Arsenal - Season Preview

Today sees the beginning of the Premier League 09/10 campaign and we have a tricky match away at Everton and it's about time i did a review of our squad.GoalkeepersAlmunia has been areound since the summer of 2004, but he has only really established himself as an Arsenal class keeper in the last 18 months. He was initially signed from Celta Vigo to provide cover for Big Jens but gradually began to replace him and became our number one in the 2007/08 season. In the last 18 months his standing has improved within the club to such an extent that he captained the club on a number of occasions and is now undisputed number one. He may not be the big name keeper some would like but they're aren't too many better than him in the Premier League.Behind Almunia we have Polish international Lukasz Fabianski who still has his doubters. Fabianski signed in the summer of 2007 for £2.5m and has provided cover for Manuel and appeared in all competitions for the Reds. He has only made a handful of performances for the Gunners in the league and he looks to be a great shot stopper but is a bit suspect coming off his line and coming out for crosses. He is only 23 so has time to improve.Behind Manuel and Fabianski we have youngsters Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny. Mannone made his debut for the club in the final day victory over Stoke but wasn't really tested. Having seen Mannone play for the reserves and in pre-season i think he hasn't got the ability to be an Arsenal keeper. Szczesny on the other hand seems to have real potential. He is a good shot stopper seems to be a more solid and has a bit of character about him.Overall i think Almunia is a solid keeper but there isn't a whole lot of depth behind him.DefenceI think in Sagna and Clichy we have two of the best full backs in the Premier League. Sagna is solid and has proved to be a fantastic signing since joining in 2007. Clichy been around for years and has replaced Ashley Cole with ease in our back four. He has improved defensively but could improve his final ball and distribution in the final third. An injury to Clichy allowed provided Kieran Gibbs an extended run in the team last season. He came on leaps and bounds and looked a great prospect. He is a bit losse defensively but going forward he looks a real handful. On the right we having the Emmanuel Eboue to provide cover for Sagna. i'm not Eboue's biggest fan but he does provide decent cover at fullback.In the centre of defence we have Gallas and Vermaelen who appear to be first choice. Gallas has had a mixed time of it since signing from Chelsea. He was suprisingly named captain when Henry left in 2007 but was stripped of the captaincy midway through last season. To me Gallas isn't a captain but he is the best defender we have at the club. If we are to have a successful season he needs to stay fit. Thomas Vermaelen has been signed to play alongside Gallas and hopefully he can be the centre back we desperately need. By all reports he is strong in the air and a good organiser which is exactly what we need. Offering cover we have Johan Djourou and Mikael Silvestre. Djourou has been with the club since he was 16 and has developed into a good centre back. He has all the attributes to be a top defender but he needs to become more dominant. He needs to utilise his physique and dominate forwards the way Vidic or Terry do. The number of injuries he picks up is a serious worry. The less said about Silvestre the better. We signed him from Man Utd last seaon and he has never convinced our supportes. I always viewd Silvestre as the weak link in the Utd defence and he has now also lost the little bit of pace he once had.I haven't mention big Phil as i think everyone accepts he's on his way.Overall i think defensively we have a good set of fullbacks but could defintiley strengthen in the centre. We were suspect there all last season and whether Vermaelen will be the dominant centre back we need remains to be seen.MidfieldIn our captain fabregas we have one of the top centre midifelders in the world. If we can keep Fab fit this year he will be integral to any success we have. Along side Fabregas we are likely to see Song and Denilson. Song developed throughout last season and was our most improved player. He improved his pasing and upped his work rate and by the end of the year was one of our most consistent players. Denilson on the other hand seemd to get worse as the seaon progressed. He's not attacking, hes not defensive and at times he looked lost as the boss continaully played him. there were points last season where he despeartely needed a rest but wasn't given a breather. Hopefully this season he will be used more sparingly. This year is really make or break for Abou Diaby. He signed at the same time as Adebayor and Walcott and at first seemed to be the most talented of the trio. He has been shunted around playing centre midfield, left wing and second striker and has never really had a settled place in the team. Everytime Abou gets a run in the team he picks up an injury that see him out for a couple o weeks, he always seems to be on his way back from the treatment room. This year he really needs to establish himself or it could be curtains for him. Aaron Ramsey arrived last summer for £5m from Cardiff and to me he looks as though he has all the ingredients to be a top class midfielder and I hope to see more of him this year.On the right wing we have Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott fighting it out. Arshavin joined last January in one of the most protracted transfers in history. He had an immediate imoact and i'm really looking foraward to seeing himstrike up a partnership with Fabregas. Walcott was one of our best performers in the first half of last season. He seemed to have a more physical edge to his game and his finishinf had come on dramatcially. Hoipefully Theo can continue to improve and can justify his shiny new contract he signed this summer. On the left wing we have Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky. Nasri hoined last season and looks like a good capture for the rumoured £12m I have no doubts he'll go on to prove a great peice of business by the boss. We welcome back Tomas Rosicky from what seems to be abot a nine year injury curse. If we can keep Tomas fit he will be like a a new signing as he hasn't kicked a competitive ball in anger for 18 months. We forget just what a great player Tomas is. He's creative, enthusiastic and a real goal threat and i'll be glad to have him back in the team. We also have Merida and Wilshere beyond that. Both are young exctiing talents and will no doubt get a chance this season.Overall i think if we sign a new defensive minded centre midfielder we will have one of the best midfields in world football. If you add a good defensive midfeilder to Fabregas, and any of our wingers we have a great midfield.StrikersVan Persie is the automatic first choice up front. Last season was his first year that was uninterrupted by injury and he repayed Wengers patience with a great season. He has now been named vice captain and has signed a contract extension this summer. If he can continue his form from last season, I'm expecting a big year from Robin. Alongside Robin we have Nicklas Bendtner and Eduardo. Bendtner has his knockers amongst Arsenal fans but i think he showed last season he has improved dramatcially. His all round awareness has imprioved and he has shown he can score goals against anyone. I thnk he will have a very big year. We have only seen feeting glimpses of Eduardo since his horrendous injury in February 08. He has looked sharp in the games since his return but a series of niggling injuries has stopped him progressing to become a first choice player. I think Eduardo is the best finsiher at the club and if we can keep him fit he will score 15-20 goals this year. Behind our first choice three we have Carlos Vela. Vela spent a couple of years on laon in spain before returning last season. He showed glimpses of is undoubted talent last season in the Carling and FA Cup and i expect him to get more chances in the team this campaign. He is undoubtedly a big talent and we could have a genuinely world class plaer on our hands in a year or two.Overall I'm happy with our attacking options and i don't think we will miss Adebayor at all.Our squad has undoubted quality but is weak in key areas. I think if we don't add to our current squad it could be a long hard season. However if we were to add a centre back and a midfielder i think we could go on to win the title i really do. Wenger i hope your reading.we travel to Everton today, with a number of injuries. Fabianski, Djourou, Nasri, Roosicky and Diaby are all missing. As such i expect our team to beAlmuniaSagnaClichyGallasVermaelenFavregasSongDiabyArshavinBendtnerVan PeriseI think we will score up at Goodison but I'm a bit worried about our defence. I'm hoping we catch Everton cold and come away with a good victory. the result today could be a good indication of how our season will pan out.Come back tomorrow for reaction from the game.

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