Good afternoon my fellow Gooners, the start of the season is finally upon us and I must admit, I am feeling giddy.
This is shaping up to be one of the most open races we are going to have for quite a while. If you think last year was a roller coaster, this year could be stomach wrenching.
Of course, this bodes well for the neutral, but for supporters, it’s no fun when your team loses to the likes of Blackpool.
Alright then, let’s get to the business of examining the season ahead for Arsenal.
Last year, we fell short of our target. I wonder if it would have made a difference whether Chamakh had been bought in January.
It’s hard to know if it would have or not, but at least we wouldn't be in need of depth. Either way, that didn’t happen, and we now have to look forward to this season and hope he does well.
There are more questions surrounding the team ahead of our trip to Anfield, specifically the goalkeeper and centreback situations.
Questions that have to be answered include the following: How fast will we start this year? Will we succumb to injuries again? Will November/December be our undoing again? How well will our youngsters perform under pressure when called upon? These are questions I am sure the manager is well aware of and is working to address.
Perusing over the squad lists of our rivals, it’s easy to see that they also have questions that need answering. City has spent £83m (expected to rise after Balotelli and Milner sign) so far assembling a team that many expect to contest for the title, but the question of how fast they will gel together remains.
Chelsea have shed some dead weight and so far spent only £5m on Benayoun, although I expect that figure to rise after Ramires signs. United have spent £23.7, Liverpool £8.2, Spurs £6m.
It’s evident that the likes of United, Chelsea, and Liverpool are all looking for value for their money and spending sensibly. I do share concerns of fellow gunners, but with the transfer window still open, I would hold off passing judgment till the window shuts.
I think it’s common knowledge that we are a bit light at the back and currently have two healthy centre-backs to choose from for the game on Sunday.
We’ve enjoyed recent success over Liverpool, doing the double over them last season. But I do expect them to be very different under Hodgson, whose teams are very disciplined and hard to beat.
Expect the top teams to drop points at Anfield this year. It’s a bit of a blessing going there this early. Bendtner (groin), Djourou (hamstring), and Ramsey (broken leg) are all sidelined, but Denilson and Diaby face late fitness tests.
Cesc and Van Persie are to be assessed before the game. I could do with Van Persie sitting this one out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fabregas play some sort of role on Sunday.
Expected lineup (4-2-3-1): Almunia, Sagna, Clichy, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Eboue, Nasri, Diaby, Arshavin, Chamakh, Walcott.
I am not one to make predictions, I tried it last year and Ryan Shawcross had a laugh at me, but hey, I can always dream, right?
2. MANCHESTER UNITED
4. MANCHESTER CITY
Relegation – BLACKPOOL, WOLVES, WIGAN
Champions league – BAYERN MUNICH
Europa League – ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG
Golden Boot – FERNANDO TORRES
POY – CESC FABREGAS
Young POY – JACK RODWELL
So there you have it my predictions for the season, and remember I told you I was feeling giddy, it is Friday the 13th, after all.