10 Bold Predictions for Arsenal in 2013
Many Arsenal fans are looking forward to 2013—and with good reason.
Gooners worldwide had to deal with all too familiar storylines as the 2012 calender year progressed.
There were no major signings, the team lost key players, there was no silverware and there were poor performances on both an individual and team level.
The Gunners have one game to deal with before the New Year begins, but click through to see some bold predictions for Arsenal in 2013.
Arsenal to Win the FA Cup
Let's face it.
The only realistic chance Arsenal have for getting silverware this year is by winning the FA Cup.
They have already been knocked out of the Capital One Cup. The EPL title is way out of their grasp, as is the Champions League.
They may make things interesting for Bayern Munich in their second-round tie, but it's highly unlikely they will progress.
That leaves the unpredictability of the FA Cup.
The Gunners start the competition with an away game against Swansea City, and things will only get harder moving forward.
Add to that their need to hold on to a top four spot, and the challenge seems even tougher.
Despite that, one never knows what to expect in the fabled competition. If Arsenal comes to play in every one of their FA cup games, they could make a solid run all the way to the trophy.
Arsenal Will Sign a Star Player
Arsene Wenger recently stated that the club is looking to sign an "exceptional player" (via ESPN Soccernet).
Unfortunately, that's been said before.
Santi Cazorla almost fit the bill in this category last season. He wasn't quite there because he didn't have the reputation as a world-class player at the time.
He certainly is a quality player, and more spectators have seen that this season—but he was more like a Ryan Reynolds than a Brad Pitt, if you will.
What we're looking at here is a player who is a household name and one who would at least engineer conversation that they are Arsenal's best player.
Think along the lines of Edinson Cavani in attack, a Mario Gotze in midfield or a Mats Hummels in defense.
This is not to say that the Gunners are interested in these players, but that they all fit the bill as a star signing.
Arsenal Will Keep Star Players
Considering the recent trend for Arsenal in terms of players departing, this prediction was definitely bold.
If Arsenal don't win anything this season with their new boys, they could struggle to hold on to players.
The situation with Theo Walcott is still yet to be resolved, while Bacary Sagna seems to be another player whose future with the club is in doubt. (via Daily Mail)
They could be joined by new boy Santi Cazorla, who is the most likely to attract a lot of attention, given his form.
If the Gunners don't want to keep having to rebuild year after year, then holding onto players like these is a must.
Whether the season is disappointing or not, expect Arsene Wenger to lock down on his key players for at least another year.
Arsenal to Get Rid of Dead Weight and Unecessary Players
Arsenal has failed to get rid of some of its least useful players in the last few transfer windows.
Whether its their big wages, their under-performance or both, some players have overstayed their welcome at the Emirates.
There is no need for Arsenal to keep players who are not going to play, and 2013 will be the year that Arsenal starts to trim its wage bill and open up space to strengthen the team.
Theo Walcott to Play as a Forward by 2013/14
While Arsene Wenger has spoken of the need for a new striker, he may opt to look within the squad first. (via Goal.com)
Considering Wenger has used the likes of Gervinho up top, Theo Walcott, Arsenal's current leading goalscorer, deserves a shot at the position.
Walcott was finally given a glimpse at the forward role he craves in the recent EPL game against Reading. He reacted well by completing the scoring with a well-taken finish, and looked lively throughout the game.
For Arsenal to keep Walcott this season, it's likely that the Englishman will have to be given a decent amount of time up top. He's shown some improvement in his finishing ability and could make the spot his own before the new season begins.
Walcott's only competition would be Olivier Giroud, as Marouane Chamakh is sure to depart before the year ends.
It will be interesting to see if he keeps his spot against Newcastle this Saturday with Olivier Giroud returning.
Arsenal to Play in Europa League Next Season
Arsenal could very well end up playing in the Europa League next season.
Sure, the Gunners have recovered slightly from a horrid start to the campaign, but they face plenty of obstacles.
If Arsene Wenger decides to focus on gaining a Champions League position, then it's likely to happen. However, with the fan patience wearing thin, he will want to make a solid run in the FA Cup and Champions League.
