Goodbye 2016, a few of the most progressive steps Arsenal took this year

by & filed under News Review.

courtesy @allthatchas

courtesy @allthatchas

Happy New Years Eve one and all!

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, 2016 has been much the same as most of the last 10 years when it comes to Arsenal. It’s not so bad you want set yourself on fire on AFTV, but it’s not quite good enough that you start party planning for the Premier League Champions procession that dances through North London. You know we’ll be ok, kicking about top 4, you just know our seasons are more of a routinous process over any attempt at something new or daring.

Wenger had this to say on the year.

“We want to show we can go again to the next level. Overall 2016 was an improvement year [in terms of] the quality of our results, but still not where we want it to be. We are conscious of that and we want to put in the effort to get to the level where we really want to be.”

I mean, nice sentiment Wenger and look, we can’t say we haven’t seen some of the efforts reflected on the pitch. But I kind of feel like we’re on the longest goodbye tour of all time. Sure Wenger is a good coach, but he’s not bringing new vision these days, and we’re either waiting for him to die on the job before we change or we’re going to let him run it into the ground, then have one more crack at it before he departs.

However, let’s not close on a rant.Things that I have enjoyed this year in the development of Arsenal.

Things that I have enjoyed this year in the development of Arsenal.

Aggressive Pressing:

Now, we’ve seen it before where the team starts out the season pressing like demons then it trails off when we start to feel the lactic acid burn after a lack of rotation / discipline falls off. However, Wenger has his little favourite Coquelin in the centre of midfield and that boy might not be good at linking the defence with attack, but he sure is good at ferreting out danger and leading the press. That’s been a consistent mainstay. It’d be nice if we were a little more strategic with our approach and it would be nice if it came from the right players at the right time, but at least we’re now being recognised for having a go at boxing teams in and winning the ball higher up the pitch.

Injury Lists:

You can’t deny it, Arsenal have made huge strides on the injury front over the past few years. We had to campaign on this site for years before the manager would accept that maybe the problem wasn’t lady luck and hair pills, but we landed where we needed to in the end. Wenger had this to say…

“I believe we have improved tremendously on the muscular injury front in the last two three or years. Last year we were a bit unlucky with the knocks we got, and the joint injuries we got. It was down to blocks in the game. On the muscular front, I think we have done much better and hopefully we can continue that.”

It’s true. It’s still not perfect. Wenger started the season by playing a broken Aaron Ramsey at Liverpool, then ignored his pleas at half time which led to a 3 month spell out. I also have deep suspicions we knew that Mustafi was on the brink for a while. You don’t play a defender that intensely for that long a period and not suspect he’s going to break.

We’re also suffering a new type of problem in the crunch months, that’s fatigue instead of broken bodies. Last season we blasted our first team with no rotation, then in the second half of the year, we just weren’t there mentally or physically. The whole team dropped off. Was that because these guys are weak? Or was it because they weren’t as fresh as Leicester. Not just an Arsenal problem, it’s a Spurs one too… but we spend double what they do on wages, so we should have a squad more able to cope with rigors we have every year.

Mental Strength + Plan B

I think the two are intertwined. This year we have lots of options, I don’t think we use them as well as we should do, which is especially worrying considering the rigours of our schedule, but we have a plan B. We’ve scored 7 times in the last 5 minutes which is Man United of old like levels of horror for smaller teams. We also have interesting ways to shake up games now. If Wenger subbed before 70 he could change our whole set up. We have Giroud who can lumber on and bully

We also have interesting ways to shake up games now. If Wenger subbed before 70 he could change our whole set up. We have Giroud who can lumber on and bully defences allowing us to switch attention wide if we’re not landing anything through the middle. We often have impact subs on the bench who have pace, like Theo or Chambo and we have defence unlockers in Iwobi and Perez (if he ever has a game). On the reverse of that, we also have players who can stub out games. Elneney is a hugely underrated asset who is capable of snuffing out games with some of that double pivot action.

