Predictions For The 2011-12 Season

Three games of the season have been played and the clubs have completed their transfer business till the winter at least. This seems like a good time to make predictions but this year I am finding it hard to develop any sort of conviction regarding the hopes of most of the top teams.  There have been significant changes at almost all the clubs, the results of which will only be known in due course. But shooting in the dark is part of the fun so here goes…

Arsenal

As we have come to expect with the Gunners, the breadth of opinions is virtually all encompassing. Some people think Arsenal have been abysmal in the transfer window. Others think the squad is actually stronger than what it was last season. The majority is probably in between with infinite permutations about the qualities lost through those who have left to the possibilities gained from the arrivals.

I believe the club have worked hard and done as well as they could in a window that hasn’t been ideal or error-free. When all is said and done though, I think this squad is distinctly weaker than the one from last season. Tactical adjustments, the speed and manner in which the new signings integrate, and the usual concerns like the extent of injuries will ultimately decide where Arsenal end up.

At this time last year I felt Arsenal would finish third but there was a chance of winning the League. This time around I don’t see any way Arsenal can win the big titles, Premiership or Champions League. In this post I don’t want to get into a detailed analysis but broadly speaking the following two issues will trouble the Gunners,

  • Defence will be a concern irrespective of the signings and crucial points will be dropped during the season
  • Injuries will test and quite possibly expose the depth of the squad

No surprises there. The first point is an extremely complicated one and I don’t see a solution materializing in the near future. The second one will affect the balance of the starting eleven in a number of games – as it already has – and by extension will result in dropped points. The African Cup of Nations in January will stretch the squad further.

Tactical changes will not be easy either and it will take Arsene and his players some time to find the optimal approach.

I have a feeling Arsene will be busy in January and the Gunners will need another signing like Arshavin in 2009 in order to retain a Champions League spot.

Without further additions it’s hard to see another top four finish unless one of the youngsters has a Wilsheresque season and the big guns remain fit. It’s possible but I don’t fancy the odds given the fitness woes of Wilshere, Diaby, and others this early in the season.

If I have to put my neck on the line right now, without thinking about the January window, I’d say Arsenal will finish fifth in the League and the best chance of trophies will come in the domestic cups.

Don’t worry, I am not joining the doom mongers and will not be repeating this ad nauseam. I like to take a balanced view of things and this is just my honest opinion.

Chelsea

From the available options, the Blues have arguably signed a manager with the fastest growing reputation. They have also made some impressive, even if not sufficient, player acquisitions.

I honestly don’t know how AVB will perform in the biggest challenge of his fledgling but remarkable career. It’s hard to see Chelsea challenging for the Premiership or Champions League titles this year but they could pose a threat if they can get back to the collective defensive solidity that won them silverware in the last few seasons.

I expect them to finish 3rd or 4th and be strong contenders for a domestic cup. Getting Torres back to form is the only way they can do better.

Liverpool

Many of the arrivals at Anfield this year have been overpriced and somewhat overrated Englishmen but I feel the Scousers have a very well balanced squad. It won’t be pretty but I see them getting a lot of results just like they did at the Emirates.

Just as with Arsenal and Chelsea, I don’t see it being enough to win the major titles but it will be enough to see them regain a Champions League spot at the expense of the Gunners.

Manchester City

City have the squad to be champions. But I don’t think they have the right experience and Mancini, while an excellent manager in his own right, is not at the tactical level of Ferguson and could just lose some vital points while trying to balance the exertions of the Champions League with the travails of the Premiership.

I believe they will finish a close second and will probably reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. They could do better but anything less will be a monumental failure.

I will be surprised if they don’t win at least one trophy this year, which I guess will considered one of the safest predictions by many.

Manchester United

Clichéd though it may sound, United are favourites to retain the League title in my opinion. I don’t like admitting it but Alex Ferguson is the fastest learning manager I have seen in the Premier League. He has improved their attacking balance considerably and the characteristically strong defensive organization has been the hallmark of his reign. Old Trafford will remain a fortress while their away form will improve.

