Can we win it? The Arsenal FC Blog’s 09/10 Season Preview

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If Vermaelen remains the only summer signing the league will be beyond Arsenal

We’re just one day away from the start of the season now and that means it’s time for a full season preview. In this preview I’ll be running through the four main areas of our squad – goalkeepers, defence, midfield and attack – and looking at our chances of lifting silverware in 2009/10.


In Manuel Almunia we have a confident and consistent number one who showed last season that he is as good as anyone else in England. He has well and truly made the goalkeeping shirt his own with two excellent seasons in a row and will go into the season with his reputation at an all-time high. A leader on and off the pitch Almunia has the ability to get even better this season and if he can stay fit and perform to the same level as last season then we won’t have any problems in this area at all.

After Almunia we have Lukasz Fabianski – who had a bit of a shocker last season but should certainly improve in his second season at the club – as well as Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny who should continue to improve. The one thing that worried me about Fabianski was his ‘energizer bunny-like’ way of running out of the penalty area and if he can calm down a bit then I think it will certainly improve his reliability.

In short: If Almunia gets injured it may make things interesting but assuming the Spaniard stays fit then we have absolutely no concerns in this area of the pitch.


William Gallas will undoubtedly go into this season as the first-choice central defender with new signing Thomas Vermaelen or Johan Djourou competing for a position alongside him. Since being stripped of the captaincy midway through last season Gallas has stepped up considerably and I would argue that his injury late on in the season was a massive contributing factor to our capitulation against Manchester United in the Champions League and loss against Chelsea in the FA Cup. I rate him right up there with Nemanja Vidic and Daniel Agger as one of the best defenders in the Premier League and with him at the back we are always going to look safer at the back.

We may have lost Kolo Toure to Manchester City but in Vermaelen we have signed a player who the manager believes can not only fill the void but improve our team. Although he’s not the 6’5 giant a lot of supporters want he is undoubtedly a fierce competitor and was signed with the intention to bring him straight into the first team. He will compete with Djourou for a spot alongside Gallas and with the Swiss defender injured for the first month of the season will have a great opportunity to assert himself and show the rest of the Premiership what he can do.

I believe the manager’s intention will be to build the relationship between Vermaelen and Djourou throughout the season to a point where the pair will begin 2010/11 as the first-choice line-up. I think Djourou is a fine defender who exudes calm and composure and if he can add a more physical edge to his game it could be a very big season for him. A lot will depend on who stays fit and who gets injured but as a first three it’s hard to argue that Gallas, Vermaelen and Djourou are not good enough.

Beyond that trio there are concerns and I believe we need to make a signing before the end of the transfer window to address them. Mikael Silvestre showed last season that he is not good enough and with age against him is not going to improve, while if Alex Song is asked to play in defence it opens up a huge hole in defensive midfield. While I don’t believe we need both a defender and a defensive midfielder it is utterly crucial that we get one of the two and if I had to choose it would be a midfielder with the option of pushing Song back if required. Ideally I would like both and I believe Wenger’s ability to improve the squad in this area between now and the end of August will have a huge baring on our chances of winning a trophy.

Out wide at the back we have no concerns with Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna an exceptionally gifted wing-back pairing. If they can maintain the form they’ve consistently shown throughout the past two seasons and the very talented duo Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore as well as the enigmatic Emmanuel Eboue can do a job when called upon then we will have no problems here.

In short: We have an excellent trio of centre-backs but the failure to sign a fourth or a defensive midfielder could see us hopelessly understrength in the very likely event of us sustaining a couple of injuries at crucial times of the season.


Arsene Wenger’s decision to go for a 4-3-3 this season should see us utilise the midfield group of Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Denilson, Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky far more effectively than last season. Going into the season it seems unfathomable that Song will not start as the defensive midfield pivot for captain Fabregas and (most likely) Denilson to work around. Had he no broken his leg then I believe Nasri would have played in place of Denilson while if Rosicky was further along in his rehabilitation then it’s arguable that he may have done so instead.

The key for the manager this season will be to keep his midfielder fit and fresh through regular rotation to allow our very best passers and creators – Fabregas, Nasri and Rosicky – to be fit and healthy in the games that matter. While I still have my doubts about Denilson’s overall ability as a player I do feel that 4-3-3 may bring the best out of him while the lack of a defensive midfield signing means Song will be under huge physical and psychological pressure to both remain fit and play well throughout the season. My major concern in this area (as I outlined in the defensive section) is that we do not have adequate cover for Song and I would be hugely surprised if Wenger did not bring in another midfielder before the window closes.