Mobility:

The best tweak of 2016 was the shift from an immobile forward in Giroud, to a striker with blistering pace, outrageous agression and magical finishing. Sure it took three years to realize the dream, but having a mobile front three has given us so many advantages. We can press more effectively, we can push teams back, stopping the highline pressing us into midfield, and we can break at pace, which was tough with Giroud. That’s the blue print moving forward, a Giroud is an option, never a mainstay. Long live power and pace.

So what does 2017 hold?

I think we have some big battles on our hands in 2017. This season, we’re going to have to see how we can cope with playing more games than Liverpool and Chelsea. We’ll also have to see how well Pep pushes his ideas on his players, they’re starting to warm up now and the league is starting to make itself interesting. But look, Wenger is still in the mix, so there hasn’t been a runaway yet. My worry is we don’t look to have the X factor Liverpool and Chelsea are showcasing at the moment… and the worry there is that both those rivals are about systems and instructions. Klopp and Conte have very well drilled teams trying to achieve very specific goals. I’m not sure we have the same rigor. When you don’t have rigor to fall back on, when it goes to shite, you’re relying on individuals to step up. I’m unsure our players always do that. I’m unsure our manager can extract that extra 10% these days.

The biggest potential shift in 2017 is the manager. Does he stay or does he go? If he goes, does he let the board know early doors so the next manager has a non-world cup / euro championship summer to rebuild? Or does he ghost out last minute?

Or, does he move into disaster territory and sign on for another 2 years?

We shall see, but 2017 is going to be a very tumultuous year, so buckle up, it could be progressive in a way we’ve not seen in 21 years!

Finally, as it’s new years eve, I just wanted to once again thank you all for coming here to read the site. It’s been a tough one for me Arsenal wise because I’ve shifted the time the posts arrive and I’m not in the mix like I used to be. I’m also expected to work more, which for the first time means my blog plays second fiddle to my living. Which is shocking.

Anyway, needless to say, we still have a super strong comments section that I really enjoy reading. You still roll in most mornings to read my words. It’s still fun. Thank you all for making it worthwhile. Have a beautiful evening, stay safe, stay drunk and I’ll see you in the morning!

Big love, Team Le Grove

 

124 Responses to “Goodbye 2016, a few of the most progressive steps Arsenal took this year”

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  1. ArseneisaFraud

    Tr4phy!!

    I am really curious how this season will pan out… will Arsene strike lucky and finish 4th (again….) or will lady luck pull the rug from under him??

  2. leftsidesanch

    great blog, enjoyable to come on here and read the contrasting views

    heres to hoping there are massive changes in 2017 within the club and we all know what those should be..

  3. tunnygriffboy

    Bearing in mind Klopp and Conte are top managers and have some seriously good players, especially Chelsea, just how much of an advantage do they have playing once a week, having that full week to work on their systems with tweaks for certain opponents ?

    Also they have time to rest with no travel ensuring their players are at their peak physically arriving at the weekend.

    City, Spurs, United and us have all shown glimpses of being fatigued already thisseason

    Would Liverpool be able to play their intense game all season if they were in Europe ? Will they be able to do it all season ? Do Chelsea have a deep enough squad to be able to rotate should they have suffered injuries and fatigue due to a European campaign ?

    Pedro.

    Keep up the good work you diamond geezer. Diolch yn fawr :) :) :)

  4. Rich

    Arsene has said previously the only person who’ll know when he’s leaving will be IG.
    If we don’t finish in the top 2 and progress to at least the last 8 of the CL then I think he’ll walk.

  5. tunnygriffboy

    Anyone notice that chelsea have the best fixture schedule over this period ? They play today, Wednesday and next Saturday. Majority of other clubs have to play 2 games in three days, either today and Monday or tomorrow and Tuesday (as we are).

    The fact that teams are playing 2 games in 3 days is ridiculous. I expect us to rotate heavily. It can’t be right players playing games that close together. The schedule really helps Chelsea.

  6. Red&White4life

    “Goodbye 2016″.
    Unfortunately, no “goodbye” to wenger…

    “If we don’t finish in the top 2 and progress to at least the last 8 of the CL then I think he’ll walk.”
    LOL

  7. tunnygriffboy

    Wallace.

