Can Arsenal win the Premier League with the current squad?

Arsenal will go into next season believing they can win the Premier League. This has to be the case. They are a huge club who have won the title before, so why shouldn’t they aim for the highest prize possible in English football?

The reality though, is that no trophy has been won in four years. With this in mind, have Arsene Wenger’s current squad got a Premier League title in them? Can they overcome the power of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea and win the league?

Before we answer this ourselves, it is worth highlighting the views of Manuel Almunia. This is because the Arsenal keeper has revealed that ‘youth doesn’t give you titles’, suggesting that Arsenal’s youngsters cannot win the league this year.

The Spaniard then went on to say that in order to go ‘a step further’ and win the Premier League, the squad needs to be ‘braver in big games’ and that the club needs to ‘make extra effort’ to make the team more competitive. Basically, he thinks that youth on its own isn’t quite the answer.

To be honest, I can see what Almunia is saying here. He believes that Arsenal can’t keep using the youth tag as an excuse for failing to achieve major honours. Yes, Wenger has a young squad, but they need to stand up and be counted. They need to show that they are wise beyond their years.

Cesc Fabregas is a classic example of what young players at Arsenal should aim for. At just 22-years-old, he has become one of the main leaders of this Arsenal team and acts like one of the most experienced members of the squad.

He thrives on responsibility and he loves to lead by example. For someone of his age, this is quite extraordinary and extremely valuable to the Gunners. What Wenger needs next season though is for more players to take on this role.

Theo Walcott, Denilson, Alex Song, Nicklas Bendtner and Gael Clichy are all young players, but they need to start maturing beyond their years if Arsenal are to win the Premier League. They need to realise that they are not only at Arsenal to develop as a footballer, but to win trophies for the club.

As for the answer to the initial question – Can Arsenal win the Premier League with the current squad? – it is yes. As long as a couple of key individuals raise their game and take on that extra piece of responsibility, there is no reason why Arsenal can’t go on a good run and conquer all.

What are your thoughts on this and Almunia’s comments? Can Arsenal’s youngsters win the league next year or is it going to be another season of development?

By Thomas Rooney

What are Arsenal fans’ views on the future of Adebayor?

One of the main talking points as we reach the end of the 2008/2009 Premier League campaign is the future of Emmanuel Adebayor. There has been plenty of speculation about the Arsenal striker’s future with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Chelsea all reportedly tracking his progress.

Sections of the Arsenal crowd booed the Togo striker during the recent defeat to Chelsea and in doing so, made their feelings clear on where they hope Adebayor will be playing his football next season – away from the Emirates. Is this the case throughout Arsenal’s support though?

I am intrigued to find out exactly what Arsenal fans think. Is Adebayor a world-class striker that Arsene Wenger would be crazy to get rid of? Or is he a player that the club should cash in on as soon as possible?

During another season without a trophy for the Gunners, there is no doubt that Adebayor hasn’t hit the heights of the previous campaign. Compared to 30 goals last season, he has only managed to find the back of the net on 16 occasions. In fact, he has only scored in the Premier League three times since the turn of the year.

It hasn’t just been his lack of goals though. Many have criticised him for a lack of effort and commitment to the Arsenal cause. It has, perhaps, looked like he is happy with the fact that his time with the Gunners is coming to an end.

Nothing is certain as yet though and the forward’s future is very much up in the air. Arsenal lost key first team players in Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto Silva last summer, so they should be wary about breaking up a relatively settled side once more.

Surely Wenger should be adding to what he already has rather than selling one of his most talented players? Consistent selection often pays off in the end and if Adebayor was sold, he would more than likely be replaced by an unproven striker trying to make a name for himself in England.

On the other hand though, if Adebayor doesn’t want to be at the club anymore, why should Arsenal hold onto him? If he is kept involved against his wishes, it will surely have a negative effect on team morale next season.

What is your opinion though? A groin injury is likely to rule Adebayor out of Sunday’s game against Stoke City, so he could have played his last game in an Arsenal shirt. Would you be happy if this was the case?