I can’t see them bettering Barcelona or Real in Europe but domestic triumph is theirs to throw away.

Tottenham Hotspur

‘Arry will be hailed as a great manager for finishing sixth with the limited finances and stuff like that.

This wasn’t the most optimistic of posts and I can see why many Gooners feel  that Arsenal can better the likes of Liverpool and even Chelsea if not the Manchester sides. I am not denying the possibility, just going with my instinct on this one. Let’s see how it looks in May.


54 Responses to Predictions For The 2011-12 Season

  1. golaris says:

    first comment yeah

  2. ARSENAL WILL FINISH FIFTH OR SIXTH. VERMALEUN AND WILSHERE ARE SIDELINED AN THE CHANCES OF FOURTH SPOT ARE GONE. WENGER SHOULD ALSO HAVE SIGNED MVILLA AND CAHILL AND SOLD DJOURU, ARSHAVIN, ROCISKY, ALUMUNIA, CHAMAKH, AND SQUILLACH

    • weedonald says:

      Why are the chances of 4th spot gone you idiot? If we’d sold Arshavin,Rosicky, djourou and Chamakh where would we find replacements for the in juries we already have? What a fucking moron you are and another loser gloomer-doomer plasticfanboy!

    • ahh says:

      Don’t yell

  3. Alex says:

    I still reckon 4th and a domestic cup are well within reach, especially if Arsene brings in another top signing in January (at this stage it seems most likely that it could be Hazard and/or M’vila)

  4. gman says:

    This has been our worst start in some time but I would suggest 4th finish for Gunners. I also think City might edge up to 2nd from 3rd last year. UTD look good early doors, but all top teams will have a bump in the road, injuries etc, and Livpool haven’t shown they can cope for a full season to suggest they can oust us out of CL football just by some signings, and early current form. If we are looking at current form Wolves should get a shout, and I haven’t heard anyone analyse how Livpool will cope with squad depth, injuries etc. My summary if you can use the same logic about Man U winning title again (which is not a given, or why watch), then why not use the same logic for Gunners, Villa, Tottenham, etc. In other words if Man U was in our shoes right now, we would not count them out so quickly. We all know form is fleeting….and we have history and class on our side still. We have a system, coaches, manager who knows how to get us into CL. If they don’t turn it round too quickly, right now, then next year what happenned to Totts with Man City could happen to us next year, but not convinced we are out yet.
    I could be wrong, but we challenged last year without our best CB, half a year almost without Cesc, about a 1/3 of the year without RVP, and second half of last season we all know about Nasri’s form, Arshavin, Chamakh etc. That tells me even with all of that last year, we still challenged, only to collapse in the end. I also still feel we are barely recovering from it even now, and agree we are in danger of dropping to 5th or 6th, but unlikely.

  5. chidi says:

    arsenal will probably sneal ahead of liverpool at 4th place…..liverpool players a gud set of players bt dnt see enuf quality xcept frm suarezz and gerrad dat can drive dis team…arsenal knows hw to struggle for 4th and dey will probably edge liverpool..

  6. Aussie Jack says:

    Perdictions? Don`t even try Desi.

  7. weedonald says:

    Hopeless assessment Desi. While we are starting the season with a plethora of injuries to our best CB and MF, we are far stronger than last season with respect to our bench and the new faces, as well as much better prepared to attack and score. We also have some new youth players available who will help us out in the end. this article is overly pessimistic and largely regurgitates what the tabloid shite artists are spouting like a broken sewer main, on the net.

  8. ray johann says:

    Despite all the negativity, I still think Arsene will steer Arsenal to win the league this year…

    • ahh says:

      Hoo hooo that’s a tall remark there ray. How about we start winning, beat City Chelsea and at least lpool, then say we have a chance at the title. That is if we don’t crumble like Last season :S

      • mystic says:

        @ahh says: in your last sentance you are clearly missing a point – 2 of the culprits; Nasri & Clichy have gone. For that reason Arsenal were potentailly already a stronger side than before they started to buy. Citeh are being overstated, they only just reached 4th last season and the players pulled in are no better than they already had. Top 4 placing is easily within Arsenal’s grasp, question is whether they can push further than simply gaining a CL position.