    I have a sneaky suspicion it might be as well. I hope he lets Gazidis know asap if he hasn’t already. Do you think the manager situaton has any thing to do with Alexis and Ozil stalling on deals or is it about the moolah ?

    Notice Allegri from Juve been tentatively linked with us. That would be a good appointment.

  8. Elmo

    Cheers for the years, LeGrove.

    Good point about the injuries. Would be interesting to hear whether Arsene actually recognizes that outside expertise (Shad etc) managed to overcome his long-standing ignorance on the matter, or whether he just sees it as a streak of ‘bad luck’ miraculously ending.

    The indictment of Arsene is that it’s one of those seasons where you can look at 3 or 4 teams and say ‘the best manager would win with any of them,’ just like the Fergie days with the uninspiring United squads where you knew he would win the league were he in charge of the United, Chelsea or Arsenal squad that year.

    I can’t really see anything positive for 2017 other than hoping for the odd good result against a top team, the chance of the petty but gratifying humiliation of Spurs’ hapless efforts to supplant us, and an ever-diminishing shot at the Holy Grail (Wenger out and the excitement of a new broom).

  9. Federer

    Rich
    Unfortunately the only thing bar a disastrous league outing that can make wenger walk is we the fans, especially those at the home ground.
    A massive sustained protest of any kind during our home games would rattle the club and the manger.
    Wenger was obviously shaken last season during the #wengerout protests. He had never seen anything like it in his 20+ years with the club

  10. Wallace

    tunny

    “I have a sneaky suspicion it might be as well. I hope he lets Gazidis know asap if he hasn’t already.”

    if he is on his way I’m sure Ivan will know, Alexis & Ozil also, I’d imagine.

  11. Federer

    Thank you Pedro for giving us this platform to share opinion and analysis on the club.
    Looking forward to next year, I think you should devote less attention to critiquing Le Coq and focus more on truly garbage players like Ox, Wally and Rambo.
    This season, Coq has been giving specific instructions by the manager which doesn’t suit his natural ability yet he is doing them just fine.
    And lastly, as is done in some climes, use the goodwill of the New Year to bring back all of those you have binned. Aye! Aye?!

  12. Spanishdave

    Quality of results what is Wenger on? We have the same points as last year and still loosing to the top teams.
    He really is a master of lies and excuses.
    Narcisist
    Well done Pedro have a good one.

  13. Cesc Appeal

    Great work again this year Pedro, great work from all the posters on here as well that make this the best comments section going, even the ones who are totally wrong 😉

    Let us keep our fingers crossed that 2017 allows us all to talk about something else come June, and not just be in the ‘as you were’ box we’ve been in for the last twelve years.

    2017, the year Arsenal become a football club again, please.

  14. tunnygriffboy

    Bloody Bournemouth have an extra days rest before our game. Like many clubs we have the ridiculous situation where we’re playing twice in 48 hours

    I would expect the following to start one of the two games.

    Mustafi/Gabriel
    Gibbs (if fit)/Monreal
    Coquelin/Xhaka/Elneny/Ramsey
    Ox/Walcott (if fit)/Iwobi/Perez/Giroud

    Unfortunately it looks like Alexis/Ozil/Kos/Bellerin will have to start both gamesbut I’d be looking to get them off the field if possibly in fact asap as ppossible.

    Hopefully Welbz may be fit enough for a little cameo to ease the pressure as well.

  15. GoonerInNY

    Thanks for the efforts, Pedro!

    I don’t think any strides forward matter so long as Wenger is manager. There can be no real change until Wenger is gone..

  16. Bamford10

    Good post, Pedro, though it would’ve been better if you had said in clear and certain terms that this must be Wenger’s final season.

    So let me say it for you: this must be Wenger’s final season, and supporters must do all they can to make this loud and clear to Wenger and the board.

    Thank you, Pedro, for all of your work in 2016. We appreciate it. And cheers to Le Grove.

  17. Ozrus

    Pedro,

    I’ve got to say no matter how many deckhands you have in the comments, and you have quite a few, you have done a great job yet again of keeping things interesting this year. Happy new year!

  18. Ishola70

    I really can’t see how Wenger leaves any time soon.

