It’s that time of year again. The football season has come to a close and we have to wait patiently like school children for the new term to begin. What with the Women’s World Cup and U21 European Championships, it will not be long until all the excitement of another Premier League campaign returns. In fact, I have left my end of season review so late this year that the fixtures have already been released. There is a month and a half until Arsenal kicks off the 2015/16 season at home to West Ham United (the Community Shield does not really count as the curtain raiser unless of course you win it like we did last year) and I for one am feeling extremely positive.
Last season was a very good one (any season that ends with a piece of silverware is) but I have to be honest and admit that if we had won the Premier League or Champions League, it would have been even better. However, I’m not going to moan that we only won the FA Cup, as it’s still a trophy at the end of the day. Just like last year, the only team in the top flight that had a more successful season than us were the league Champions. I would rather finish third and win the FA Cup for a record 12th time than finish second but empty handed. Eventhough we finished a further three points behind Chelsea than Manchester City the year before, we did improve positionally and only failed to challenge for the title because of our sluggish start.
Some people are directly comparing the 2013-14 campaign to the 2014-2015 one because both ended in FA Cup glory but looking back, I feel we are in a much stronger position now and definitely can push on for the title. You’ve only got to look at our final two games of the season. The 4-1 victory (including a Theo Walcott hat-trick) at home to West Brom and the emphatic 4-0 against Aston Villa in the final sent out a clear message. Everyone was made to sit up and take note of the massive threat Arsenal possess. We can be treated as serious title contenders. Only a fool would say otherwise.
For years, I desperately wanted a CDM in the mould of Gilberto Silva but my prayers have finally been answered with the emergence of the rock that is Francis Coquelin. All the talk is that you can’t win the title with Olivier Giroud up front or Wojciech Szczesny in goal but I strongly disagree (sorry Thierry). It’s that unsung hero in the middle of the park that holds the key to a Championship winning side. If Chelsea had Mikel instead Matic last year, they almost certainly would not have won the title. That being said, we still need to get sufficient cover for Coquelin because unfortunately both Flamini and Arteta cannot recreate what Francis does.
Apart from players such as Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal improving significantly, another positive that puts us in good stead ahead of the new season is the way that the team is set up now. Arsene Wenger rarely gets any credit for his tactical nouse but the way that the team now (it started in our 2-0 away victory against Manchester City) press in numbers, work for each other and have become more stable overall owe a lot to the way he has changed the way they train. I was lucky enough to visit the training ground back in early May and saw first hand how a lot of drills focus on winning the ball back/pressurising the opponent
Of course, all this excitement can be tempered by talking about the disappointment that was the first leg against Monaco in the Champions League round of 16 or the defeats to Swansea and Spurs but unlike earlier in the season, I cannot blame these bad results on the fact they were pre-Coquelin/ pre-our new style of play. You just have to take a loss on the chin sometimes and accept that not every match is going to go to plan. Even the Invincibles had a few poor matches where they scraped a draw or even lost (in the Cups)
So yeah, I think there are so many positives (including a major trophy) we can take into the new campaign. I don’t feel we need big signings this summer but at the same time, I feel we could do with a CDM cover as I mentioned and also a new Per Mertesacker (similar stature but younger and quicker). Apart from that, I’m content with what we have. 2 more squad signings plus Cech if the rumours are true and I feel we are ready…
We’re coming for you!
We’re coming for you!
Chelsea Football Club.
We’re coming for you!
By Glen Shorey