Arsenal v Aston Villa
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: August 17, 2013 3:00 PM BST
It is the start to another exciting campaign and hopefully this time around Arsenal will come out firing! Last season was significantly marred by a sluggish start and if Arsenal want any chance of challenging for the title, they can’t afford to make the same mistake again. We know what Arsenal are capable of, as shown by their late surge in the league to capture fourth spot, and they absolutely need to continue that run now to keep us off the back-foot
Talking about the off-season, it has hardly been the greatest summer for Arsenal fans. We have lost key targets, the latest of which, Luiz Gustavo, was just plain ridiculous. While we have seen the departure of the ‘dead wood’, there has been no-one coming in the other way except for Sanogo, a young prospect who was secured on a free. We know Arsene believes in the current team, but if he wants the fans to even begin to follow his logic, the Gunners need a comprehensive win followed by one or two quality purchases in the coming weeks.
In terms of team news, fans will also be worried to hear that Arteta is out for approximately six weeks after picking up a thigh injury. In the time he has been at Arsenal he has absolutely been a key figure and to lose him before the season has even started is a big blow. Cazorla also looks like an unlikely starter after arriving back late from international duty, but expect him to get on the pitch at some stage. Other than Arteta, our other long-term absentees remain the same with Vermaelen, Monreal and Diaby still on the sideline.
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Looking at the possible starting line-up there have been a few notable names from pre-season. Olivier Giroud pinged in six goals on the Tour of Asia and additionally got a couple of great goals against much stronger opposition inNapoli and Manchester City. In the midst of Arsenal’s hunt for a striker, Giroud has definitely been sure to remind both fans and management that he also is no pushover.
Other notable players have been Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey. Walcott has continued his strong form from last season notching up four goals and a few assists in pre-season. He definitely looks to be a real threat. It has also been great to see that Ramsey is clearly now on the comeback trail. He was strong towards the end of last season and has been inspiring in pre-season. In the absence of Arteta, it is good to know we aren’t suffering too much in the way of quality.
In terms of Aston Villa, although they started their pre-season poorly they go into the first match of the Premier League on the back of four good wins. We all know the main threat at Villa’s disposal and that is Christian Benteke. The Belgian was outstanding for Villa last term and will look to use run riot among the Arsenal back four. Hopefully Koscielny brings his aggressive A-game to keep the strong striker contained.
It’s the first game and there’s no better time to show that we can pose real threat this season. We need to come out the blocks firing and secure a strong win. COYG!
Sagna Mertesacker (c) Koscielny Gibbs
Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0
Eden Hazard – double gameweek, has been a Mourinho favourite over the preseason. Solid choice for captaincy.
Robin van Persie – regrettably the ex-Arsenal captain features in my team, he picked up the golden boot last season and is the hot favourite to do so again this campaign. At 14m he’s expensive, but worth it.
Theo Walcott – The Arsenal winger was the Gunners top scorer last season and looks to be a solid choice this coming campaign. Up against the leaky Aston Villa, the England international will wreck havoc against the Villains backline.
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