    Some of his most recent comments show no sign that he has add enough.

    The comments still show the same spin and deceiving that he has been coming out with for years. If this was really the end for him I would have thought he would stop with the deceiving but no they still show themselves.

    He has said that the EPL as a whole has been disappointing. It has not been “spectacular” enough for him. I presume when he says not “spectacular” enough he means there haven’t been enough 3-3 games or 4-3 matches. Is it any wonder he can’t win the EPL any more with such naive childish thinking? Wenger wants more goals. Now if Wenger was sitting pretty at the top of the table as Chelsea are at the present time we wouldn’t be hearing him saying that the league is disappointing. These are the words of a man who knows he will yet again fail to win the league so what does he do? Yes he downplays the league and it is most probably a swipe at Chelsea as well who are winning matches in what we may term in a conservative fashion.

    Add that to his false comment about Arsenal in recent times upping levels of all round performance and it shows I’m afraid that the old sly fox has not tired at all yet of being manager of Arsenal FC.

    With these thoughts in mind I wish everybody on Le Grove a non- Arsenal related Happy New Year.

  19. Micheal

    Pedro: Sincere thanks for your commitment to the task in 2016, despite the demands from stuff like work, life, etc. And good luck to you and your nearest & dearest for 2017 and I hope the year brings your every wish.

  20. Ishola70

    It’s funny yet telling that Wenger has talked much more about the beautiful game and how it should be played in his eyes during his barren years in comparison to his more successful early years with Arsenal.

    This is because of course that the talk of beautiful and noble football from him for so many years in contrast to his early years has simply been a safety net for him in failing to win the big trophies.

    And there are dupes that take it all in and fail to see that such talk is merely a smoke screen for failure at the top end for so long now.

  21. S Asoa

    Pedro
    Thanks for a platform , true to type ,for all Gooners. This is how you get an entire array of opinions and thereby rare perspectives , not available on any site.
    That way Le Grove is unique.

    Coming back ,we have to be consistent and persistent we WANT WENGER OUT.
    This smart fox is without morals and 9 million per year is his glue. So let us not have ifs. We had 10 years of Same Same. Arsenal fans should stop being naive and ” decent middle class “.

    WENGER OUT .No more of your shit please after May 2017

  22. Bamford10

    In 2014 Wenger gave himself two years to win the title. He has failed. Indeed he has failed year after year for some ten years now.

    Wenger fuckingout. Now.

  23. Bamford10

    Let’s talk players in and out in the course of a rebuild. For me, we should sell all of the following:

    Ramsey
    Wilshere
    Oxlade
    Walcott
    Ozil

    That’s roughly £110 million in revenue.

    We then need a proper wide left, a proper wide right, and a CAM who contributes to possession and defending in the center of the park.

  24. Bamford10

    Martial looks lively today. Making Calum Chambers look poor. I still think Martial is better through the center, though.

  25. Federer

    Whatever mind games wenger sought to play on Chelsea is certainly counter productive. They have ze mental strength and they don’t make noise about it

  26. WengerEagle

    Re Sigurdsson, he’s far too good to be playing for Swansea in their current state but he’s not at the level we should be aspiring to if we want to compete, he wasn’t at that level even for the Spuddies.

    Would be in his element at a midtable club.

  27. Bamford10

    WE

    Disagree re Sigurdsson. Could be quality squad player for us, and under a quality manager, could be even more. I rate him over Ramsey. Would swap them in a heartbeat, even if Ramsey is the bigger name.

  28. WrightIsGod

    Going to the game tomorrow, if anyone is willing to sponsor me I’ll happily run out to the dugout and assassinate Wenger for the greater good.

  29. Bamford10

    “Antonio Conte’s wild celebrations when Chelsea went 3-2 up say it all. Running down the touchline, high-fives with fans.” – Joe Prince Wright

    Proper manager, proper motivation, proper spirit.

  30. WrightIsGod

    What idiot on here believed Fabregas would go to West Ham or even us in January.

    He’s just added another two assists for Chelsea today. Going nowhere.

