When Olivier Giroud arrived at Arsenal last summer, there was a lot of pressure on him. There shouldn’t have been, because he was not that expensive, at around £10 million. He was also making the difficult step up from France to the English Premier League, and we have seen plenty of players struggle with that, but the fact that he was a direct replacement at centre forward for Robin van Persie meant that Giroud was always in the spotlight, and Arsenal fans were not about to be too understanding.
I am sure that Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff at Arsenal will be going over the previous season with a fine tooth comb to see what the team did well, what it did badly and how to improve next season. Forgetting about which new players will be signed, although that is clearly important, there are some interesting statistics that give a handy indication.
The people at eplindex.com have compiled an alternative Premier League table based on a few key elements of the game, namely possession, win percentage, passing accuracy, shooting accuracy and chances created. The Gunners come out fairly well in all of these, but some better than others. Perhaps Arsenal need to concentrate on the elements that we did not excel in to make sure we have a better season next time.
Any Gooner who watched Arsenal struggle against 10 man Fulham at Craven Cottage may be surprised at the staistics, especially the one that shows that the Gunners registered an astonishing 90 percent pass success rate, with 84 percent of their final third passes finding the target as well. Arsenal also made nearly three times as many passes as Fulham in the game.
Normally when you see statistics like that, it means one team has completely dominated the other and the scoreline normally tells the same story, but that was not the case on Saturday. It was Fulham who looked more likely to score in the second half, even getting the ball in the net after Szczesny could only parry a Richardson free kick to Manolev. The offside decision was correct though.
Should Arsene Wenger go? by KJ
It’s been an extremely disappointing season so far. We are 4 points off the chase for 4th place and we’ve been kicked out of the two domestic cup competitions against lower league opposition (Bradford and Blackburn Rovers) and we even failed to qualify first out of the group stages. There are massive questions over Wenger’s ability to push Arsenal to where they deserve to be.
I’ve noticed that this season, Wenger is making far more mistakes than usual. He failed to tactically overcome small teams like Norwich, Villa, Swansea etc. as well as failing with his substitutions (famously being too late to make an impact during the match).
Arsene Wenger only used Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sparingly last season as he was obviously worried about causing the same burn-out that affected Jack Wilshere the year before, and it looks like Arsenal are still being cautious with The Ox this season as well and he has only started 15 games so far.
But Alex is more than happy to wait for his chances and hopes to grab them when he can. “I’m only 19 years of age and I’m at Arsenal Football Club,” he said. “I know I’ve got to bide my time, and maybe this is one of those times. Just to get a start was really important to me, and I know that when I get the opportunity, I’ve got to make sure I try and take it.
I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself when I say that there is little chance that our beloved Arsenal could possibly bounce back and overtake both Manchester United and City, even if we won every game from now until the end of the season (yeah right..), but Arsene Wenger refuses to concede defeat until it is mathematically impossible and thinks a win today could be the springboard to success.
“The Premier League is far from over,” Wenger insisted. “Every team has vulnerabilities, so it’s down to consistency until the end of the season now. Manchester United are still in the Champions League as well, so they will have a lot of effort to put in. You never know what kind of impact it has in the League.
Arsene Wenger recently moved Gervinho into the centre-forward position against Southampton and was rewarded with two goals from the Ivorian in Arsenal’s 6-1 win, but yesterday Gervinho contrived to return to his lackadaisical finishing which prevented the Gunners getting a historic win at the Etihad Stadium.
Gervinho wasn’t the only culprit, and Joe Hart made some fantastic saves to deprive Arsenal taking all three points but Wenger pinpointed Gervinho’s miss as the bigget chance to win the game. He sais after the game: “I am pleased because a point was the minimum we deserved today. I am pleased also with the quality of our performance and our spirit.
The Arsenal legend turned pundit Martin Keown is under no illusion who he thinks is Arsene Wenger’s best buy this summer. Although he thinks that Podolski and Giroud will turn out to be quality additions to the Arsenal team he is certain that Santi Cazorla will prove to be even more influential than the departed Cesc Fabregas.
Keown said: “Arsene Wenger has seen a few creative players leave in the past year but he has a new jewel in the crown in Santi Cazorla.
“The Spaniard looks a fantastic talent and his class is there for everyone to see straight away.
This has been one of the most rollercoaster seasons I have ever known, and for Arsenal it has been even more up-and-down than for other clubs. The depths of anguish at the beginning of the season when Arsenal were as low as 17th after gaining just 7 points from their first 7 games made it look like the season was over before it had begun, but Arsene Wenger dragged the team back up the table.
Robin Van Persie may be the man in form at Arsenal right now, and Theo Walcott has been considered to be ‘the one that hasn’t fulfilled his promise’, but the Dutch hitman believes that the criticism of his strike partner is totally unfounded and Theo is growing into a top-class striker.
In 31 games this season, Van Persie has scored 28 goals, but although Walcott has only scored six from the same tally of matches, Robin thinks that he will be a 20 goal a season man.
“I love Theo, I honestly love him,” said Van Persie. “I don’t understand the criticism he gets.”
The Arsenal midfielder Yossi Benayoun was one of the few players to come out of the game against Olympiakos with any credit, and he believes that if he makes full use of the chances that Arsene Wenger gives him then he will win a regular starting spot in the end.
The Israeli international is just happy to be given a chance now and again to show what he can do. He was asked if he was frustrated with his lack of starting spots and he replied: “I am not because the team is playing well,”
Theo Walcott has picked a bad time to bring out his book which criticizes the England manager Fabio Capello. In it he describes how the atmosphere before last years World Cup was tense and strained, and how Capello ruined his confidence before even a ball had been kicked in anger.
“There was something very stiff and starchy about Mr Capello’s regime before the 2010 World Cup,” Walcott wrote. “I found it difficult to be myself. Players split up along club lines … and the staff weren’t very relaxed. It all felt a bit tense. Everyone was a bit too serious. Something happened out there at the training camp that shook my confidence.