In ten days time, we will be licking our lips at the imminent prospect of live premier league football.
I have really enjoyed watching Arsenal in the friendly games: not the results, which are meaningless anyway, but the individual performances of our players.
It was great to see Diaby and Arteta again. The former is looking sharp and fit and the latter is still working on regaining full match fitness.
It was also good to see Gibbs and Gervinho looking really sharp and full of desire. Eis-Eis-Baby had two great cameos late on in the game, and it was no coincidence that he scored on both occasions from inside the box, by simply being at the right place at the right time, whilst remaining very cool when it mattered most. The Ox also showed he is getting close to regular first-team footie. There were plenty of other positives too. Arsene has tried a lot of our youngsters and some seem to have made very good progress over the summer.
As I am writing this, rumours are getting stronger and stronger that Santi Cazorla is joining us, and if this is true, Arsenal will have strengthened themselves with a Spanish, a German, and a French international, which will add a lot of experience, quality and attacking thrust to our team.
I also liked what I saw from Ramsey during the last two Olympic games for Team GB, as it looks like he has rediscovered some of the form he showed at the start of last season.
So, how is next season going to pan out? This is always notoriously difficult to predict and I would like to invite you to make your own predictions today, in the comment section below.
Prediction one: We’ll make a strong start.
The first five games are against Sunderland (h), Stoke (a), Liverpool (a), Southampton (h) and City (a). I like it that all the away games are not easy: it means we will be fully focussed from the start. From our last home games against Norwich and Wigan during last season we have, hopefully, also learned there are no easy teams anymore. The best thing is that Arsene has a strong squad to choose from and he is not hindered by having to qualify for the CL this time.
Prediction two: Koz will replace Sagna at the start of the season, at least in the tougher away-games.
TV is like to be named our new captain, which means he’ll automatically play if he is fit. If both Mertesacker and Koscielny are also fit, I reckon Arsene will play all three of them. They are too good to leave on the bench and by putting Koz in the RB position he makes our defence more solid (and less adventurous) and does not have to leave either Koz or the BFG on the bench. As soon as Sagna is back and all three CB’s are fit, Wenger will be left with a bit of a selection problem.
Prediction three: we will play with one striker and five midfielders, and score more goals than last season.
I predict we will play very differently compared to last season. Brave Sir Robin (great name Chas!) imminent departure means we will go back to strong domination of the midfield, with most of our goals coming from our midfielders rather than our lone striker. The lone-striker will be more of a holding striker, who often plays with his back towards the opponent’s goal. The aim for him is to hold on to the ball or bounce the ball back towards the midfield in such a way that the midfielders can move forward and create all sorts of concerns for the opponent.
This will make us less predictable and less one-dimensional and, just as we did in the first half of the 2010-2011 season, we’ll score more goals again. It also means we’ll have a lot of possession again and pass the ball round a lot, but I reckon we will be a lot more direct this season, including players being allowed to shoot more from distance (as we have witnessed during the friendly games already this summer). The midfield fire-power will include the likes of Podolski, Theo, Cazorla, the Ox, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Santos and Diaby.
From the little footage I have seen of him, Giroud looks like a very capable holding striker and Podolski would be very capable in that position too. I reckon Giroud is first choice and the Pod will start a lot in midfield this season. Chamakh will be our back-up holding striker and I would not at all be surprised if we start with the Moroccan in the first few games, as per rumours that both Giroud and Podolski will be eased into the PL.
Prediction four: We’ll leak significantly less goals compared to the start of last season.
Admittedly, it won’t be very hard to improve on last season’s goals conceded during the start of the season. But I reckon Wenger and Bould will have drilled the team on how to defend as a team, and having our key players of Koz, TV, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Song, Arteta and Szczesny all fit and raring to go is also really good for us. We need to hit the ground running as I expect the Chavs and the Northern Oilers to set the defensive tone from the start with lots of clean sheets.
Prediction five: Podolski will settle in quickest of the new signings and will be our top scorer after the first ten games.
Podolski is a great striker with a very good shots-per-goal ratio. Arsenal play the sort of football were he will be given plenty of opportunities and this combined with his hunger, professionalism and experience means he is likely to hit the ground running. It will be very quickly: Sir Brave Robin van Who?
These are my predictions for the start of the new season. But what are your predictions? Are they in line with mine or totally different? You can let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.
Written by TotAl