  31. Bamford10

    Marble

    I never doubted that Wenger was finished. But I did think Mustafi + Xhaka + Lucas + Alexis-as-CF + our early season good form suggested we might contend. I gave us a 1-in-6 chance of competing, and that was in September, recall.

  32. Bamford10

    Martial scores to even it 1-1. Was playing through the center with Ibra. Told you that’s where he should play. 😉

  33. Bamford10

    A not A

    I’ve explained my view from early September above. No need to apologize, IMO. I was wrong, yes. Those positive things were not enough. But I don’t think giving us a 1-in-6 chance of COMPETING — given those positives — was all that wrongheaded.

    You’re entitled to your own view, though, of course.

  34. Bamford10

    United score again. 2-1. Not quite the United of old, but this United is superior to the one we’ve seen over the past two years.

    Will we finish above them?

  35. gonsterous

    I think Wenger will leave at the end of the season. Board don’t want him to go, but he will leave on his own free will, cause he knows he is finished as a top manager. He spent close to 100m and its still only enough to get him to 4th. He was a great manager in his prime and will be remembered for all the right reasons ( which is fair enough) but it’s a shame he retired on a low ( but in his eyes, it’s a high)

  36. Bamford10

    Chambers was the worst defender on the field. I agree that he’s better as a CB, but his signing for 16m looks quite a poor one now.

  37. Pedro

    Guys, you’re all too kind.

    Best comments section on the web, bar none!

    Have a great night, stay safe and get totally embarrassing!

    Pedro x

  38. Dissenter

    The league race is all but over and it’s nothing to do with us.
    Chelsea are having the perfect run; great manager, great system he’s created, great squad of experienced players and great fixture set-up.
    Then race is for 2nd-4th and boy is it going to be tough.

  39. Dissenter

    I forgot to commend Pedro for the indefatigable work he’s been doing.
    I don’t know he’s kept up with churning out these posts.

    2017 is the year Pedro will stop banning people because they wont stop moaning.

  40. Dissenter

    Bamford,
    Are United turning a corner?

    Yes. They have turned the corner. They have their swagger back.
    I tip them for 4th place ahead of us.

  41. gonsterous

    Pedro

    Apologies, I left you till last ( classic fans, making you choke on their opinions) .
    Been another great year on le grove. Thank you for getting a post up almost everyday. Long may it continue !!

  42. WrightIsGod

    All this Chambers has always been better centrally needs to stop.

    He was right back when we signed him from Sains for £16m. Had one good game out right in his debut Charity Shield.

    Been wack in every game and position since.

  43. izzo

    Man Utd winning and everyone saying they’re shit lol. Please clearly and intelligently explain to me how Arsenal will get 4th this season. Explain with no bias or naivety. You know Wenger can’t beat Mourinho when we meet them later. You’d imagine they will beat us or draw. Explain away! Same goes for Liverpool and Man City. I won’t bring up Spurs because its ingrained in your psyche to rule them out of 4th if we are a couple points ahead of them.

  44. WrightIsGod

    Was having this discussion with a pal earlier, we seem to baby the young English players at our club to the point where they appear to regress.

    Chambers, Walcott, Ox, Wilshere, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Gibbs….

  45. Wallace

    WrightisGod

    “All this Chambers has always been better centrally needs to stop.”

    he’s a CB. he got a chance in the Southampton team because of an injury to the starting RB, but he came through their youth system as a CB with a few games in central midfield. how many times does this need to be explained?

  46. Wallace

    Walcott is 6th top scorer in the PL, with goals & assists similar to Hazard & Mane. we’d be doing a lot worse without him this year.

  47. Bamford10

    Liverpool on the front foot. 1-0.

    To finish fourth, we’ll have to beat out one of United, City or Pool. Will be close, I think.

  48. Bamford10

    Wallace

    All the same, was he a good signing? Since his signing we’ve signed (I think) three CBs: Gabriel, Holding and Mustafi.

    Holding and Mustafi were good signings for me. Not the others.

  49. Bamford10

    I love recalling that there were people here saying that Klopp wouldn’t improve / wasn’t improving Liverpool.

    Where are you lot now? Nasri’s Mouth?

