OK, so its been a long time coming but at long last, The Pessimist (ie. me!) has got round to writing his review of last season.
Unfortunately, despite being an eternal pessimist, I think that last season was actually a reasonable season for Arsenal, despite what some fans may think. Before the start of the season I thought that we’d do well to remain in the top four and that a decent cup run would be a nice-to-have. At that time, the threat from Tottenham seemed large enough to at least worry about and Villa and Everton were making steady progress. As it was, we finished 4th without too much trouble and got to both the FA Cup and the European Cup semi-finals. Not bad overall and I’m happy with that, if I’m honest.
“So where’s all the pessimism then, Barnett?”, I hear you ask!
OK, if you insist…
Last season was a carbon copy of the season before, with our awful period coming at the start of last season but at the end of the previous one. Defeats against Hull, Fulham, Manchester City and Stoke along with the crushing capitulation at home to Tottenham made for a very depressing first half of the season. The addition of the superb Arshavin, at long last, in January turned things around for us but it was too late for a challenge and the season rather petered out in the end.
The performances in the two cup semi-finals were toothless and depressing – Chelsea took us apart without us providing any threat whatsoever at Wembley, as did United in the first leg at Old Trafford. We were lucky to still be in the tie at all by the time the 2nd leg kicked off but even that good fortune ran out after only 8 minutes when Gibbs slipped over and let Park in to score.
In many ways, it doesn’t feel like we’ve progressed much as a side. Clichy, Fabregas, Walcott and Adebayor all had poor seasons by their own standards, the defence is still extremely creaky, Rosicky is nowhere to be seen and we still have Diaby and Eboue on the pay roll. On the plus side (sorry, pessimism fans!), Arshavin looks class, Eduardo is back to face Martin Taylor for another day and Almunia was superb all season.
The worry has to be the chasing pack – Villa improved immensely last year and only ran out of steam in the final few games, Tottenham had a truly awful start to the season but came back quite strong in the end and may consider themselves a proper threat this season if they can avoid the threat of relegation this time round and Everton would also have to be considered as would City now that they have infinite money to play with.
As for next season, we need to improve, particularly at the back and Arsene shows little or no sign of wishing to shore things up in that department. In this modern era of silly money for even the most mediocre of players, it seems that Arsenal are going to struggle without some multi-billion pound investor to call on which is a sad situation in my opinion. It used to be said that you couldn’t buy success but that’s clearly not true any more.
Lets just hope that our best players can find their form again and that we can mount a title challenge for a change this year.