Team In The Spotlight – Arsenal – Premier League Passion
Welcome to the first part of a twenty part series focusing on each team in the Premier League. Hopefully this will be a bi-weekly feature on a Friday and Tuesday.
We start at the top this week with Arsenal.
Nickname: The Gunners
Stadium: The Emirates, London
Manager: Arsene Wenger
First Division (until 1992) and Premier League
13: 1930–31, 1932–33, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1937–38, 1947–48, 1952–53, 1970–71, 1988–89, 1990–91, 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
10: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1979, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005
2: 1987, 1993
FA Community Shield (FA Charity Shield before 2002)
12: 1930, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1991 (shared), 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004
European Cup Winners' Cup
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup
1 GK Wojciech Szczęsny
3 DF Bacary Sagna
4 DF Per Mertesacker (3rd captain)
5 DF Thomas Vermaelen (captain)
6 DF Laurent Koscielny
7 MF Tomáš Rosický
8 MF Mikel Arteta (vice-captain)
9 FW Lukas Podolski
10 MF Jack Wilshere
11 MF Mesut Özil
12 FW Olivier Giroud
13 GK Emiliano Viviano (on loan from Palermo)
14 FW Theo Walcott
15 FW Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
16 MF Aaron Ramsey
17 DF Nacho Monreal
19 MF Santi Cazorla
20 MF Mathieu Flamini
21 GK Łukasz Fabiański
22 FW Yaya Sanogo
24 MF Abou Diaby
25 DF Carl Jenkinson
26 MF Emmanuel Frimpong
28 DF Kieran Gibbs
30 FW Park Chu-Young
31 MF Ryo Miyaichi
44 MF Serge Gnabry
52 FW Nicklas Bendtner
58 MF Gedion Zelafem
Star Player: Mesut Özil
Until the transfer window deadline day Arsenal looked like they could have been in trouble but with the signing of one of the best attacking midfielders in world football things took a huge upturn for the better. Ozil is an amazing player and Arsenal really pulled the cat out of the bag on that deal. Abundant in flair, skill, passing ability, control and vision Ozil should show the rest of the Premier League a master class this season in how to be a midfielder. I wrote in my pre-season report that The Gunners were lacking up front and at the back and these key areas remain somewhat unrectified.
Wojciech Szczęsny has plenty of attributes to be a great goalkeeper but his decision making and the conceding of soft goals needs to be worked upon. Similarly to Manchester United with Schmiechel, Arsenal goalkeepers have lived in the formidably sized shadow of David Seaman. Lehmann was good but prone to making silly errors like Szczęsny. If the big Poland international can cut these out of his game he will be a great number 1 for The Gunners. Arsenals other deadline day signing Emiliano Viviano isn’t exactly awe inspiring in reputation and is pretty much unknown to the majority of football fans and Fabianksi is merely a backup goalkeeper of similar standards. As long as the number 1 stays fit and error free the position should be fairly solid.
I worry for the lack of pace in defence despite the tactical awareness of Mertesacker and the ability of Vermaelen the back line looks a little soft in places. Maybe Arsene Wenger is opting for an attack is the best form of defence policy this year. Sagna, Jenkinson, Gibbs and Monreal will be the players who feature most over the coming months but all have flaws in their game. Jenkinson has improved greatly since the 8-2 hammering Arsenal suffered at the hands of Man United in 2011 where he looked completely lost. Some players disappear never to be seen again in cases like that but to his massive credit he has gone away and worked hard at his game and has displaced the more established Sagna in the right back slot. Monreal came in during the January transfer window this year and showed promise but was probably caught by surprise at the pace of the Premier League much in the same way Patrice Evra was when he joined the league in a January window.
Midfield is now stacked with creativeness in Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky and Cazorla as well as the previously mentioned Ozil, Arsenal should create plenty of chances for the forward line up. Bringing back Flamini to sit just behind the midfield in a spoiler capacity would allow the creative spark in front of him to go and do their thing. Although it was a decent signing I do think many Arsenal fans viewed it as a stop gap transfer. Since Alex Song left for Barcelona last summer Arteta has dropped into a deeper role which suits them for his passing ability but left them sometimes wanting for a defensive minded player and the back line was left exposed. Out wide Oxlade-Chamberlain needs to show that potential being realised more and more this season. I have a lot of hope for him and feel he is on his way to being a great player, this season is crucial to his all-round development.
Arsenal needed a 20 goal a season poacher, or so it seemed. Maybe with Ozil they have found the key to unlock Theo Walcotts central role. Often played out wide by club and country his goal scoring has suffered slightly and towards the back end of last year in a more central role we saw what he could do. He has frightening pace and with the likes of Cazorla and Ozil and the strength and hold up abilities of Giroud, Theo Walcott could be the perfect foil. I see a front three for Arsenal this season with Podolski and Walcott prominently coming in from out wide and Giroud anchoring up front on his own letting the two wide players drift in from the wings. It could work a charm as both men have great feet, are pretty quick and with Giroud, excellent in the air dangerous from crosses.
I think Arsenal have the basics to have a great season, the big issue is a lack of strength in depth, this is always a key point as for some reason the Gunners treatment room is one of the busiest in the league. If the first XI can stay fit and pretty injury free it could be a good season for them. If they had a top class central defence I would be putting Arsenal up there challenging for the title, as it stands now I think it will be a fight for fourth place again this year.
Predicted Finish: 5th
Thank you for reading, as always comments and feedback is always welcome, let me know what you think.
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Until next time……..