Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

  Balaji Ramamurthy

  Editor – Football, The CouchExpert

  August 13, 2011

Arsenal have announced the signing of Costa Rica’s teenage striker Joel Campbell. The fee and contract details are unknown as of now but most believe it to be around the £1m region. The forward will most probably be loaned out in order to gain his work permit, according to many sources. But I do not have any concrete confirmation on that front. The signing of another unproven “prodigy” comes at a time when the club have their star midfielders Cesc Fabregas (done deal according to reports) and Samir Nasri loitering around the exit doors.

New gun: Joel Campbell arrives at Arsenal

Campbell arrives from Deportivo Saprissa S.A.D., a highly successful Costa Rican top flight club. He has just played a couple of games for them before being loaned out to Puntarenas F.C., another Costa Rican club. Here again he has played a handful of games. He has no goals to his name at either club at top level in the few games he has under his belt for the duo. Where Joel Campbell has really shown his ability as a lethal striker is at the international level. He has netted 18 times in 27 games for the national team (National, U17 and U20 combined). He was the team’s highest scorer at the 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship with 2 goals. He also struck 6 times at the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship to end up being the tournament’s top scorer. This is again another Arsene Wenger “signing for the future”. I do not see Campbell coming into the first team this season regardless of the work permit issue. And on the striking front Arsenal are in the same position as before – lose RVP to an injury and who scores? And given Chamakh’s poor form we really need to hold on to Nicklas Bendtner. This “signing for the future” is going to do nothing to placate the frustrated Arsenal fans and especially so when Fabregas and Nasri are on the verge of leaving when the new football season is almost upon us.

Arsene Wenger had his press meet yesterday where he mentioned the team having the strength in numbers and depth and that no one is leaving the club.  I had a nice chuckle, but felt sad. It was a show of defiance and Arsene was just trying his best to keep the team morale at acceptable levels ahead of today’s kickoff at St. James’ Park. But the real situation at the Emirates is far from settled as the heart of the midfield is about to be ripped in a few days. Though the Arsenal fans see Wenger’s ploy of keeping the team morale high, they are equally frustrated and angry at the situation the club is in. The fans are not angry about Cesc or Nasri leaving. The fans are angry simply because this is not the situation any team enters the kickoff day for a new season in. Arsenal’s game is on today but the fans do not know who the captain for the season is going to be. Enough said! It is not that fans cannot understand players leaving, Arsene. They are dejected simply because none of this was handled properly at all. We had a solid couple of months to make key decisions, strengthen and settle in nicely but we have a mess on the day of the new season. The impending star departures could have been handled in a swift, decisive way and an equal show of ambition could have been displayed in the transfer market as well. Instead too much time has been wasted thinking and negotiating. Arsenal fans would have be a far more satisfied lot with swift decisions and a couple of signings rather than star players leaving after the season begins. There are a further two weeks left in the transfer window and I hope Arsene fixes this ridiculous mess. Till then we just have to pray that Arsenal are able to qualify for Europe and survive league clashes against Liverpool and Manchester United with a team as unsettled as this.

          Balaji Ramamurthy

          Editor – Football, The CouchExpert

          August 12, 2011

This was too hilarious and had to find its way here. A light satire on the situation at Arsenal. Sure you do have your serious moments with the team you love or hate. But sometimes we need to chill and look at the lighter funny side of life 🙂

All credits go to Mr. GilbertoSilver. For all the diehard Arsenal fans, he is better known as the author of Gunnerblog

And kudos to the good spirited Arsenal fans world over who can see the humor and appreciate good comedy.

          Balaji Ramamurthy

          Editor – Football, The CouchExpert

          August 11, 2011

When I wrote my first piece yesterday for The CouchExpert, I promised that I would be dealing with Arsenal’s midfield issues and mainly the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga in a separate article before the league kicks off. And I am going to do just that right away, a day or two sooner than I had initially planned. Using Cesc’s pre-season appearances as the basis for my hypothesis, I had reasoned that some movement looked imminent. And right now the BBC reports that Cesc Fabregas is very close to completing his move to Barcelona.

