There are many positives to take from this season.
This has been the season Arsenal have found a future England captain develop from their Academy, Nasri has found match winning form, Djourou became a great defender and Szczesny arrived complete with a mad goal keepers personality.
However, the recent (and extended) slump in results leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The fantastic results of beating Chelsea and Barcelona raised expectations so high that when the bubble burst, for those of us innocent and naive enough to ignore frailties (myself included), we felt our confidence in the club fall crashing to the ground.
On reflection of this season up to this point, I don’t feel I can be positive about it and I say that knowing that there were great things that happened. Had we won the Carling Cup I would say different but not without.
The important question is not yet about what summer changes there will or will not be, but how can we take the players and club forward in the remainder of the season.
Now that Arsenal lie in 3rd, comfortably behind Manchester United, I am reasonably confident that is the approximate finishing position for us this year. I genuinely hope to be proven wrong but, alas, I do not see it.
The weighty pressure of fighting for the title feels distant and I would anticipate this would be a good time to make a couple of tweaks to the team.
This is the right time to try Theo Walcott as centre forward. With his rocket propelled power over 40 metres driven by his stocky legs, and him having a run of being free from injury (not that long I concede) whilst on the back of a goal against Spurs; he thoroughly deserves a shot as the last man running the line.
An intelligent and likeable young man with an English passport, were he deployed as the final man in Arsenal’s chain of players in position to be finishing chances he could lead the line in the way Wright did. As a sparky, English, goalscorer who knows the club’s ethos and passion. Having Wilshere in the middle and Walcott up front is a move forwards in creating the spine of Englishman needed to fight in big matches.
I will not surmise as to the most suitable formation to make the most of Walcott in, but I would say he needs a powerhouse with him to win headers. Apparently Arséne Wenger is considering making a quick profit on Chamakh after just one season having arrived on a free, but ironically might be the sort of player Theo needs to be alongside. The Sun newspaper report possible interest from Arsenal in Diego Milito at Inter Milan. Though unlikely, he would be a step forward from Chamakh with his experience of winning Serie A and the Champions League. It is pointless discussing transfer targets in any great depth now, however.
The next player I feel deserves a chance to develop in the final Premier League games is Kieran Gibbs. He is a quick, skilful, dribbling winger changed to play at left back. Gibbs has endured terrible games when given the opportunity to deputise at left back this season. Quick at covering ground down the wing, dangerous movement at the edge of the box and able to retain width for the team. I will leave it to you to draw the injury comparisons.
Gibbs likes attacking and seems to struggle at defending. Is it wise, or indeed possible to alter a players genetic make-up to become a defender when they clearly prefer attacking? I think the solution is Gibbs getting the run of games he needs to allow an honest balanced assessment of how good he can be. Perhaps with his flair and pace, his role model should be Dani Alves (whilst ignoring the Brazilian’s cheating habits).
Gaël Clichy’s contract has one year left and negotiations have stalled. Whether he is leaving or not there are two reasons why Gibbs should come in for him now. 1: Let us see if Arsenal have a squad player in Gibbs for next year or a genuine Clichy replacement if he leaves. 2: Strengthen the hand of the club negotiators with the Frenchman should Gibbs excel.
Finally, something on Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh captain has been marginalised from the first team since returning from Cardiff. Denilson, Diaby and Rosicky have had a multitude of opportunities this season and Ramsey deserves a go judging by the results those players have conspired to be linked to.
Ramsey being involved impacts directly on the selection of Wilshere and Fabregas. In short, I cannot see a team having sufficient options and variety with all three in the team. Any side needs a mix of pace, power and creativity. Those players bring just the latter.
With Wilshere looking run down and tired, the chance for Ramsey must surely have arrived. I would advocate Ramsey starting against Bolton Wanderers to allow Wilshere the rest he needs to recover the bite and power in his game in time for Manchester United.
For all Arsenal chat, transfer news and the odd bit about my career as a Police Officer follow me on Twitter @Detective82.
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