By Thomas Rooney

Are Wenger’s comments a sign that he is nearing the end?

Arsene Wenger has been a busy boy in the last couple of days. In the lead up to tomorrow’s game against Manchester United, the Arsenal boss has made a number of uncharacteristic comments that suggest he might just be cracking under the pressure.

As has been mentioned in pretty much every Arsenal related article over the last week or so, the Gunners have not won a trophy since 2005. For this to come to an end next season, you would have thought that Wenger would want to keep hold of his best players, invest in some new ones and continue to get the backing of the supporters.

Well, if you think this is the case, you may be wrong because Wenger has put all three of these notions in doubt. He has done so in such a manner that I’m not convinced all is ok in the world of the Frenchman.
Anyway, let’s get on to what he said.

Speaking about Emmanuel Adebayor’s future, Wenger said that ‘all of the big clubs will want him this summer’ and that he wouldn’t hesitate in selling the striker to another member of the top four.

Carlos Ancleotti – who tried to sign Adebayor for AC Milan last summer – is favourite to take over at Chelsea and it is thought that he will try to get his man once again. Considering Wenger said you should ‘never say never’ because Arsenal have already sold a player to Chelsea – Ashley  ole – this shouldn’t be ruled out.

Next up on Wenger’s agenda was to speak about how much money Arsenal would spend this summer. Many have called for the Gunners to buy more players like Andrei Arshavin to assist in the quest for silverware.

However, the Arsenal boss has said that he will ‘manage within his own resources’ as he only believes only ‘one or two players’ need to be added in order for his team to be competitive in all competitions.

This is fair enough as he doesn’t want to put the club’s finances at risk. However, he was being very defensive with these comments about his transfer policy and will probably refuse to budge on it. No matter how long the team goes without a trophy.

The final subject on Wenger’s hit list was the Arsenal fans themselves. He said that the home crowd have been too quick to jump on the backs of players this season and created a ‘negative environment’ inside the Emirates.

The Frenchman praised the ‘fantastic’ away fans, but said that sections of the home crowd have created ‘negative vibes’ which have had an adverse affect on the confidence of some players.
Wenger finished by saying that this Arsenal team needs genuine ‘fans of the club’ to come to matches because this season, the coaching staff has had to work too hard on maintaining confidence and energy levels ‘against the odds’.

So, there you have it. Wenger has had his say on many things. A lot of these opinions could upset Arsenal fans, but it seems these comments were made with this in mind. That’s why I raise questions about Wenger’s way of thinking right now.

Will there be a relationship problem between Wenger and the fans if Manchester United run out comfortable winners on Saturday? This may not be the case with Wenger and Arsenal, but the moment a manager publically criticises the fans, it is normally the beginning of the end.

By Thomas Rooney

How many of Arsenal’s team would make it into Manchester United’s starting eleven?

As much as the end to the current season could be extremely exciting and successful for Arsenal, they are still not quite where they used to be as a club. There was a time, of course, when they were unbeatable. There was a time when it was only the Gunners and Manchester United fighting it out for the league title.

So, what has happened in the last few years which has prevented Arsenal being one of the ‘big two’? For eight seasons in a row, Arsenal finished no lower than second in the Premier League. This was until the last three when their final positions have been 4th, 4th and 3rd.

One way to see just how far away Arsenal are from being Manchester United’s main challengers again could be to see how the individual players compare. How does Arsenal’s full strength team match up to the best team the Champions can put out?

This is something I would like your opinion on, so without too much analysis, let’s take a look at my views:

Edwin Van der Sar v Manuel Almunia – Has to be Van der Sar unfortunately.

Gary Neville v Bakari Sagna – Personally, I’d rather have Sagna in my team.

Patrice Evra v Gael Clichy – For consistency purposes, it has to be Evra.

Rio Ferdinand v William Gallas – This is a close one, but I think the odds would be in favour of Ferdinand.