Now. I am not shocked. This is not something knocking me senseless out of nowhere. It was a known fact that one day Cesc Fabregas would move back to the club he arrived from, his boyhood club and his lifelong dream – Barcelona. But what leaves a sour taste in my mouth is the way Barcelona have conducted themselves to achieve their goal of signing the player. From what we understand, the transfer fee is supposed to be around the £35m region. This is well short of Arsenal’s valuation of the player and quite frankly when Andy Carroll goes for £35m and Fernando Torres hits the £50m mark, this is ridiculous. But yes, we all already know that. Everyone knows the fee is not up to the real value for the player that Cesc Fabregas is. Anyone who disagrees please read the following (Courtesy – OptaJoe) :

1. 466 – Over the last five PL seasons Cesc Fabregas has created a total of 466 goalscoring chances, more than any other player. Coveted.

2. 28.6 – Cesc Fabregas created a scoring chance from open play more regularly (every 28.6 mins) than any player in top 5 leagues. Coveted.

3. 60 – Cesc Fabregas has more assists in top 5 leagues in last 5 seasons than any other player, ahead of Dani Alves, Messi & Xavi. Happy.

4. 38 – Cesc Fabregas played more through-balls than any other Premier League player in 2010-11. Needle.

5. 61% – In the last three seasons, Arsenal have won 61% of Premier League games Cesc Fabregas has started and 43% when he hasn’t. Leader.

Now does anyone sane disagree? The bottom-line is this. Arsenal know that £35m is some way below the real worth Fabregas carries. Barcelona know that as well. Cesc Fabregas knows that. You know that. And I know that. But there is a reason why a move even at £35m is happening or at least reported to be close to happening. It looks pretty much like Cesc Fabregas feels it is time to leave. He has been a true professional and a champion when it has come to handling the situation in public and with the media. Never has he expressed his desire to leave Arsenal, in public. He has not pressurized the club or the manager into selling him. He has been an awesome professional where he has expressed his love and gratitude for Arsenal. Fabregas himself says that he is under contract to Arsenal, loves the club and the fans and is happy but the only club he would ever play for other than Arsenal is Barcelona. Fair enough. And he has always maintained that it was up to the Arsenal board and Arsene Wenger to decide and he would oblige. “Professional” written all over it.

Cesc Fabregas makes his Arsenal debut in 2003 at the age of 16

But the sour taste comes from Barcelona’s behavior. Ranging from Xavi talking about Cesc’s DNA setup to Pique and Puyol goofing around forcing Cesc into Barca jerseys, we even had Barcelona’s presidents (both former and present) making public statements about how the player was rightfully theirs’. I agree Arsenal took Cesc from Barcelona, but that was Cesc’s decision. He chose to play for Arsenal as he thought he would be presented with better opportunities at Arsenal. He signed a contract with Arsenal. It was not like Barcelona loaned Fabregas out to Arsenal for 8 years paying all his wages. But I guess that is what Barcelona think. They realize that Cesc though very professional about all this, wants to leave. They know that Fabregas is not an urgent signing that they need to make and hence do not make the appropriate offer. And yet they pressurize, publicly, using every single Spanish mouthpiece they can get hold of to get the player they want in the longer term, for cheap. They never match Arsenal’s valuation of the player because though Arsenal have the upper hand contractually and morally, it doesn’t make sense for Arsenal to hold out longer as the season fast approaches. An unsettled captain is the last thing any team would want to have at the beginning of a new season. And it sure looks like Arsenal are looking to move on to life without Cesc Fabregas as a deal looks imminent, though below their valuation. And the £35m or whatever needs to be directly reinvested in 2-3 new players in the areas of deficiencies that Arsenal need to address.

Now this situation can in one way impact the Samir Nasri saga. If Cesc really does leave, does Nasri get the central playmaker role that he covets so much? Does Nasri get his wage demands satisfied and become the top earning player at Arsenal? Will he sign his new contract when his demands both on-field and off-field are met? But with reports of a £185,000 per week wage offer from Manchester City, I don’t think so. Arsenal just cannot afford to throw such wages at one player and that too at someone so replaceable as Nasri. And that is where things get perplexing further. Is Arsene Wenger so doubtful of his ability to find a new quality playmaker, so much so that he is willing to lose Nasri for free next season instead of cashing in and pouncing upon the reported £22m offer from City ? Now that can be the only possible reason why Arsene has no choice but to keep Nasri this season as a direct replacement for the leaving Fabregas, but risk losing Nasri for zilch next year.

