When I wrote a quick post about the fixture list in mid-June it was never my intention for that to be my last blog post for a couple of months. However, whilst I wrote a couple of half pieces I never finished them off. July saw a month of particularly hard work and to say I've had limited internet access so far this month is a massive understatement.
Still, I did write a couple of interesting things and the player ratings for 08-09 need finishing so here goes. Expect a season preview later today.
Until then, have some more player ratings:
Cesc Fabregas: Lets be very honest to begin with - year-on-year Fabregas wasn't as good as he was the previous season. Yet, that forgets that the best form of his career did come for three months at the beginning of the 07-08 season.
As skipper, I do wonder whether he's the right man for the job. I know he has an enormous will to win, but when you go behind you need an experience man who can turn the ship around. I know his youth belies his experience but he seemed to me to have given up after United's first goal. Maybe he's just a realist. Ultimately, as he got injured just after taking the armband, and he only came back for the last few weeks of the season, his true test is the coming year. His acid test, if you will.
In reality, I don't think there was a problem with Cesc's football as such this season. But having played 60 games for us in 07-08, he then played the entire European Championships and so he had a much shortened summer. He missed part of pre-season which may have left him undercooked. But I think he didn't get a long enough summer and the fatigue of the previous season spilled into his play.
His passing wasn't quite as visionary; his tackling not quite as successful; and his eye for goal had taken flight.
The evidence for this, is that once he came back after a four month break, he played much, much better. Despite Wenger playing him out of position, he fought back to produce some really good performances. Playing in the hole, he did show himself to be useful. But it was the Wigan game which stuck in my mind: once he dropped back to central midfield we steamrollered them.
This wasn't Fabregas' best season - but it can't always be that way. He was still a consummate professional and is still, quite possibly, our best player. 7.5
Samir Nasri: I'm going to make a claim now, which some might dispute but it's something I truly believe:
If Samir Nasri were English he would definitely have won young player of the year and would have been in the running for Player of the Year.
I doubt I've ever seen a foreigner adapt so quickly to English football - in his first two months he scored six goals - three with either foot.
In a season where great results were hard to come by, Samir's brace against United was a definite champagne moment.
With the ability to play on the wing or in the centre, and with an uncanny resemblance to me, Nasri has quickly become a favourite.
If Wenger is to persist with his new 4-3-3 formation, it is crucial we get Nasri fit pronto. My player of the season: 8.5
It was at this point that I stopped writing the player ratings and lost internet access / had writer's block for two months. Bearing in mind that the new season approaches, I thought I would just make some quick points about the rest of the squad rather than going through each player in depth...
Controversially I rate Denilson a lot more than Walcott - the former reminds me of Gilberto - when Gilberto did his back in and was out for 9 months it was only then people appreciated what an important player he was. I think Denilson's accurate passing is important - when you're playing just in front of defence not surrendering posession is particularly important - and he almost never gives the ball away.
Walcott conversely, lacks football intelligence. His shooting is wayward and his crossing is poor - exemplified in the way it took a Bacary Sagna cross for us to finally score at home to Chelsea after to Walcott had put in about ten poor crosses from comparable positions.
RVP has moments of magic but I wonder whether he's a bit like van Nistelrooy - playing him stops the rest of the team scoring because of the areas he runs into. That said, he had an excellent season and it was him, Nasri and Arshavin who fired us to the Champions League.
The signing of Arshavin was a defining moment in that his goals transformed our season. Whilst I defended it at the time, Wenger probably was wrong to not pick Andrey to start in the Cup semi-final.
Moving on Adebayor was a good idea, Bendtner showed in the last 3 months of the season why I still have faith in him, and hopefully Eddie Silva can stay fit and avoid the niggling muscle injuries which have affected him for the last six months.
Finally, I'd like to claim Wenger reads this blog - I recommended the sale of Kolo Toure back in June.
That, was the season that was. Later todat, the season to come.
Keep the faith,