State Of Play : What Lies Ahead

By Jake (@JakeArsenal1)

State Of Play : What Lies Ahead

Equilibrium is defined as “a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces”. Why I am mentioning this is with this blog, I’m intending to balance out the positives and negatives of what does indeed lie ahead for Arsenal this season and maybe beyond.

I want to be careful how I go about this and how I word this blog. Because after such a lacklustre deadline day, we are all still on edge a little. I’m not going to harp on about what has already been brilliantly covered by everyone on the pod last night, and as much as I’d have loved to have jumped in, I must admit, for the first time in a nearly a decade. I didn’t stay up all night on my side of the world to see if we would sign anyone, because quite frankly, I didn’t care anymore.

If I woke to the news that we signed Cavani, Reus a decent centre-back and defensive midfielder, of course I would have jumped for joy (of course I didn’t think this would happen). I don’t claim to be” in the know” anymore than anyone else. But the problem for me and everyone else is, this whole “we just need two or three players to really compete” thing. Has been the same story for years now.

It’s beyond asking why don’t we buy these players anymore. It’s who is to blame? Knowing the man like I do, from his horrible handling in owning the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche ice hockey team, not to mention St Louis Rams NFL franchise, mediocrity and making money is the ONLY reason Stan Kroenke is involved with Arsenal or any sports franchise.

You want to ask why fans are being asked to shell out an extra 3% for ticket prices? Look no further. I would bet everything I own, (and that’s next to naught by the way). That after the July spending, there is every chance that he turned to Gazidis and Wenger and said. “Let’s reel in the spending now boys”.

Of course I could be wrong. But you only need to look at his track record with similar acts selling off his teams best players, assets and draft picks for money, while replacing with less than adequate players moving forward. You could argue with me that we are now “a self sustaining club and he doesn’t have that much an influence” this man is the majority share holder at the club. His influence is always going to bigger than we on the outside looking in know.

I don’t want to make this a Kroenke out blog, but if you’re not interested or bothered looking up how the fans of sports franchises he owns feel about him. Take this one, free to public record fact of note.

On August 15th 2008 the WWE booked a wrestling event at the Denver Nuggets Pepsi Center for may 25th 2009. The long and the short of it is this. Stan Kroenke knowingly booked a wrestling event under the belief that his Denver Nuggets (who were a decent top 8 in the western conference team, being led by Carmelo Anthony) would not make good run in the playoffs an ENTIRE season later. This backfired as result the Nuggets had a home game in the NBA Western conference finals against the LA Lakers scheduled for the same night as the wrestling event.

This is all true and fact. Now, look at this from an Arsenal point of view. This man, KNOWINGLY booked an event at the same arena a team he owns plays at, because he was under the belief the team weren’t good enough to make it this far in to the playoffs.

Now, wouldn’t any of us Arsenal fans worry naturally on a few fronts here? One. He literally had 9 months to improve the team to a point where they could compete. And had already pulled the pulled the plug on the idea is the sum of this. Either that or he was so stupid in his negligence that he “just plain forgot”.

To sum it up. This is a man who doesn’t have ambition when it comes to his teams seeing success, and to put it bluntly. If he does not see it as a profit. He does not get involved.

Remember when we stopped believing what players said when it came to transfers and their loyalty as gospel? I think we can now confidently stop believing the board, the owners, or the manager to that extent. And I love Arsene Wenger. But there is no logical justification for not buying at the very least a defender. And scrambling on the final day for one is not acceptable for a club who wish to compete for four trophies.

Right, enough on that. Anyone who wishes to debate me on that is more than welcome to try and defend this somehow. But that was one of many ridiculous things Stan Kroenke has done during his tenure with his Kroenke sports enterprise.

As it stands, we got Welbeck. I spent the day thinking the best possible outcome we can expect from him this season, and seeing Gooners on twitter retweeting the dismay and distain of unbelievably ungrateful United fans (who got F****ng Falcao by the way!!) as they cried Welbeck had left, as if it’s some justification that he “may well turn out alright” is almost as ludicrous as the notion that Di Maria will be the replacement for Ronaldo at that club and score tonnes of goals. A player who has never scored more than 7 a season, yet he’s going to score loads in the Premier League?. Absolute bollocks. It proves how many casual, deluded, and limited knowledge fans that club actually have. Are you telling me any Arsenal fan would have rather Welbeck over Falcao? If that’s the case United fans, give us Falcao, cover his wages, and you can keep Welbeck. Ridiculous them lot. And that’s not to say our fans are easily pleased either. Some wouldn’t be happy if we signed Messi.

