Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Arsenal Season Review 2010 2011

We've been here before... more than once. A post-mortem of Arsenal's 2010-11 season reveals too many off-days in a campaign of wildly fluctuating standards. The past six seasons have consistent themes: start full of promise, end with  self-implosion and disappointment. Few teams can match the Gunners for innate ability, but even fewer and there's Arsene Wenger's conundrum. How does he lift the curse of Groundhog Day at The Emirates? And with so many first-teamers looking towards the exits at N5 - at the time of press both Cesc Fobregas and Samir Nasri follow the already deported Gael Clichy - the French manager is under even more pressure to find a remedy after six years without o trophy.
All style and no substance. Throughout the course of a season the critics will salivate over Arsenal's brand of tiki-toka football, but when it comes to the business end the Gunners crumble. Of course, there's no smoke without Tire: their heartbreaking defeat in the Carling Cup final to Birmingham triggered a dispiriting loss of form - only two wins from the last 11 games - which saw them drop from second place to fourth and out of the automatic Champions League qualification positions. When the storm-clouds clear and the mood lightens, Arsenal fans will realise it's not all bad. They finished in the all-important top four and reached a cup final. They also reached the last 16 of the Champions League, losing to eventual winners (and arguably the greatest team ever) Barcelona. Not to mention the emergence of Jack Wilshere and the goalscoring form of a healthy Robin von Persie - the Dutchman equalled the record of 18 goals scored in all competitions between January and May.

Armed with players possessing supreme technical ability and athleticism, Wenger sets his side out to dominate possession, draw the opposition out of position and expose the gaps with slick passing interchanges. It can be a delight to watch. When teams drop deep and get 10 men behind the ball, Arsenal attempt to play direct-hence the signing of frontman Marouane Chamakh from Bordeaux last summer, who began with a bang and finished the season with a whimper. With an apparent conveyor belt of talent gathered from around the world, Wenger's Arsenal are built on sdid foundations. When all the elements come together the Gunners ore a Formidable proposition, passing the ball around with the speed and precision On a bad day they dominate possession, Fail to make the most of their supremacy and then present the opposition with goals on a silver platter. They look decidedly fearful when the going gets tough and tamely surrender when the pressure gets too much. They're also fundamentally flawed in the centre ofdefence, with a lock oF both height and leadership. Finally, Arsenal are bereft of blood and thunder in midfield and, especially in the absence oF the superb Van Persie, there's no cutting edge.

The graduates of Arsenal's nursery are not tough enough to fend for themselves in the Premier League. They need the support oF experienced and proven matchwinners to Fulfil their potential. The stubborn Wenger needs to accept, and act on, this harsh reality. In the 2010-11 campaign Arsenal scored more goals from outside the box than any other team, going From one end of the scale to the other - the previous season the Gunners scored the fewest. With top players heading for the exit, unproven replacements arriving and pressure mounting on Wenger, it could be the end of an era. 


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