Here are the player predictions for Arsenal‘s 2012-13 season:
The young keeper enjoyed somewhat of a breakthrough season last year as he became the undisputed no.1 at the club and became an integral part of Arsenal’s often shaky defence. In a team often criticised as lacking leaders. At just 22, Szczesny is still very inexperienced but is already the most vocal member of the Gunners squad. If Arsenal are to improve defensively this season, Szczesny will have to enjoy a good campaign.
The Frenchman was arguably the most improved player in the Premier League last year. After an indifferent first season at the Emirates, the Carling Cup Final debacle being the lowest point, Koscielny came on leaps and bounds in his second season. He was an almost ever present at the heart of defence. He is not the most dominant of centre halves but more than makes up for that in his tackling and interceptions. He reads the game better than most which enables him to be a step ahead of the game. If he can form a good understanding with Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal will be well on their way to ending their trophy drought.
The £10m deadline day signing of last season quickly became an integral cog in Arsene Wenger’s side last year. The understated Spaniard goes about his work with a minimum of fuss, he employs a simple passing game which sees him rarely lose the ball. His presence is key to Arsenal’s famed passing game and it was clear on the few occasions Arteta was absent last season that Arsenal struggled to find the same rhythm. Indeed, of the 7 games Arteta missed, Arsenal won only 1. With the arrival of fellow Spaniard Santi Cazorla, his ability to find others will become even more invaluable.
As I just mentioned, it will be imperative for Arsenal that Cazorla and Arteta strike up a strong partnership. Cazorla will probably be operating just behind the striker this season, much like Fabregas did before his departure. Arsenal clearly lacked a bit of creativity in the final third last year and Cazorla should certainly help to remedy that. His ability to play the killer pass should enable Arsenal to be more incisive, with or without Robin Van Persie. Arsenal fans will be praying he can have the same effect of fellow Spaniards David Silva and Juan Mata.
The experienced German international was a much welcomed signing at the Emirates early in the summer. With over 100 caps for Germany, Podolski clearly has quality, it is just a question of whether he can now produce his best in the rough and tumble of the Premier League. He will likely operate on either of the wings, there is a feeling that Wenger will utilise him on the left as he does for Germany but I feel he could be used to much greater effect cutting in from the right onto his hammer of a left foot. His transition will have to be seamless if Van Persie does leave as he will be expected to chip in with his fair share of goals.
Robin Van Persie
I couldn’t really leave him out now could I? Whether he stays or goes, Van Persie will certainly have an effect on the Gunners this season. If he stays, he should be able to form an exhilarating partnership with Cazorla and, once again, score a truckload of goals. If he leaves, it looks like being United, so he will not only be leaving a 36 goal a season chasm in the Arsenal frontline, he may well end up scoring against them. It will really hurt Arsenal fans if he leaves for United, especially if he goes for less than £25m. Wenger has never sold a player to Ferguson and he will be desperate for that to continue. Don’t be surprised if Van Persie is still plying his trade at the Emirates come September.
Carl Jenkinson – Will look to kick on with the early absence of Bacary Sagna. Good going forward but needs to improve his positioning.
Thomas Vermaelen - If he stays injury free then should form a strong partnership with Laurent Koscielny. Is one of the few leaders within the squad and will be essential to having a good season.
Per Mertesacker – Had a tough start to life in London. His lack of pace was exposed early on but did start to show signs of improvement before getting injured. Will provide able back up at centre back.
Andre Santos – Quickly became a fan favourite last season for his marauding runs down the left wing. Can be exposed at the back but can make up for it with his strong tackling.
Kieran Gibbs – Should be the first choice left back. Has had his troubles with injury but this could be the year he kicks on and becomes a top class defender.
Alex Song – Rumours linking him with Barcelona currently but remains a key part of Arsenal’s midfield. Was arguably Arsenal’s most creative midfielder last season but needs to remember his defensive duties, especially with Cazorla now in the side.
Aaron Ramsey – Had a very frustrating campaign last time around. Was perhaps unfairly criticised by fans but will look to recapture the form he had before his broken leg.
Abou Diaby – Needs to stay injury free. Probably won’t. If he does, it’s a big if, he could be a key player in the centre of midfield.
Jack Wilshere – STILL injured. There is a lot of fear amongst the fans that he might turn into another Ramsey. If he can recover fully, he will be an essential player in the run in.
Tomas Rosicky – Had a brilliant end to last season, which earned him a new contract. Is injured again, surprise surprise, but will be a useful super sub throughout the year.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Was brilliant when given his chances last year. If he gets enough game time, he could be a revelation.
Theo Walcott – Arsenal are ridiculously well stocked in the attacking positions and if Walcott has a slow start, he may well find himself restricted to appearances from the bench.
Gervinho – Fans are still unconvinced by the ‘Forehead’. Looks less composed in front of goal than Per Mertesacker. Will probably have to settle for the bench until he gets a chance to prove himself.
Olivier Giroud – His season all depends on Robin Van Persie at the moment. If he stays, Giroud will be limited to the bench. If he goes, he will find himself spearheading the attack on his own. No one really knows enough about him to suggest how he will cope, time will tell.
Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner, Park, Djourou, Squillaci - All need to be sold really. Or at least a few of them as they take up a huge amount of unnecessary space on the wage bill.