The season is officially over and the boys went out on a high with a 4-1 win over Stoke City.
All the goals were scored in the first half as Robin van Persie grabbed a pair to end the season as Arsenal’s top scorer and Abou Diaby scored the sort of header he had been threatening all season. James Beattie put also put through his own net early while Stoke grabbed a consolation through Ricardo Fuller.
I must admit that I was unable to see the match – Australian Foxtel chose to play the relegation battle games instead and I couldn’t be arsed fiddling around with a stream – but from all reports it was a relaxed and comprehensive performance. In terms of the starting side, Vito Mannone made his debut in goals while Alex Song got another start at central defence alongside Kolo Toure. Meanwhile Theo Walcott returned in place of Samir Nasri and Denilson start alongside Cesc Fabregas for the second game in a row.
The major story of the game was the tremendous support given to Arsene Wenger by the fans in the wake of his recent criticism. The fans were out in full force and images like this left the manager in an understandably happy mood after the game. As a staunch believer in Wenger’s footballing philosophy I couldn’t have been happier with the support he received and I think it was a clear indication of the high esteem he is held in by the majority of Arsenal fans.
As well as thanking the fans for their support, Wenger also made some very interesting comments after the game about the need to analyse Arsenal’s current situation before next season. He said:
“I feel the team is moving forward but the question we have to analyse now is are we strong enough to win the League next year? If not, what do we need to add to the squad? That is the basic question we have to answer. There is some great quality here, that is for sure. The squad is very young, that is for sure as well.”
They’re extremely intriguing comments because they very clearly state his desire to win the Premiership, his openness to bring in new players if requireand as clear an indication as he has given yet that his current squad are too young. I think if he asked any Arsenal supporter in the world what areas we are lacking they would reply the centre of defence and the centre of midfield and you have to hope that Wenger will come to those conclusions as well. The manager may be stubborn and frustrating at times, but he stupid he definitely is not and I feel that will be confirmed in the summer.
So that’s that for another season. No trophies for a fourth year in a row and although we moved a step closer to winning the Champions League it has to be said that this campaign saw a bit of a wobble in the growth of this group of players. In saying that there were still some great wins (Manchester United at home, Chelsea away etc) and some great moments (the penalty shoot-out against Roma, the 4-4 draw with Liverpool) and the football was generally quite good to watch. Our boys will be back again next season and with a couple of shrewd signings from the manager we’re sure to put up more of a fight at the top.
Arsenal FC Blog 08/09 Survey & Readers Choice Awards
This season I am conducting a survey about Arsenal that everyone who reads the blog is welcome and encouraged to complete. The idea behind the survey is to give out Readers Choice awards for things like Player of the Season and Goal of the Season as well as to gain an insight into your opinion on where we currently stand and what needs to change going into next season. In addition, the results of the survey will provide the crux of the content for the Arsenal FC Weekly Season Review podcast show that will be broadcast on Monday next week.
The survey will take no time at all to be completed and as an incentive, Simon & Schuster UK have given me 5 free copies of Jason Cowley’s excellent book ‘The Last Game’ to give away to those who fill it out. The book is an excellent look at the football culture in the UK before and after Arsenal’s unforgettable 2-0 victory at Anfield to win the Championship on the final day of the season. I’m about two-thirds way through it at the moment and can personally say how much I’m enjoying it, so be sure to fill out the survey for a chance to win a free copy.
Thanks in advance and I hope you enjoy the survey. I’ll be back soon with the results.