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Summer Wishlist and 10 Quick Fixes for Arsenal to build on last season’s springboard

The Season before the Season

An end of season review and glimpse into 22/23

I’ve been on pause waiting to write this end of season review for a few weeks now.
I wanted it to encapsulate how I felt about the season and what I think is fair and right to state but needed to remove emotion.
Writing these blogs over the years has never actually been too difficult. Not really sure why. The ideas come quite fluidly. This piece however has been the opposite. How do you write a piece on a season that touched every variable and emotion of being a football fan?

I say that – yet I think that this season will be forgotten in many years time. Largely remembered as the season where we made a documentary and little else. That not a lot worth shouting about happened. I think this because we didn’t win anything and never came close. I think this because I believe success is coming and so we will remember those seasons more so.
This season will be remembered as necessary more than memorable. It will be undervalued because its headlines spoke more of frustration than anything much spectacular.
The thing is though that all the words I can link to this season are all important. They are important because without them I don’t think we get to where we want to.

There are four of them.

Frustrating
Necessary
Better
Promising

Frustrating

No complacency next season. No cockiness when we go on a run of games. We have a real problem with consistency and there must be a clear focus to heal the frustration of erratic form. The difference between teams that challenge and teams that don’t is that the results are ordinarily predictable. Not always, but the majority of the time. Our form was all over the place. From glorious failure at home to Manchester City and stellar performances against Chelsea to losing three games in a row to mid table teams that had nothing to play for apart from pride. Really bizarre. I suppose this erratic form can only be explained by youth and the pressure of not having experienced playing for a big club and the expectation of the pressure. We will be better for this next season, or at least we should be prepared.

Stadium Celebrates

Necessary

Nobody wants a transitional year followed by a transitional year. Unfortunately, due to past poor dealings in the transfer market and huge contracts for players undeserving, we will look back on this season as necessary. It was unlikely to be stellar as there was so much change. For those that disagree, I understand that we might have scored some more goals with Aubameyang instead of Lacazette in the run in for example, but I prefer the way we did it though. It was necessary to remove players whose standards were as erratic as our form in order to have a higher standard of leadership if we want to have any chance of achieving titles again in the future.
If I would have been told at the beginning of the season that we would cull those that I felt we needed to and still finish fifth I would’ve been very satisfied. It would’ve been lovely to take a giant leap from coming eighth on two occasions straight back into the Champions League but we did what was necessary and got what we got which was…..

Better

Better final position. Better in overall defensive solidity including a highly promising centre back partnership. One of the best defenders we’ve seen at Arsenal in quite a while in Tomiyasu. Significantly better in defending set plays. A far better starting 11 when they were fit. A far better season from our most important midfielder. A much better statistical season for our young wide forwards and a much better season creatively from Odegaard, in particular. As the season went on, we got a far better understanding of transitional opportunities and taking advantage of numbers up situations too.

Promising

Most importantly, in almost every position we had players who were contesting the imaginary honour of ‘best player in the league’ in their position at some point during the season.
Ramsdale at the beginning of the season was certainly one of if not the best goalkeeper in the league. Tomiyasu in particular certainly showed that he is one of the best three right backs in the league. In my opinion he is already the best defensive right back in the PL. White and Gabriel both showed elite promise and Tierney is rarely below a 7 out of 10 performer. Thomas Partey looked like one of the best midfielders in the league for at least half a season and Xhaka, although not considered an elite player as an individual, certainly offered Champions League level consistency and performance as a partner to Partey.
There are very few teams in the league that wouldn’t want Saka, Martinelli and Smith Rowe in their squad who all show elite promise and whose value is around £200M collectively. Odegaard most certainly is one of the top three creative players in the league, also.
Our achilles heel was at striker where we were in the lower half of the table in end product. Considering that goals are arguably the most important part of the game, the top level performances from the list above were often somewhat of a moot point as the chap paid to finish off all of the build up was inadequate for the team that he was playing on and with.
I think that there is no doubt that with a 20+ goal a season striker, we would’ve finished above Spurs and prematurely entered the CL.

If I had a realistic wish for next season it would be that our player of the season award wouldn’t be so difficult to pick.
I went on the official website to vote and had to contemplate for far too long who was the player of the season. I looked at the list and saw five players that were nine out of 10 performers for about half a season each. Some of them performed at that level the first half of the season, some the second half of the season and  Saka whose performance didn’t rise and fall  but wavered between 6 or 7 and 9 out of 10 throughout.
I was looking for an obvious candidate but nobody screamed at me. I think that a top team should have at least 4 players screaming at you. The best example would be City with Cancelo, Bernardo, DeBruyne, Rodri who all performed more consistently.
Those players that were on the list for Footballer of the Year or Players Player of the Year were hot for at least 3/4 of the season.
I think that this is the realistic level of a top performer in the Premier League. Can you be 8 or 9 out of 10 for 30 out of 38 league games.
With more consistent individual performance and/or less of the long injury layoffs, we have the talent in most areas to achieve my wish.

Alternatively, with a squad of 2 top players in every position, when a player like Thomas Partey goes out then the drop off doesn’t have to be as stark.

My list of on field improvements needed for 22/23 are….

  1. Power and speed in ball movement and progression from midfield.
  2. Better decision making and communication from centre backs in order to nick the vertical balls played to strikers feet, allowing us to transition through broken play. In Gabriel, White and Saliba, we have the players.
  3. Goal threat from midfield birthed from a trust in our DM to lock the back door.
  4. More deceptive creativity in the final third. Less predictability in over relying on passing patterns.