Meanwhile this is set to be a make-or-break season for Diaby and I have a funny feeling that after a relatively poor 08/09 he may be the surprise performer in the Arsenal midfield. Additionally, if we are to achieve success this season then Nasri and Fabregas will need to add goals to their otherwise well-rounded repertoires.

In short: In terms of quality we look excellent but in terms of numbers we’re one short. Song has the ability to become the defensive midfielder we need to make Fabregas and Co. look good but if he goes down injured or has a dip in form we may be in trouble.


If there is one area of the squad that we look brilliant in more than any other it is our attack. The very talented yet uninterested Emmanuel Adebayor may be gone but in Andrey Arshavin and Robin van Persie we have two of the very best forwards in the world game and in Eduardo and Nicklas Bendtner two more excellent options. Add in Theo Walcott, Carlos Vela and the up-and-coming Jack Wilshere and have a seriously versatile bunch of quality players.

The shift to 4-3-3 should see Arshavin’s impact increased and he could take the Premiership by storm this season while both van Persie and Bendtner will want to improve on their goal tallies from last season. It appears as though Bendtner will begin the season as the right side of the front three and if he can get a couple of early goals this season then I can really see our #52 enjoying a breakthrough season at Arsenal.

It will be interesting to see the role that Eduardo plays this season given he is now fully fit and I feel he could well work his way into the starting line-up  if any of the first-choice trio’s form starts to slip. The same could be said for Theo Walcott as well although I do get the feeling that he may be used more often as an impact sub to get the most out of his pace and direct style of play.

In short: We might not have a Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba in our ranks but we possess arguably the most versatile forward-line in English football and the switch to 4-3-3 should get the most out of them.


Unlike some of the doom-mongerers and journalists out there who are once again predicting disaster for Arsenal, I am exceptionally excited about Arsenal’s chances of lifting silverware this season. In saying that though, a large part of that excitement will evaporate should Wenger fail to bring in at least one of (preferably two) a centre-back or defensive midfielder.

While I don’t think there is any chance of us finishing lower than 4th even if no signings were made I also don’t believe we could get higher than 3rd if no new face arrives. If we get the defensive cover we need however, then I can’t see any reason why the Premiership Trophy is beyond us. Aside from one key area we have an exceptionally talented squad with depth to match all three of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

A key area that appears to have been overlooked by a lot of people in rating Arsenal’s chances this season is the obvious changes in team spirit at the club from one year ago. Fabregas will start the season as captain, Gallas with far less pressure on his shoulders. Rosicky and Eduardo, both experienced players who are clearly great influences in the changing room, are back while Arshavin will be well-settled and ready to exert his natural leadership in the final third. Bendtner and Eboue have fought back to silence the boo-boys, Song has a bit of buzz around him while finally, finally Almunia is starting to get the credit he deserves between the sticks.

It goes without saying that all of this morale will mean nothing if we fail to make a crucial signing or two but if Wenger gets the cheque-book out and brings in exactly what we need then I believe we are a very good chance of winning the Premiership. We obviously have a very tough start to the season but if the boys can get through that relatively unscathed and build the sort of run they managed in the second half of the last campaign then there is much to be optimistic about.

In short: Arsenal can win the Premiership this season but a failure to make crucial signings means 3rd may be the limit.

Have your say on the Arsenal FC Blog 2009/10 Season Preview by leaving a comment.

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48 thoughts on “Can we win it? The Arsenal FC Blog’s 09/10 Season Preview

  1. As im on my way to work iv not read all of intro article. The two important points you have made his about the two positions of DM and CH. We…, i mean YOU are short in both those position especially in the lack of cover for a Song type player. Remember he is still young and learning his trade. Lets hope Wenger has something up his sleeve and hopefully Arsene’s arms are 6f4′. Im really looking forward to the start of the season and cant wait for us hammers to get it on with you gunners for we owe you a kicking. Hopefully our attacking line, C Cole can continue the form he showed for england and stays away from injury. Boy is our squad thin! Thats all for now, im running late. Shambo i thought you would be up by now.

  2. I think it is a good round up. I do believe your bit about the lack of back up we have in the defensive region be it both CB and DM. We do need a signing. We need two signings. Arsenal’s quality is visible if we look at their players, and the team. But year in and year out we are undone by injury concerns. We need more players who we can count on.

