Monday, June 04, 2007

Season Review: The Attack.

There is actually some decent news today. Apparently we're on the verge of signing a certain Sagna from Auxerre, a player who has just been called up to the French squad and who plays at right-back. As I think that we still need a really top class right-back, I approve of these rumours; however, for now I will continue and conclude my now almost Tolstoyan season review.

Thierry Henry, 6. His worst season at Arsenal; he knows it, we know it. However that's not to say it was devoid of a few magical moments. His last minute winner against United will certainly stay with me for quite a long time, as will his goals against Blackburn and Liverpool. Questions remain though. Should he be captain? Gilberto certainly seemed to wear the armband more comfortably. Is he losing his pace or was he just unfit? If he doesn't have his electric breakout speed of old, where does he fit into the team? Despite being our record goalscorer, I'm sure Thierry will probably think he has a few things to prove next year.

Robin van Persie, 7.5. Even taking into account the fact he didn't play for half a season, Robin has more than proven himself as a top-level player this year. I still had nagging doubts about him at the beginning of the season but he seems to have it all; well, almost all. He certainly has no right-foot. He can score goals from all around the box and outside the area. Most importantly, he shoots. He knows where the goal is and he can make things happen. He can fire in magnificent screamers in the vein of his volley at Charlton, or massively important equalisers, such as against United. More than that, his team play has improved; he can certainly no longer be called selfish. The challenge for him now is to remain fit for a season, as his ability to do so is the only real question mark remaining against his name. If he can't, greater depth in our strike-force is needed.

Adebayor, 7. Yes, higher than Henry, because Ade stayed fit almost all season and chipped in with some vital goals in almost every month, including several against the Spuds, and a blissful slide finish at Old Trafford. Ade is not the type of player who the goal-scoring burden should fall upon though. He's shown this year that he knows where the net is, but he needs a RvP or a fully-firing Henry next to him in order to reach his full potential. He's very highly rated by opposition fans, which I feel says a lot about his quality, and he needs to maintain his development, and not let his ego expand too far next year.

Baptista, 5. Somewhere between genius and bafoonery lies Julio Baptista's contribution to our season, and we all know the one to which it lies closer. Legendary and semi-legendary performances at Anfield and WHL aside, he struggled almost all season due to a lack of fitness, sharpness and, unfortunately, general ball-control skills. I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a long time because he did seem to be getting into goal-scoring positions and I hoped that his nose for the poached goal might come good for us. In short, it didn't. Can't fault his effort, but it was not meant to be.

Aliadiere, 4. Worse than Baptista. Has had far too many chances to prove himself, almost to the point where you feel Arsene has indulged him a little too much. Not good enough and we need to maximise a fee for him this summer. Somehow.

Overall, 6.

The attack had plenty of quality, but not enough goals. Profligacy was the one of the key-words of our campaign with regard to the attack, as was injury. Our strikers need to take chances when they are presented to them next year, not go for the extra-pass. They need to find the target more often and also stay fit. I'm not convinced that, with Baptista and Aliadiere leaving, we have enough depth in the strike force and I'd be very happy to see some new blood come in. However, I don't think it will, and unless RvP stays fit, and the magical Thierry of old returns, we may struggle for goals again next year.


jo blo said...

Well an ok blog but i still think some of the ratings are a bit off to ME. Thierry Henry, i think you got this one spot on. Though he did not perform as he usually does, Henry seemed to have improved in certain areas which can only be a plus for the upcoming season.The plus is the fact that he did convert some headers
and not only that but he jumped and guided them in properly. He even showed some bite and hunger when playing against Man U something i thought i may never see again (yes he does have the tendancy to not make an effort to jump to head a ball and not be in those Man U games). Now i seriously believe this his attempt at headin is due to Adebayor's present.
And so we come to Adebayor. This is a guy who works hard and truly deserves the plaudits for this work rate but as a striker i must say he needs to score much more goals for the no. of good outright chances he gets. He misses 7 good chances before he scores one. And with the no. of games his started the return of goals should be much better.
RVP stats speaks for itself, the boy is good infact great, enough said.
Baptista should be given a lower rating as all he needed to do in so many cases was shoot, he did not need to even control the ball. At Anfield he did just that with Aliadiere doing all the hard work. For sure he gets into the positions but what's the point if you can't control the ball and when u do take forever to shoot. He deserves a 3.5 for positioning that's bout it.
Aliadiere feel was hard done. Nothing of his assist and movement was even mentioned. When he finally got his chance was when things were already bad for us and the pressure was on, but that should not be the issue. He worked hard and for me helped to stretch defences though not always of his own accord as the balls are usually played so wide of him that he has to start near the side line. One thing i noticed about ali is his ability to get the ball to the other strikers in good scoring positions, unfortunately Baptista tend to be the one in those positions and thus the pair looked bad. But as seen at bolten, when he fed freddie, how he could move with the ball. I just feel he was trying to hard to score and so it would always be difficult. He should get atleast a 5.

gazzap said...

what was Henry's goals to minutes on pitch ratio? I bet it was right up there with the best in the league and I'd even hazard a guess it was better than van persie's. Henry still has the magic but fair enough if you want to mark him down for being injured but dont under estimate how good henry still is.

Anonymous said...

Goonerboy, you're clearly not a moron so please explain why you want to know if Henry is 'losing his pace' if his goal against Liverpool will 'for quite a long time'?

Did you answer your own question?

Yes, you did.

Goonerboy said...

Sorry, that's not a mistake. I think that was the only time this season, with the possible exception of the Blackburn goal, that Thierry showed his truly electric pace of old. I was utterly thrilled when I saw it, because I thought it was a sign that he was definitely back, but he broke down again with injury a few weeks later.

I hope he can produce a few more goals like that this season; if he does it will provide a more convincing answer to the question of how much pace he's got left.

Anonymous said...

how can you give the attack a 6/10 when our biggest problem this season was putting the ball in the net!

Jimmy said...

If you strip Henry of the captaincy you have to sell him. It would be an utter humiliation, so there is no sense in talking about it unless you feel we could do without Henry and don't feel his departure would affect the morale of the squad.

Jimmy said...

The fact that VanPersie has been out for a long time has rose tinted some people's view. He is not the complete player yet. There is no doubt we need him back because he has that eye for goal.. However up until his injury he still drifted in and out of games, not contributing enough in general play and often giving the ball away.. He still has a lot to learn, but does have the crucial ability to score. It'll be interesting to see how he copes with being the "saviour".

Anonymous said...

Jimmy your eyes are firmly closed. RvP does not drift in and out of games and he was on course for being top or second top soccer in the league. His passing and crossing is probably the best in the squad and his wotk rate in our own box in defending corners etc is huge. Definitely a pots half empty sort of guy are you not.

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Adam said...

@ Gazzap

I think I remember reading somewhere that van Persie had the highest goals scored: minute played ratio. Followed by Drogba and Henry in 3rd. Take it with a grain of salt, though, cause I don't remember when or where I read it!