Nemanja Vidic v Kolo Toure – For similar reasons that Evra won, Vidic is the winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Theo Walcott – For what he has achieved in the last couple of years, it’s going to be Ronaldo.Ask me again this time next year though.

Ryan Giggs v Andrei Arshavin – Giggs is still a decent player, but for creativity and variation the Russian wins this one for me.

Michael Carrick v Cesc Fabregas – No competition, Fabregas all the way.

Paul Scholes v Denilson – A number of players could fill this position for Arsenal and all of them will be as good as/better than Scholes at some point, but for now, the former England man has to get the nod.

Wayne Rooney v Robin van Persie – For me, this is the closest one of the lot. In fact, I can’t choose between them. This one is a draw.

Dimitar Berbatov v Emmanuel Adebayor – Neither have been fantastic this season. However, the Manchester United man (and Carlos Tevez) has produced the goods more often.

The end result for this ‘experiment’ is Manchester United 7.5 v 3.5 Arsenal. Whether this means much, I’m not sure. However, it does suggest that Arsenal are just two or three established high quality players short of challenging for the Premier League again.

This could happen in the next couple of years when the likes of Walcott, Clichy and Denilson really kick on as players – you never know. It certainly makes a change from the days of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, or Tony Adams and Ian Wright and co when Arsenal would have been much closer to Manchester United in this type of analysis.

Something to think about isn’t it? Let me know your thoughts.

By Thomas Rooney

Was Emmanuel Eboue misunderstood?

The debate over Eboue is pretty one-sided these days, since the Wigan game I’ve been thinking about the player who was at one time regarded as our best right-back.

These days people see him as more of a liability in his role on the wing. But he isn’t actually our first choice in that position.

I don’t think he is a great winger, but he is a decent defender. A few months ago I wrote a post and one of the comments left was this:

“Wenger probably has been wanting to develop Eboue and make him into a Ray Parlour type player.”

This is partly true, people criticise Wenger for selecting him, but there are several points to be made about Eboue:

  • Wenger plays Eboue because we have no choice – Walcott, Rosicky, Eduardo, Nasri are all reguarly injured.
  • We lack experienced playerswho can fill in – Walcott last year, Vela this year.
  • Wenger may also select him because he sees potential to turn him into a midfielder.

Eboue has the potential to become a good winger – he can cross, we saw that in his days at right back. His main problem is dribbling and passing – he finds it hard to go round players and his control isn’t great – his scoring ability is also reminiscent of Francis Jeffers.

He has been utilised on the left this year – as Theo has made the right wing slot his own. This hasn’t helped – he has had to cut inside to use his stronger right foot. I think that he did have some stronger performances early this season – but he has also played very badly – the Wigan game is an example, I was there.

The Wigan game and the booing have knocked his confidence, and I think that it will take him a while to regain that. It really isn’t helping the team when fans act like that.

Overall he would never be my first choice winger – he doesn’t have the pace, the control, the vision or the passing, and his dirty play and diving only piss off most Arsenal fans. He dives way too much and is extremely petulant. He doesn’t contribute to the team in the way that players like Nasri do, and many attacks end with his mistakes. But the thing is that Eboue is Wenger’s squad player, Wenger doesn’t see him as a first-teamer.

He is a useful utility player, he only gets to play so much due to our injury list. Vela seems to be playing more games, and may eventually be used to fill in on the wings as his performances have looked classy. Eboue is just filling in!

Don’t get on his back – he isn’t a great player, and he does stupid things, but a bad patch of form is just a bad patch of form, remember that he has been played out of position, and when only just returning from injury.

In the end, I’m saying that Eboue  is a useful squad player, we shouldn’t turn him into a scapegoat when things go wrong. I personally will never boo him.

Why has Thierry Henry not delivered the goods in Spain?

With the international break in full swing, it can be a time to discuss alternative issues to that involving the Premier League. So, I wanted to take a look at Thierry Henry’s career since leaving Arsenal for Spanish giants Barcelona. The 31-year-old has just started his second season at the club, but according to their sporting director, Txiki Beguiristain, he has ‘not looked convincing’ in a Barcelona shirt as yet.