  3. I agree with u but lets not forget luck becos 2 season ago we were toping 1 of a suden injuries came in which cost of another tropyles lets pray 4 luck on our side and 1 or 2 players coming in,i think will celebrate 2 tropyies out of 4

  4. Yes Andy we surely need that Defensive midfield signing. I don’t know if arsene wishes to take a gamble with wilshere.

    It’s known that Nasri,Rosicky,Arshavin,Fabregas and Walcott
    can give their best if they are fit

    Our chances totally relies on how Denilson,Song,Diaby ,Ramsey and Vermaelen can make an impact on their chances.

    Also hoping and wishing this season goes as a low percentage of injury season.

  5. We have injuries galore at the moment so I’m hoping that it scares Wenger a little bit into making the signings we NEED. Hopefully. 🙂

  6. Andy great preview, i believe the team we have is capable of lifting the title and challenge for the CL.
    My main worry is with injuries, a day before the big day we already have six players on the injury list, though some of them are minor i’m still worried.
    If our boys stay fit them we’ll be celebrating come season end.
    I’m a Gooner for life!

  7. Like many I think this will be the defining year for the gunners for many reasons. We need a number of these young players to go to the next level if we want to compete with the likes of MU, Liverpool and Chelsea they seem to be a couple of paces ahead of us and we need to change this. I also believe that we stand to lose more than ever before. If we don’t challenge for the league then I would imagine that players like Cesc, Arshavin and Van Persie will look to persue their trade elsewhere next season. It’s no longer good enough to be happy with qualifying for the CL we need to be challenging to win the EPL. If Wenger has everything in place then I see us top of the tree, but if it all turns bad then I see this year as one of the most important in the clubs history. I hope Wenger has it all worked out.

  8. Great post Andy, agreed with most of your points but we need a new spine imo.

    We need a
    1. Goalkeeper – after last season i have zero faith in Fabianski. If Munia gets a long term injury, we are doomed.
    2. CD – JD is already injured, if either Gallas or Vermy get injured on Saturday we will have to rely on Silvestre. ‘nuf said.
    3. DM – i rate both Denilson and Song highly but i dont think they are ready for regular first team action yet. They need someone to learn from.

    Im certain that if we make those 3 signings, we will be unstopable.

  9. @ Tom14 – All pre-season Song has been the pivot and Denilson has played further forward. I can’t see that changing unless Song gets injured and we don’t have extra cover.

  10. Nice preview. I feel u 4got 2 mention the potential impact of Ramsey and Wilshere. I believe these two young players might suprise us coming from the bench

  11. Fabianski is absolutely fine as a reserve keeper. Look at most of the other clubs in the premiership and you’ll see that the GK position is heavily reliant on one player backed up by a complete unknown. The fact Fabianski gets a good run out now and again is encouraging, he should be improving and learning along the way.

    Center back I am not so confident. Djourou is injured, Vermaelen has just come back from injury and not had a pre-season, Gallas is injury prone, it’s all a bit sad in that department.

    I’m a little disappointed that Wenger didn’t strengthen with one or two key signings before the start of the season. If we wait until deadline day to strengthen we might have already lost to a couple of our rivals and been dumped out of the champions league. Worst case scenario, but still possible.

  12. @ Andy – that is not true. Song even played as the out-an-out attacking midfielder. Every time Denilson plays he is the number one defensive midfielder.

  13. Great Post Andy.
    I Think we need a Defensive MidFielder and one Central Back to save ask cover for Gallas or vamaeleen should injuries set in

  14. Doesn’t Vieira seem like the perfect solution? Won’t play every game, gives the club a huge lift, doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t hinder the progress of Song – Probably makes him better. As a short term squad addition and a last hurrah, it makes so much sense. Which is why it surely won’t happen!

    A centre back is also important but I think Arsene is thinking of getting in a younger player who won’t expect to start every game; he already has a first choice partnership so someone like Hangeland will probably not be arriving. In fact, Song could be cover there if we signed a DM.

  15. brave prediction, I’m no specialist in football, my ‘feelings’ are, that Bendtner seems to be sometimes a bit unfocused and therefore reacts too slow, I sometimes had this impression, then, injuries will always come, it’s the unpredictable factor, therefore for me it’s brave to say we will win the title or the cl, you can never know that, so I’m the type who never looks foreward too much, I’m looking foreward for tomorrow, I’m curious about the development, I hope they settle near the first place and will fight next year for the title and the cl-final, you can’t take it for natural, it is always hard work and a bit of luck, I think, there are many teams who want to do so………… just my thoughts but makes always fun to read your predictions and calculations

  16. The new first team squad, according to Arsenal. com, is as follows…








    van Persie

    That is very much comparable with ANY other team in the league in my opinion.

