Monday, June 3, 2013

Arsenal FC Full Season Review part 1

It was another top four finish for sixteenth consecutive years and it's another Champions League Football. Well, at least, play-off for Champions League, we still need to go through 180 minutes of thrilling games next season before we enter the group Stage of Champions League.

It was another season with uncertainty. We started the season after the star player(s) left the club, again, and in addition, Pat Rice retired last season, and Arsenal had two new assistant coaches : Steve Bould and Neil Banfield. . 2012 Nasri and Cesc left. 2013 van Persie left. Arsenal started with unstability after two consecutive seasons of captain leaving the team. This season, however, Wenger already prepared van Persie's departure, with three purchase : Cazorla, Giroud, and Podolski. They were already in their prime age, and it was direct replacement considered by Wenger when he bought three of them to Emirates. However, they are not van Persie, and they still need time to settle in to the Premier League.

Arsenal Season Result
Premier League : 4th Position
Champions League : 1st Knock-out Round
FA Cup : 5th Round
Carling Cup : Quarter Final

Arsenal started the league well, where we got three clean sheets in three games - two 0-0 draw and 2-0 win at Anfield, and followed by 6-1 thrasing Southampton at home, and holding defending Champions Manchester City 1-1 at Etihad, but after that, our bad habits comes : inconsistency. Few bad defendings shown by the team, like when we are beaten 1-2 home by Chelsea and 3-3 home draw against Fulham, plus 0-2 home defeat against Swansea. We were very fragile at home - we lost against Schalke at home also. In addition of those inconsistincies, Arsenal were kicked out of the League Cup by lower division Bradford in penalty shootout, as Thomas Vermaelen missed the decisive penalty. In Champions League, we made it to next round, but we were suffering in the group, and finished below Schalke, with three victories, one draw and two loses.

Despite all the poor results on the first half of the season, we still showed some of remarkable matches. We defeated Reading 7-4 in the League Cup, after being behind 0-4 - it was the best comeback Arsenal I've ever seen since I started supported Arsenal. We also did a goalfest against Reading (5-2) and Newcastle (7-3) in the Premier League. One more thing, we thrashed Tottenham Hotspurs 5-2 - like last season, where Podolski, Giroud, and Cazorla were able to score goals!

The second half of the season were better, but we started it poorly. Arsenal suffered home lost agaisnt City and Blackburn (this one made us kicked out of the FA Cup), plus some few inconsistent results, including 1-3 home defeat against Bayern Munich and 1-2 defeat against Tottentham. We did restored our pride by winning the reverse fixture in Bayern's home, 2-0 - via Giroud and Koscielny (ultimately, this is Bayern's only defeat in Knock-Out Stage). This result, however, was not enough to save the Champions League hope, as Bayern progressed - and eventually came out as winner - to the next round. Nevertheless, this result brought the squad morale up and since that time, we never take our feet off the gas pedal. 8 wins out of 10 games plus two draws - against two tough oppositions : Everton and United.

We were poor in the earlier of the season but, ultimately, we are able to bounce back - just like last season, and fortunately, Tottenham collapsed, again, and threw 7 points lead - after Andre Villas-Boas said Arsenal had been in bad spiral. We achieved fourth placed finish again, ahead of our North London rival.

In negative sides, we can't come top against three teams above us. We were beaten twice 1-2 agaisnt Chelsea, while we were defeated away by United but were able to held them 1-1 in Emirates. Against City, we were able to held them in Etihad, but toothless in Emirates, and 0-2 was in the scoreline. Secondly, there was no clinical goalscorer upfront. Giroud was a good player, and he can flick the ball well, but he is not true predator in front of goal. Time and time we saw him missed chances. Podolski and Walcott also were unconvincing while played upfront. Attacking wise, too often we can't broke the deadlock when we need to. There were no flair maker, like when the traitor can save us by scoring goal.  Well, this is partially caused by lack of predatory finish in the final third, but I feel like we can improve more in this side. We should've creating more chances - especially by delivering more accurate crossing when we have target man like Olivier Giroud.

We can't say we have been playing best football in England. I hate to admit it, but from the point of view of playing style, this is the most unattractive Arsenal I've seen. Too many times we've been playing poorly - but luckily we had a better mental strength this time and we can scrap three points despite poor game.

Another sad fact that it's another thropyless season for Wenger boys.

To conclude, it was not our best season, but there were some positives from this season. We still got European Competition, plus  we are still in above Tottenham Hotspurs. We might have finished one strip below last season where we got third place, but from another perspectives, we did improve from last season. We achieved 73 points, three points more than last season and five points more than 2010-2011. We also were able to get ugly win this season, like what we did recently, with few 1-0 victories. In addition, we are not one man team anymore. We even mostly without our number 10 Jack Wilshere and our captain Thomas Vermaelen in the winning streak in the closing stages of Premier League. And our defence improves a lot, as we conceded 12 goals less than last season. Lastly, we are now have better mentality compared to recent years, as we did few comebacks this season - most notably 7-5 away win against Reading in Carling. We were also able to avoid last minute spoilt. The 2-1 away win against West Brom is one of the best example. West Brom pushed forward but we were able hang onto result. It is a good foundation for next season - if we can keep our players next season, plus one or two world class players. We can challenge for the title next season, and also one of two domestic cups next season. Hopefully!