As the 2016/17 Premier League campaign draws ever closer, we are going to be previewing all 20 teams. We’ll take a look at their key players, strengths, weaknesses and then predict where they’ll finish. Note: Each report is the opinion of the individual writer.
I’m writing this on August the 2nd. As of now, Arsenal still have not signed a striker and for that reason the same question marks remain. With injury concerns over both Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere already, the same problems are already creeping in for Arsenal and that will worry the fans. In a season that could be Arsene Wenger’s last at the club, the Gunners need to go one better than they did last season.
Arsenal have a lot of talent in their squad but next season it will be important for the best players to come out and make a difference when it matters. For that reason I am highlighting Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil as the clubs key players next season. In Ramsey’s case, it is really important he rediscovers his best form and if he plays alongside Granit Xhaka he could have a chance to do that. The Swiss international should free up Ramsey to express his attacking instincts. It was in a role where he had more freedom for Wales where he excelled this summer.
For Ozil, he turns 28 in October and with less than 2 years remaining on his Arsenal contract, he’ll need to step up and make the difference this season. The German was brilliant last season and equally as good at Euro 2016 – he could in fact be in the best form of his life now and he’ll hope that Wenger can find a top level striker to compliment his abilities in the coming weeks – otherwise he will surely be looking to move on. Ozil be determined to win a title with Arsenal and whilst the plethora of new players look to settle in Manchester, Ozil could lead a steady and stable Arsenal squad to the title. Both players are captain candidates and with Per Mertesacker out with a long-term injury, it will be interesting to see who Arsene Wenger hands the captaincy too.
One To Watch
I think I said this last season but if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can stay injury free for the majority of the season, he is certainly the one to watch. He needs to improve his final ball and his finishing but the signs in pre-season so far have been good. Not only has Alex scored 2 goals in 3 games, they were two pretty incredible goals. His confidence is high, his head seems screwed on and he’s determined to go and prove the doubters wrong this season. I hope for Arsenal and England’s sake that he does. With no wide signing on the horizon and Theo Walcott struggling to make an impact, it could be the year of The Ox. He is almost certain to start against Liverpool on the opening day so let’s see if he can make an instant impression on the 2016/17 campaign.
Arsenal’s weakness continues to be attacking inefficiency and unless the Gunners sign at least one top forward, that is unlikely to change. Theo Walcott epitomises that, his career has gone backwards in the last few years and the signs really aren’t good for him. His touch has gone and his confidence is as low as it has ever been, when Theo is in a one on one situation now, you wouldn’t have much confidence he’ll score, and that’s not good enough for an Arsenal attacker. As good as Olivier Giroud can be at times, he also struggles during long periods of the season. The Gunners need a plan B as when Giroud starts it is pretty obvious how Arsenal will play and many teams find the striker easy to understand and defend against. Ultimately Arsenal need to add more goals to their game if they are to top the league, especially at home where last season they struggled to break down deep-lying oppoisition.
Where They’ll Finish
I think Arsenal will make a couple of good signings before the window closes, but I can see them dropping just short again. I think a 2nd or 3rd placed finish is the most probable. If that did happen, it will be interesting to see what Arsene Wenger decides to do. His contract expires at the end of the season but you get the feeling he would only end his time at the club after a success. Once Mourinho and Guardiola settle at their new clubs it will be harder than ever for Arsene to achieve that so this season is hugely important to him. There is no outright favourite for the title this season and it’s tough to call. Can Leicester City repeat the impossible? Could Conte, Guardiola or Mourinho succeed in their debut season? Can Klopp surprise a few? 6 or 7 teams could win it this season and Arsenal do have a great chance again – Arsene can’t afford not to do it this time around.