Again I may be wrong. Maybe this is all smoke and mirrors and somehow Arsene convinces Cesc to stay. Nasri, I am not so sure beyond this season. If Cesc leaves, yes it leaves us with very little time to sign a quality replacement and Arsenal would be in a situation where they have to rely on Nasri for the creative central role this season and then deal with losing him on a Bosman next season. But that is next year. My guess is Arsenal are in a very uncomfortable position because of which they are forced into dealing with things only by the day and are in no situation to think long term. Cesc’s departure looks imminent and that is the sole logical reason I see Arsene Wenger clinging on to the risky Samir Nasri situation. The ensuing few days will provide us with the answers, at least as far as Cesc Fabregas is concerned.

But my take on all this? I know I am typing off on a computer here and I agree that I know nothing about the difficulties and nuances of signing a new player. But if I were Arsenal’s manager, I would have let Nasri go right when the £22m City offer came in and would have thrown it directly along with something extra, into reinvesting for the defensive positions. And the money generated through Cesc could be aggressively thrown on a quality signing on the lines of Juan Mata. In Arsenal’s situation right now, they cannot be so stringent with money as to say “We will not pay a penny over £13m” when the asking price is say £15m. The extra £2m is nothing compared to the vulnerable position Arsenal are in. It doesn’t matter if both Cesc and Nasri stay or both leave or one of them leaves. Either sale is going to generate considerable money and that really needs to result in signings that can truly strengthen Arsenal or at least keep them at the same level. It’s simple. You lose someone in your team? Replace them properly and if possible strengthen. No point sitting on wads of cash and bargaining around in the market for the best deal when time is running out. And arguments from Arsene Wenger that he was not willing to pay that £1m more on X player and hence he called off the deal is only going to anger the already frustrated fans. More so because if you claim that you have to spend wisely and be conservative to this extent, you simply do not spend £12m+ on a raw 17 year old player while baulking at similar prices for established internationals. Let us hope Arsene Wenger still has enough magic to turn this around.

           Balaji Ramamurthy

          Editor – Football, The CouchExpert

          August 10, 2011

And here we go. Having weathered one of the most football starved summers in recent memory, we are just a few days away from witnessing the start of the new season in England. The English Premier League, now more popularly known as the Barclays Premier League  kicks off this Saturday. And having been a lifelong Gooner, it is only apt that I start off my role at “The CouchExpert” with a write up on Arsenal FC.

Sure it is a brand new season. Every single team on that points table starts from zero, zilch, nada. But somehow that is the only optimism I feel at the start of the season and this has been the case for the past few seasons with Arsenal. Too much promise, same old problems and a sum total result of disappointment at the end of the season. Well there is the usual criticism in the media about Arsenal stemming from the media considering them a team “not-so-English” and the reluctance of the club to spend on experienced and proven talent. The predictions always point to Arsenal crashing out of the top four and thus losing their right to play Champions League football. And for all their miseries, reluctance to splash cash and inexperience Arsenal always end up proving the doomsday predictions wrong, staying consistently within the Champions League spots. And to be honest I have never ever been bothered by such predictions, well, till the end of last season.

The most logical way to start analyzing Arsenal’s chances this season is to see what the others have been up to. Here is a team by team summary of Arsenal’s major competitors:

