Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reviewing The Arsenal

(Editor's Note: I love this. I'm busy rehashing the "shortcomings" and the "hey, we're not all that bad offs" of last season, while Liverpool are celebrating a massive signing.)

Interesting thoughts, then, at the start of last season. So much was in flux, yet I think I really only missed out on predicting the effectiveness of Hleb and Eboue. I thought that Hleb really did hold a major key to the season, in whatever position he was slotted into. Turns out he did. He just never used that key. While a majority of the press over the summer has flagged the loss of ol' Alex as yet another defection, I think you'd be hard pressed to actually stumble across an Arsenal supporter who was sad to see him go. General consensus ... great on the ball, disastrous in the box and equipped with the decision making skills of a 20 year old on the receiving end of a three-story beer bong of onrushing Steel Reserve. I also think it's fair to say that for all of the clamoring we had from supporters screaming out "SHOOT!" most of it could be pinned on ol' Alex.

Farewell to him. You can't wish ill on the boy, but surely we won't miss him.

And then the other glaring miss in my pre-assessment of the season ... Emmanuel Eboue. Yikes. Could I have been more off-base? When he came in as a right back I kept thinking he'd be brilliant if unleashed on the wing. Little did I know he was worthless. Little did I know he'd become an embarrassment to whatever level of goodwill the team had accumulated in the face of the scandalous behavior exhibited by Chelsea, and the non-stop mouth-running of Sir Alex Ferguson at the top of the division. To be fair, Eboue turned in more fluid performances toward the very tail end of the year, but the rolling, diving, complaining and gesticulating isn't The Arsenal Way and it had most of us shuddering. He place could well and truly be in doubt, but the right side of the midfielder will definitely need addressing. (Could Theo be stuck out there? It does seem the place he can most immediately make an impact in the side.)

In the end, while the tumble they took in the last four months of the year left a bitter taste with victory so close, I think most supporters can agree that they performed above themselves with their fluency. Comparisons to the Invincible side were wrong and unfair, if for nothing else the current side doesn't have anyone close to the talent of Dennis Bergkamp.

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