Silly Season Well And Truly Underway – Arrrggghhh!!!

The transfer silly season is well and truly underway now. The media is full of reports of alleged comings and goings at Arsenal. I shan’t be commenting on the rumours as most of them will turn out to be complete testicles. Every summer and January I find my sanity severely tested by all the nonsense.
I do think the coming season will be make or break for the Arsčne Wenger “project” at Arsenal. I want to see real progress in addressing the frailties and inadequacies we’re all aware of on the park. Most of this team has been together for a while now. They should be acquiring the tactical and psychological maturity needed for sustained success.
I don’t pretend to know more about football than experienced professional managers and coaches, but I am an informed lay observer. We all know that the following are continuing weaknesses on the park:
None of the three goalkeepers we’ve used this season have proved completely up to the task. That affects the way we defend
Not only the goalkeeper and back four, but the way we defend as a team isn’t close to the very top level. Just look at how hard Barcelona worked against us when they lost possession. Just look at the way Internazionale managed to close down the threat of Barcelona going forward in the Champions League semi-finals. Domestically, our goals against record isn’t close to good enough.
Attacking corners
Corner awarded. Corner taken. Fails to beat the first near-post defender. Threat cleared. How often has that happened? The last consistent corner-taker we had was Giovanni van Bronkhurst. Under George Graham every team we played knew exactly what was going to happen – near post corner onto the head of Steve Bould. Nod on. Goal. And nobody managed to defend consistently well against it. We need to work on this area. We should be getting more goals than we do from corners and free-kicks on the wings deep in the opposition half.
Defending the ball in the air
We remain far too vulnerable at corners, free kicks and crosses from the wings and generally the aerial ball into the box. When in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout seems to be our motto.
We also have a habit of not leaving any player upfield when defending the ball in the box from corners and free-kicks. There must be a reason for this. I just don’t know what it is. Surely it makes sense to have an outlet player to aim at when clearing the ball out of the box?
We’ve improved a bit in this area. The Stoke City away game in the League this past season is probably one we wouldn’t have gone on to win in 2008/9. We’ve still got a way to go however. We also tend to get muscled out of games against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United. I think that’s as much psychological as physical. Worry about getting “bounced” out of a game and we will be.
How many games do we dominate territorially yet fail to finish off? We need to take more of the chances we create, make more of our advantages in territory and possession.
As Ivan Gazidis reported to the AST meeting earlier this week, this is an area the club is examining. Injuries have had a significant impact on our last three seasons. It may be that there’s little we can do about this, but it’s an area in which we need a serious, in-depth review guided by the best expertise in sports medicine and science we can lay our hands on.
Keep the faith!

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