Football

Arsenal: 2012/13 Premier League Preview

Position last season: 3rd

Premier League title odds: 12/1

Players in: Santi Cazorla (Malaga, £16.7 million), Lukas Podolski (Cologne, £10.5 million), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier, £10.5 million)

Players out: Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad, £3.3 million), Benik Afobe (Bolton, loan), Manuel Almunia (Watford, free), Ryo Miyaichi (Wigan Athletic, loan), Pedro Botelho (Atletico Paranaense, free), Gavin Hoyte (Dagenham & Redbridge, free), Rhys Murphy (SC Telstar, free)

Opening Fixture: Sunderland, Emirates Stadium (Referee: Chris Foy)

Net Spend: £34.5 million

Predicted finish: 4th

Key Man: Santi Cazorla

A Premier League star in the making, Santi Cazorla has all the attributes to add a new creative dimension to Arsenal, and whisper it quietly, fill the gap left behind by Cesc Fabregas last season.

As adept through the middle as he is out wide, the former Malaga midfielder is an excellent free-kick taker and should be able to supply Arsenal’s leading striker, whoever that may be, with plenty of chances to score next season as the north London club look to end their seven year trophy drought.

Prospects


Another summer, another pre-season of turmoil for Arsenal. Or is it? While on face value another transfer saga involving a key player, this time Robin van Persie, appears disastrous, Arsene Wenger certainly seems to have learned his lesson from last time round when Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas jumped ship at the last minute.

After Wenger lost the heartbeat of his side with only a handful of days to go in the transfer window, he embarked upon what most perceived to be an ill-advised shopping spree – and although his gamble paid off (of sorts), there’s no doubting he is seeking to make amends this summer by buying early, and buying quality this time.

If last time their disastrous start prompted some fickle fans to call for Wenger’s head, this time he’s doing all he can to ensure the north London club start off on a firmer footing to help sustain a serious push for silvewear.

If Van Persie does leave he already has the man to take over his role in the side, Olivier Giroud, while Lukas Podolski’s proven quality at international level will certainly help the Gunners carry more of an attacking threat.

Alex Song’s potential departure for Barcelona could be a spanner in the works, especially after he enjoyed perhaps his finest season in a red shirt last time round, although Arsenal have been linked with two quality replacements, Nuri Sahin and Yann M’Vila, with both men seemingly capable of slotting right into the side if needs be.

Arsenal’s greatest concern last time was their weakness in defence, which in fairness was partially caused by a disastrous injury list that almost derailed their season.

Once again Bacary Sagna, a reassuring and galvanizing presence, will miss the start of the season, with Carl Jenkinson expected to be thrown into the fire once more. Experienced defensive reinforcements appear to be needed, although that doesn't seem to be on Wenger's agenda currently.

From the ashes of their poor early season form came a cast-iron forged partnership in central defence between Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen, and those two will take the lessons learned from last season and make the Gunners a more sturdy looking unit this time. Wenger will hope the fact that the former pulled out of France’s squad this week will not affect his ability to take his place in Arsenal’s starting line-up next weekend.

Wenger looks likely to spend more this summer, although that would appear to depend on players leaving the club first. Whatever happens in the next two weeks before the end of the transfer window however, the Frenchman has added expertly to his squad this summer, and Arsenal fans have reason to be cautiously optimistic that the new season could be a turning point after a few years of uncertainty.

Topics:
Alex Song
Arsenal
Robin Van Persie
Football
Premier League
Alex

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