  1. Manchester United – Well, they are the champions. The joy of title number 19 has not yet withered and they are well and truly up for number 20 judging by their Community Shield performance against bitter foes Manchester City. Coming back from 0-2 to win 3-2 with a very young team just shows how much any title means to them and really puts on display the hunger for success in their players, be it the young and raw Tom Cleverley or the seasoned Wayne Rooney. It is as simple as that. They way every player in the team approaches any game of the season with a passion to win and hunger to succeed is the key to their swelling trophy cabinet. Of course they no longer have the swagger of Cristiano Ronaldo but have sure made up for that loss with their collective passion to win. As far as the the transfer market goes, they have made sure that they stay at the very least on par with the previous season. The loss of Ronaldo is an exception though. They still have the task of getting a good midfield up with Paul Scholes having retired and Ryan Giggs taking more of a backseat. But their biggest strength is, and mind you no other team in the league comes even close – the will to win.
  2. Chelsea – They started last season with a bang and looked like winning the league early. But a horrid mid season both derailed their season and Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure as their manager. And again the thing with Chelsea is the same as United. No matter what, they refuse to give up till the very end. This was clearly evident last season as well. After running away with the league at the early stages, then crashing down in the middle jumping around Europa League spots, they came back and voila, ended runners up. Chelsea have a new manager full of youth, ideas and exuberance in André Villas-Boas. But the core of their squad is  aging and though that is a long term worry, they should do okay this time as well. But the biggest thing going against them in recent times is the emergence of Manchester City as the new transfer market powerhouse. Chelsea have not been able to get the big money signings and have not added much to their squad. And their squad lacked depth midway last season which was why they tumbled. They might not be so lucky this time around, but let us wait and see.
  3. Manchester City – To be honest, I was tempted to put City above Chelsea at #2. They have certainly become a force to be reckoned with both on and off the pitch. Their pockets are so deep that they have managed to pack off clubs like Real, Chelsea, United and Barcelona when it comes to competition in the transfer market. The recent signing of Sergio Agüero is an exclamation point to their rising ambitions. They have a great strike force in Dzeko, Tevez and Agüero. Their defense is pretty solid too compared to the other big guys. They have two combative midfielders in Yaya Touré and Nigel de Jong adding to the solidity at the back. And Yaya Touré has recently been an emphatic source of attacking football as well. A solid goalkeeper in Joe Hart also helps their case. David Silva is their creative spark. They have depth like none other in the league and if their superstars settle into a groove early, we have a real contender on our hands.
  4. Liverpool – Agreed they had a very bad start to the season last time but their revitalization centered around Kenny Dalglish and Luis Suarez was remarkable and I expect them to stay among the top this season. They might not be title contenders but definitely with a rejuvenated squad and a mercurial manager, they are not Europa League material either.
  5. Tottenham Hotspur – The Spurs have a problem. And that is too similar to the one I am going to address in detail up next – Arsenal’s.  An unsettled playmaker, lack of squad depth, early starts and the admitted tiredness towards the end of the season – everything that resonates with a Gooner. And I am considering them a competitor for one reason and one reason only, they are too similar to Arsenal and that is competition any day!

And now, my beloved Arsenal. The reason I am so worried about Arsenal is the way they capitulated towards the final months of the 2010-11 season. It was remarkable, sad and never before seen. When the first team was fit and roaring in the beginning of the season, sure, Arsenal were emphatic. They looked confident and were sitting top midway. And then came the Carling Cup final against Birmingham. And this was seen as the best opportunity to exorcise the demons of many trophy-less seasons. To be precise, the last trophy to fill the cabinet at Arsenal was the 2005 F.A Cup. Arsenal have come close since then – the 2006 Champions League, the 2007-08 League title and the 2006-07 Carling Cup. But this was different. This was a team in dire need of a trophy success due to the sheer number of seasons since the last trophy.

And what happened? Arsenal ended up on the wrong end of the podium yet again and this time we witnessed something like never before. The season just collapsed. Chelsea moved up on Arsenal. And the nail in the coffin was Manchester City moving up above Arsenal to finish third. While Arsenal did drop many points before the Carling Cup final, their record after losing the final was appalling – 6 draws, 3 defeats and just 2 wins. As such, 12 out of 33 points towards a season’s culmination is a disaster of titanic proportions. But what makes it even worse is that the 6 draws and 3 defeats all came against non-top opposition, mid table teams. And Arsenal somehow managed to drop points in most of those games from winning score-lines. Arsenal dropped point after point at the Emirates. They gave us moments like Spurs coming back from 0-2 to win 3-2, Newcastle coming back from 0-4 down to draw 4-4 and West Brom running away to a 3-0 lead.  It was almost as if the team just wanted the next season to begin.

Either that or the team did not deem it worthy enough to show some seriousness towards the “ordinary” teams of the Premier League. In the early years of Wenger, you would rarely see Arsenal drop points against these “ordinary” teams, but all that has changed. Whenever Arsenal plays today, a possibility exists for any kind of result. For one, the passion to win isn’t there. Sure it exists in a few players but few players do not make the team. The spirit needs to run through the entire playing eleven and the bench. Some players just strut around, are too lazy to track back and defend, too lazy to go fight for the ball when the opposition has it and show utter lack of seriousness when playing the lower teams. It is as if they think the 3 points are in the bag even before kick-off. This was something that was never seen in Arsenal of early 2000’s. They were good, they were superstars unlike the current bunch and yet they would make it a point to pummel the opposition to submission every single game. They were that serious about winning. The current team barring the exception of a few players, simply does not possess such a quality.

