Arsenal 2011/12 Season Preview: Cautiously Optimistic

There seems to be something different in the air every time the new season approaches. Wide-eyed optimism and credulous belief permeates football supporters all over the world. I always try my best to remain realistic – for example, I might not have particularly high hopes for my club in terms of signing that £40m superstar that will surely make all our woes simply vanish, but come August I continually feel like a little kid at Christmas; full of hope, utterly convinced that this will be our year.

Get started with Sky Sports Football and watch the best of Arsenal in the 2011/2012 Premier League season in HD.

A mind-numbingly repetitive summer has now thankfully passed, and as millions of people put the finishing touches to their fantasy teams, Twitchy Harry bids for Spurs’ 16th different striker target of the summer and pundits and fans alike dissect the moves made by clubs in the transfer market, it’s finally time to start the new season.
Let’s delve into it, shall we? I don’t know about you, but nothing infuriates me more than having the poorly researched, frivolous prediction – inevitably with Arsenal about 40 points off the title – coming from some pundit shoved down my throat at the start of the season. If you look around in the dark corners of football punditry you can find people saying Arsenal will finish as low as 8th this season, based upon the fact that we haven’t signed a 6 ft 6 psycho with very few front teeth and even fewer braincells to play centre-back yet. Even Lee Dixon has tipped Liverpool to pip us to 4th place this season, as if Champions League qualification is all we could ever aim for this season. I think that’s rubbish, and I’ll explain why I’m cautiously optimistic when it comes to our prospects this season.

A stick Arsenal continuously gets beaten with is what is percieved as their Achilles heel – the defence. While I agree that we can improve in this area (another signing just to make sure Squillaci doesn’t get to play would be nice), it’s often overlooked that it’s the same defence that conceded the fewest goals in open play last season. A feat achieved despite missing Vermaelen for virtually the entire season, two centre-backs completely new to English football (one of which – Koscielny – had only played one full season in a top flight division before signing) and Djourou who had missed the entire previous campaign. Not to mention that some of our goalkeepers conspired to throw a few balls into their own net a number of times. Had Mourinho, or someone of that ilk, under these circumstances, managed to concede the fewest league goals in open play someone would undoubtedly throw him a parade at the very least. A knighthood would surely follow.

So, to that defence we can now add Vermaelen, we’re reportedly getting rid of the walking disaster that is Eboue, replaced our liability in goal with Szczesny and, as seen in the Emirates Cup, we have been working on set pieces, which is the only way to improve our dysmal record. I was thinking that the only real negative in this department was the departure of Clichy, until I, along with the blue half of Manchester, got a timely reminder what he’s really made of. Another centre-back would be great, but other than that we seem to have taken the necessary steps to improve. We could need to work a bit harder as team and press more cohesively, but I don’t agree with the gloomy outlook shared by most Gooners.

There are many well documented worries surrounding our team though. The long, arduous transfer sagas involving Nasri and Cesc, at the time of writing, still rumbles on. We can cope without Nasri – who wouldn’t trust Wenger with buying a brilliant attacking player? – but Fábregas would be a devastatingly heavy blow. No, Wilshere and Ramsey cannot replace him yet. There’s also external factors to include in the equation, but I’m severly unimpressed by our rivals. I wouldn’t dare dream to write Manchester United off, and those who followed the Europa League last season will be slightly in love with Chelsea’s new manager, but other than that? No, I say bring it on. City have bought a young centre-back who failed a trial here and one of the most bemoaned players in our recent history aswell as another star striker to fit in to their 1 striker system while Liverpool have bought players that would get nowhere near our team –Henderson, Downing and Adam does not make them better than us.

Yes, it’s been far too long without a trophy and that we always seem to throw it away when things really heat up cannot be considered a coincidence but, as I see it, we’re definitely in with a shot at the title. The fact that we really should’ve won it last year should encourage Arsenal fans and strengthen our resolve to get behind the team. Can you feel it? That special something in the air? I can. A season of utter significance is upon us.

Get started with Sky Sports Football and watch the best of Arsenal in the 2011/2012 Premier League season in HD.

This article was written by Aqqe. Click here to follow him on Twitter.


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