Season Previews 09/10 – Arsenal

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arsenal

Last Season: 4th after a mid-season scare plus FA Cup/Champions League semi final defeats.

Say hello to your new teammates: At the time of writing it’s only Thomas Vermaelen. A central midfielder has still not been signed, though the Vieira rumours were fun. Expect two more players at 11.59pm on August 31st.

Close the door on your way out: Last of the Invincibles Kolo Toure and last of the self aware Emmanuel Adebayor.

Predicted star: Andrey Arshavin’s twelve game cameo at the back end of last season should translate into being Arsenal’s top goalscorer this time round. Fabregas should bounce back too.

Needs a big year: If no central midfielder is signed (which knowing Wenger is likely), then Diaby and Denilson must prove they can step up and show the decision isn’t shortsighted. Arsenal fans were saying the exact same thing this time last season though. Nicklas Bendtner needs to show that Adebayor won’t be missed (glimpses were shown last year).

One to watch: The hype surrounding Jack Wilshere has begun. He’ll show it’s justified.

The real deal.

The real deal.

What they want to happen: A first trophy in five seasons. Preferably League or Champions League (Wenger no longer values the FA Cup you see).

Nightmare scenario: 5th, no trophies again.

Plan A: Pass, pass, pass, pass, shoot once the perfect opportunity presents itself. Expect the usual intricate build-up play between the numerous small, technically gifted, creative midfielders. Arsenal don’t do shots outside the box.

Plan B, just in case: Plan B? Ha, ha, ha, as if. Lump it to Bendtner I suppose.

Predicted finish: 2nd

Why? Arsenal were in a league of their own last season (11 pts from 3rd, 9 pts from 5th) but this was partly due to their shocking start in which they lost five of their first 14 games. A 21 game unbeaten run followed which showed the potential (as ever) of the young squad and over the course of the season only one game of six was lost against the rest of the Big Four. New signing Vermaelen should provide the leadership and organisation at the back and will more than ably replace Toure, who hasn’t been the same since contracting malaria in 2007/08. Adebayor will be a big loss but he’d stopped trying for much of last season (though still scored ten league goals).

The key to a title challenge.

The key to a title challenge.

As ever injuries will come into play. Fabregas missed a large chunk of last season and Eduardo and Rosicky played zero league games between them. Arshavin was only signed in January. The latter’s four goals at Anfield showed what he’s capable and after leading his team to 4th last season, he’ll be even more important this time round. If (and that’s a big if) the first choice XI can all play around 30 games+ then the Gunners could have their best season in ages.

.

T.

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