  17. Tomorrow is when everyone will hold their breath…and pray. We are good enough if we stay injury free and everyone knows it. They are all scared of the football we play and of Arshavin’s Maradona-like talents. Yes, we do need two signings but do we honestly think that it will happen? De ja vu of seasons past I’m AFRAID. Hangeland would have been ideal as the kick-ass CH needed and maybe even Scott Parker (who would have been cheap as chips) could have done a biting role in midfield. Here’s to a 3-0 win on Saturday.

  18. Can’t Disagree with SF. We always had the quality but the number was less. If one gets injured the replacement was never up to the mark of EPL. This season 3rd place will be an fight lets hope we are in the top four team. Realistically this team is not an championship winning team we lack the depth in the squad. Still missing the Defensive midfielder which all the arsenal fans wants.


  20. I think we are stronger as a team this season especially in attacking positions. We have Arshavin and Eduardo who are like 2 new signings. Walcott, Vela, Nasri, Diaby, Bendtner, Denilson and Song would all have improved from last season. And we might even have Rosicky playing a few matches! Fabregas had his poorest season in an Arsenal shirt last time around and he should be better as well.

    Defensively, things are not so clear; if we make one more acquisition there – CB or DM – depending on where Song is chosen to play, we should have a fair shot at winning the title.

    Why? Our opponents have regressed – Man Utd will not win so many matches against the “weaker” teams without master bully Ronaldo. Chelsea will sorely miss Essien and Drogba in the ANC and their older team is likely to carry more injuries. Liverpool will be strong next season, if they retain Torres and Mascherano, but Lucas and Acquilani need one more season to replace Alonso. City will be competitors as well, but they will surely lack the consistency this season.

  21. again, too much optimistic round up. many of the comments have said some about the CB and DM; so repeating things won’t mean nothing unless u’re not ready to admit it.

    and we have forgot to talk about the back ups we have got in case of injury or, hope is disastrous when it’s too much!!

  22. Yes, i do believe with you all.And for the 4-3-3 formation,i feel that the quest for a defensive midfielder isn’t that preferential.I do believe that Wenger is quite good at bringing out the best from his boys; so a conversion of Eboue as a sub for Song wouldn’t be a bad trial if only we don’t let him go like others to Barca,etc.Wenger should give him a trial,he’s got the potential and that’s why others want him at blink.

  23. Every good afternoon to everyone. I have a feeling that the squad we have now is a very good one, but considering the task we have got to play in the start of the season, sincerely we need two more good signings. As the boys may wear out before the end of the season.

    Above all, the boys should try to avoid the wastage of opportunities created. Here I am especially referring to the chances wasted by our forwards Ade and Nick. If we can do these two things I believe the boys last the distance and will be crowned champions. “Arsenal, Arsenal, we are the champs.”

  24. With two quality signings added to the two areas seem lacking, I believe we can last the distance and shall be crowned. Success, success, success.

    I can confidently say we are winning tomorrow by more than two goal difference no matter what.

  25. I got annoyed this morning when a sport analyst was asked who he thinks will win the premiership and his reply was “with all due respect to arsenal fans, arsenal is definitely out of this. I think it wud be between chelsea nd liverpool cos man u will miss ronaldo but chelsea might win because they didn’t lose any of their key players”. But for me Arsenal rules and arsenal wins.

  26. It’s gunner be our year, no problem we have the players, manager and ability to win the lot.

    Come on you gunners!!!!!


  28. That’s a very good review of the the Arsenal. I couldn’t agree more with u on the issue of an extra DM. I think the Matuidi guy would be good enough a competitor for Song.

  29. @ 9ja Gunner – Thanks for the kind words. I don’t know enough about Matuidi to say whether or not he is good enough but if he was essentially Song Mark II then I would be quite happy to see him come into the squad.

  30. Guys, the team is good and too beautiful in play, but trust me all we lack is a mix of the beauty and the beast. We have the beauty in our play this season. AW, get us an ugly bully in front of the back 4 and trophies will for sure be in display at the Emirates come May 2010. Enjoy the game lads.

    Don in Kla-Uganda.

