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Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Final Verdict

The unedited version of my responses for the Observer's The Verdict. 

After having watched Zabaleta's display in midweek, I was left wondering whether I should've been influenced by my brother-in-law to replace him with Coleman in my team of the season, but as Con said, I couldn't leave out the only Irishman and judging by the team printed in the paper, it seems most of their contributors concurred. 

The only other differences between my team and the one that's printed in the paper is that apparently the majority have gone for Kompany and Cahill, instead of Terry and Distin at centre back and where I've included Coutinho and Aguerro, others have chosen Gerrard and Sturridge. Whether through injury or complacency, personally I don't think Kompany has produced anything like the same consistency this season. If I'd been allowed to include any Arsenal players, I would've undoubtedly opted for Koscielny, especially after seeing some statistics this morning that suggest Kos has outperformed the City captain by some margin.

- How was your season? (and a mark out of 10)
7/10 (should we finally bring our eight-season long silverware drought to a euphoric conclusion come 17th May!). Title hopes were always something of a fanciful illusion, but it was tragic that we suffered so many significant injuries, at such a crucial stage, since these certainly put the kibosh on any possibility of such fantasies coming to fruition.

- Who were the stars?
Ramsey's recent return has reminded us quite how influential he was, early doors. If it wasn't for Aaron’s enforced absence, he could’ve ended up as a prime candidate for player of the season. Koscielny, the unsung hero in a rearguard that would've deserved all the plaudits, if not for their humiliation in a couple of calamitous and highly costly aberrations. Flamini, who must rank as last summer’s best bargain, if only for his inspirational commitment and enthusiasm. Mezut Özil, despite pundits suggesting a minimal return on our massive £42m investment, like Bergkamp before him, our new German playmaker is poetry in motion, who’s worth the price of admission alone for genuine aficionados of the beautiful game.

- Who flopped? 
Le Prof for leaving us pondering all the “if onlys” with his failure to bolster our squad with something more than an additional unfit body and for our reliance on the completely untried and untested Yaya Sanogo in our two most significant outings to date. It was also sad to see Santi Cazorla hiding his light under our waning midfield bushel, when we most needed it to shine in mid-season.

- Who do you need to sign this summer? 
Everyone but Arsène seems patently aware of our desperate need for a striker (or two!). If Sagna & Vermaelen are on their way out of the door, our defence will be in urgent need of reinforcements and for all of Arteta's earnest endeavours, we badly require a DM replacement capable of maintaining sufficiently high energy levels for the entire 90 minutes.

- Best and worst away fans?
Best – Coventry, not just for their impressively large turnout, but for the unadulterated joy shown in the Youtube video of their halftime rendition of “Twist and Shout”, see:

Worst – Napoli’s Ultras for wrecking my favourite eaterie, in their entirely unprovoked attack on Piebury Corner

- And finally... which well-known song should be the soundtrack to your season review video? 
The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” where the famous “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” refrain is pertinent for those Gooners who despair of the likelihood of an FA Cup triumph and Champs League qualification condemning us to several more seasons of 4th place under achievement and serves as a "careful of what you wish for" warning to the ever-increasing contingent of those who seem convinced Le Prof is past his "sell by" date.

Please include your Premier League team of the season (not including any players from your own team) in 4-4-2 formation, GK, RB, CB, CB, LB, RM, CM, CM, LM, CF, CF. 
And your manager of the season (not including your own).
Loris, Coleman, Terry (very begrudgingly!), Distin, Shaw, Coutinho, Bartley, Touré (Yaya), Lallana, Saurez, Aguero

Manager - Rodgers

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