment and if you do, then you must be kidding yourself.

  14. Old Timer
    May 19, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    Yes, Spanish, yes.
    Song, who I didn’t rate at all at the begining of the season I’d say has improved enough to warrant a place on the subs bench and a run in the Carling /FA Cup teams.
    Denilson’s got a lot of heart and may yet make a leap forward but right now I think he needs a loan out or something.
    But Diaby – I can’t agree with you about. Now I’m not one of those in the habit of slagging off our players but this guy is actually rubbish. He is, I have to say, the worst Arsenal player I’ve seen in a long long time. I’d put him on a par with Oleg Luzhny. Game after game after game there he was, trudging slowly around, stumbling over, being robbed of the ball, casually guiding passes into the advertising hordings. Everytime I see Diaby’s name on the team sheet my heart sinks. If only we had someone else. Anyone else. To my mind it is imperative to Arsenal’s success that this man is replaced. I could almost guarantee you that were he to be sold to any other Premier League outfit (unlikely I know) even the lowliest like Bolton or Portsmouth, they’d get shot of him before the seasons end.

  15. tony
    May 19, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    its unfair to say denilson hasnt progressed. he played exceptionally well in our last game against man u. the stats do no lie, his passing accuracy is extremely good and he is only 20 years of age. may be he is not a defensive midfielder and we have jus been made to look at him tht way because he is supposed to be replacin flamini. man u play with carrick and scholes sometimes and neither of them is defensive. i believe if we had a very good cb who is diminant in the air we might not need a cdm. diaby has a good physique, can tackle decently and can be dominant in the air plus he is not a kid, 23yrs of age. its frustrating tht he jus cant get his head down and show some maturity in his play. if he puts his act together he will be able to dominate midfield because of his shear size. song has shown so much improvement its shockin. i remember paul merson describing him as a fish up a tree. an apology from him. nasri has been exceptional in his first season, arshavin will be a cult hero and we all know what rosicky can offer the team. fabregas will be back next season and who knows wilshere might get a chance in the first team. walcott has been the most disappointing for me on the right, maybe that is not his preffered position. because from beginning to the end of season i cannot say he has made much progress. he might be very good as a striker though.

  16. Ianinja
    May 19, 2009 at 8:32 pm #

    Our attacking midfielders are quite potent, with Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott, Fabregras and Rosicky coming back by next season. Arsene could help Denilson by adding an experienced signing to aid and guide him.

    Denilson has given his all but I still feel he could really improved further by playing with a proper defensive midlfielder with quality experience. Maybe someone like Jeremy Toulanlan or Cana.

    SF, what do you think of Vela, is he a winger or striker?

  17. jebo
    May 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    well put!! spanish frey

    but diaby should get some psychological advice…..i mean he should develop mentaly …..he acts like a kid who doesn’t have any mission at all….

    great post….

  18. Blurguy
    May 19, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    SF, like many, I disagree with Diaby accessment. He’s too injury-prone and lack seriousness. A lazy player who often dwell too long on the ball. Loan/Sell him.
    Denilson is capable to deputize for Fabregas but not as DM.
    Song passing is not good. Can deputize for a good DM which i hope AW can buy soon.
    Ade is less determine as last season. If price’s good, sell him. No point keep if his heart is not here.
    We can bring in a fighter like Tevez.

  19. Fatboy
    May 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    @ rilub: I agree that the negativity from the fans has gone too far now. I dont agree that it is wrong for true fans to voice criticism at the team and the manager, and I don’t believe you’re less of a fan if you don’t have unquestioning blind faith, but any criticism needs to be proportionate and constructive. I think AW has made mistakes this season, especially leaving us with no DM, but it’s become clear over the last 3 or 4 days why we’re in the position we’re in.

    Dannny Fiszman keeps saying Arsene has a substantial transfer budget, which leaves fans with the impression that it’s just Arsene’s obsession with youth that means we don’t spend like our rivals do. I was of the opinion that with the new stadium, we had the financial muscle to compete, and have posted countless times moaning about the lack of investment in the squad.