Have Arsenal improved in that aspect during the summer break? Let us break that down into two sections. First being the mentality of the existing squad. That is a difficult question to answer from a couch thousands of miles away. The answers can be provided only by the first few games of the season. The first couple of games should indicate whether the players have made themselves cognizant of their past mistakes. Secondly, has the squad been augmented and dead wood thrown away? Let us have a look at that. Arsenal have signed three players thus far:

  1. Carl Jenkinson – 19 years of age and still raw. But lots of potential. It is evident Arsene Wenger sees enough in Jenkinson to place him as Bacary Sagna’s deputy at the right-back position. Emmanuel Eboue has become more and more of a hindsight in recent times and the way he conceded a 16778th minute injury time penalty to cost us points against Liverpool was atrocious. Eboue comes under dead wood. And the rumor that we rejected a £7m offer from Galatasaray better be a rumor. If it has any truth to it, then it would have to be the most foolish transfer market business ever by Arsene Wenger. So, Carl Jenkinson slots in at RB playing second fiddle to Sagna. It is good that Sagna is normally a season long fit player, else I would be worried about having to put in a League One teenager over there in a tougher environment.
  2. Gervinho – Thus far the one relatively established signing that we have made. A winger by position, he is a proven talent in the Ligue 1, though the rigors of which are relatively lighter than what he would find himself in at England. But still he has the pace, the skills on the ball, is direct and most importantly shoots accurately. Aerial prowess and a strong upper body also chip in and make this a quality bargain signing. And Gervinho has been sharp and good in almost all of Arsenal’s pre-season games.
  3. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – The so called sequel to Theo Walcott, signed at a price of around £12m which could rise further with add-ons and bonuses. And he just turns 18 in a couple of days after the league begins. Another winger by position, he is fast, physically very strong and has good shooting boots on. And by the looks of it all it seems he is being slotted into the first team right away at some point this season.

Gervinho - Lille to Arsenal

Arsenal still have work to do in the defensive area. The departure of Gael Clichy has left Kieran Gibbs as a starter and the lazy error prone Armand Traore as back up. I shudder to think what would happen if Gibbs gets injured. And that is not something unreasonable to envision, given Gibbs’ injury record. Arsenal need a left back. And the center half situation is only too well documented. Squillaci simply doesn’t make the cut and has almost lost the confidence and faith of the fans. Djourou has been an enigma thus far. One period he is a rock and in another he is downright unlucky or plagued with niggling injuries. I am of the opinion that we certainly need an established center-half in addition to Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny in order for us to go the entire season and emerge without a crisis. Looking at the last season only confirms the need to sign another center-half. Vermaelen went missing most of the season thanks to an Achilles’ injury and Arsenal were caught napping with Koscielny being the only consistent performer paired with the hapless Squillaci and the unlucky Djourou. But to be fair Squillaci and Koscielny are too similar. They clean up. And with Koscielny cleaning up expertly, it was up to Squillaci/Djourou to attack the ball and that is where we need a good attacking center-half.

Defensive midfield is another area to strengthen. Alex Song is good, but sometimes too lazy to work while playing the lesser teams. Emmanuel Frimpong is fast emerging as Song’s cover. He is well built and is exceptionally strong both on ground and in the air. But Arsenal would lose both in January during the African Nations Cup and maybe Wenger plans to use young Jack Wilshere as temporary cover during that phase.

Will they stay or will they leave?

