Saturday, 9 April 2011

Only Arsene Wenger would be hammered like this - Kit news

Morning Gooners.

To be honest it's hard to know where to start. There is so much to get through.

Let's start with the team news. Cesc Fabregas is fit to start tomorrow after another solid week of training and Aaron Ramsey has also returned to the squad after his groin strain last weekend. However Theo Walcott and Bacray Sagna face late fitness tests and Alex Song is definitely out.

Arsene Wenger also hopes to be able to call on Wojciech Szczesny and Johan Djourou who will resume full training on Monday.

The manager spoke to the media yesterday and as expected was questioned heavily about the club's achievements this season. I'm not sure there is a need for a full postmortem at this stage of the season, what with there still being eight games to go in the league. Anything can still happen but I understand why those questions were asked yesterday after three disappointing draws in a row.

It's worth reading the full transcript of the written press conference to have context with what I'm about to say.

If you expected Arsene Wenger to come out and criticise his team and the achievements of his players this season, you obviously don't understand how football management works at the highest level.

I have never once heard Alex Ferguson come out and tare into one of his own in front of the media and I don't expect Arsene Wenger to either.

If you take a step back and analyze the season, we haven't done badly. We've reached the final of the Carling Cup when only a freak mistake in the final minutes cost us the game. Against Barcelona in the Champions League, I would suggest Robin van Persie's sending off was the turning point - another freak decision made by the referee. And going out of the FA Cup to Manchester United, well that would be my only regret that we didn't give more that game.

Personally, I think the reason so many fans are disappointed is because if we were more consistent in our winning of matches we could have walked away with the league. But that is because every team has been so poor this season or you could argue that the teams in the bottom half of the table have raised their game to compete with the sides at the top.

The idea that we were going for the quadruple in any way is madness. We were only on for the quadruple because we were in four competitions. It's something that falls into place if you win all your matches. It's not something you can actively set out to achieve. It's something the media love to build you up with and then hit you with when you don't achieve it.

Take Manchester United for example, watch the Sunday Supplement tomorrow and they will talk about Manchester United being on for the treble. Are they really? Or is it just the case that they are in three competitions and have a chance to win them all?

Anyway, I digress. 

It was good to hear the manager tackle some myths created by the media. The fact we have a better defensive record than Manchester United, despite needing to buy a goalkeeper and central defender.

The fact we're also one of two clubs to have played Champions League football every season for the past 15 years.

And although the manager put it in a clumsy way, I would take being second at the start of every season for the next 20 years if it were offered to me. Obviously, that would be under the proviso we won cup competitions as well. But who knows what kind of position we'll be in once the great man leaves? Can the new guy guarantee the success Arsene Wenger has achieved with the club? 

It's always easy to harp back to the six years we've not won anything. But this great Barcelona team failed to win anything for five years. And this season Liverpool will have gone five years without picking up a pot.

Let's not forget, Arsene Wenger is the club's most successful manager. To want him out of our club is madness. We really need to take perspective on all his achievements, many of which won't be celebrated until he leaves the club.

Chelsea and Manchester United have consistently won trophies over the last six seasons whilst we have gone through periods of transitions at the club, partly down to the move from Highbury to the Grove which took its tole on our financial resources but also as a result of having to take a youth option rather than buy proven players.

I expect this close season that will change. I can see the manager buying a number of more experienced players to balance our squad more equally. And I see the Daily Mail has published the names of players who they believe are set to leave the club. Their list could have been compiled by fans who watch the team every week. It's hardly rocket science.

I expect reaction to the press conference to be quite mixed and depending on the result we get tomorrow, either everything will be rosy or we'll have to go through another week of doom and gloom.

Not to end on a sour note, Jack Wilshere tweeted yesterday he'd tried on the new kit for next season.

He said:
"Today I have tried the new kit for next season on. Looks really good! AFC fans will be happy with this one"
Expect the crest to look something like this.

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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