Arsenal: What now for the Gunners – Realistic chances for season 2012-13
With the multitude of transfer rumours floating around and the non-stop ‘will he won’t he’ saga regarding the futures of RVP and Theo Walcott, I feel it is time for fans to look beyond and see what are the chances for Arsenal in the coming season. In about five weeks' time, the new season will be upon us meaning there isn’t much time left for the club to prepare and get to business.
From what I see, the scene at Arsenal is quite fluid. No-one can, with any certainty, predict how the final squad will shape up. So for this piece, I will consider the worst case scenario (that is without RVP) and make some bold predictions.
Firstly, without our talisman and top scorer the team will definitely lack a cutting edge in the final third. Thus it will also struggle to break down teams that have by now mastered the art of playing with nine or 10 men deep in their halves against Arsenal while looking to score from a quick counter. This means, Arsenal will score fewer goals compared to last season. Therefore, to remain competitive and challenge for honors, the team will have to concede fewer (much fewer).
Now, to achieve this, the midfield and the defence will have to step up big time, which for many years now has failed to protect leads in tight games. Perhaps this is where the induction of Steve Bould will have a strong impact, at least I hope so.
Overall Arsenal will need a change not just in formation but also mentality. The team will have to play tighter and keep hold of the ball more in the midfield until it spots an opening. Many times in the past, the team has tried passing the ball sooner than required only to lose possession and put itself under pressure. The key for success will be to remain focused in the middle of the park and be clinical up front. Hence I wouldn’t be surprised if score lines like 1-0 or 2-1 become the norm. The days of 4-0 and 5-0 victories will certainly be over.
In this new realm, football romantics and lovers of Wengerball might get a jolt (partial) as the team will appear more workman-like with less flair. Slide rule passes through the middle eminent from the Fabregas days will become a rarity. Even pinpoint chips over defence from Alex Song might become a thing of the past. Arsenal in this new avatar will have to build attacks more through the flanks by stretching the opposition’s defences and that is why retaining Theo Walcott will become important. Although the OX can do a similar job down the right but he still is raw and needs to be more consistent.
With no particular focal point in attack the responsibility of goalscoring will have to be shared by a fair few. The role of the attacking midfielders therefore becomes crucial. If Rosciky can stay fit and be on top of his game, he can be the key man in attack, which I think he will. Ramsey has to come of age and provide depth to the squad when called for. Also, while most of us Gooners have written Diaby off, there is a possibility he will come good since this definitely is his last chance to redeem himself. With a good season from these three, it suddenly it doesn’t feel that gloomy.
My predictions based on what Arsenal have at the moment plus maybe another signing or two are:
Carling Cup – At least QF,
FA Cup – SF,
Premier League – 2nd or 3rd,
Champions League – SF
What do you think folks? Share your views on how you feel the season will pan out. I'd love to hear from you.