The 2012/2013 season has ended and Arsenal finished in the 4th spot, a finish good enough for just UEFA Champions League via the play-offs. After the match yesterday,
the players were caught on camera celebrating as though they had just won the championship. A lot of fans cum critics didn’t find the sight funny and branded the
players shameless for brazenly celebrating ‘failure’. While top 4 finish isn’t simply good enough for a team of Arsenal’s class, weight and history, that is still not good enough reason to brand the season a failure. In the course of the season, I discovered Arsenal have learnt some lessons and I will like to share them with you all.
Goal Scoring Duty Is Now A Shared Responsibility.
One of the problems that shows up when a star player especially a striker exits the club, is the issue of who replaces his goals. In Arsenal’s case, when Van Persie left in the summer preceding the season, Arsenal were in a quandary as to how to replace the goals supplied by the 30 goals striker. In the 2011/2012 season, Van Persie was Arsenal’s only player with double figures in the Premier League but this season, the goals have been shared around. In the just ended season, we had four players with double figures in the Premier League alone; Theo Walcott (14), Santi Cazorla (12), Olivier Giroud (11), Lukas Podolski (11). If we are to win the league again, we need multiple goal outlets like we had in the unbeaten season and this season, we laid the foundation for it.
Discovered The Best Center-back Partnership.
A title winning side is built on solid defence (the last time we won the league, we also boast of the meanest backline) and a solid defence is built on understanding between the 2 center-backs. We started the season with 3 center-backs and all three had chances to play with one another but through it all, it was clear that Mertesacker/ Koscielny partnership was the best. In our last 10 games of the season and with both players playing together, Arsenal conceded only one goal per match and only conceded twice from open play. Ahead of next season, what we need is a capable back-up. Our first choice pairing is sorted already.
Wenger dared new things
One of the reasons why we haven’t won a trophy in donkey years has been Wenger’s rigidity and refusal to try new tricks but this season, he did. He jettisoned his late substitutions and wielded the axe on seemingly untouchables. It wasn’t a new thing that he dropped Szczesny, he had dropped goalkeepers in the past (Seaman and
Lehmann) but never has he dropped his captain when fully fit and for important games. But this season, Wenger dropped Vermaelen for the all important clash against Bayern and since then, he had found the first team hard to break into. The only start he had was when Mertesacker was suspended. This new trend means no player is untouchable. Hence, all the players would sit up and fight for their place in the team. Healthy competition for places means better performance and better results.
Arsenal can now play dirty
In the past, Arsenal have been renowned for playing football the beautiful way, scoring many goals but also generous at the back. This season, especially in the last 3 months, the Gunners have been miserly in defence. They score and lock up. This season, we saw Arsenal score early and maintain the lead and also keep clean sheets. If we want the title, we must be ready to grind out results and that we have learnt this season.
Walcott’s best season ever
For long, the English winger had been villified for offering much but delivering very little. But this season, he came to maturity. This season is still his best so far as a player and good to know he is doing his heroics with Arsenal. He notched 22 goals in all competition and 14 in the league to emerge as the club’s top scorer this season. All his goal scoring heroics he did from the wings. Hopefully, he will improve on the good form next season and help us challenge for titles.
Ramsey can be an asset
If there was one player Arsenal fans were keen to see his back, it was the Welshman but this season, the former Cardiff prodigy breathe new life into his Arsenal career. In the past, he was used as a square peg in a round hole, playing as a winger or in an attacking midfield position but this season, Wenger used him as an auxiliary defensive midfielder and the decision proved a masterstroke. Now, we know Ramsey can be a plus to the team
Arsenal started the new season with a problematic position and it was the left-back role. Gibbs was the first choice but was susceptible to injuries while his back-up Santos looked totally out of sorts. In the course of the season, Wenger brought in Spaniard Monreal who has proven to be more than a mere back-up. With Monreal and Gibbs, we can confidently say the left-back conundrum has been finally solved.
Arsenal can end the season well
In the past, we perfected the art of starting well but often fell flat in the latter stages of the season but this time even though we started poorly, we finished with an aplomb. All we need to win the title next season is to find a balance; start the season well and also maintain our newly found mental strength to end the season well.
With the above lessons, we can all see that the season hasn’t been an utter failure. Rather, it has been a learning curve and hopefully, we will put our wisdom to full use next season.
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