Howdy y’all, and a happy Friday to thee. For me, this is the last day in the office before the season starts, which means the last day about worrying solely on transfers and all of that rubbish, as from now on I can talk about actual football that has, y’know, happened and stuff.
Both Ben and I will be at the ground tomorrow singing our hearts out and, barring a first game of the season disaster, there will be no talk of transfers at all on the Sunday. Which will be lovely. If you’re going to the game tomorrow and fancy sharing some conversation and a chink of pints, then drop me a line on Twitter and meet us in The Tollington.
As for oaf12, he won’t be at the game *point and laugh* as he will be on a stag do, let’s hope he catches it at a pub Ironically it is his first year as a season ticket holder, yet he misses the opening game, ouch!
As for today, well, we thought we’d hit you with a joint blog from all of us. The season is fresh. It’s crisp and brand new like that lovely feeling when you first unwrap your panini football league playing cards (or new Arsenal stickers….) from their packaging. It’s not had its ends frayed by dodgy mid-season performances or stains of tea on your much needed Alan Smith by your parents. So for today we wanted to pick just one player each that we think will shine this season. One player that will stand out and be voted that ‘player of the season’. The one that, let’s face it right now with all of the silence in signings, will bring a smile to our faces.
For me, my choice has to be Jack Wilshire, because I am hoping (and fancying) that he’s going to put his injury worries behind and be the key man for our team. We’ve seen what Jack can do and we know the impact he can have through sporadic patches last season, but I think there is a large number of our fanbase that have forgotten just how good this young man is.
He’s a ball winner. He’s a dribbler. He’s a good passer. He has that ‘X’ factor that some of the greatest players have. You know, that ability to take a game by the scruff of the neck and drag a team over the finishing line as winners. Think back to Swansea in the FA Cup last season. It was his performance and his goal that took us into the next round.
He’s also ‘Arsenal’. He’s been at the club a hell of a lot and you can tell that he loves the club. We’ve all been burned by players that supposedly ‘love’ the club, and there is no way you’ll catch me admitting that a player would never leave Arsenal if he ‘loves’ the club, but I believe that, providing we build the team around Jack and make the squad competitive enough, he will want to stay at Arsenal for years to come. But therein lies the challenge – making Arsenal competitive.
Recently, in an interview with the official site, Jack explained how excited he was for the new season, because he had managed to have a full pre season under his belt. He had been talking to Steve Bould who had explained just how important that was. Just think of that for a second. Jack hasn’t had a proper pre season for a few years. So when he has been back, he’s been his usual self and tried to get into the first team fold as quickly as possible. Which leaves him susceptible to further injury. But with a full pre season where he starts off at the same fitness level as his peers, he can take the same amount of time to get fully match fit. He isn’t slotting in to a team where he isn’t and therefore perhaps has to stretch that little bit further to get to a ball because he couldn’t get to it because he wasn’t running at 100%.
Jack Wilshire can be the beating heart of Arsenal this season. Jack Wilshire could be worth 10 points a season alone if he stays fit. I genuinely believe that.
Ben? Who’s your man for this season?
My player of the season prediction…Theo Walcott.
I remember the bidding war for Theo Walcott, which ended up with the then-16-year-old Theo signing for us over Chelsea. Theo was labelled as one of the most exciting English players around. I was excited and slightly dubious at the time, I can remember thinking how can we spend that much money on a young player when other areas needed freshening up. I can remember going to work one morning, walking along the road seeing papers being delivered straight from the vans to the shop. I had a quick peek at the back pages, and there was (something along the lines of) ‘Theo to be a Gunner’. Just as I arrived to work, outside was a man with Walcott printed on the back of his Arsenal shirt, that cheap print, not Premier League number and lettering – Sorry that’s irrelevant…but it was before we had signed him. Was the man bloody jammy or just the original ITK…Sorry, I’ll continue. Theo signed a few days later.
I have to say, I haven’t been Theo’s biggest fan. I just believe their was more to his game. Was It down to my impatience? I think it was the amount of responsibility placed on his shoulders by Arsene and not being ready for it. I personally thought he shirked responsibility because he seemed very nervous and timid. He was still growing as an individual, let alone a footballer, yet he carried all of our hopes with him. Many of Fabregas’ passes seem to dictate his runs rather than vice versa. *insert footballers brain here* Walcott’s stats just seemed to lie to my eyes. He had a great return, he just didn’t impose himself on the entire 90 minutes. A few performances last season changed my opinion on him. Wigan at home, was especially a turning point for him and my perception of him. His urgency and skill impressed me the most. He ‘put himself around the pitch’ with a touch of class, but more importantly the hunger to win was there to see. Something many individual’s at Arsenal have lacked in recent years.