  31. @tom14, hav you seen somethin of denilson that no1 else has as everytime i read one of ur posts ur bigging the guy up when its blatantly obvious hes still nowhere near the finished article and is clearly second choice to the stronger, more aggressive song…thats not to say he hasnt got a great future ahead im just curious as to how you rate him so highly as a DM
    nice piece on the squad SF and great optimism, i hope you and all my fellow fans who share your opinion are proved correct…please god, although i must say i dont think we hav the squad or experienced heads to go the distance unless AW strengthens in next fortnight or in jan transfer window..still lookin forward to watchin our guys play the way only they can, big season ahead for wilshere and merida and gibbs, hope edu stays injury free and i have complete faith in bendtner the guy is one of our more commited players and iv been impresses with his desire and team spirit, if he can translate that into goals the guy can wear wotever boots and num jersey he wants
    hello icehammer u guys willin to give us parker yet??

  32. I agree its a great team on a go pitch and playing a team who want to play football.but middle of winter the pitch is substandard big physical teams will try to kick the hell out of our quality but small in stature players and another weakness is we all know is set play and aerial balls [corners] its a pity a shit team could with 1,2,3 corners a game beat you, ha but that’s football maybe you cant cover all bases.

  33. @tom14, i can’t comprehend how you have managed to rate Denilson so highly. I have watched him apply his skills and tallents on eight seperate occasions last season and my opinion of him is that of a fair player. Is he ment to be employed as a Makelele type player or is he more forward driving and creative like L Diarra. I myself am not sure but i do know these players are far superior to him. Arsenal don’t have enough strength in depth and i fear at some point in the season this FACT will stutter their progress. How are you doing Shambo, you looking forward to the big kickoff. You can have Scotty any time u like providing you let us have young Gibb, J Emmanuele Thomas who is off on loan to Shiefield, S Watt and R Murphy….plus a small amount of cash.

  34. Scott Parker is always my first signing when I reach the premiership on Football Manager. He’s great for a relegation dogfight, but not for a champions league winning run! How is Noble, icehammer? i.e is he fit enough for my dreamteam tomorrow!?

    One thing I can say about our squad is that I wouldn’t swap our midfield for Man Utd’s. Really hoping they capitulate this year.

  35. enemyairship
    Noble is the perfect world class player for your dreamteam. He is fit a rearing to go. Did you know he spent some time with the Arsenal Academy as a school boy before returning to the true home of football. He is now an established member for the England u21 and played very well during 2009 UEFA. He told me he is looking forward to Saturdays game against Wolves but unfortunately i cant get you any tickets for that great event as the match has been sold out for the past two weeks. Last but not least he has just extended his contract with the hammers and is not for sale…..except for the right price.

  36. It seems as if everyone has gone to bed in or to charge their batteries for Saturday’s battle. Good luck to you all and may your gods be with you. UP DE AMMERS!!!
    And heres to a massive 3 points. Im forever blowing bub…..

  37. Can we win the Prem? Unfortunately, realistically, the answer has to be no. We are not significantly stronger than we were last season and particularly, strangely, Arsene has chosen not to strengthen the defensive areas where we were most vulnerable. I think we’ll have some great moments over the season. I’m really looking forward to watching Arshavin, Eduardo, Walcott, Wilshire, Ramsey doing their stuff and hoping we’ll see some good things from Vermaelen and Gibbs (who looks like he may be yet another diamond polished by AW).
    I think we stand a chance in FA or Carling Cup.
    Some people are talking about injuries. ALL the teams have injuries. We’re no worse than anybody else from that perspective and can’t use that as an excuse any longer.
    Personally I think we’ll struggle for 4th this season – but fingers crossed – and Up The Arsenal!!

  38. I think AW should take a good long look at Sakho. He is tall and powerful, as well as fitting Arsene’s bill of being French African. I know he is young, but he is captain of one of the bigger clubs in France and I think he could be a huge improvement over Djourou and add depth.

  39. We’ve been consistent in the Champs League for sometime now….Why dont we think of winning that?
    We might have the stamina for the EPL, but it would depend a lot on our luck. I hope WENGER stops experimenting and gets decisive with his options, fielding players based on current form, instead of 1st Eleven status.
    @ICE – Ur comments are very decisive.
    @SHAMBO – Ur a realist, I love it when you are on the attack.
    @TOM14 – It seems u watch a different tv.

  40. @Spanish – This is the reason i’ve been reading ur blog. I like ur honest and painstaking writing and I guess my comments will be echoed by people viewing this from a neutral point of view as well.

    I’m rather disappointed by the lack of quality signings which tend to undermine our intent as a team and for the season.

    I hope this will be SONG’s year, the year he makes us forget all about FLAMINI.

    Still not talking?

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