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Arsenal: Analysing Gunners' Next 5 Opponents

Max TowleAnalyst IJanuary 4, 2017

Arsenal: Analysing Gunners' Next 5 Opponents

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    Arsenal have been excellent at times this Premier League season, overcoming a rather stuttering start to clinically dispatch opponents Liverpool, Southampton and most recently West Ham.

    But naturally, the jury is still out on whether or not Arsene Wenger's side can be genuine title contenders. Until either Olivier Giroud or Gervinho, or even a transformed Theo Walcott can start firing in the goals on a regular basis, such doubts will remain.

    They have been flawless so far in other competitions, though—specifically, the Capitol One Cup and the UEFA Champions League—and are threatening deep runs in both.

    But in terms of the immediate future, the Gunners are braced for some intriguing fixtures, some which they'd be expected to win, and some, like a trip to Old Trafford, will test the side for its worth.

    Here's an analysis of Arsenal's next 5 opponents.

Norwich City (a)

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    Recent Form: DLWLL

    Key Player: Grant Holt

    Chris Hughton's side welcome Arsenal to Carrow Road in a little over a week's time, as they look to bounce back from an absolutely dreadful run of form in the Premier League.

    The Canaries are yet to win a league game this season, most recently having been thrashed 5-2 and 4-1 by Liverpool and Chelsea, respectively.

    If Arsenal can be as clinical, a big scoreline beckons. But as Grant Holt showed at Stamford Bridge, the Canaries are always capable of stealing a quick goal on the counter attack.

    The English striker will be keen to prove England selectors wrong in the clash, but in truth, his side lack the sort of talent in defence and midfield required to keep a club in Britain's top-flight.

    My Prediction: 2-0 Arsenal

Schalke 04 (h)

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    Recent Form: LWDDW

    Key Player: Jefferson Farfan

    Schalke have shown real attacking intent in the Bundesliga this season—they travel to the Emirates in a Champions League clash, taking with them a squad brimful of fantastic talent.

    Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar, Jefferson Farfan, touted Arsenal transfer target Lewis Holtby and Ibrahim Afellay compose a dangerous attacking core, whilst Benedikt Howedes is a rock-solid mainstay in the defence.

    Although all eyes will be on striker Huntelaar as the German team's marquee player, I peg winger Farfan as being the player most likely to give his opposing full-back trouble.

    Schalke look like the team most likely to qualify from a potentially difficult Champions League group with the Gunners, and will not prove easy opponents.

    My Prediction: 1-1 draw

Queens Park Rangers (h)

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    Recent Form: DLLLL

    Key Player: Julio Cesar

    Like Norwich, QPR are a Premier League side who look destined to have to scrap to keep their place in the top flight, currently appearing to be genuine relegation candidates.

    Mark Hughes has made a bevy of new signings over the summer, bringing in the likes of Park Ji-Sung, Granero and Julio Cesar in an attempt to further the club's ambitions.

    Goalkeeper Cesar has looked the best of those newcomers, keeping his side in games for as long as possible with some fine saves that defy his accelerating age.

    But QPR have the worst defence in the league, bar none, and should be a team Arsenal can easily roll over.

    My Prediction: 4-1 Arsenal

Reading (a)

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    Recent Form: LLWDD

    Key Player: Pavel Pogrebnyak

    Newly promoted side Reading then host the Gunners, in a contest that Arsene Wenger's side shouldn't underestimate.

    Though getting their season off to a poor start, Reading have greatly improved in recent weeks, and were unlucky not to pick up all three points against Swansea City last weekend.

    Big Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak could cause the Arsenal back line the same sort of problems that Andy Carroll did and will likely prove Brian McDermott's biggest asset.

    But like Norwich and QPR, defensive issues will make it hard to keep the likes of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud scoreless.

    My Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal

Manchester United (a)

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    Recent Form: WWLWW

    Key Player: Wayne Rooney

    In a game that many are already looking forward too, myself included, Manchester United will host Arsenal in early November in a match that is sure to be as close as it is fiery.

    Ex-Gunner Robin van Persie will be the name on everyone's lips, but stopping the newly-created playmaker Wayne Rooney will be the key to victory for Arsene Wenger's side.

    Old Trafford may be quiet a little too often for Sir Alex Ferguson's liking, but will sure to be bouncing for the visit of long-term rivals Arsenal.

    I expect a close one and a contest that may see both teams cancel each other out.

    My Prediction: 0-0 draw

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