It’s that time again, the season starts again which means it’s time to predict where Arsenal presumably wont actually finish at the end of the season but still try to make an educated guess from this Summer’s goings on.
Firstly analysing our additions, both Lukasz Podolski and Olivier Giroud look like stellar signings for our attack both looking to replace Robin Van Persie who’s loss I shall analyse later. Giroud has just won the French League which is a league title more than most players in our team which gives us some experience for league challenges that we have a player who does know what it feels like to be a part of a winning team. Podolski gives the attack some experience also having scored a significant number of goals despite Cologne’s relegation from the Bundesliga. The only issue is whether these two will bed into the Arsenal side quickly and have as much impact as a free-scoring Robin Van Persie would. Although remembering Chamakh’s start to his Arsenal career, in very much a similar position of Giroud’s he was a prolific scorer until Van Persie returned and his confidence and game-time seem to dwindle, with obviously no Van Persie to derail Giroud or Podolski’s starts, if they get a consistent run of goals like Chamakh did they could be as impactful as Van Persie was last season.
What about Santi Cazorla also? He might be the closest thing to Cesc Fabregas we’ve had since selling him to FC Barcelona, it will be interesting to see how Cazorla is utilised whether behind the two strikers or beside them playing out wide instead of in a Fabregas sort of role. Still he looks like a very good attacking player after watching him against Cologne and with Wilshere not expected back till October and even then probably needing a few weeks/months to regain peak match fitness like his first season, Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain could be necessary depending on whether Rosicky will be able to regain the form he ended the last campaign on.
At least with Wilshere being handed the number 10 shirt now it seems like there is real confidence he shall recover from his injuries and be vital part of the team this season and if he’s as good as we all know he can be, the midfield could be the strongest it has been in just under a decade.
However, the negatives, what about our losses this Summer? Robin Van Persie is of course the most vital loss. We may all (me included) look for reasons why his sale is not the worst sale in the world and why it could be even justified in the long run but there’s every chance that Robin Van Persie could have had another thirty goal season in an Arsenal shirt had he have stayed. Also to lose a captain and a leader who looked to galvanise a team as well as he did last season must have some detrimental effect on the dressing room, whether Thomas Vermaelen can galvanise the team as well as Van Persie is yet to be seen. However, at least there is experience with Podolski, Mertesacker, Arteta and other players who have completed another season and have gained experience from it to aid him, much like there would have been for Van Persie also.
One player it also looks like we shall be missing also is Alex Song with his move to FC Barcelona looking to be all but sealed, another high profile loss to the team at a time where players need to be kept. Whether the loss of Song means players like Frimpong or Coquelin get a good run in the team early and prove to be better players in the long run than Song or whether Mr. Wenger opts to use the money to finally buy Yann M’Vila from Rennes we’ll know by August 31st. Song’s loss is another irritating one, he’s another player who’s left way before he should and way before his prime and his work last season forward and back was mostly more than satisfactory, although he had defensive frailties, he usually was able to do a good enough job next to Mikel Arteta last season and the two struck up a very effective partnership in midfield which has now been broken. There has been talk of Madrid’s Sahin coming in to at least be another body in midfield but he’s not seen as an out and out defensive midfielder, personally, I reckon if we can’t buy anyone Coquelin may be an adequate Song replacement, his midfield work impressed me last season and with Frimpong injured for a few more months he’ll be first choice unless Sahin or M’Vila are brought in so he almost has to step up and I believe he can.
Overall, I think Arsenal can finish strong and can at least look to try and improve the third place finish of last season depending on how strong the two Manchester clubs continue to be, if there’s less dominance this season I can see Arsenal competing with them and I think this season the top four or five will be a lot tighter with no real break away two. Of course the Cup competitions are important again at breaking that dreaded trophy drought and unless the league is wide open come January, those should probably be our priority and if a sixth placed Chelsea can win the European Cup, we should probably give that a go too.