I thought I'd take a break from the transfer season blog posts this week and preview the upcoming footballing season for Arsenal. I would've liked to do this post closer to the season starting but as I will be on holiday soon, I thought I'd make sure I get it done.
Let's start off with looking at the starting XI that will most likely feature for Arsenal next season. This summer has already seen Clichy depart and two new men come in and with over a month to go, I'm sure the transfers aren't finished yet. The Fabregas/Nasri sagas will run deep into the transfer window so for the sake of this I'll imagine one goes and one stays which won't isn't too far fetched an idea, although both going is probably the most likely...
My predicted starting XI for next year is:
Sagna/New CB signing/Vermaelen/Traore
Walcott/Fabregas/Arshavin or Gervinho
Now, this is a lineup that isn't too dissimilar to that of last years but it is one that could easily win us the league. I'll explain a few of my decisions. I do think Wenger will sign a new CB before the end of the window. Whether it will be Samba, Cahill, Jagielka or anyone else I don't know but after seeing some of our defensive performances in pre season I don't think he will be entirely happy with our current defense. Wenger isn't an idiot like many people make out, he does know a commanding CB is needed
Now the left back situation. I, like many, wanted to see a new LB brought in when Clichy was sold but I don't think this is going to happen. This means we have Armand Traore and Kieran Gibbs to choose between. Traore has been very good pre season in my opinion but so has Gibbs so either could fill that role. However, chances are Gibbs will be injured by the Newcastle game so Traore will play there more I reckon
The three behind Van Persie picks itself really. You could argue Ramsey may fight for a position but if everyone is fully fit I think that will be the side that plays more often than not. With Van Persie's injury record you may also see Gervinho playing in his position a lot as well. The side won't change massively from last year but it will certainly change enough to give us a fighting chance.
Nothing is ever easy for Arsenal and that is reflected by the start to the season we have. By the end of October we would've played United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham as well as bogey teams like Newcastle and Blackburn. However, to be the best you have to beat the best and our start to the season where we play United and Liverpool in consecutive games could be exactly what we need to silence the critics. Both United and Liverpool will have significantly different teams to last year and will need time to gel. We, on the other hand, haven't changed a great deal and will be ready to play as a team from the word go. Imagine if we got 9 points from our first three games against Newcastle, United and Liverpool. The fans would be buzzing and most importantly, the media would shut up. For a while at least. One quick more word on fixtures, we play Chelsea and City in the last 7 games of the season. If we really want to prove we don't crumble under pressure and can win the title, there is no better way to do it.
There's no doubting that other teams have strengthened greatly this summer. Even the likes of Sunderland have brought in many players so competition will be fiercer than ever next year. However, despite the sudden improvement in Liverpool's spending, I still don't see them as much of a threat. Sure they've spent loads but look who they have spent it on. Jordan Henderson who is a tesco value Jack Wilshere, Charlie Adam who shone in a average Blackpool side and Stewart Downing who was ever overshadowed by Ashley Young. City will be a threat as ever because of their finances but the potential loss of Tevez will harm them a lot. However if Aguero joins and settles quickly, he will be a massive danger. Chelsea will take time to adjust to their new manager but if they do will be dangerous. Finally, the biggest threat as ever is Manchester United. Despite the loss of Giggs (am I allowed to say his name now..), Van de Sar and Scholes, they've spent wisely on good young talent and you can never write them off. If we want to win the league, they'll be the ones we are competing against most. Also a quick note on spurs, I genuinely don't think they'll make top 5 next year. Ha.
Right, so what's going to happen? Be sure to comment with your predictions but these are mine.
Champions - Arsenal (I have to be optimistic)
Champions League - Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City
5th Place - Liverpool
Relegated - Swansea, Norwich, QPR
I'm sure your predictions won't differ too greatly from mine. I genuinely believe with a good start and one or two new signings we can win the league. Holding on to Fabregas is massive though. If he goes, it could go all wrong.
I think the three promoted clubs from last year will go straight back down. Although they've tried to improve their squads, the gap between premiership level and championship level is bigger than ever in my opinion. I hope I'm proved wrong and Harry Redknapp is managing a championship Tottenham side next year