Now that I have filled you all with optimism for next season, in yesterday’s post, here are some things you guys are probably not looking forward to, or atleast I am not looking forward to for next season.
10) Johan Djourou’s defending
Let’s be honest. Johan Djourou’s defending always gives me the jitters. When the ball is with him, I get nervous all of a sudden, and only when he completes a pass or hoofs the ball up field, can I relax myself. It is just one of those things, I suppose. His calamitous defending against Manchester United, Milan, Wigan etc gave me enough nightmares for a season. Here’s hoping that Koscielny, Mertesacker and Vermaelen stay fit throughout.
9) Marrouane Chamakh up front
Again, being honest, Chamakh comes close to giving Djourou a run for his money, in inflicting nervous moments on Arsenal fans. Last season, he managed a solitary goal, which came in the 4-3 loss to Blackburn. With Giroud and Podolski, expected to miss the start of the season, we could be punished to watching Chamakh strut his stuff up front, and I can tell you it won’t be a pretty sight. He has lost his confidence and touch, of which we had seen in abundance, in his initial few months at the club, when he scored 10 and assisted a further 8. Despite the talk of Besiktas being interested, I cannot see Chamakh moving in this transfer window, as van Persie and Bendtner look set to join Carlos Vela in the mass striker exodus. Considering our luck with injuries, over the years, Chamakh staying is a huge possibility.
8) Board Troubles
Arsenal’s board, which was known for its unity and integrity for the better part of the 20th century, has been shattered over the past few seasons. David Dein’s departure has caused a fair bit of unrest in the board. More unrest has been fueled by the takeover by American sports entrepreneur Stan Kroenke, who looks least interested in the football side of things. Add to that Alisher Usmanov releasing a letter to the board, saying his takeover is in the best interest of the club. Post the debacle at Old Trafford, there were major cries among the Arsenal faithful to sack the board. Will history repeat itself, if we fail to pick up silverware this season?
7) Frustrating Individuals
Now that I have mentioned Chamakh and Djourou, there are a whole lot of others who have frustrated the Arsenal faithful over the course of last season. Theo Walcott, for instance, while showing momentary flashes of brilliance, can be utterly useless at times, when he is up against a dogged left-back. Aaron Ramsey, despite all the potential, makes us bang our heads against the wall with his backheels and stray passes. Andre Santos, can leave land the size of Brazil when he goes up in attack. Gervinho, for all his magical skills, never puts the ball into the net, but manages to find the fat bloke in Row Z. Andrei Arshavin can just come on as an innocent little sub and manage to get us all frustrated. Well, I can go on and on, but you get the point, right?
6) Away Games at Bogey Clubs
This is something I am really not looking forward to. November 3rd is the date we are set to travel to Old Trafford, the scene of haunting brutality last season. Of course, there won’t be a repeat this time, but I am sure there will be moments I would just feel like looking away. Stoke away in the second week of the season too will be hard. I cannot even imagine the barracking Szczesny will receive for his pink kit, at Anfield and the Brittania. Finally, we will play Chelsea, without the ghost of Didier Drogba hanging about, and scoring from mundane parts of his body, but still it will be a hard game, despite the magnificent win last season. There’s of course the others like Swansea’s, Manchester City’s and Newcastle’s to go by as well.
5) November/December/January Slump
We all know how unfavorable the month of November has been over the course of past few seasons. However, at times the slump takes place in December or January, when the fixture list makes us play a Fulham away 2 days after we are done tackling Stoke at home. Those chilly nights in downtown London, or up North usually take the sting out of our season, leaving us dreadful during the festive period. This is also a time when frequency of injuries is high, and last time round, we had all 4 of our fullbacks out.
4) Cup Exits
Cup exits hurt the most. Last season’s defeat to Sunderland left me completely miserable, and at times, even made me ponder if my existence was of any worth. Couple of years back, it was the hardest of all cup exits’ to take, when we lost the Carling Cup Final, got mugged by the referee at the Camp Nou, and lost to 7 defenders of Manchester United 2-0, to virtually drop curtains on our season. And that happened in a matter of weeks. It also derailed our league campaign, and we ended up finishing 4th. I really don’t know what it is with the cups, maybe the sudden realization that your team is out of contention after a loss, or maybe it’s just the romance of it all, but they sure hurt the most.
3) van Persie’s Departure
Admit it. We would have barely made it into the top 6 without Robin van Persie firing on all cylinders last season. As much as it hurts to say that he is on his way out, it will take some time to replace him. Podolski and Giroud may be fine marksmen, but they will have an adjustment period, whilst Marrouane Chamakh isn’t the kind of player who can fill van Persie’s boots. What hurts more is the manner in which van Persie expressed his desire to quit. Will we be able to fill the hole created by the departure of another of our marquee players? Only time will tell.
2) Poor Refereeing Decisions
Arsenal fans have witnessed the most atrocious of decisions go against them in the past. Rooney’s dive to break the 49 unbeaten run, the sending off of Jens Lehmann in the Champions League final, that painful game against Birmingham in 2008, Kuyt’s foul on Hleb in the Champions League quarter-final and the subsequent Gerrard dive that won Liverpool the all-important penalty, van Persie’s red card against Barcelona, that heartbreaking 111th minute penalty decision against Liverpool and numerous poor decisions against AC Milan. We have seen it all. I doubt next season will be any different.
I suppose injuries to Arsenal players have become as routine as Lionel Messi scoring 4 goals in a game. Almost, every weekend we are subject to news, that a player has suffered a knock, or has been injured in a meaningless friendly against Solomon Islands, or twisted his ankle thanks to a Vermaelen nudge in training. In fact, there has even stopped being a reaction to news the likes of Abou Diaby being injured for half the season. Let’s all hope we have a fit and healthy squad next season.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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