    HOW WRONG I WAS!

    If today’s Times, Guardian and Mail are to be believed (and it is a theme repeated elsewhere), we don’t have the money to invest. Arsene’s budget is about £15M a season, which compared to the funds available to Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool is peanuts. Even the spuds spent £50M last summer. We’ve got a new stadium, which in the future will give us the spending power we need, but until the Highbury Square sales kick in, we basically skint.

    In this context, what AW has done over the last 3-4 years is nothong short of miraculous. We’ve maintained our position in the top four and can be considered well within the top 6 in Europe, whilst operating on a transfer budget that wouldn’t cover the cost of the prawn sandwiches at Old Trafford.

    I must admit to feeling a bit humble today, having taken on board the constraints our manager has had to work within.

    So whilst championing any fans right to whinge and moan, I agree with rilub that we should now get behind the team and especially the manager. It’s no coincidence that AW has shown his annoyance with the attitude of the fans following that shareholder’s meeting, and talked about the approach of Real Madrid. We need to leave him in no doubt about how real Arsenal supporters feel.

  20. Ole Gunner
    May 19, 2009 at 9:29 pm #

    Denilson has been stellar this season. You’re blind.

  21. MoMONEY
    May 19, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    I would replace Diaby. Song absolutey has a future and will push for a starting job. Denilson could as well. Bring in someone old and experienced to teach by example for a couple of years. Vieira back would be awesome. Wouldnt mind Gattuso or someone in that mold. We need attitude more then anything.

    We need to think of ways to make sure Wenger knows he is wanted. I swear if he leaves I will lose all respect for everyone who forced him out. Why do you think Madrid/ all clubs want him? DO you think you know better than their management teams? Get off Wenger- he has done so much with so little.

  22. rilub
    May 19, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Its a joke how some fans talk about Arsene. We clearly don’t have the funds to compete with Man USA & Chelski most clubs in Europe don’t! We can’t expect to win the league because football has changed since 2004 simple as. I believe in what Arsenal are doing and if we look at the bigger picture instead of worrying about winning pointless cups like the Carling Cup and forgive me for saying it the FA Cup, we might realise this. No other manager could get this team into the semi-final of both the Champions League and FA Cup and qualify for the Champions League again other than Arsene Wenger. The work he is doing with a limited budget is fantastic! We shouldn’t compare this team to the 2004 team, football has changed! We did take steps back but only to take giant steps forward. Arsene knows what he is doing end of. It’s so sad how disrespectful and cretinous so fans truly are. Is it really worth forcing a legend out of the club so we can win the FA Cup. Wow!!! Arsene is worth 20 FA Cups to me. The facts are we had some bad results in the league this season and that cost us a title challenge, fair enough I can accept that but it’s true what the boss is saying. The team have had to work against a very negative environment to achieve what they did this season. Booing your own players is disgraceful especially when there so young! Adebayor is a wanker and should have been sold but booing him just made him worse. How is that helping? Eboue was booed wrongly too. His not the best player but he does try! Some fans need to wake up and realise that we don’t have the money to buy the very best players, so we’re developing the very best youngsters & turning them into the very best players. It will happens but give the players time and support. If Wenger does go I will be heartbroken and so will most true Arsenal fans.

  23. anicoll5
    May 19, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Interesting the rumour about the £15 million being the maximum pot – you know they are wrong – but are they wrong high -or wrong low ?

