So, it's been a pretty boring summer so far, and when your bored sitting around the house on a non-work day, you get to think too much... So in return, here's a look into what I've been thinking in the past two weeks that's Arsenal related.
So we can welcome back the hectic transfer window once more, and with it comes just as many expectations to pick up more players just like the few years before. I know we've already seen some names tossed around, Jovetic may or may not be close to coming to Arsenal, Rooney may be an option, I'd have to think that Lampard on a free is a definite option, and CESC MAY BE COMING BACK AGHHHHHHHHHH.... But let's be real and honest here, I'm not ready to put an Arsenal jersey on anyone until I go to Arsenal.com one day and actually see it on the home page, so I'm not going to place a certain name onto my predictions for this summer. What I will predict though is that, it seems pretty obvious that Wenger is indeed in the market for a name striker and a midfielder, defensive or not, and I think he'll get those done soon enough, by the end of June or beginning of July. As for the other transfers? Well Arshavin is out, Chamakh is out, and Sagna may or may not be out, so I also wouldn't be surprised if another defensive signing or two is made, along with the typical youth purchases, one of which has already happened. I don't think the whole "$70 million" transfer kitty will be spent, it never really is anyways based on years passed, but those extra bucks being made with new sponsor deals will really help us out in the long run, I don't think we're really going to see the extent of it though until the summer after.
We're headed back to Asia! Where Arsenal will play the Indonesian national team, become the first EPL team to play a friendly in Vietnam, and even play Wenger's old club Nagoya Grampus. Depending on what freak injuries occur during this summer's WC qualifiers (because you just know they will...), I'm under the assumption that we really won't see a concrete starting lineup during these games, but you just might during the all and ever important Emirates Cup, where we welcome Galatasaray, Porto, and Napoli to London, and it should actually be some fun games to watch.
The Strategy and Tactics:
I learned in United States Military History that there's a huge difference in the terms "strategy" and "tactics", but considering I took that course nearly three years ago, I can't remember for the life of me what the differences are, so...
I really can't see Wenger opting out of his common 4-3-3 formation, and usually over the course of the game, it turns into something else anyways, so I can't see that being changed unless a big summer transfer would call for it to play to it's advantage. Wenger has never really been the most adaptable person in terms of playing style, but I guess you never know. I do think though that, with a healthy Gibbs and Jenkinson at the full back positions, Wenger does prefer to move them up in the offense instead of relying on the wingers to take plays outside the box, it puts more players in position to score and as we saw early last season, a healthy Gibbs and Jenks really boosts the offense. That's the only prediction I have there. In terms of defense, it's kind of obvious that we need a holding midfielder, and while Arteta does his damn best at it, and does a decent job at that, we really need someone permanent there because later in the season, we were just getting shredded by not having someone back there to cover in front of the center backs. The midfield usually runs in a pivot forms based around the holding midfielder, so that's a possible direction to take IF, we find somebody to fill the slot.
As for defense, what is there to change? On paper, the system we run is outstanding, but it relies on those defensive players to be very clutch in times of need and in hockey terms, the forwards need to "backcheck" the play and not slack off. Outside of that, we run one of the most efficient defenses in the EPL, so there really is no reason to expect anything different next season.
The Starting Formation:
Going back to where I stated that, I wasn't ready to place certain names in certain places regarding transfers, that applies here as well. Essentially, the starting formation of last season shouldn't change that much to the next, if everyone happens to be healthy...
You can probably fill in the blanks where certain other players would fit in certain other positions. Walcott and Podolski can obviously play up front, Ramsey and Rosicky can fit either in the midfield or on the wings, and Gervinho and the Ox can be placed in there as well as Mertesacker and Monreal swapping out on the defense in their respective places. But as for our top possible formation, here's my thoughts on it. I know people love to see the Ox out there, but there's got to be a reason why he isn't playing full games and being taken off 60 some minutes into a match that he starts, and I'm driven to believe that he just doesn't have the leg strength to go the distance yet. Could he in the future or possibly next season? Yes, but again, we'll see... As for the other subs, well, we'll probably see Ramsey, Rosicky, etc. just as much as we have before, but in terms of starting, I can only see Rosicky as someone who could possibly challenge for a first selection, but only if he pulls back some old form. Everyone else, outside of possible incoming transfers, is just depth.
Here we are, the season, and North London is probably going to go into next season as the most unchanged and consistent squads of the bunch, although we still have to wait and see as to whether Bale jumps ship or not (Please for the love of God, do so...). Both Wenger and AVB will be back behind the helms of there respective Recaro seats, but as for the rest of the EPL, it's going to be one hell of a changing landscape. For the first time in my lifetime ever, we won't see Sir Fergie out there at Old Trafford, instead he'll be enjoying the game from the box seats above and watch David Moyes take over. We've still yet to see who City or Chelsea will end up with, but you can bet some decent money that Mourinho will be at one of those teams. And we also get the luxury of not having to deal with Luis Suarez's bitting ways at least until October, which could potentially cripple Liverpool at the beginning of the year. I personally think this is going to be one of the most competitive EPL seasons we will have in a long time, and it could be a complete crapshoot for the championship. But for the record, I'd put my money on Chelsea to take home another EPL title. Their squad has so much depth and talent, and given the right manager to put that all together, especially with Mourinho talk in the grapevines, it's hard to ignore how good that actual team is. As for the rest of the CL positions, it could easily be a battle between Arsenal, United, and City for second, third, and fourth. I'd love to say that Arsenal would finish second, I really would, but in order for that to happen and even to be consistently close to the top spot, they need to play decent throughout the whole season and they need to take points from the top six teams, something they've struggled with last season. It always seems that, when there's one issue solved, another arises, and it's usually the same issue. Two seasons ago we held an outstanding record against the top six teams but struggled against lower table teams, and last season, it was completely reversed. Both seasons though had poor beginnings but strong finishes. We know this team can compete, all the tools are there regardless of what the media and critics say, but in order to see how good this team does, they need to compete on a consistent basis. I think this may just be the year...
1.) Chelsea - 86 pts.
2.) United - 83
3.) Arsenal - 80
4.) City - 78
5.) Tottenham - 72
6.) Liverpool - 70
Off the top of my head, I don't think Arsenal will take a win against either Chelsea match, and I don't think they can win at Old Trafford. But they can easily take both games away from City, Spuds, or Liverpool. I'd be willing to take a couple of draws against City and Liverpool or even United, but I'm going to be a homer and guess that they'll sweep the Spuds next season.
And there we have it. Surly these thoughts will continue to change during the summer, I'll get more hyped up if we sign someone big, and a little critical if we don't fill the positions that we need, but overall, I think next season will be an improvement on the past two seasons, it's in the cards based on the trends of seasons past, we're due for a fight for the top spot this season, but whether or not we actually win it and shut everyone up, that'll come down to what we see out on the pitch.