5 Bold Predictions for Arsenal in 2016

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2016

5 Bold Predictions for Arsenal in 2016

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    It’s a brand new year, and Arsenal fans are wondering what 2016 will have in store. There is a real sense of optimism around the club, and many supporters believe that as good as 2015 was, 2016 stands to be even better.

    In this piece, we have identified five things that could come to pass in the next 12 months. These are, as the headline suggests, bold predictions—there’s no point guessing that Mesut Ozil will get plenty of assists or that Jack Wilshere will be injured a lot.

    These are things that are a little unexpected or out of the ordinary that would make 2016 a particularly memorable year.

    Read on to discover our five big predictions for Arsenal in 2016—and be sure to make your own in the comments below.

Arsenal Will End Their Long Wait for a Title

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    Arsenal fans will wince as they read this entry in the list, fearing a potential jinx. However, the indications are that this really could be the year for the Gunners to finally lift the Premier League once again.

    Arsenal have not won a title since 2004, when Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” tore through the division without suffering a single defeat. However, this is undoubtedly their strongest squad since then. With the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez in their ranks, Wenger’s current team undoubtedly have the talent to go all the way. They just need to show the temperament to match.

Danny Welbeck Will Leave the Club

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    Danny Welbeck’s time with Arsenal may be drawing to a close.

    It seems strange to leap to that conclusion just 18 months into his Gunners career, but the warning signs are there. Welbeck was initially recruited from Manchester United as emergency cover for Olivier Giroud. When he arrived from Old Trafford, his stated aim was to displace the Frenchman as the team’s starting centre-forward.

    His plan didn’t come off. When Giroud returned from injury, Welbeck was forced on to the flanks. Then things took another turn for the worse, when a knee cartilage problem forced him to miss the climax of the 2014/15 campaign. It’s now 2016, and Arsenal fans are still awaiting his return.

    In his absence, Theo Walcott has demonstrated his ability to play through the middle, effectively usurping Welbeck. He’s a better finisher than the former Manchester United man, and having signed a lucrative new contract in the summer of 2015 is unlikely to be dispensed with any time soon.

    If Welbeck can’t get regular football with Arsenal, his place with the England squad could come under threat. He’ll be loath to lose his place in the international setup, and itching for first-team football after such a long lay-off.

    Unless he rises rapidly up Arsenal’s attacking pecking order between now and May, he could end up moving on.

Mikel Arteta and Thierry Henry Will Take Up Formal Coaching Roles

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    By the time the 2016/17 season rolls around, Arsenal could have two familiar faces in the dugout.

    Mikel Arteta’s contract expires in the summer, and given his injury problems it’s difficult to foresee him continuing his playing career. However, it seems there may be a place for him among Arsene Wenger’s staff.

    Per Arsenal.com, Wenger said:

    Mikel has a huge influence even when he is not playing. He is super conscientious, and every morning two hours before training he prepares and that is absolutely right.

    Just through his behaviour, his focus on getting everything right in the team, he has a huge influence. He has great experience and is respected throughout the squad.

    I really hope Mikel considers going into coaching. When you manage, you want to see your players continue and see them give their experience and knowledge back.

    If Arteta decides to hang up his playing boots, he is likely to find another role at London Colney available to him.

    He could well be joined there by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Henry is already working with the academy players as he seeks to get the badges that will enable him to embark on a managerial career. The next step is a formal role with the club, who will surely welcome him with open arms.

    The presence of Henry and Arteta on the touchline would surely delight the Arsenal fans, and freshen up a coaching staff that hasn’t changed significantly in the last few years.

Arsenal Will Sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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    Every summer, Arsenal now look to sign a marquee star. The trend started in 2013, when they managed to recruit Mesut Ozil from Germany. A year later, they beat Liverpool to the signature of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. In 2015, Petr Cech was their star signing, arriving from Chelsea with bags of experience and medals.

    This summer, it may be time for Wenger to finally add the top-class striker he craves. Since 2013, Arsenal have been linked with a host of star names but not yet landed an elite centre-forward.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be the man. The Gabonese forward has been in outstanding form this season, and Justin Allen of the Sun wrote:

    Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is eyeing a shock £42 million move for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this month.

    An intermediary is now talking to the Bundesliga club on the Gunners’ behalf. Aubameyang has scored 24 goals in 23 appearances this season — and told friends that he wants to play in the Premier League.

    Arsenal’s don’t desperately need a player like Aubameyang. However, his arrival would undeniably be a huge fillip to their hopes of lifting the Premier League title.

    Despite his brilliance, he could still be attainable for a club with Arsenal’s resources. Aubameyang plays for Dortmund rather than one of Europe’s biggest clubs, and he would surely see a move to Arsenal as a progressive step for his career.

    He’d be a great fit. The thought of Aubameyang racing on to Mesut Ozil’s through balls is a tantalising prospect for the Arsenal fans. This season, Wenger has been experimenting with using a more mobile forward in the form of Theo Walcott. Aubameyang could be the man to fill that role for years to come.

Arsene Wenger Will Sign a New Deal

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    Currently, 2016/17 is scheduled to be the last year of Arsene Wenger’s contract with Arsenal. However, with a dearth of potential successors, it’s looking increasingly likely that he will extend his reign.

    Last time Wenger signed a new deal, he waited until he was within weeks of the expiry before announcing a new agreement.

    That created a lot of uncertainty around the club, and Wenger and the Arsenal board will surely be keen to avoid that degree of speculation again. By tying up a new deal in 2016, Arsenal will ensure a stable environment, which will benefit the playing staff and enable them to use Wenger’s lure to attract new recruits.

    If one of the other predictions in this list came true, and Wenger was able to recapture the Premier League, there would be few arguments against any renewal.