    Common sense demands that you do not announce you have £50 mill in the kitty – unless you are daft or Citeh

    Equally you need to persuade available players that you are a serious destination

    I think wrong on the low side

  24. radadsRSA
    May 19, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    spot on MoMoney!!!But bringing somebody back or else on our CDM wont help much,Id say, id stick with Song, who’s got so much potential for next season.Fabregas and Song are my most respected players in our midfield, you will all see how in form he will be next season.
    As for SF’s comments, i really appreciate ur last comments saying:”Too often, we were left pinging crosses to a lone man in the box…….” this is exactly what we lack thruout this season, If we look back at F Ljunberg, RPires,Bergkamp,Vierra, Parlour,Hleb, Rosicky, ….you will always find these guys in the box as soon as we attack with TH14, and thats what we’ve been always needing!!!
    Diaby: He is my worst!!! The lad just always waits to be ball-passed, and expecting himself to perform his dribbles all over the show.We need good runs from our midfield, its simple as that!!!But I can see some special skills in the frenchman style thou!!!BUT HE NEEDS RUNS AND FAST ONES!!!!If he can only do this, he will be extremely amazing.
    DENI: Dont really know how to rate the brazilian, to me he isnt just up for a CDM job.Lack of dominance in the midfield cos of his body shape, dont really have the potential to be a winger and will never be up for Cesc’s job as an AM or being a good playmaker.Only thing i admire on him is his way to position himself on the pitch for ball recovery, a part from that to me he is useless.I also agree with SF saying:”Hes been our weakest link this season..”,if Song has been given the same time on the pitch as he had early this season to pair with Cesc,the reasult would have been different.
    Nasri: Rosicky like, but then again, he lacks fast run and goal minding sense, we need those kind of players who can accelerate the game and the passings in the box spreading toward the goal: Pass the ball and go fast,cutting from side to side, or from behind to front, so that Fab can really have the choice on who to pass the ball.
    Walcott: 80% good to me but still lacks a bit of control.He hasnt completely reached the point where he is really in control of his gud fast run, and in addition to that Fab,Toure and eboue are the only guys in the squad who know how to feed him by exploring his gud fast run.He also has this bad habit of keeping himself a bit wide and deep leaving our strikers lonely in the box.In overall, I like him and Im expecting lots of surprise from him next season.
    Arshavin: Totaly perfect so far, only a little to criticise on him:Lazy to get back for defense.But i like his way of positionning himself on the pitch, the way he spreads himself giving space for Cesc to pass, and finally he is the only one I see doing the fast run and acceleration in the box so far along with RVP and Eboue.I love his “pass and go” and go fast.Im expecting a lot from him next season.
    Eboue: ive always liked him, I used to feel bad when he used to run at full speed all the way from the back to try to give acceleration on the wing and ignored by the winger most of the time (Nasri so often!!).i beleive that the lad has been long enough in the AW’s system to understand and to cope marvelousely with the Arsenal way.He used to be the only guy who has always tried to give us spark of the Arsenal game during those times of crisis early this season.I still would love to have him strong in the squad next season.
    In bref, most of our mdfld players need that high speed good run for acceleration especially in the box, and not to forget all need to practice or need to strengthen their leg muscles for a STRONG HIT STRIKING BALL like Arshavin’s way.

  25. jay-jay
    May 20, 2009 at 2:47 am #

    @ Kayo Burgess – How can you say Walcott has not improved. He now uses his pace a lot more, he has more goals to back up his talent. He has more confidence, he bagged a hat-trick at international level. Those finshes against Chelsea and Villarreal shows his progression, he still has to progress more but he has most defo progressed and that is why he has played so mauch more and we were all upset when he was inujured this season. Walcott and Bendtner have been our most improved players I believe.

  26. ALGunner
    May 20, 2009 at 2:55 am #

    Hey boys come on now AW is the manager for arsenal. Yes sometimes were are disappointed with him. As I was after the CL match in emirates against MANU. But guys need to support AW. Now talking about midfield. Whatever the people say about Diaby I can’t even dream to have him this season. We have given plenty of opportunity to him to progress but he has not. So AW pls dispose this guy he is good for nothing. Can’t hold the ball in midfield Can’t pass the ball, Marking in the midfield is poor no pace and not even an good header of the ball. He Just like he dribble past the player which comes to nothing. About Walcott he is still not the finish product he has got pace but end product is not there and even he to be is poor at crossing. Deni yes I prefer to hold him but let him go to Newcastle for an season loan. Song has been an great find but still his marking in midfield needs to improve as he is an CDM. Yes to me he makes to arsenal bench. Arsha,Nasri they are class above all the other. Fab will bounce back and will hit form. i still believe he bring spark to the team from midfield not as an supporting striker. As Far as replacement is concern in midfield I believe Marcos Senna should be bought in he is such as strong personality in the midfield and can fill in the place of Flamini. He is also an natural leader which we lack in the team at the movement. And I would like to have an checky check on T.Huddlestone from spurs. Don’t mistake me guys but he is all what we want at the movement and tall guy at the CDM position and who can pass the ball and if want can play as CB. Most Important he is not wanted by spurs.