  9. Aussie Jack says:

    For what ever reasons Arsenal`s forward planning seemed to be non existant until the last week of the transfer period. I do appreciate there were many restricting factors but non the less it was not an easy ride. With this in mind I look into my crystal ball (and see Desi) pondering over what happens if Parks-Young is a great success and then has to leave for military service? The wheels start to turn and the thought of how we can get around it come to mind. It`s a long way off but maybe some thought should be given to `residency` or even British citizenship somewhere along the track….? The legal minds will shout me down but it`s only a thought.

    • bc says:

      You need permission of korea to give up its citizenship. park is already dual nationality and there is every chance he could delay his military service if he is still considered to be grade 1 fitness. Also another loophole is if the government decides he has already given outstanding service to korea. if he keeps scoring hat tricks and winning player of year trophies who knows.

      • santori says:

        Apparently there is an option for his wife to assume his military duties if she so chooses.(and if Park can convince the woman)

        Come on missus, do it for the red and white if not for Korea.:D

        Korean women, built tough.

      • Aussie Jack says:

        bc….You seem to know what you`re on about so I bow to your superior knowledge….it was just a thought drifting through my mind, nothing more, thank you for enlightening me.

  10. jookie says:

    Hallie Hallie shook shook skina skina joo, boydika humji pulla chika moo

  11. santori says:

    I don’t like predictions.

    Last season, pundits predicted Chelsea to run away with it and United won it. The season before, it was Liverpool’s to lose and Chelsea ran away with it. What makes you think United will run away with it this season?

    I would say that we may be facing some difficulties intergrating our new players but some of them are well establish in the PL and if it comes together, there is no reasonto believe that we will not have a shot at the title.

    I certainly believe we can if we get our heads around it.

    There is certainly to me, equal and more balanced capability in the current squad than the previous one. In addition there is plenty of experience now.If we were to have a cursory look at the new additions :

    1) Metersecker – An upgrade over Squillaci regardless of tactic deficiencies.

    2) Santos – At very least on par if not offering more attacking threat than Clichy.

    3) Jenkinson – At this point, probably a little weaker than Eboue. Where you had erraticism, we now have some inexprience. Good news is he isn’t first chouce in the position and will learn quickly from Sagna.

    4) Arteta – Whilst not as creative as Fabregas, probably more balance for us in bridging attack and defensive duties. Particularly bearing in mind the apex of the attack will slowly shift toward young Jack (when he is mended)

    5) Frimpong – From what we’ve seen, better than Denilson, certainly well built and knows how to use it.(red card apart)

    6) Benayoun- An added bonus.

    7) Gervinho – his stats are comparable to the best of Nasri and he certainly looks more direct. Plus he now adds pace.

    8) Miyaichi – Very useful added speed out wide and from what he put out with his loan spell, certainly more consistent than say Vela.

    9) Chamberlain – The Ox looks very promising out right and will give us a very viable option to the likes of Walcott last season.

    10) Park – Big unknown. Could be a sleeper hit. Could be anothe rBentner (or worse Chamakh). One thing I can say for the Korean, he doesn’t lack industry and he shoots very well, something we’ve been guilty often of, being wasteful in front of goal.

    So on the face of it, I don’t think we are weaker. I’m not sure if we are that much stronger cpapbility-wise but I would certainly think the experience to youth balance in this team is far better (particularly with more leaders in it now)

    I think we have a good shot at the title don’t you? Why are we setting out sights so low? 😀

    Come on you Gunners!!!

    • Abe says:

      Spot on,I don’t understand what most fans are thinking sometimes, makes me a bit cynical to the nature of their support.

