With the season opener against Sunderland fast approaching, there are a few tough decisions Arsene Wenger has to make with the new players fighting for a place, some first team players missing through injury and some player’s futures uncertain at the club. So who do you think will start the season opener in under two weeks?
Szczesny is now the club’s number one after the permanent departure of the Spaniard Manuel Almunia, so the Poland international will take his rightful position between the sticks. The defence too is essentially sorted with Jenkinson stepping in for the injured Bacary Sagna, and Gibbs likely to be the preferred option over Santos. The heart of the defence will most likely be Vermaelen and Koscielny who are proven, effective partnership with Mertesacker on the bench.
Wenger’s latest signing Santi Cazorla has a high chance of starting as the attacking midfielder in the now-standard 4-3-3 in the absence of first team regulars Aaron Ramsey (Olympics) and injured Thomas Rosicky. Alex Song will naturally take up his defensive midfield duties, but the real question is whether Diaby or Arteta will be chosen to partner Cazorla and Song in the engine room.
Arteta was one of Arsenal’s standout performers last season and complimented the Cameroon international in the centre of the mark. The Spaniard’s versatility in attack and defense greatly aided the team as when Song pushed further up he covered, and also added some much required finesse to the midfield. For this reason I think Arteta should get the nod ahead of Diaby.
Now to the wings… The standard choices of Gervinho and Walcott from last season will not be as easy to pick with new signing Podolski an experienced, versatile attacker and Oxlade-Chamberlain an exciting talent. My personal preference will have to be Walcott on the right, Podolski on the left if Van Persie is still around that is…
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Up front the club captain will naturally get the nod if he is still in red and white for the next few weeks. My personal belief is that he will see out his contract and remain a Gunner this season.
AllArsenal’s starting XI against Sunderland:
Jenkinson Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Walcott Arteta Cazorla Podolski
Van Persie (c)
Bench: Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Diaby, Mertesacker, Santos, Coquelin **UPDATE: I probably should’ve picked Fabianski! Perhaps instead of Le Coq or Santos.**
What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below or in allArsenal’s forum under the “Your XI for the 2012/13 season opener” thread.
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