Now that Gooner talisman Thierry Henry has left for Barcelona, how do you feel Arsenal’s squad matches up against Spurs? Personally, I feel the two squads are as evenly matched as at any time since the Premiership began. I also feel that Spurs have their best chance in years of finishing above Arsenal next season. Let’s take a look at how the squads currently match-up:
GOALKEEPING: Probably Spurs’ weakest area. Paul Robinson is, in my opinion, one of the Premiership’s worst goalies, and in Radek Cerny and Ben Alnwick the cover is not so hot either. For Arsenal, Jens Lehmann is one of the Prem’s best but he is near the end of his career. Manuel Almunia is a talented if inconsistent back-up, whilst new signing Lukasz Fabianski is, like Alnwick, young and unproven.
WINNER: Arsenal win the battle of the No.1s
DEFENCE: The signing of Gareth Bale has greatly strengthened Spurs’ defence, who could now field a more-than-decent first-choice back four of: Bale, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Pascal Chimbonda. The likes of Anthony Gardner, Ricardo Rocha provide useful cover at centre-back, whilst Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Lee Young-Pyo are capable deputy full-backs.
Arsenal have plenty of fine young talent to call on, including Gael Clichy, Justin Hoyte, Emmanuel Eboue, Armand Traore, Kerrea Gilbert and Johan Djourou. But it’s vital that senior defenders Kolo Toure and William Gallas stay fit, otherwise Arsenal look decidedly weak in the middle. Phillippe Senderos needs to regain some confidence, seemingly lost after being given the run-around by Didier Drogba last season.
WINNER: Arsenal, but not by much
MIDFIELD: Spurs could field a full XI made up of midfielders, but are they any good? I think the onus is on Martin Jol to settle on a regular midfield four. My first-choice Spurs midfield for next season would be: Aaron Lennon, Didier Zokora, Tom Huddlestone, Steed Malbranque. That leaves the likes of Teemu Tainio, Danny Murphy, Jermaine Jenas and the frankly rubbish Hossam Ghaly in reserve. So, despite having loads of midfielders in their squad, many of them are not good enough to propel Spurs into the top four. Murphy and Ghaly in particular need to be replaced.
Arsenal’s midfield looks a bit lightweight, but Cesc Fabregas has another season under his belt and you’d expect Tomas Rosicky to have a much better campaign now that he’s seen the Premiership up close. Gilberto Silva remains underrated – although he is no Vieira â€“ and compatriot Denilson is one for the future, as is Abou Diaby. Overall though, Arsene Wenger could use another midfielder or two. The jury is still out on Alexander Hleb (is he shit or brilliant, Gooners can’t seem to decide) and does Freddie Ljungberg have another good season in him? When stacked up against the big three, Arsenal’s midfield looks a bit flimsy.
WINNER: Spurs have the quantity, Arsenal have the quality. Arsenal win again
ATTACK: Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane is the most entertaining strike partnership in the Prem; Spurs must do everything in their power to hang on to the mercurial Bulgarian and build a team around him. Jermain Defoe is too good to warm the bench every week, but his attitude is a problem – can Jol keep Defoe happy, or even keep him during the summer? If, as expected, Darren Bent arrives from Charlton, then Defoe will surely want to leave. As for the ever-inconsistent Mido, who knows if he’ll stay, and if he does, will he be brilliant or shit?
There’s a big Thierry Henry-shaped hole at the Emirates, and no one knows who will fill it. Ryan Babel could be the next Henry, but he has committed to at least another year at Ajax. There’s been talk of Nicolas Anelka returning to Arsenal, but that’s surely a bad idea. Players who go back to former clubs rarely do well. I like the look of Klaas Jan Huntelaar, also at Ajax, but I doubt he’s going anywhere either. Samuel Eto’o, who may now feel surplus to requirements at Barca, is hugely talented but his ego is even bigger and I don’t think Arsene Wenger believes he would fit in at Arsenal. In terms of current strikers, the key to Arsenal having a productive season is Robin van Persie. The young Dutchman is scarily talented and showed last season, before he got injured, that he has the potential to be one of Arsenal’s greatest forwards. Van Persie has the mental strength to replace Henry as Arsenal’s premier striker, but he lacks the pace and directness of the Frenchman. RVP can play the Bergkamp ‘second striker’ role to perfection, but Arsenal still need someone to play the part of Henry. Is that man Emmanuel Adebayor? Probably not, although he has his moments and is the sort of player who will chip in with ten goals in a season. I’ll be interested to see how Nicklas Bendtner fares, and if Theo Walcott turns from boy to man. Overall, Arsenal has just enough firepower up front, but if Van Persie picks up another injury, they’re in big trouble. They need to replace the irreplaceable Henry (hmm, tricky), and fast.
WINNER: Spurs take this one, purely because of the Berbatov-factor
So in Pies’ opinion, Arsenal still has the stronger squad, but not by much. They should have enough to finish above their North London rivals for another year.
Do you agree or disagree?