Last season, Theo was a mixed bag for me. Some simply sublime performances but unfortunately that was tarnished by his contract renewal saga. Theo claimed he wanted a ‘proper chance’ at Centre Forward. He threatened to leave unless the opportunities arose. I personally believe Theo is a better wing forward rather than a centre forward but that’s by-the-by. Fortunately for Arsenal fans, Theo signed on the dotted line and the rest is history I suppose. To be fair to Theo he did very well against ‘weaker opposition’ at Centre Forward and took a lot of chances. Reading in the Capital One Cup was definitely a stand out performance for him in that role.
Last season was definitely his best so far. Firstly it was the most creative and effective we have ever seen from him. Some may argue that 2011/12 campaign was better – He created a lot more chances. But it was plain to see his quality last season had improved. Fast paced and comfortable with the ball at his feet when at full flight have always been one of the main factors to why Arsene plays him out wide. Also to give him a different outlook on creating and finding space. Theo is a natural dribbler, it just isn’t always ascetically pleasing on the eye, but effective. The biggest improvement made by Walcott last season was his composure in front of goal. He could always finish, very Thierryesque at times, just opening up his body, stroking the ball into the far corner. He has become very accomplished. I don’t think I would class Theo as clinical but it’s hard to disagree with the amount and quality of goals he has produced.
Robin Van Persie (editorial intermission from Chris – we don’t use HIS name on the blog Benjamin!) on Theo in 2012:
“I love him, I honestly love him, I don’t understand the criticism. On Saturday he gave three very clear assists, two for me and one for Alex. He was sharp, he was playing fantastically and, like anyone, he misses chances. But I miss chances. Ronaldo misses chances, Messi misses chances. It’s life, you know. Sometimes I feel that people are a bit harsh on him. I don’t know why. If you look at his assists rate then it is unbelievable. And he will score. Trust me, he will score. He will get 20 goals at least every season. You will see. Have faith in him. He has given me so many assists. And for me, if you give an assist then it is worth a goal, especially if you give a great assist. It is as important as scoring a goal. For me he gave two simple tap-ins. That makes it more his goal than my goal.”
Walcott’s great goalscoring form combined with the highest ever number of assists has made Theo more deadlier and more creative than ever, Theo has become a very valuable member of the starting XI. He’s made some major improvements and become a much better all round footballer. But there is still more to come from Theo. He is young, talented and finally proving the critics wrong.
On a side note – I was watching BVB’s newest acquisition, Aubameyang (Strange we didn’t sign him, seems like a very ‘Arsene signing’ to me) score a hat-trick. He was magnificent. Did exactly what a Wing Forward should be doing. Exploiting and creating all kinds of space. Dropping off and helping with the buildup play. Things Theo can and should improve on, in his all round to help I,prove his consistency. I think he is ready as a footballer and a man to take his game forward.
oaf12, let us know who you think we will player of the season?
Wow, thanks for letting me go last lads……oh the choices lol. I think our player of the season will be our big new summer signing, you know, what’s his name? Oh yeah – sorry no more whinging I promise
So will I go for Ox, Arteta, Rambo or maybe Cazorla or even Giroud? Nope! I would love to say Wilshere but in the interest of interesting things I will select a different player than my two fellow blogateers.
Laurent Koscielny, I chose you!
After initially struggling to get into the side last season ‘Bosscielny’ staked his claim and was was a huge part of our brilliant finish to the season. We actually ended up with the second best defensive record in the league, with the least goals conceded away from home. Koscielny even scored the goal that secured 4th spot, off Harpers face
I am a big fan of Thomas Vermaelen and one off season doesn’t make him a bad player, plus I don’t buy the “you only like him for his goals” claims – we like him for Verminating opponents. That aside, in my opinion, Koscielny established himself as our best centre back last year, forming a great partnership with the BFG. If they keep it up then our skipper might find himself warming the bench more than he would like, when he is back from injury anyway!
I remember when Koscielny signed from Lorient and people were whinging, I was actually excited upon seeing footage of his tackling ability, his assertiveness and his knack for interceptions. I felt so sorry for him when he was sent off on his debut against Liverpool with those two late yellow cards. He has certainly had some amazing games in an Arsenal shirt, with his performance against Barcelona in his debut season and his goal against Bayern Munich last year showing he is good for the big games too.
I hope Koscielny has a great season and takes his form from last season into the campaign from the off. There were whisperings of clubs sniffing around him this summer, they can bugger right off! Long may our current number 6 wear his shirt, he has a way to go to wear it as well as Tony Adams did but he certainly wears it better than Senderos.
Koscielny should also restore some faith that we can still sign quality players from the unknown without other clubs beating us to it.
Let us know what you think of our choices Gooners! Who do you think will be player of the season?