      You are absolutely right, we def have a chance at winning the title, we’ve bought 4.5 players, we need 2 more like I said. We are already in top 3 in my eyes, Man Utd are running on steam but still good, City are glory hunters not a unit yet, Chelsea’s very strong with experience but trouble ageing players and new direction, impact yet to be seen. So come on Arsenal!!!!!

  12. MK says:

    I’d say fourth place, Liverpool haven’t got much.. they just paid over the odds for players and for some reason that makes people think they are better than they actually are.

    Arsenal seem to be cursed by Injuries and bad refereeing, otherwise I’d put us ahead of Chelsea also… but judging by the start of this season neither looks likely to improve any time soon.

  13. bc says:

    I would like to know more about this worst start for some time. i recall 5 matchea played 2 wins 2 defeat and a draw. also only 1 point down on last seasons results. not bad considering all the injuries and suspensions. man u was a freak result. newcastle are unbeaten. judge us on our next 16 league matches when we play just 2 matches against top 4 opposition. my guess is we will take 40 points from those matches and be right in with a shout just like last season

  14. ujang suhara says:

    i just hope all the players will play diehard in every match… till last their breath… then we’ll do the same for them… go gunners…!!!!!!!!

  15. Dudu says:

    To be honest if we stay clear from injuries(We lost Verminator & Jacky btw) we can pose a geuine threat. I think we’ll find it difficult against bigger sides. We might mot be able to defeat Barca at home, but we’ll dispose weaker opponents comfortably provided our Key players remain fit.
    In Arsene we trust.

  16. Kushagra India says:

    Disaapointing to say the leat but we may scrape 4th……another “new signing” Vermaelen is out for two months we need a medical and training mehodology overhaul at this club so many injuries…its abnormal..

  17. Musa Bataaze says:

    you guys stop being too much egocentric! Arsenal no matter the beating in the first two games, they will finish 3rd. why are you so much of doomsayers? o, lets analyse Arsenal match at OT, imagine the squad but they managed to get two goals passed Man U who had everything at their disposal. Loserpool beat Arsenal but under what circumstances? am of the view that lets wait for the next three matches before we fully or some how predict the being of Arsenal. You talk of Fabregas but he had become a shirt at Arsenal. many times he failed to live to the occasion and here you guys are lamenting. lets give it a kick in the air and wait

  18. Abe says:

    Bull! This is my analysis

    1) This idiot does not know much about Arsenal, let alone football.
    2) As most fans seem to be suggesting 4th, it shows lack of ambition
    3) Let’s continue piling pressure on AW and the board (they have resting on their laurel for quite sometime now) while showing full support to our players
    4) Push for 1CB (Samba or Cahill) and 1 Schweinsteiger/Hazard/M’vila

    And that’s all it takes people, I am ruling anything out yet in getting silverware.

    • WafflingWenger says:

      Seriously, enough with the CB talk.

      We don’t need a 6th CB, particularly after losing our two best attacking midfielders (the most important position in the Arsenal system). Our resources will now need to be reinvested into the midfield and Wenger knows it, so just leave him to sort it out and forget the misplaced sense of self-importance.

      Wenger has invested heavily in the defensive department over the last two years (more than 50% of our current first team defenders have been brought in during this time) and any further investment would just take away resources from bringing in potentially world-class players like Goetze, Hazard and M’Villa. I can’t see any reason why Wenger would bring in Cahill or Samba for near club record fees when they probably wouldn’t even start ahead of Vermaelen, Per or Koscielny.

      If we can nab Cahill on a free (or at least a price that reflects his contract situation) or grab Samba on the cheap after Blackburn get themselves relegated and find a buyer for either Squillaci (if he doesn’t adapt better this year) or Djourou (the best 4th choice CB in the league?) then that’s another story altogether.

  19. Abe says:

    Bull! This is my analysis

    1) This idiot does not know much about Arsenal, let alone football.
    2) As most fans seem to be suggesting 4th, it shows lack of ambition
    3) Let’s continue piling pressure on AW and the board (they have resting on their laurel for quite sometime now) while showing full support to our players
    4) Push for 1CB (Samba or Cahill) and 1 Schweinsteiger/Hazard/M’vila

    And that’s all it takes people, I am NOT ruling anything out yet in getting silverware.

