August 21, 2012

Arsenal 2012/13 Season Preview

Arsenal’s been without silverware now since 2005. Will Arsene Wenger’s team end another season empty-handed? That won’t be good for Wenger, who desperately needs some trophies soon for the sake of his legacy as longtime manager. Lately, the squad that seems to consistently emerge at Arsenal is one that’s good, but not quite good enough, and creative, but not quite creative enough. 

 The loss of team captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United is a real blow. Despite his much-lamented departure, however, Arsenal looks to be in good shape for the season ahead. With van Persie’s transfer confirmed, the squad can set the drama of his leaving aside and focus on the remaining players. Lukas Podolski (forward), Santi Cazorla (midfielder) and Olivier Giroud (striker) are important new signings, but at least one of them will need to make a quick adjustment to the Premier League and become a fully contributing member of the squad immediately for Arsenal to have a hope of winning the season.

The rest of the squad looks strong as well, all good news for Arsenal. It is hopeful that Alex Song will remain and certainly Theo Walcott is unlikely to go anywhere. All the center-backs remain uninjured, meaning that Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are all available and should see plenty of playing time. The central midfield has a good deal of depth. Wenger will have the choice of such players as Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. As keeper, Wojciech Szczesny has come under some criticism for his inconsistent performance, but he enters the new season with another year of experience under his belt and still has a great deal of potential.

Van Persie’s bitter description of Arsenal as a club unable to compete with the elite of Europe will still be ringing in Wenger’s ears as the season gets underway. With two years left on his contract, Wenger will want to prove that his players don’t just play stylishly but get the job done. This season, Arsenal must turn its superior possession statistics into goals.

Those in search of Arsenal tickets are sure to see some terrific matches this season as the squad fights for a higher standing and trophies in the wake of these criticisms.

Arsenal under Wenger has never dropped below fourth place in the Premier League and won’t do so this season. While the new signings must perform well early on, many will be looking to Giroud to step into van Persie’s boots, which the striker is unlikely to be able to do.

Unfortunately, finishing in the top four again will probably be the extent of Arsenal’s accomplishments for yet another season. They are also unlikely to make a particular impact in the Champions League. The squad can survive van Persie’s departure, but they won’t rise above it. Despite the clear talent on display, there are too many adjustments to be made. This season will be about pulling together a new squad, not securing Wenger’s legacy.

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