Arsenal face Sunderland this afternoon on the opening day of the 2012/13 Premier League season. After 97 days without competitive football, I am very much looking forward to seeing what this new-look Arsenal team have to offer. Robin van Persie has gone, Alex Song is probably on his way out, but we have three new signings who are all raring to go.
From what we saw of them in the 4-0 pre-season win over FC Koln, Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla will all prove to be fantastic additions to the squad. If Alex Song does leave for Barcelona then we will probably have to sign a new midfielder, but Wenger will deal with that later. Today is all about starting the season with all guns blazing and proving that we are a force to be reckoned with.
Predicted Starting XI
With Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny both injured expect Per Mertesacker and Carl Jenkinson to make appearances at the back. There is always the possibility of Francis Coquelin at right-back, but in my opinion Jenko is much more likely.
Given Alex Song’s apparently impending transfer to Barcelona and the fact that he is suffering from a “little knock”, I don’t expect to see him in the starting line-up. Abou Diaby seems to have gone through the entire-pre season unscathed, Mikel Arteta is an ever-present in the Arsenal starting line-up, and Santi Cazorla simply has to play.
Up front we are suffering from injuries to Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, so expect Lukas Podolski and Gervinho on the wings with Olivier Giroud as the target-man. I really hope that Giroud can settle well in the Premier League. He is 6 foot 4 and more than capable of handling the physicality of English football.
Injuries: Wilshere, Rosicky, Sagna, Frimpong, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain. Walcott, Song & Cazorla face late fitness test.
Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland. Arsenal had a good end to their pre-season and will be looking for a repeat of the performance against Koln last weekend. If the players want to challenge for trophies this season, then we really have to hit the ground running. There are some tough games coming up in September (against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea) so we need to take maximum points form the opening two games against Sunderland & Stoke.