Newcastle vs Arsenal preview: A painful season starts tomorrow, plus favourite line-up
Written by Chris on August 12, 2011 19:00
Newcastle. Then Udinese. Then Liverpool. Then Udinese. Then Manchester United. Welcome to Arsenal, welcome to my first season preview.
I would like to start by offering an apology to all those waiting for my last part of last season’s review, who to buy and who to sell, as it never went online. Unfortunately I was very busy launching the forum and dealing with all the feedback on the “old” comments section but I believe you will all agree with me that the two articles published by Jeff and Therapy Inc. were quality and these can be found here and here.
A lot happened this summer, a lot will happen this season, I will try to summarise all my thoughts in today’s preview hoping not to sound, how can I say it, too “negative”.
The Cesc Saga
August 12, 18:30 and Cesc is still an Arsenal player. As this preview was written hours before it actually went online, there is a small probability that he was sold to Barcelona. If that’s the case and you’re still reading this paragraph, it means I was not in a position to change it, it means that I was probably abducted by our alien friends. My thoughts follow.
We Didn’t Win Anything With Cesc As Captain, He’s No Patrick Vieira
This is what many are saying, I find it harsh and unfair because you cannot consider Cesc “replaceable” just because we didn’t win anything with him in midfield and as captain. Also, why are some of you not aware of the big hole he will leave in midfield and why the comparison with Patrick Vieira?
OK, fair enough, for one who believes that a captain should be over 30, I also feel that Cesc was not the right man(or shall I say kid) for the job but why blame the player for a manager’s mistake?
Judge him as a player, judge him on the pitch. Remember all the games he rescued for us when coming off the bench, such as the one against Aston Villa in 2009 or last season’s F.A. Cup game against Leeds United? He’s quality, whether you like it or not, and he reached a stage – like Samir after all – where he understood that Arsenal is not the place to be for an ambitious professional footballer who wants to add medals and trophies to his CV.
At the age of 24 Cesc knows that he will join Barcelona, learn for a year or two from midfielder maestros such as Xavi and Iniesta and be a top, top player when he turns 27, running the Barcelona and the Spanish midfield for at least three years, winning competitions at a domestic level and also in Europe. Can you blame him? Can you honestly blame him for wanting success?
Arsene Wenger Didn’t Keep His Word
Not true, not entirely at least. At the end of the last season, Arsene said that his objective will be to keep the squad together, clearly referring to Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Blaming him for failing to do so is not right and that’s because keeping the squad intact is two-way traffic, the Club has to want it and the player has to want it as well.
If Cesc and Samir decided to leave Arsenal to win silverware elsewhere, you sell them and move on, since, as many said, we don’t need players in the squad who prefer to be elsewhere.
But Arsene has to understand that many of his players joined and will join Arsenal because they believe the Club will act as a springboard for them to become top players, and then wave goodbye.
Do you remember the Eden Hazard interview in which he said he would enjoy very little regular football with Real Madrid, reason why Arsenal is a preferred option?
Call them immature, call them ambitious, call them whatever you prefer, fact is that as soon as a player reaches the level he always wanted to reach, he’s off, and that’s because he knows that trophies are elsewhere guaranteed whilst at Arsenal it will always be a big, big question mark.
What Bothers Me Is This
That Samir Nasri had only one year left on his contract and that Cesc Fabregas desperately wanted to join Barcelona are facts that everyone knew a year ago so the reason why they were not sold at the very start of the transfer window beats me.
Make no mistake, I am not saying that signing or selling players is easy, far from that, but it was clear months and months ago that these two players wanted to enjoy success elsewhere. They will now be replaced by two who will have very little time to settle down and who will probably miss our first two games of the season.
And also, if you see that our defensive department has to be desperately strengthened, why on earth did we reach the second week of August with no new signings in central defence?
I mean you can hide your head in the sand as much as you like but the situation at Arsenal, the current situation at Arsenal, is very, very difficult and whatever happened during the summer surely didn’t help.
Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will maybe score fifty goals and produce thirty assists next season but the fact is that they were not needed, especially the latter, these two actually just confirmed that money was available this summer and it wasn’t spent wisely, at least for now.
You Will Be Missed, Cesc
The Cesc Fabregas poster I have in front of me will not be taken down as I will always consider him a great, a professional and a winner. Unfortunately he spent years and years playing in a team with no winners, no ambition and no winning mentality so as I previously said I can’t blame him for returning home.
In football, as in other sports, they remember you for what you win. Marcelo Rios was one of tennis’ finest talents but he never won a grand slam, he had a chance to do it but he blew it. Today, only his fans remember him.
Samir Nasri is a different story, he joined years ago, enjoyed a good first half of the season last year and now he’s waving goodbye.
Am I Being Too Negative?
No, I’m just saying what many others are saying, including Ray Parlour, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn. It’s not negativity, it’s being realistic ahead of a long and painful season ahead.
Why are we selling/loaning out Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela to keep Marouane Chamakh? Why did we let Gael Clichy go to replace him with Kieran Gibbs? Why is Manuel Almunia still an Arsenal player? And Abou Diaby? And Sebastien Squillaci?
It’s time to face the tough reality that this squad is still incomplete and I’m not sure Arsene knows how to find all the missing pieces of the puzzle. We have 25 wingers in the team but also 25 question marks hanging over the head of the defensive department.
Tomorrow’s game will not be easy and Newcastle will know that our midfield, without Jack Wilshere, will be extremely weak as weak will be the left-hand side at the back, regardless of who will start. Armand Traore impressed me more than Kieran in pre-season but is he ready to perform consistently for one full season, for 60 games?
Anyway, as a friend said, I reserve the right to change my opinion, depending on how the rest of this month plays out. After the United game all the questions will be answered and hopefully I will be served humble pie but as I said last week, for the first time in these last few seasons, I look forward with no or little optimism at all.
The first line-up is always tricky to pick but I will use pre-season to determine who deserves to start and who does not. Wojciech will of course start in goal with Thomas and Laurent both fit to start after recovering from minor knocks.
On the left, and again based on pre-season, I would start with Armand, also because Kieran is recovering from injury. Bacary is a certain regular on the right with Alex, Tomas and Aaron in midfield. Not too convinced with these three together but I ask you, who, if not them?
Up front, Gervinho and Andrey will be Robin’s partners. The Ivory Coast International was on fire in the summer and Robin scored in our last three friendly games so he’s ready to continue from where he left off last season.
The Gunning Hawk Coverage
As always, tune in for team line-ups, streaming links, half time and full time reports, post-match thoughts, video highlights and what the press is writing. And of course, do contribute if you want to by making use of the comment box available at the bottom of the post as it’s always nice to hear your opinion. And as a final note, if you want to go one step further than just leaving a comment and want to have your articles published on our website, take a look here for more information.
And of course, don’t forget you’re still in time to pick your preferred team for this game. And when the final whistle blows, don’t forget to rate the players, comment on their performances and share your personal ratings with your friends. All this and more, available at http://www.arsenal-interactive.com.