Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughMid-Term Report: Arsenal - D+ - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Mid-Term Report: Arsenal - D+ - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Mid-Term Report: Arsenal – D+

Current Standings: 5th – Pts: 36; GD: +8

 Best XI (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczęsny; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen Andre Santos; Alex Song, Mikel Arteta; Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Gervinho; Robin Van Persie

The Manager:

Entering his 15th year at Arsenal, the guillotine was out for the Frenchman after six barren seasons and especially after their dreadful start to the season. But by disregarding his youth policy and purchasing some experience heads, he has lead the team up near the top end. Has altered his team’s style and with a more direct, rather than possessive style of play.

The Season in a Few Words:

Worst start in the club’s history. Have bounce back to compete for European football thanks to their captain and new signings.

Key Player This Season:

Thomas Vermaelen. Many would say that Robin Van Persie would be Arsenal’s key player but one player who is just an influential and has been overlooked is that of Vermaelen. A strange choice? Yes, but since the Belgian has been back in the fold for the Gunners, their once leaking backline has looked more solid and fierce. The Belgian is the best defender at Arsenal and when he’s not on the field, the Gunners lack his leadership and experience.

Best Player So Far this Season:

Robin Van Persie. Could there be anyone else? With 17 goals in 18 Premier League this year, he’s been the star of the show for the Gunners. When they were struggling, in what many thought would be a regulation battle, the Dutchman’s goals have dragged the club back in the European competition. His many highlights so far, include goals against Everton (a stunning volley which can be seen here); a winning free kick (1:22min) against Sunderland and of course, his hat-trick in his side’s 5-3 wins of Chelsea. An Arsenal side without its captain would be a complete different team.

Worst Player this Season:

Andrei Arshavin. Once upon a time ago, when the team sheets were announced and we saw the dynamic Russian starting on the bench, it was stirred the media pot. Now it’s a given. Arshavin’s erratic form, his poor work rate and lack of interest sum up why the Russian is Arsenal’s worst player so far this season. The latest rumours suggest Wenger might sell him in the transfer window. It wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Most Improved Player:

Laurent Koscielny. The French defender was a target for fans and critics alike for his poor performances in his season in English football. 12 months on, he’s been adjusted to the speed of the game and become and instrumental piece of the Arsenal puzzle. Able to bring the ball out of the defence and spring an attack forward as well as cover at the back, Koscielny has solidified his place in the starting eleven.

Best Signing this Season:

Mikel Arteta. Signed on the last day of the transfer window for £10 million from Everton, the Spaniard has added coolness, creativity and overall experience in the Arsenal midfield since the departure of Fabregas. Playing a lot deeper than he did at Everton, his presence has lifted the creativity duties from Song and Ramsey and has resulted in a changing the team’s style. A quality summer signing by Wenger.

Best Match They Played:

Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal. It was the manner in which Arsenal recovered and went on to win this game that stands out. After trailing 2-1 at half time (goals to Frank Lampard (14’); Robin Van Persie (36’) then John Terry (45’)) an incredible match swung in Arsenal’s favour with Andre Santos then Theo Walcott putting the Gunners 3-2 up. When Juan Mata made it 3-3, everyone thought that Arsenal might crumble as they did in the past. They didn’t thought as Van Persie scored two more goals (one a slip up by Terry; the other a bullet) as Arsenal recorded a stunning victory.

Worst Match This Season:

Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal. The Gunners biggest lost since 1896 will sum up the game; in which Rooney scored a hat trick and ran riot at Old Trafford. Probably the worst performance under Arsene Wenger’s reign. 

What they need to do:

Transfers. With no proper full backs available and a mounting injury list, Wenger has to delve into the window period and bring in some cover, regardless long or short term. The arrival of legend Theirry Henry will help Van Persie carry some of the goal scoring burden but a season long solution would be better. Playing consistently and winning home games is essential.

Prediction for 2012:

The Gunners are back on track and in the chance for some success after their dreadful start. Yet, the over reliance on Captain Van Persie is a problem as when he’s not firing, neither are Arsenal. If he stays fit and if some players lift their game, expect them to just – by a whisker I would say – sneak into the Champions League. In terms of trophies, focusing on the FA Cup would be the best bet. 4th 

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Andrew Bishara