Transfer Window Review – is our team better than previous years? Part 2By: Lachlan | September 12th, 2012
I will try to keep this post a bit shorter and a lot less inflammatory. I guess in hindsight my last post sounded a lot more negative about the team than I feel. Apologies for that, but I still stand by all that I said, and I think all of the points that have raised are valid. I also apologise in advance for spelling and grammar, and also for the poor formatting. I am very short on time to get this one up, so I had to keep it basic.
So what will I be discussing in this second part of my post? Well I will much more directly compare the team that we have for the upcoming season to the team that we had at the end of last season. Are we better off or worse off? I am going to work through this as I go, and at the moment I am unsure what conclusion I will come to.
So there are plenty of ways that I could do this to come to a decision on the qualities of the two teams, but I will try to keep it as simple as possible. I will name the starting XI from last season, and give each player a rating out of 10 that represents what I think their value to the team was during last season, and also I may give certain players special consideration (such as the Ox given the fact that he is such a prospect). I will do the same for the team for this coming season, except I will try a few different starting XIs (just to give the best chance possible to this season’s team to end up better than last season’s.
So, lets start by looking at what our starting XI was for last season. I’ll begin by looking at the average starting XI according to wikipedia, which tells me that the starting players were Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie.
Whilst that may have been the average, I think I will pull Ramsey off the pitch and bring on Rosicky, and I will also bring on Benayoun for Gervinho (one speedy winger is enough for me). So on the bench I will have Flaps, Santos, Mertesacker, Ramsey, AOC, Gervinho and Chamakh. I will add up ratings for the bench, but I’ll only consider their ratings as an afterthought for now.
So lets take a look at how I rate the players.
Szczesny – 6 – Decent, but not really a standout. The guy is a huge improvement on previous seasons, but has a long way to go. Stats sort of speak for themselves and he wasn’t really one of the better keepers in the league last season, but I am very confident in his potential.
Sagna – 8 – Best in the league without competition. We really struggled without him last season. Would get a 9 if he had better crossing.
Gibbs – 6 – Decent option, fair amount of potential, but not a standout.
Vermaelen – 8 – A solid leader at the back who can contribute goals. I was very tempted to give him a 7, but I guess he didn’t really make too many errors that lead to goals last season.
Koscielny – 8 – Also solid and very disciplined. A rock at the back.
Song – 7 – A strong physical presence, but not the most disciplined player. Provided us with match winning assists a few times, but a very replaceable player.
Arteta – 9 – Our results without him last season highlighted this guys value to the team. I feel as if he somehow replaced Wilshere and Fabregas in one go in the sense that he was able to hold our midfield together.
Rosicky – 7 – I know he was out injured a bit and went missing occasionally, but on his day he is a top top player that has a lot to offer. I am a huge fan.
Walcott – 7 – A lot of potential, occasionally able to be a game changer.
Benayoun – 6 – A good option in the role that I felt as if Arshavin should have been able to fill, I think we might miss this guy from the squad this season a little bit, but obviously he won’t be missed too much.
Van Persie – 10
Flaps – 4
Santos -5 – More of a Dennis Bergkamp than a Nigel Winterburn sadly.
Mertesacker – 7 – A very solid backup.
Ramsey – 6 – A solid midfield option that proved to be a good option in the central attacking role.
Gervinho – 6 - Doesn’t seem to want to win too badly, but on the bright side he slapped Joey Barton.
AOC – 7 -
Chamakh – 4
So that gives us 82 on the field and 39 on the bench. That is a pretty good team I think, and if memory serves that would have been the team that demolished Tottenham. I think I have been fair in my rating of the team there, but I’m sure some of you will disagree with me.
Okay to this year’s team. I will start by rating the players, and then start working out some lineups. Ratings from the season before remain of course.
Szczesny – 6
Mannone – 5
Sagna – 8
Jenkinson – 5
Santos – 5
Gibbs – 5
Vermaelen – 8
Koscielny – 8
Mertesacker – 7
Arteta – 9
Diaby – 6 - Tough one for Diaby. The signs are that he will be a very valuable player for us, if he stays fit (fat chance of that happening).
Ramsey – 6
Cazorla – 8 – Great signing, can play in a few different positions, and probably the best player in the squad.
Wilshere – 7 – Depends a lot on the sort of form he can produce after so long out of the game, fingers crossed.
Rosicky – 7
Podolski – 8 – A proven international who wants to win really badly. This guy is a winner.
Walcott – 7
AOC – 7
Gervinho – 6
Giroud – 7 – Has been good so far, other than finishing. I am expecting him to score a few and continue to be a good distraction for opposition defenders.
Chamakh – 4
Don’t think I have missed anyone. Rating Diaby and Wilshere is the toughest for me, and I have maybe underrated Wilshere due to the high expectations placed upon him and the fact that he is still just a kid. Diaby already seems to have an injury, so I had no idea what to do with him.
Okay so lets try a starting XI:
Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Diaby, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud. That lineup gives us an 81, only one rating point lower than last season. Now lets say that Jack comes back to decent form and Diaby ends up injured, and we end up with an 82 in my system.
Now in another potential formation, Diaby may stay fit and end up being worth a lot more than the 6 that I gave him. That could mean that Rosicky or Wilshere could slot into the attacking midfield role, and Cazorla could move out to the right, providing another option in which we score very close to the rating I gave us for last season.
So I think in an ideal world, out starting XI would look like this:
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Arteta – - – - – - – Diaby
Cazorla – - – - – - – - – - – - – - Podolski
Bench: Mannone, Mertesacker, Jenkinson/Santos, Ramsey, Rosicky, Walcott, AOC
Now in addition to the fact that this team is not too much worse to the team that we were fielding last season (I would rather that not become the topic of this blog, more than enough time was spent on it last time around), but our options coming off the bench are much stronger. We have some good players in the squad who wouldn’t even make my bench: Gervinho, Coquelin, Arshavin, Djourou, Jenkinson, Flaps, Chamakh and Frimpong. I feel as if this year’s team has considerably more depth than last season, and that is something to look forward too.
Now whilst I have come to a positive conclusion about how this team favours to the one from last season, it is important to remember that I considered last season’s team and didn’t count Wilshere or Diaby due to injuries. If Diaby and Coquelin have injury riddled seasons this year (as they seem to have a propensity to having) then things don’t look nearly as strong for us.
Now that I have taken the time to compare the two teams based on how I rate players, how do the rest of you rate the team compared to last year?