Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Predictions for the 2010-11 season: a glorious year for Arsenal

Back in August it was nigh on impossible to make predictions for the season. Even those who did had to temper them with a ton of caveats. Patrick Barclay in The Times tipped Arsenal for the title only on the proviso they signed a goalkeeper.

So I avoided making predictions bar writing that I was worried. And truth be told, the main worry was in goal. But that was mainly because I feared Wenger was going to play Fabianski. Now he hasn't done that, I am a lot more confident about this season, to the extent that I'm happy to make 11 (largely positive) predictions for the season. That said, I think the Goonerholic hit the nail on the head with his comment that
Those who blindly swear we cannot win anything with this squad have a distinct statistical advantage. It is odds on they will be right.

That's the reality. Saturday's Fink Tank said that even Barcelona, the favourites for the Champions League have a 23% chance of glory. So its probable that the favourites won't win, so what chance the slightly lesser teams like The Arsenal? Statistically, we are unlikely to win anything but my heart says that after 5 years of hurt, as Dylan would put it, the times they are a-changin.

I accept we are not as strong as we could be in goal but equally, few teams have our attack. Whether this will work in our favour is hard to say - both teams who reached the World Cup final had exceptional 'back fives' but European and particularly English football are more attacking than what was on show at the World Cup.

An injury to Alex Song would probably hurt us and we are reliant on Cesc to be our talisman. But the counter-point to this is that I genuinely think this is his last season at the club. I don't expect him to just go through the motions because he wants something to show for his time at Arsenal.

I predict his departure based more on history than anything else - 2011 is a summer without an international tournament and history suggests that when the players have nothing on in the summer, Wenger finds it much harder to persuade them to stay. The evidence is compelling - Adebayor in '09, Henry in '07, Vieira in '05 and Anelka in '99. The only huge money transfer in Wenger's time which has occurred in an even-numbered year was the sale of Marc Overmars. Considering what a battle it was to persuade him to stay, I find it difficult to imagine him staying beyond 2011 unless Barca are once again priced out of the market.

This is somewhat moot though. As I say, I expect him to play well this season. The injuries to Van Persie and Walcott are not good, but our lack of trophies has generally come from poor performances in February/March/April - it is very possible that Chamakh can shoulder the burden now put on him. It may also give Carlos Vela to prove that he really can make it at Arsenal.

With good back-up in the full-back positions, and as much strength at centre-back as could be reasonably expected, the only real hole in the team is in goal. The abundance of attacking talent means that even with injuries, Arsenal should challenge.

Frankly, history tells me enough to suggest we will struggle to win the Carling Cup or FA Cup. Which means that for us to fulfill my prediction and win a trophy, it will have to be one of the big ones. Which in a sense makes my prediction we will win something look even more of a folly.

And it also gives the naysayers even more meat to their argument. The rational part of my brain tells me that for Arsenal to win either the League or the Champions League will require a substantial chunk of luck. But that doesn't make it impossible, and this isn't like a roulette wheel. I think we have had our bad luck and it must end.

There's no reason that can't be at Wembley in May.

Keep the faith,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hmm, good optimism, but i really doubt we'll win anything. yes, we are strong in most departments, but there are 3 things missing - 1) We lack real belief against he top teams
2) Workrate against ordinary teams
3) Ability to break down unambitious teams who 'park the bus'.

I'm happy with the players, now that we have 2 new CD's and a striker with a head, but really can't seeing us being ahead of Chelsea in the league and INTER, Chelsea and barca in the CL.

But I dont think we could be in a better position unless we did a Man C/Chelsea and I really don't consider what they have done as an achievement.