    Bs

  5. Far far more runs behind from all attacking players. Saka spent too much time at the ‘Pepe school of how to play right wing in the most difficult way possible.’ He has to run behind and not always want the ball to feet. Odegaard did well but is under used. His unique talent is weight and accuracy of through ball, yet Saka, Martinelli and ESR rarely run behind. A really strange phenomenon.
  6. A dynamic, unpredictable striker or two. There’s something quite hair thinning about watching Lacazette mark their centre back in the box or watching Auba run to exactly the same position on every attack, at the back post.
  7. More effective creative corners. We were quite good at the simple cross but until Cedric put one in on the last corner of the season, our short corners and creative corners were largely ineffective.
  8. Our main method of attacking was to go out to in. We have strong wide players and full backs that can cross accurately. We essentially had nobody in the squad who specialized in elusive movement to escape defenders or offer an aerial threat. I would imagine that this is a priority for the summer. We left so many potential goals on the pitch due to this lack.
  9. We need to have a better understanding of when each game can be won. I am a big fan of going fast and hard early, especially as it affects the mentality of the opponent. There were too many games where we lost control and did not dominate at any time. Every game does not have to be started fast but there are always periods of weakness for your opponent that you need to identify and keep your foot on the accelerator.
  10. A fast start is however needed in August. The majority of the last few seasons, we have started slowly and end up playing catch-up. There is always a large spoonful of the unexpected where players wait to see the first five games before deciding where their season’s hopes may lie. Arsenal might just be able to push harder than we expect if we give our squad big belief in August.

My summer wishlist would be….

Aaron Hickey…
What a treat it would be to get another two footed full back from Bologna who can play both sides and offer the same versatility that Tomiyasu can do playing as a right back and centre back. Cover for Tomiyasu and be a back up plan if Tavares continues to wobble, get loaned or Tierney breaks again.

Yves Bissouma…
I’ve not seen a player in quite a while with the consistency of Bissouma in the similar age bracket that we have been purchasing in. A player who offers such stability and reliability and gives wings to other players to feel more mentally secure to attack. One of our big needs of improvement is goals from midfield. Bissouma won’t bring you this but the way he makes other players feel and how he is so trustworthy would enable a player like Thomas Partey to attack the box rather than shoot ‘plane takeoffs’ from outside.

Frenkie DeJong or James Ward Prowse….

I would imagine that Frenkie de Jong will play for a Champions League club. Potentially the best midfielder in the world. I think it’s absolutely worth trying to persuade him to join our project though. One of the most technically secure midfielders in the world football.
As I think he will go to a CL club, I will admit to being a huge fan of James Ward Prowse. Again, like Bissouma, he is such a consistent performer and his ability from all set plays gives you 10 to 15 better deliveries every game. So many games are won by corners or free kicks and if you have the best in Europe at both then you can forgive him for having a name like a Conservative MP and a slight lack of athleticism.

Michael Olise….

I will be shocked if Crystal Palace would release the future gem of their new project. Although he did not play as many games as maybe he should have, he will be a Champions League level player very shortly. The reason I select Olise is that he could rotate with Odegaard as the creative force and also replace Pepe. I love footballers that glide and make the game look easy. Olise is one of them.

Tammy Abraham

Tammy Abraham….
This may also be an unrealistic dream but regardless of his fine season at Roma, he is still an Arsenal fan living in a foreign country and might be very tempted by the opportunity to come back home regardless of his Serie A success.
This choice was extremely difficult largely because this player is going to be our most important signing in many years. I trust Tammy Abraham because he checks more boxes than the other options. Played in the Premier League. Got a point to prove to Chelsea. Huge aerial threat which is our biggest lack in our current squad. A consistent goalscorer and most importantly a threat in every area of a strikers game. Holdup play to long range shooting to dynamic box movement to aggressive aerial threat. Just makes the most sense.

Armando Broja….
If the choice of striker wasn’t so pivotal then I’d roll the dice on Broja being our first choice. He also checks almost every box. He is quicker than Abraham but hasn’t proven himself to be as consistent a goal scorer. Potentially, he has everything that you would want and would be an amazing second choice striker. I’d be surprised if Chelsea were to sell to us though.

If I was to pick four adjectives going into next season it would be…

Excited
Trusting
Expectant
Challengers

I’m excited as our team has so much promise.
I trust the club in their choices to improve our squad and build on the inconsistencies of the season just gone.
I’m expectant that we will challenge season long for the Top 4 rather than have to sprint the last 300 metres of an 800 metre race in order to compete at the level that we are capable of.

Signing off now.

On a flight to Rome with the family.
I will give my best effort to locate Mr Tammy Abraham on behalf of the fanbase and coax him back to England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 with these beauties….

Percy Pig

Arguably the best thing to come out of England since our back four of the George Graham era or perhaps Toad in the Hole.

If you’ve had neither then I weep for you as your life is less whole than mine and you cannot possibly understand that Tammy being on the plane back with me is a very real possibility 💪🏼

I’ve got a feeling that the season just gone will end up being categorized as the ‘season before the season.’

Blessings.

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One Response to Summer Wishlist and 10 Quick Fixes for Arsenal to build on last season’s springboard

  1. Francis Redemi June 10, 2022 at 7:37 am #

    Hello,

    Nice Post as usual and the only thing is worried about is if we have enough funds to get a striker like Osimhen or DCL. DCL has a lot of issues because of his recent injuries.

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