First of many looks pieces, looking how Arsenal will line up against opposition in the Barclay's Premier League. Enjoy!
So here we are! Almost 14 weeks since that historical day. Martin Tyler’s voice still ringing in our ears as City snatched the Premier League title from the grasps of United. A memorable, memorable year of football.
But, what can this year bring?
Will it continue to be the battle of Manchester? Or will one of the London clubs (no, not Sp*rs) fancy this as their year?
I don’t want to dwell on transfers (obvious reasons, Twitter has seen enough of it and will continue to be a place to vent these views) but this summer seems to be throwing up the most whacky/groundbreaking/unbelievable/etc transfers for a long time, affecting all of the clubs within the top 6.
Will Eden Hazard be the Premier League’s answer to Lionel Messi? *Giggles* maybe not but there a whole host of players looking to stamp their mark on the best league in the world.
Anyway, away from that, I am looking to put together a weekly piece for this season, looking at each of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures, a day or so before the match. Just a general overview really, looking at the possible lineups and giving my opinions on how the game may go. I will look to make a prediction for each game and I am pretty sure that you will not need more than one hand to keep a count of just how well I do. But that’s why we love it, the unpredictability and the chaos that is the Barclays Premier League. I hope you do enjoy it and continue to come back, keeping a note of just how wrong I may be!
Arsenal – Sunderland
My Prediction 3-0
Gameweek 1, the one we have been waiting for. Amidst the controversy of RVP leaving and the increasing possibility of Song jumping ship too, some fans seem to forget that we’ve got a game this weekend! So what are we all asking? Who will AW look to wear the shirt, with pride, going into this new campaign?
There’s a lot of speculation surrounding fitness of certain players (Giroud, Koscielny, etc) but I am going to assume that all players listed on www.physioroom.com are unavailable, all others (including ‘slight doubts’ and those that are scheduled to be healed on the day of the match) are ready to kick the first ball of the season. More info will be established in AW’s presser too. So, yeah, here are my views...
Arsenal Starting XI and Formation:
First things first, Szczesny picks himself right now and will continue to do so until he is injured or becomes calamitous beyond belief. That’s not going to happen any time soon *touching a lot of wood* so that shouldn’t change over the coming months.
Defensively, we are missing two of the players that, in my eyes, would be starting week in week out. I think, pretty much, every Arsenal fan would agree with the CB partnership of Tommy V (Captain) and Koscielny, Mr & Mr Loyalty (glad there’s still some left), along with Gibbs at left back Bacary Sagna at RB. Unfortunately, Kosh has a slight knock and will not be ready for the game on Saturday. I have opted for experience and gone with Mertesacker to partner Captain TV, in Koscielny’s absence. Although many may criticise Merty and his lack of pace, he is, after all, a former German captain and his level of experience/professionalism in unchallenged. My inclusion of Nico Yennaris comes with Sagna looking to be out for another few weeks, recovering from the leg break that ruled him out of Euro 2012. Of course, Jenkinson or Djourou could do a job here but I have liked the look of Nico in preseason and I feel that he is the pick of a fairly average bunch. Another option would be Coquelin (who I would be keen to play here over Nico) but, unfortunately, with the Song saga continuing, I’m almost positive that he will be needed in the centre of the park.
That moves us nicely onto the midfield. For me, I think AW will stick with the 5 in midfield consisting of 2 deeper lying central midfielders, 1 AMC and 2 wider attacking midfielders (or forwards, if that’s how you see it).
Starting with the deeper lying midfielders, I am of the belief that these players should be a complimenting balance of pass mastery, a willingness to win tackles and an urge to break up/dictate play. A perfect example of this comes with the inclusion of Mikel Arteta and Coquelin. Arteta is a player that has taken the team by storm. An ability to make everything he does look so simple, Mikel is always up there with the league’s top passers. A genius at dictating play and someone that you can really rely on, time and time again. . I feel Arteta’s pass mastery and flawless technique is perfectly balanced by the work rate and doggedness of Coquelin. A real talent in my eyes, Coquelin is a player that, eventually, could really fill the DMC void that Song may leave. Another player who is amongst the candidates for this role is Abou Diaby. I think Diaby could be like a new signing for us this season, a player with a huge amount of raw talent who has been hideously unlucky with injuries. Dare I say that he is Vieira-esque in the way he runs with the ball? He has real strength and the ability to, seamlessly, have the ball stick to his foo. Let’s hope he features throughout this season.
So that’s the engine room and the metronome of the side, now the creativity. Another area of the team where most Arsenal fans will be in agreement. The little Spaniard, Santi Cazorla, was brought in from Malaga this summer and has sent the Arsenal fans into a frenzy. Rightly so! Amazing technique and an unbelievable eye for a pass, Santi could be just what Arsenal fans have been crying out for since the departures of Nasri and Fabregas. Safe to say, my AMC for Saturday would be this little magician.
Who do I want to see injecting pace and providing assistance from out wide? One’s a guy with a rocket left foot and the other has a wall for a forehead. I’m kidding. It’s not THAT bad (well...). Yes, I have opted for Arsenal new boy, Lukas Podolski, and also the winger we all love to moan about, Gervinho. I’m really excited about Podolski’s inclusion. A proven international with real quality. Versatility is also provided by this tank of a German, being someone who could really do a job in a number of attacking positions. I really do expect him to set the league alight. As for the other side, there are a few contenders fighting itout. Walcott, AOC and Arshavin all have a claim for the RW/RF position but I feel, on the basis of his impressive preseason showings, Gervinho is the man for me to start. His lightning pace and impressive close control, Gervinho is at his best when running at defenders. He has a real ability to make something happen, a real important aspect to any Arsenal team. This also cements my stance on Walcott being such an amazing impact player (shown during Euro 2012) and he will be sure to feature at some point. Of course I think he is good enough to start but, on this occasion, I’m going to give Gervinho the nod (head reference, not intended).
Leading the line for my team on Saturday is, new man, Olivier Giroud. The French goal machine has (to most people’s belief) been brought in as RVPrick’s replacement. As the Dutch traitor looks to sign for Manure, we require new sources of goals and a fresh leader of the line. Giroud looks built to do this. A big lad, strong in the air and obviously knows where the goal is, hopefully Giroud will take the Premier League similarly to how Chamakh done so (I mean it! Just hopefully he doesn’t lose interest...).
Possible Sunderland Starting XI and Formation:
Not a lot to say about this Sunderland team without seeing them in action this season. Adding Carlos Cuellar from Aston Villa and Louis Saha, relased from the scum, Sunderland seem to be a decent side possessing real talent out wide with James McClean. The young Irishman showed real promise last season and I expect him to continue grow this year. Cattermole will sure to be in there, kicking our midfielders to bits and we all know about Larsson - floating deadly crosses in and getting us biting our nails with any set-piece, within range.
Ok, so yeah, you get the idea of what this piece will be about, week in week out. With this being the first week, I have looked to go into a bit of extra detail around the Arsenal side, a few of my own personal views, etc. As the matches come thick and fast (and we’re looking down on Sp*rs, again) I will look to analyse players and formations, taking past performances into consideration. Similar story with the opposition where I will be taking a closer look at current form of each club we face and seeing how they may look to set up against the Arsenal.
Same place next week where we will have a closer look at the away day at Stoke (it’s not going to be pretty!)
Finally, up the Arsenal and I hope you all enjoy the new season. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!