Arsenal’s midfield right now is in a cauldron, so much so that it deserves an article of its own. Barcelona are as shameless as ever, courting Cesc Fabregas at every opportunity and yet unwilling to pay the necessary transfer fee. Cesc has not featured in most of the pre-season games and it does not look like he will feature in the weekend opener too. It looks increasingly like some movement is imminent and I will take this topic up in depth in another article before the season kicks off. Another player who has become a problem, though in a worser way is Samir Nasri. Nasri is apparently playing the dirty game of entering the final year of his contract, not signing a new one, courting other clubs and holding Arsenal to ransom in order to extract higher wages. With a reported £22m offer from City on the table, it would be crazy of Arsenal to hold on to Nasri and face the prospect of letting him leave for free on a Bosman next year. And all said and done Arsenal have enough cover for Nasri. Nasri is not the creative spark that Cesc is. Losing Cesc would be the body blow. Nasri, Arsenal can deal with and it is surprising why they already haven’t. When Fabregas does not play, Arsenal seldom create. Agreed Wilshere and Ramsey are both precocious talent. But the eye for that killer pass that Cesc Fabregas has, no one else in the current squad even comes close. Its like this. Nasri leaves, Arsenal have the task of replacing him with just one. And that one in all probability is already in our possession from the wide array of attackers we have. But Cesc leaves, Arsenal have a monumental task in their hands of replacing the team’s sole creative visionary. And without a replacement, the entire team would have to gel in and work their socks off to do what an in form Cesc does. My opinion? Sell Nasri, spend the money immediately on a quality replacement and convince Cesc to stay. More on that later. Tomas Rosicky has shown some promise in pre-season, but well he needs to stay fit to contribute anything meaningful from the midfield.

Which brings us to the strike force. Robin Van Persie has shown in the pre-season that he hasn’t forgotten what he did last season after returning from injury. 22 goals last season considering how long he was out injured is tremendous and he was probably the reason Arsenal even managed to stay in the top four. However lethal Van Persie maybe, we must note that he is yet to play a full season free of injuries. As long as he is there and firing Arsenal will do good, but what about that time when he isn’t? Marouane Chamakh started his Arsenal career well but then suddenly stalled. And seeing him in the pre-season games does not give me enough confidence. I  have not seen anyone so short of confidence on the ball and goodness its only pre-season. Carlos Vela better start scoring in games other outside of the Carling Cup. Nicklas Bendtner for all his faults has a better goal to game ratio than everyone except Robin Van Persie. Ideally I would like to see Bendtner retained rather than sold given Chamakh is woefully out of touch and Vela is well, Vela. Maybe Gervinho can slot in or maybe his signing means Theo Walcott gets his preferred striking role. All said and done I would say that a decent striker is also required to play back up to RVP. Unless that happens, retaining Bendtner and hoping Chamakh regains his early 2010 form and hoping for things from Gervinho/Walcott is the best bet. Add Andrei Arshavin to the equation and we have a situation where we have so many quality wide players and just one world class striker. Arshavin must be given the license to roam and yes he better improve his work rate. This is where I see Gervinho playing a more attacking role darting constantly into the box and Arshavin roaming around the wings. Conclusion? Keep Bendtner if we are unable to sign a decent striker. Joel Campbell is another teen prodigy tipped to join Arsenal. With work permit issues though, he will be loaned out even if he signs.

The goalkeeping situation is interesting. It seems that Wojciech Szczęsny is the new number 1 (#13 literally but #1 choice). He is a solid keeper who barks orders at his defense and is quite a good shot stopper. I do not have any worries with him. But it is his back up that I am worried about. Łukasz Fabiański is a decent enough cover, provided he does not repeat that nightmarish period he had last season when anything would go past him into the net. He did improve after that and it seems Arsenal are good to go provided Szczęsny lasts the entire season and Fabiański covers up ably. Arsenal should be okay here.

I would keep this part very short and succinct. Manuel Almunia, Emmanuel Eboue, Denilson need to be sold.

So there you go. A good center-half – yet to be signed. A left-back – yet to be signed. A striker – yet to be signed. The transfer window is nearing its close as the season begins. Any first team signing should have ideally been made before start of season so that they get the time to settle into the squad. But who knows. Maybe there still is time. Maybe Arsenal are looking to make those center-half and left-back signings, their top priorities, from within the English league so as to negate the gelling in period. And with Cesc and Nasri’s future still question marks, we might need replacements there as well. And time is running out. Never has a season started with so much pessimism, fear, frustration and a sense of being totally unsettled. Add that to the usual complacency of the majority of the squad while playing the lesser teams, the free fall last season from top of the league to almost falling out of Europe and the emergence of Manchester City as a genuine footballing powerhouse, it looks like Arsenal will have to be at their very very best to avoid any kind of calamity this time around.

As hard as my heart beats for Arsenal to lift the title, my mind has its best possible verdict for Arsenal this season – 4th (a position they will have to earn hard battling against the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham).