With plenty of transfer rumours circulating the media including Gonzalo Higuain who looks destined for a switch to North London very soon, what will Arsenal’s first eleven look like for the first match of the season?
The bones of the squad will unlikely change, including the backline who impressed in Arsenal’s season run-in, so it will be the big name signing/s in midfield or attack that will determine any radical changes.
Wojciech Szczesny looks cemented at number one, it’s a shame Wenger did not make a move to bring in the Dutch international Stekelenburg before his move to Fulham, he would have been a great, experienced and solid signing.
Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal will continue to battle it out for the left back position while Bacary Sagna looks set to remain in north London despite serious rumours in the past. The real question mark defensively remains with Laurent Koscielny or captain Thomas Vermaelen to partner general Mertesacker.
Marouane Fellaini remains the number one candidate to bolster the defensive midfield position while Lyon’s Clement Grenier could provide competition for the advanced role. The former remains the more likely of the two to break into the squad meaning Arteta or Ramsey will find themselves on the bench.
On the wings Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla are almost automatic selections however the Spaniard can operate in behind the striker to allow Podolski to slot onto the left. Up front will almost definitely change if Higuain is bought this summer, with Olivier Giroud a more than capable stand-in or impact substitute. Having two class strikers will allow Wenger to play an attacking 4-4-2 formation in later stages of matches as he has done in the past.
Here is how the Gunners lined up against Newcastle on the final day of the season:
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Arteta (c) Ramsey
Lukasz Fabianski, Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud, Gervinho
Predicted lineup for the Aston Villa game on 17th August:
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny (rotate with Vermaelen) Gibbs
Arteta (c) Fellaini
Lukasz Fabianski (if he re-signs), Thomas Vermaelen (rotate), Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey
As you can see minimal changes were made with Fellaini (fingers crossed that deal eventuates) coming in for Ramsey and Higuain up top. Arteta can continue to play a deeper role with his former team-mate Fellaini, however the Belgian could also push up into a more box-to-box position similarly to how Diaby operated.
What are your thoughts Gooners? Do you see any areas of weakness? Comment below!