  50. izzo

    Here is a fact. Since this Arsenal team with Wenger can’t beat the top sides when its crunch time and crumble under pressure there’s a 98.99% chance of not coming 4th. Every single time there’s an opportunity to take advantage they fail. Looking at the managers and how the top sides are playing its not happening this time around. Anyway who cares! LOL

  51. WrightIsGod

    Wallace

    Right, I see. Well let me know when Chambers actually proves himself at CB. From what I’ve seen Holding came in and was a better CB immediately, despite Chambers having over 2 years head start in our squad.

    Holding is another Enhlish players Wenger could ruin.

  52. Wallace

    Holding & Chambers are both 21yrs old. the only CB I can think of performing at the very top level that young was Varane under Mourinho. most of the best CBs break into a top PL side at 23/24.

  53. kc

    Klopp is one hell of a manager. Liverpool just keep getting better. They’ve bossed City today. Just LOOK at what a new manager can do!! Wenger Out.

  54. ArseneisaFraud

    Liverpool have done well to beat City… what an interesting season this is becoming.

    To Pedro

    Thanks for this great blog. Your articles are always a pleasure to read!! Keep it going at all costs as much as you can!

    To all in the comments section: have a Happy New Year 2017!! Such a diversity of extreme point of views which makes (more often that not) reading this blog interesting!!

    And finally: Wenger Out once and for all so that this great club can finally progress at the level we all expect here!

  55. London gunner

    I watched the man united game.

    They were wel deserved winners.

    Level of referring was truly shocklingly abysmal. Man united should have had a pen and no way Ibra goal should have been disallowed.

    Those sowing man united and mourinhos demise spoke way to soon.

    They absolutely dominated today and Martial was fantastic, on his day he is better than hazard just lacks the formers consistency.

    Pogba is going to be a great player that header today was a beaut and mikhiiaryan may not have his best game but he has all
    the talent and trickery to be in the top 3 players next season.

    Couple all that talent with ibra and mata who both got assists today.

    Man united are a great prospect.

  56. Adam A. Carbarundum

    Most definitely Arsenal are going to have to take full points from those above and within striking distance of them to have any chance. Waiting for the pack to come back to them is very much unlikely. The Great Motivator that is Wenger should guarantee this happens….and in other news, Pigs spotted flying!

  57. Dissenter

    It seems all the other top-6 teams are progressively improving, all except for us.
    Wenger has us looking stale and lukewarm.
    Wenger isn’t improving these players. Klopp has turned Lallana into a beast. The lad even dominates physically now.

  58. Colin

    I feel sorry for the fans , I just can’t see arsene wegner leaving anytime soon, I don’t think his ego would allow him to do that, it’s taken him all these years to build the best squad the club has had in years , he walk away now he’s just to proud.so be careful if he signs that new contract as I believe he will, just remember he always honours his contract .

  59. Colin

    Sorry for any mistakes in writing my comments,but just to say if he stays at least I get to enjoy DT, troops and Claude.

  60. Vince

    Our board is so dumb that even if Wenger misses top 4, then sanctions humongous deals for Ozil and Sanchez to secure them to new contracts, they’ll still look at it as progress and hand him a new deal. I think what akbs say is the way it’ll end -Wenger will leave only when he wants to.

  61. Vince

    But funny enough a voice keeps telling.me this is our year. I’ve always been afraid to put it out. call it intuition or stupidity. I even decide to be most daring and put it out now that we’re 12 points behind. I hope come season end I’ll refer to this post and say “I told you so”. Queue the bashing!

  62. Mustafi Magic

    Vince

    ‘But funny enough a voice keeps telling.me this is our year. I’ve always been afraid to put it out. ‘

    Why would it be our year with a team of shit players, managed by an incompetent manager representing a club that isn’t ambitious?

    Like a lot of know alls on here make your mind up and stop flip flopping.

  63. Vince

    Mustafi Magic.
    Why was it Leceisters year the last time around? Shit happens. Something can go wrong such that a club like ours can get presented with the cup on a platter. And btw I think even if we win anything it won’t be down to Wenger. If we manage to keep Kos, Mustafi and Sanchez fit all season then we’re not totally hopeless.