Arsenal Season Preview: Another Season, Another Captain

Bould & Wenger: Will it be all smiles at the end of the season?

Arsenal

Last Season finish: 3rd

Odds to win the Premier League: 12/1

I had actually decided I wasn’t going to do a preview of the season, but as a favour for someone who wrote one for my site, I’ve decided to do it.

I’m not entirely sure how to approach this or where to start. With the signings? van Persie? Or where most people would, a breakdown of the squad. I’ve decided on the latter as it might stop me from rambling, which I feel like I am already doing.Ok, so after years of having an unsatisfactory goalkeeper, it now appears that we have found the solution. Woijech Szczseny displays outwardly all the attributes needed of a top class keeper – size, strength, confidence, and the fact that he is pretty much as mad as a box of frogs. Many people will point to the fact that he let in 49 league goals last season, and had a poor shots to saves ratio. Both valid points, but I expect him to have learnt a bundle from last year.

It’s very possible that the shambles of the first 6 weeks of the season affected him more than anyone, being merely a kid, and I don’t really remember many high profile errors. So we should have no major issues this season in goal, I expect Chesney to improve and cement his claim as number one.

The defence itself appears to pick itself. Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs. With able back ups in Djourou and Mertesacker. Arguably the weakest position in the squad is at full back, with Jenkinson and Santos our reserves. Neither fill me with confidence, particularly Santos, who I feel as a defender is nothing short of awful. Now I understand we all love him because he’s quite funny on Twitter, but I really do not rate him as a player at all. I accept this is going to annoy a few people, but in all honesty, nobody thinks he should be our first choice left back. Do they? As for Jenkinson, well he’s young and could develop, but I don’t yet think he’s ready. I’d be delighted if we signed a decent left back. Don’t ask me who, I haven’t played football manager in years!!

The most important thing to happen to the defence this summer and maybe the team, is the appointment of Steve Bould as assistant manager. I can only assume he has been bought in to teach the team how to defend as a unit, time will tell how successful this is. I expect big improvements, possibly unrealistically.

On the surface we seem overstocked in midfield, to the point where I have openly questioned Ramsey’s place in the squad. As of writing this it seems that Alex Song is on is way to Barcelona. Anyone else think this is Barca just exerting their influence over us, because they can? Do they need him? I doubt it. Do they really want him? Who knows. Jamie Sanderson of Young Guns blog appears to think Arsenal will sell if Song doesn’t commit to a new contract. Sounds to me like Arsene has finally had enough of losing players in the last year of their contracts.

Let’s assume Song stays, I actually think he will. His backup will be Coquelin, with Frimpong returning from injury around the new year. To me, this is fine. There aren’t a huge amount of DMs available and Song is amongst the best, certianly in our league.

In front of him, we have a number of options. It’s actually quite encouraging how many we do have. I guess a lot depends on the formation. Two deep? One deep and two forward? Right now, it’s hard to know, but with Diaby, Arteta, Rosciky, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey and the returning Jack Wilshere, we have an abundance of options. Add to that the rumours of Nuri Sahin coming in, and we have a marvellous midfield corps. Only a truly astonishing injury crisis would leave us light here.

Now, the big football news of the past week has been the transfer of Robin van Persie to Manchester United. Apparently at the bequest of Arsene Wenger, allegedly furious after the statement the Dutch striker published on his website. Im not going to delve too deep into this. We all know RvP handled it badly, but many, including me, wanted him to stay. He hasn’t, so move on.

We now have Podolski, Giroud, Chamakh, Walcott, Gervinho, and Arshavin. Not to mention Park and Bendnter. So the numbers are there.

Olivier Giroud: Ready to own Premier League defences?

The problem is, a large part of this is unknown in a Premier League sense. Both Giroud and Podolski looked hugely promising in the friendly vs Cologne, but we all know the PL is very very different. I’m very optimistic that both players will prove a success. Especially Olivier Giroud, who to me looks like the perfect centre forward for England. Andy Carroll without the touch of a grand national winner. Time will tell, but both him and our German van Persie clone look the part.

In summary, I think Arsenal could literally be anything this season. A lot depends on how the new men settle in, I expect enormous things from Santi Cazorla, he really does look like a proper player, and one we’ve been missing for a while. I’m hugely excited though. We have a new team, a new ethos hopefully, a new Patrice and a nice new kit.

If I had to make a bet right now, I would say that Man City will win the league, and both Arsenal and Chelsea will fight out 2nd and 3rd. Yes yes, I know, but I’m going to predict a struggle for Manchester United. Sure they bought our captain, but simply, they didn’t need him. They need a midfielder or two, and I’m not convinced they will get anything like what they expect from Robin.

We know how fragile our ex Dutchman is, and it’s frankly staggering they are going to pay him top dollar for the next four years, and nobody would be surprised if he broke, in September. So I’m going to predict that they struggle. And please, remind me in May, when they win the league by 10 points!

I’ll finish with some quick predictions

Champions: Man City
CL: Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United
FAC: Arsenal
CC: Everton
CL winners: Who knows, if that Chelsea team from last year can win it, anyone can
Top scorer: Carlos Tevez
POY: Santi Cazorla

No bias in that at all :-)

Enjoy the season everyone, it will be emotional…

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  1. Adojo says:

    I think this is a really great article! I, like you, just don’t know what to expect next season – will the new players shine, reinforcing our opinion that RVP should go for his lack of commitment and poor health record; or will it take too long for the new players to gel, deflating all our dreams for yet another season? One thing that has not changed – and I know lots of fans don’t agree – is my belief that what Arsene is attempting to do at Arsenal is honourable, true and good.Those are not my sentiments regarding the Board however. Their objective of making lots of money for themselves is not conducive to creating a club where players want to come to play for the badge and genuinely compete for honours. There is a huge difference between operating within your means and blatant greed!However, as the season begins, I will stand at every match and sing my heart out in the hope that the players begin to understand what it means to play for Arsenal and that like Team GB this will lift them beyond their own expectations.
    Viva Arsenal, Viva Arsene

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