  20. SoCal_Gun says:

    I think 4th is definitely do-able

    And the defense should be better……if this latest TV injury isn’t catastrophic. How did it even happen? Belgium don’t even play the USA till tomorrow

  21. Steve of Chiang Mai says:

    Disappointing Desi Gunner – not your usual logical analysis but one I feel tinged with emotional resignation. Some questions for you tho…

    1. How can the defence be weaker than last year? Mertesacker has signed and Kolscielny and Djourou are another year more experienced. So is Wenger, which means we will not or should not see Squillaci again except for Carling Cup. Even if Vermaulen is out for 2 months it will still be better than 7 – No?

    2. In the Midfield Arteta and Benayoun have a large mental advantage over Fabregas and Nasri – they want to be here for starters – the same for Clichy although to be fair he was never a slacker. Rosicky seems to have finally found some form and if that could rub off on the Russian things could get tasty.

    Frimpong is so much better than Denilson and even with Jack out, there is the quality there to rotate and not lose effectiveness if handled well especially if the op finally soves Diaby’s ankle problem. Song will continue to improve knowing the possibility of being Frimponged is a constant threat. We may even see them double teaming against a couple of the stronger sides or when we need to shut down games – we sure have the pace now to play a counter attacking game – Ryo – Walcott – Gervinho would have most defences peeing their trousers. Dont be surprised to see that combination with an Arsenal double decker now that Mertesacker is in the middle.

    3. One of the above comments put it best when they said Gervinho stats were equal to Nasri’s when at his best. The annoying thing is Nasri was anything but at his best after Christmas and I blame him as much as our shaky defence for our demise – the fact of the matter is if he and others in our offence had been playing at 100% we should have been 4 up not 1-1 when Kolscielny and Wojech collided against Birmingham.

    4. Park is a better option than Bendtner full stop! Make no mistakes here, Nick was having trouble getting anyone interested in taking him – even Sunderland have said he was their fall back option – he is a legend in his own mind but the quality is just not there. Sure he was played out of position but , hey, do you want to play or dont you. I suspect Park could slot in anywhere in the side and be at least consistent and competative with his high work rate and I bet he will never to miss 3 sitters against a side in one match this season. Ryo and Alex are young. but keen and their dynamism suggests the capacity to come on and give us something extra.

    5. Our goalkeeping problems are solved period! I would back the 2 poles against any pair in the league and would not be surprised if by seasons end we rate as one of the stronger goalkeeping sides.

    Overall, when all our lads are fit I feel the side is way more balanced than last year – lets face it – if Cesc was out we were impotent. All this talk about Nasri in midfield is rubbish – look at the game against Spurs – his 3 assists came from where? the left wing. Our team is maturing and I often felt Diaby was more immature than anything else. Have some older more experienced heads like Benayoun and Arteta as well as Mertesacker will be an enormous lift. Were we reasonably placed at Christmas and purchased a Hazard or MVilla or both – maybe a Cahill to strengthen our run home anything is possible.

    • Yang says:

      Defensive wise, problem is not an individual defender but lack of team ethic and togetherness I think.

      I saw opposition player interview after game against Arsenal in the paper. He said that there is always chance against Arsenal because Arsenal players tend to allow opposition can play the ball. Arsenal player back off a little bit so there is some time to pick the pass and they are very weak at set piece chance etc.

      Arsenal done very well lat season against some of big teams. if you look at those game then you can find Arsenal player work very hard.

      I think that problem is not a material or skill level etc but will power and determination really.

      Still there is lack of reliable number, in other word, lack of squad depth but I think you are right, Arsenal will be remain as a top four team.