Considering how influential and successful he was in Arsenal colours, this seems rather hard to believe. However, Beguiristain goes on. He says that Henry doesn’t look like he fits in the team at times and that his time in Spain has been dogged by ‘personal problems’.

Any fans in England will be wondering if Beguiristain is talking about the same player that scored 226 goals for Arsenal? Henry could do no wrong in England and was so often the match winner for Arsene Wenger’s side. In July 2008, the Frenchman was even voted the greatest Arsenal player of all time. So what has happened to him in Spain?

Well, it has to be down to a number of factors. First up, everyone connected with Barcelona possibly expected too much. When he arrived for just over £16m, there were thousands of fans ready to welcome him at the Nou Camp. They had pursued the striker for quite some time and now they eventually had their man – they wanted instant results. However, he didn’t grab his first goal until September and unlike Arsenal fans – who would rarely criticise Henry – the Barcelona fans were straight on his back.

In all honesty though, Henry’s first season in Spain was a poor one for everyone involved at Barcelona. There were no trophies won and finishing a rather staggering 18 points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid didn’t help proceedings. Perhaps as the club’s major new signing, Henry was made a scapegoat for their problems. In all fairness though, he still managed to score 19 goals to be the club’s leading scorer.

So, in terms of goals scored, Henry wasn’t too far off the pace. However, he simply hadn’t won the fans over. At Arsenal, everytime he touched the ball there was a buzz about the place and more often than not Henry delivered the goods. Quite simply, this hasn’t happened at Barcelona. Some sections of the media have even said that the Frenchman ‘lacks commitment’, something he had in abundance during his time in England.

I suppose part of the problem could be that he was played out of position a lot of the time. Barcelona’s boss last season, Frank Rijkaard, often played him on the left wing leaving him with numerous defensive duties. This isn’t the way to go with Henry. Yes, he hugs the left wing a lot when playing up front, but it is done without the need to track back.

The new season though has brought renewed hope for Barcelona and Henry. New boss Pep Guardiola even stated at the beginning of the new campaign that Henry would be his ‘main man’ as he looked to guide the club towards various honours.

So, has this been the case? Well, judging by the comments previously mentioned by the club’s sporting director – it would appear not. However, it has been said by the same man that Henry is ‘improving’. He is becoming a central part of the team and having much more of an impact on how Barcelona are playing. They have won their last four games and although Henry has only found the net twice – he is starting to stamp his authority on the team like many expected him to last season.

Barcelona fans will want trophies though and if they fail to deliver them, it is the likes of Henry that will unfairly get blamed again – no matter how well they may be playing.

By Thomas Rooney

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Song, A fantastic CB for next season?

Will Alex Song be a regular next season?

That is a question on many fans lips as Wenger praised the player. The amount of bad press this guy got when he joined was incredible.

Wenger said:

“I believe he is a remarkable player and I was one of the very, very few who believed in Alexandre Song,”

“I can show you articles in newspapers which said that [he] was the worst buy I have made but you will see in one or two years that he will be a great player for Arsenal.”

All this season and last, a fat bald guy in the row in front of me has slagged this guy off at every opportunity (along with half the team). I can’t see why though. He played very well in the run he got at the end of the season, and was impressive at the ANC. Wenger followed on:

“When I put a player somewhere, I know why I do. If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club.

“In Song’s case, he can play in central midfield. But can he play 60 games there? I am not convinced.”

So basically Le Boss is suggesting that Song can’t hack the intensity of midfield, which is true, he is good going forward, but he looks a little sluggish, more suited to a role in central defence. He won’t be replacing Flamini.

Wenger will keep him at centre back next season, and personally I am a big fan of the guy. Maybe just because he gets so much stick, but you have to admit he has talent. He won’t be first choice, but excellent back-up.

Forget Dunne, all we want is Song!