Hello! I am very happy to be back writing after a weekend that pulled me away. This weekend I was moving and I must say, moving apartments, homes, flats, condos, whatever – is one of those things I am very excited to do beforehand, very happy about afterward, but every moment “moving” is absolute shit.
Packing things in boxes, wrapping fragile things in paper, planning what should go in what box… yuck. Then comes the physical task of moving your couches and tables and loading them. Never will you meet a version of me so willing to part with my possessions, regardless of cost, as me when I am moving. Fancy couch, glasses, pots, and pans… I could just throw them away, right? Get news ones? Hate moving. All of it.
But it’s finished – for the most part – and just in time for one of the most exciting weeks of the year. This Saturday, Arsenal will take on Fulham to kick off their season, and I am very interested in seeing what Mikel does with a complete season of his own. He has been given a clean canvas to work with, and the signing of Dani Ceballos for a second loan term gives me a bit of relief.
While Ceballos may not be completely earth-shattering, what he achieved after the restart last year, playing next to Granit Xhaka, was excellent. Leading the team in multiple stat categories while also providing the team with a real option down the center, and drawing attention away from the wings where Arsenal’s dangerous players are, was crucial to the late-season success. Having him back on board, at the very least, puts Arsenal back in the position they were to end the season. Additionally, Arsenal have added William Saliba, Gabriel, and Willian which is an okay feeling given we start off the year with what should be a few easier games – Fulham and West Ham.
That shouldn’t be enough reason for Arsenal to call their window complete – far from. Bringing in 1 or 2 more midfielders would be ideal, selling off a fairly large number of players to freshen up the squad and make a bit of money needs to be done, and depending on the outcome of specific positions or players, like Lacazette, they will likely have to replace them to some degree.
Given that the window wont be done until a bit into the season, I want to have a little fun today and make a few season predictions that are way too early, likely ill informed, but that is okay! Would love to hear your thoughts on them. Some bold, some not.
Some of these may be negative, I assure you that I want them to be wrong and I will very happily be wrong.
Man of “Aouar” or “Partey time”?
According to many reports, Houssem Aouar from Lyon and Thomas Partey of Ateltico Madrid top the list of Arsenal’s most wanted. However, both are outside of Arsenal’s obvious price range. That is not to say they are incapable of purchasing them or finding the funds, simply that being priced in the £50-60m range is very different than £27m or a loan which means Arsenal will have to find a way to make ends meet.
It is for this reason that I believe Arsenal will only get 1 of them, barring Atletico having a change of heart and agreeing to some kind of Partey swap involving Lacazette. Which one they get I believe may come down to who they are able to sell. But if I had to guess on one, I would still land on Partey. He has been a target since Cagigao, Arsenal have spent multiple years looking at hime, and Willian is in the long term plans. I think they may get priced out of Aouar but we will see! Atletico does seem a bit more determined to retain Partey than Lyon does Aouar.
This is a really tough question and seemingly it changes by the day. Emi Martinez has given Arsenal as taste of what he could provide them, but truly no more. In his small scale he has been flawless and there are plenty of reasons to love the guy. It makes sense that he would take this opportunity to shoot his shot at being given the number one role outright. If ever there was a time for him to take over with a hardline stance, it’s now, when his card have never been better.
However, my prediction is that if one of them is sold – it will be Emi. And I don’t think, if that time comes, we will be happy with the price. It seems like there is some kind of market for Emi, but not much of one for Bernd with teams that are willing to pay. That, plus Leno’s outstanding 3/4 of a season, and a record of performing well in front of crowds, in big games, and when asked, in the end will win out.
The ideal scenario is that we keep both and they do have a full competition for the role, but with Emi’s small scale of results to judge from, his time in a crowdless vacuum atmosphere, and Leno’s dominance of the role before injury – coupled with the effort it would take to find a sale of Leno – I believe Leno will be the one that stays. We will see.
At this point, it has become clear that unless there is some form of divine intervention, Ozil will complete his contract with Arsenal. So what will that look like?
We saw pictures of Arteta playing Ozil this weekend against Aston Villa, and there is some understanding that if he is going to be on the team, Arteta wants to use him to help rather than just collecting wages. However, my prediction is that that is in a lot fewer games than a person imagines hearing Arteta’s desire.
First off, Arsenal are currently playing a 3-4-3 formation which is one that Ozil doesn’t fit within, so we can count him out of most games that formation is used, unless subbed in. Second. Despite understanding and knowing that Ozil is Arsenal’s best chance creator with the most key passes/90, etc. I believe the fact that he is not in the long term plans will be held against him.
Whether we are talking about Willian, who Arteta has said should play centrally this year, Aouar should he be purchased, or the younger players like Willock or Smith Rowe – all are, or would be, in Arsenal’s long term plans. Because of this, Arteta has a much greater incentive to involve them. When it comes selection time, with limited spots, I expect them to get the nod more often. I believe we will see Ozil play in some of the cup games, the Europa League, and maybe the occasional Premier League fixture when the matchup is kind to him, but don’t expect 30+ appearances in all competitions.
Premier League Results
I believe that Arsenal will have a dramatically improved season and record under Arteta. I have faith in them getting a few more deals done during the course of this window to bolster the squad, which will help. However, the biggest factor in my prediction is the belief that Arsenal will be a much more consistent team under Mikel. While Arsenal had a few bits of inconsistency under Mikel – beating Man City but losing to Brighton – I think we will see them fair better against better teams, but manage to be more consistent against the teams fans believe they should be beating.
With these results, I am going to predict that Arsenal accumulate 68 points on the season. That would have been enough to be in the top four last year, but the battle within the league is getting tough. To go one bold step further, I will say: 20 wins, 8 draws, 10 losses.
I think Mikel will have them push for more – for better or worse. Europa League spot for sure once more.
Random Rapid Fire predictions:
- Lead Goal scorer: Aubameyang with 20 in the Premier League
- Pepe will have 25 G/A on the season
- POTY & YPOTY: Aubameyang and Saliba (Sorry Saka)
- Arsenal will buy 2 players in the Winter window
- Elneny will not be sold
- Despite being outstanding, Saka will struggle to find a starting role but will sub in frequently
- It wont be until after the halfway point of the season that we see a Gabriel, Saliba back 4 lineup for the first time. Until then, we will still see a lot of David Luiz
- Arsenal will have respectable runs in every cup competition they participate in, but I don’t think will win one (SUPER HOPE I AM WRONG)
- We will concede 15 goals or less from set pieces/penalties – drastic improvements under Andreas Georgson
- Despite so many people putting it out there, we will never see Aubameyang as a central forward of a front 3
- BOLD Prediction: Once healthy, Martinelli will make a run at the center striker role in an effort to move out of the wings.
Okay! There are a few of my preditctions. I had a ton of fun thinking about these – especially the rapid fire section! Tell me your thoughts on these, or better yet, comment below the post what you would like me to make a prediction on and your thoughts as well!
Enjoy the week.
Leave me a comment on the article, on social media, or if you liked the piece – subscribe to get notifications whenever I publish pieces.