  22. venky says:

    useless assessment

  23. bob says:

    5th or 6th now…

    best we can hope for

  24. namukolo says:

    its disapointing that we cant give our own team a shout for the tittle no matter whats going on.if the whole world is counting them out lets be the supporters and be the only ones who believe in the team,if its so unbearable to show your arsenal support i suggest u go to another team where you dont feel your heart beating with red and white blood when you see the tead walk out on the pitch.thats all i can say

  25. namukolo says:

    that was suppose to be ‘team’ btw not ‘tead’ ,bloody touchscreen phones

  26. Frode says:

    It seems to me most Arsenal fans still believe in 4th place. According to the betting markets, there is 40 % chance we end up as top 4. Are Arsenal fans still over-optimistic? Humans do after all have an optimism bias. The funniest example I know of this is how almost all newlyweds are sure their marriage will last a life-time, when half divorce.

  27. IndianGunner says:

    Desi,

    I think counting out the Europa league for Tots and Liverpool is a big mistake. Their squads will definitely struggle over the season as most do. So i believe we have a good chance of retaining the 4th spot.
    City do look strong, but no one can predict the way the team will respond to two challenges for premier league and champions league since it’s still uncharted waters for the team. i have a feeling they could struggle during the second half of the season just like Chelsea did last year
    Chelsea have made additions but don’t look the formidable team they were a couple of seasons ago. They have injury problems of their own and manager has not yet been tested in EPL
    I am afraid manu look set to defend their title. Even if they hit a rough patch, the refs would help them maintain their points lead 🙂

    Nobody knows how things will turn out but that’s the beauty of it

  28. Claver says:

    Are Arsenal title winners? I suggest not yet, so that removes positions 1 and 2.

    I think at this moment, it is fair to say that Arsene would consider 3rd an achievement.

    So I think Arsenal may end up 4th, according to what I see at the moment.

    But suppose that Gervinho, Miyaichi, AOC, Arteta, Walcott, RvP, Ramsey, Wilshere and Young really light up the league. That list of names has pedigree potential.

    Suppose that Frimpong, Song, Per, Santos, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Sagna, Koz, Djourou, TV, really bolt up and lock the doors.

    We can be a great side.

    Can…maybe that’s why I remain an Arsenal fan. What I’d like to see is Wenger tapping into the undoubted potential of these players.

    Sometimes the attraction of money is a great motivator.

  29. Devonte says:

    What’s happened to your posts these days, Desi? I really enjoy readin your blog, but you have changed in recent months.
    I know you’re tryin to be honest and all, but it is ok to be a Gooner and talk in “arsenal mode” not this neutral stance most of the time.

    Bring back the old Desi. 😀

  30. Devonte says:

    I think Arsenal will finish 3rd. Up the Gunners!

  31. WafflingWenger says:

    Also, the ‘awe’ of City is a little premature. In our two matches against them last year we were utterly dominant. It’s just early season hype – last year it was Chelsea.

    • ZGunner says:

      In the game against city at the Emirates, we saw the most expensive catanaccio in history.

      In fact we were playing against the woodwork.

  32. james says:

    I think you’re being reasonable here but I’m a tad more upbeat about our signings, it would’ve been better if the new squad had some time to gel during the preseason but I actually think there’s a chance that there’s a sum-of-the-parts argument to be had for where we could end up this season.

    We have better experience, more depth and less player petulance (regardless of the red card flurries). I think the fans are more willing to help the team after the last minute signings we made and I really think we’ll play to Mertesacker’s strengths and abandon the foolish eternal high line we play. I’m also very optimistic about Gervinho, Frimpong and Arteta in that order, we finally have an element of spine and some very direct players. This may be an interestingly good season.

    • Yang says:

      This.

      You do not need to be best squad for wining something. Arsenal is no lack of skill and quality. Often, the lacking point is unity and effort.

      Why all players given up after Carling cup defeat beyond me. Pretend to try is no good.

  33. ZGunner says:

    Prediction: Arsenal will pick up momentum slowly…. finish 3rd….

    and… by the second half of the season everyone will already worry about playing us…. FORWARD.

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