To think Danny Welbeck will turn in to Danny Sturridge is a little far fetched for me. I’ve put it down to this. With Giroud out, Welbeck, Sanogo, Sanchez, Podolski, Campbell and at some stage Walcott will all be likely given a go up front until Giroud returns. That’s roughly 4 months, plus how ever long until he finds his form. Let’s say Welbeck ends up as the man to lead the line for arguments sake, with Sanchez on one of the wings. Between now and the return of Giroud, I think if we can manage 7 goals and 4 assists in the league alone, out of the young England international, that should be seen as successful.

At United, he never got a real chance up front in his preferred position, to think he will get the chance here, where Arshavin never got to as an attacking midfielder, Santi and Özil are rotated in that same position now or chucked out on the flanks, my outlook is not positive.

But to the theme of balancing things out. He is better than Sanogo, maybe? We will find out. His positives are, he is quick, 6 foot 1 and can run all day and is known to make intelligent runs. Negatives are he is a shoddy finisher, does not have a proven goal scoring record, and (I know this will piss people off). If he did cost a reported 16 million pounds. For another 8 million United bought RVP off us. Are you trying to tell me Danny Welbeck is only 8 million pounds worse than the best striker we had since Henry?

I suppose you can justify that with, “well we waited so long it’s our fault” or “he’s English and from a rival so we had to overpay” but if we were going to overpay. I said on my twitter a week ago and got abused to no end for it. We should have got Bony even before Giroud’s injury. Could you imagine, in a tough game where we are trying to scrape a win, a front pair of Giroud and Bony? Tell me there would be a more physically imposing strike pair in the Premier League? He might not be what some deem “Arsenal quality” but is Welbeck?.

I don’t want to slag the lad off. He’s still got his best years ahead of him and he’s an Arsenal player now, so I wish all the best for young Danny. I’d absolutely love it if he started banging in goals left and right and personally told me to stick it my arse for doubting him to be honest. Then United fans can have something proper to cry about, mugs.

More to the state of play and what lies ahead. We still await the arrival of Theo Walcott after a long injury layoff. I’m hoping his pace and once he finds his form, can find the back of the net with some regularity. You also have to consider Giroud was our top scorer last season. Considering he will miss half the campaign, try to think we will need at least 8 of the 16 league goals he scored by the half way point of last season before his return.

I think with the attackers we have, Welbeck included. We can get that amount plus obviously more that will need to come from all the strikers. But, think like this. We still need Ramsey’s goal threat. Sanchez will have to take the brunt of goal scoring responsibility. Podolski will score if he plays more often that not. It’s Sanogo, Welbeck and Campbell who I worry about. Will Campbell even play? I don’t want to see more injuries before he is “forced to play” be the scenario for the Costa Rica international.

I know I’m being pessimistic more than positive here. But now with the no additions to the back. I believe the manager has a “versatility” plan within the squad. It’s been said that Monreal will be the fourth choice centre-back. So that makes Chambers third choice back up. Does that mean he is also first back up at right-back or is Bellerin to take that job? Lots of questions will be answered in the next few months.

To be a tad more positive, maybe we will see the likes of Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain step up this season too. Maybe Wilshere can prove to be a good long term partner to Ramsey in the midfield. Suppose Arteta and Flamini don’t get injured again this season, then we can just hope their performances against the bigger teams are decent enough.

I think once we find our feet as a squad, there should be enough creativity to score plenty of goals there. But, I do also fear that sometimes we won’t be able to break teams down or go that extra gear as was evident against Leicester.

The summery of the equilibrium and state of play for me is this.

– We have a long season ahead.
– the likes of Aaron Ramsey, The Ox, Sanchez, Özil, Chambers, Wilshere, even Sanogo should all improve.
– heh, if things are bad…we can always buy in January? Sorry, bad timing to make jokes.
– truth being told, the squad, although thin, is improved on last year personnel wise (although I still believe Sagna is a better defender than Debuchy).
– don’t forget how long we were top last season, we haven’t become a worse team since then across the board surely?.

There is always going to be questions to ask and answers to find. If I’m honest, if we are still in the title race right till the end, I’ll be impressed to say the least. If we get past the quarter final stage of the champions league, I’ll consider it a fantastic run in that competition.

It’s all for us to do. And honestly, with the likes of the near talismanic Ramsey, an improving Özil feeding passes to Sanchez, Walcott and The Ox amongst others. We should have a potent if not versatile attack.

So what lies ahead is truly anyone’s guess. I’m just trying to gauge it best as I can and stay as positive as I negatively can :p

Sorry for the long one. If you have a moment, check out my personal blog anytime here.

Thanks again.

Jake (@JakeArsenal1)

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