We saw what happened with Chelsea when they followed a similar route last year.
Since it's highly unlikely that Arsenal will win the Champions League, they won't re-enter Europe elite club competition through that avenue. One also has to look at the number of teams competing for the Champions League spots.
Everton and Tottenham look set to be in the race for the entire campaign. West Bromwich has surprised and could make things interesting if they discover their form.
There's also teams like Stoke City, Swansea City, Liverpool and Norwich City within striking distance. The teams most likely to be a threat are evident, but the fact that so many sides are within Arsenal's vicinity will make things interesting.
It will certainly be Arsenal's toughest run to a Champions League spot for the last few seasons.
Arsenal Won't Be in the Top 3 in Goals Scored in the EPL
In the past five seasons, Arsenal could always be counted on to be among the top three teams in goals scored. They've entertained during that time, thanks to their defensive deficiencies and offensive firepower.
This season has seen a shift defensively, though not a dramatic one, and a drop in offensive production. The new attacking signings are still getting acclimated to playing their part, and the loss of a certain Dutchman didn't help.
That could see the club score less goals this season than a number of teams.
The Gunners are still among the top scoring teams again this season, but there is plenty of competition. All the teams currently above Arsenal in the table (except West Bromwich) have equaled or bettered Arsenal's 32 goals.
Liverpool currently has 28 goals and should improve its goal tally with offensive additions in January.
Arsenal Have League's Top Defense
Arsenal has every chance of finishing the season with the best defense in the EPL.
Such an idea was quite frankly unthinkable during the last few seasons.
The Gunners currently have the fourth-best defense in the league, thanks to the tweaks made by new assistant manager Steve Bould. Arsenal's 18 goals conceded stand only behind Manchester City (16), Chelsea (17) and Stoke City (14).
Of these four teams, Stoke is the most likely to see a change in their fortunes as the season progresses. Tony Pulis's side has been quite stingy this season but have been pretty weak in offensively, with only 18 goals in 19 games.
They have conceded more than they have scored in the last few seasons, and despite their start, that trend won't end.
That would leave the bigger clubs vying for the best defense. If Arsenal regains the sturdiness they showed at the very beginning of the season, they could come out on top in that category.
City has been up and down in all aspects this season and have yet to see the best of Vincent Kompany.
Rafa Benitez may offer more structure for Chelsea, but given the lack of work-rate in some of their attacking players, their defense will face plenty of pressure.
Injuries Won't Heavily Affect the Team in 2013
Part of what keeps the good clubs on top is their ability to help keep players on the pitch, or to get them back on it as quickly as possible.
Arsene Wenger recently highlighted the fact that he has a near full-strength Arsenal side at his disposal during the festive period (per Arsenal.com). That's been something of a rarity for the Gunners in recent seasons, and it's safe to say that that has been part of the recent for their up-and-down form.
One cannot account for sickness or for injuries on international duty, but the recovery speed of Arsenal players hasn't been good in the past.
The backroom staff at the Emirates will step up their game and ensure that they spend less time with the players than Arsene Wenger does in 2013.
Fast Start to 2013/14 Season
Can anyone remember the last time Arsenal had a really good start to the season?
The answer is the 2007/'08 season.
The team's start in 2009/'10 was solid, but Gooners would prefer something similar to the '07/'08 season. The Gunners went undefeated for 21 games in all competitions before succumbing away to Sevilla in the Champions League.
Before that loss, the club was in the Capital One Cup quarterfinal and top of their Champions league.
The best and most amazing part? They were top of the league with a three-point lead with one game in hand.
The current Gunners would be in a much better position this season in 21 games had they not picked up four losses and seven draws. The '07/'08 edition of the team only drew four times before that Sevilla loss.
We don't know yet who Arsenal will play to start the season, but let's expect them to come out of the gates on fire. Why? An Arsenal team coming away empty-handed would add more fuel to the fire. On the other hand, some form of silverware would increase the team's confidence ten-fold.
Either way, the team would have cause to improve upon this season, and that should lead to a good start.