  27. ib
    May 20, 2009 at 6:26 am #

    diaby, not good enough for arsenal.cant play for any pl club

  28. IrishGunner2009
    May 20, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    Marcos Senna , Huntelaar and Jaglika there ya go problem solved

  29. GUNNA SHAH
    May 20, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    Great post spanish,the midfield and defence had its ups and downs this season,the gradual emergence of alex song as DM was encouraging,but IMO, he should be a deputy to a more established DM,am not of the opinion of buying big names,instead we should go for hardworking and dedicated players,song and denilson cannot be compared to viera,petit,or flamini, we lack a tall physical presence in the DM department,if i may throw in a name or two in this area,1, jermain jones 27, schalke04,6foot3,great tackler,box to box player,good finisher,a decent passer,and a real bruiser,or lets chase gareth barry, the rest of the wing players are o.k,diaby needs to tidy up his game and should be played atimes in the hole. Same thing in defence,need a big guy that can head as well as tackle the ball,someone like terry,which is why gallas was so good in chelski,terry would go for the high balls and gallas would clean the rest,toure is a good player,but the high balls will always be a problem for him,but a taller defender will bring out the best in toure,here i would suggest hageland of fulham,or naldo of werder bremen.I Hope we buy,this summer,but le boss knows best.

  30. Spanish Fry
    May 20, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    @ GUNNA SHAH – “the gradual emergence of alex song as DM was encouraging,but IMO, he should be a deputy to a more established DM”

    I absolutely agree with this. Couldn’t have put it better.

  31. Fatboy
    May 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    Arsene has confirmed he’s staying with Arsenal after the speculation about leaving for Madrid. Great. Check out this link to Martin Samuel’s article in today’s Daily Mail. It brilliantly sums up the situation we’re in at the moment:-

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-1184597/MARTIN-SAMUEL-Even-Simon-Cowell-work-Arsenal-talent.html

  32. butterfingers
    May 20, 2009 at 8:06 pm #

    c’mon sf waiting for the strikers as this will be really interesting!!!!

  33. rilub
    May 20, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Arsene has confirmed he’s staying with Arsenal after the speculation about leaving for Madrid. Great. Check out this link to Martin Samuel’s article in today’s Daily Mail. It brilliantly sums up the situation we’re in at the moment:-

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-1184597/MARTIN-SAMUEL-Even-Simon-Cowell-work-Arsenal-talent.html

  34. Andrew
    May 20, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

    i love arsenal and i would love to comment on what i fell in my heart has a fun if possible bring in mathew flamini so that he can help fabrecas and other who are in midfield add some defence especialy 3 so that he can help clich and gipps
    thanks from kenya

  35. Andrew
    May 20, 2009 at 11:49 pm #

    next season we will take all caps in england i feel that please wenger dont go spain stay with the team we are praying for you.we love arsenal

    arsenal go go we are there nfor you
    from kenya kitale town.

