Arsenal Expectations for 17/18
We are all awaiting new signings (Lemar?), and the Leicester game in the coming weeks.
The Charity Shield* may be interesting, but then it is just a friendly, and an actual trophy win vs. Chelsea in May was better than any prospective glorified friendly “win”. Mourinho called it “half a trophy”, though in my mind it’s 0.000001 of a trophy, and not 0.5.
So once we hopefully beat Leicester, what should we make of the coming season? This is my view on the targets we should be setting:
People may disagree, and it’s fine, we all have our own views. But then I don’t think we can win the league this season. I’m not bothered if we do or not, this season at least. There is a lot of competition, and lots of money being thrown around. I believe this season we need to finish in the top four, as the competition for players will get more intense. What is certain is that the bookies with their latest betting offers do not rate our chances too highly.
Everton are spending. Granted, not on many players who would get into our team, but they’re looking to grow as a long-term strategy. West Ham has bought Chicharito (Hernandez), and with their large ground is looking to become London’s fourth big club. They well just might, if they can manage themselves properly, and Lady Brady and Gold/Sullivan don’t fuck them up. So top four has morphed into a top six, and now is a top seven with Everton’s money. We need to keep on the ball, if we’re to sustain ourselves in the position we wish to be.
We have bought well in Lacazette, Kolasinac, and potentially Lemar and/or Mahrez. However, I believe we’re a draw as much due to our legacy as our current form. In a way, we’re a bit like Liverpool. Ultra-successful long ago, but “the name” is a big draw. We cannot continue to rely on “the name” forever. Liverpool knows this. Man United know this, hence their spending. AC Milan knows this too, as must Inter who are struggling despite their city neighbour’s spending.
This is why top four is imperative. It’s nice to win something. But we need to get back into the Champions League, and from then on actually compete in it and make a serious impression. If we can beat Bayern over two legs in the 18/19 Champions League, even if it’s a narrow win on penalties in the second leg, I’d take it. Let’s bring it to them for a change.
Retaining the FA Cup will be nice. Though finishing fifth again and beating top sides won’t fly. The same goes with the League Cup also, since while Wenger has never won it, this should be an opportunity for the youngsters. If Maitland-Niles, Nelson, etc. can get games here, then fine.
We should go all out to win this. We have not won a European trophy since 1994, and Wenger has never won such, period. It would be nice for him to do it, as he should show he can do it at the European stage, despite narrowly losing two finals with us. Would it be third time lucky? Who knows, but let’s see and try.
My views on Wenger, despite him staying, have not changed much. I posted a while ago how I want him to go. I still do in a way, though I accept he signed on, and that is that. However, as a man who is an immense figure in our club’s history, he needs to do these things to renew the faith that he has lost among many:
- Be tactically flexible
- Realise that the new system WILL get found out sooner or later, and proactively adapt
- Don’t let the team bottle it at crucial points in the season
- Ensure injuries remain low, as they did last season
I respect Wenger a lot, for his contribution and achievements at our club, but he needs to spend these two years in proving the haters wrong. And I believe deep down that even the most vehement Wenger Outs want to be proven wrong.
He could also try a variation of the three at the back:
Coq is a valued player, but he’s not a Pirlo, nor Scholes. He cannot sit in midfield, and spray the ball around. Wenger was deploying him in this role last season, and it didn’t come off. He’s a destroyer, and a classic anchor-man. Yes, he is limited, but then he would be better as a shielding force, more so than a neo-Pirlo. Wenger’s desire to grow his game is commendable, but then a team comprises many parts, and Coq’s part is of no lesser significance than others. Not everybody can be an Alexis or Ozil, and this is fine.
Now, I don’t advocate dropping Ozil, as he is not in my formation. But he can play in the Alexis/Lemar role. This is just a variation of three at the back, which could work against other top six/seven sides, and in Europe. Say we play AC Milan away in the knockout stages (or the group stage, who knows?) We would need some measure of discipline accordingly.
At the time of writing, I believe we can get top four. Liverpool and we look fairly similar, and if the stories of them losing Coutinho are to be believed, it will weaken them a lot. We may lose Sanchez, though potentially Lemar and/or Mahrez could cover that somewhat. It may be a fight between us, Liverpool and Tottenham for top four. Though I miss the scraps we had against that lot for top four. Seeing them at Wembley, cheering a “goal” we conceded and only to find it never happened, would be too sweet….
* I know it’s called the Community Shield and has been such for years. But I don’t respect it; hence I don’t bother referring to it via its proper name.