  36. radadsRSA
    May 21, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    @SF, to me Song would be perfect for next season, he will surprise us after the pre-season CL qualification,IMO we only need one guy to be like Flamini and to me Song is the best option for that.He might not be the best for now as we all look at him as an apprentice and not fully completed CDM or matured one but buying a new one and put him as a deputy would simply rob the confidence that he has built up to get to this level.His confidence and desire wont stop growing and beleive me guys, by November this year he will be complete and fully matured if given the right amount of time on the pitch.
    @Rilub, I fully agree with this guy writting for dailymail, i think I ve already stated this matter here previousely; some guys here said that im obsessed with the young-age fact of our players but to me thats simply the truth.No other manager would have reached this stage at season end with this kind of squad, comon guys 7 out of 11 players are merely 22yrs old, most of them arent even 22 but still 21 and half of them arent much PL experienced; reached the 1/2final of CL, 4th on the PL,1/2final fa cup.Look at the goal scored despite of our bad start early this season.This team is gonna surprise many people next season, we will all sit here and watch, I can even bet to anyone for at least a silverware.
    As for Diaby, he might also give us a big surprise next season, for now we can all say that he is incompetent, he is actually my worst arsenal player but i see him having some special skills and very typical style on his footbal,DIABY COULD ONLY BE THE WORST OR THE BEST, HE CANT BE IN THE MIDDLE.Either his skills would explose and he will be cherrished by the crowd or it wont then he’ll be blamed for it.
    To me, Deni is the total fear for Arsenal, id rather sell him along with Silly and get a 2nd CDM (Deputy one not Song the DEPUTY!!)or get a tall solid bold CB.
    Otherways, our squad is perfect .

  37. hikerson14@yahoo.com
    May 21, 2009 at 12:44 am #

    thank you for your part 3 midfielders i actually agree with you in many instances.Nasri did absolutely great for gunners.i would like to mention the players who gave their hearts for the team this season
    and here they are:Sagna, Nasri, Song and ALmunia.these guys did wonderful job to keep me happy at least.

  38. YuppieScum
    May 21, 2009 at 3:12 am #

    In midfield (and team-wide), most of the “kids” improved, BUT none of them had a real break-out season, where they emerged as top-tier players. Like S.F., I agree that Wenger did gamble with the youth, and he overplayed his hand. However, due to Arsenal’s prudent and real-world business model, he really didn’t have much choice. I’m sure he could have spent more on new players last year, but he didn’t want to overpay.

    Let’s hope that Abramovich grows weary of his expensive toy, and ManU’s and Liverpool’s bankers start collapsing their respective houses of cards.

  39. patrick mwabila
    May 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    so far we are not very bad because we have tried to consolidate the fourth slot and are assured to try another lacky in the champions leauge although we were dissappointed with the semi final and that was my worst moment in this year’s league compaign.Patrick

  40. the return
    May 30, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    I only regret for the past season is wenger letting go of gilberto he would not only have feeled the void left by flamini but would have been good for the atmosphere in the dressing room as well as a teacher to the other midfielders. When wenger gave the captaincy to gallas he killed him. His performances in the first season at the emirates warranted reward and we did not do that. if we are not careful we ll do the same to toure who was also let down by the fact that gallas received some sort of special attention.Cesc is too young to be captain and i feel his selection was jus to ty him to the club. Toure is a very dependable player who would have led with his brain and heart.Throwing song and denilson in this area of the pitch was just to much for them they are wonderful talents, but the area is too much for them. CDM role is so specialised i don’t think that in the world right now you will find an anchor under 25 and is exceptionally good.Makelele, gattuso, gilberto all those were in advanced ages when they were dominant. The past season was the first in many steps for the two. One thing that we need so much i know how much song and denilson have progressed is an experienced holding midfielder who on the big european nights or against those above us can stand up and be counted not for himself but the rest of the team.Buy Barry

  41. philip andrew mhando
    June 10, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    Isuggest that tall, strong and skillfull players be employed tin positions that were formerly held by Thiery Henry,Patric Viera and Sol Campbell. certainly the players we have now have completely failed to make good replacement.
    Wenger has a good sight for young players which is a good policy but additional strength is needed.

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  1. Arsenal FC Blog | Arsenal Season Review - Part 4 - The Attack + new away kit photos - May 21, 2009

    […] week I reviewed the performances of our goalkeepers and defenders and on Tuesday it was the midfielders. Today it’s the […]

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