With the Emirates Cup now taken care of, and only a trip to Poland between now and the start of the Premier League season, the Arsenal squad is starting to take shape. Of course you’ve got the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen, three players who will need to be at the peak of their powers if the Gunners are to mount a serious assault on the major honors this season, but I want to focus on those who will be trying to establish themselves in the squad for that opening trip to Anfield.
The obvious place to start is with the two marquee summer signings. Chamakh and Koscielny were both hugely impressive against Milan on Saturday, but it was the Moroccan who was the talk of the stadium by the time we played Celtic on Sunday. Most people will be talking about his first half goal, but what impressed me more was his ability to hold onto the ball.
Aided by an, at times, sublime first touch he showed the strength and intelligence to protect the ball, giving midfielders and wingers time to catch up with play. He could prove an invaluable weapon at times when we’re under pressure
I’m just going to stop for a moment to point out that I’m aware I’m getting way ahead of myself here, but what fun is football without blind optimism. Anyway, now I want to talk a little bit about Arsenal’s latest batch of world beating superstar youngsters.
Whilst Chamakh and Koscielny were making the right impression in their first appearances at the Emirates, Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong were busy reminding the fans of their limitless potential. You’d think, after his experience at Bolton last season, that Wilshere is the more likely of the two to break into the first team, but then when you consider the options after Song for defensive midfield you can also see a way in for Frimpong.
If performances in pre-season are anything to go by, then I wouldn’t be too concerned about either of them lining up against most Premiership sides.
Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Kieran Gibbs have also been given minutes in the pre-season friendlies and the former could be involved more in the coming season. By the way, do you recognize a pattern emerging? A most un-Arsenal like pattern? Wilshere, Gibbs, and Emmnauel Thomas are all English. I’ve always thought this criticism of Wenger for buying too many foreign players was a nonsense.
If English players are good enough they will be given a chance (Eastmond also had games in the first team last season), and we could very well see an English core emerge in the next couple of seasons.
So back to my original point and the matter of next weeks trip to Liverpool. With Wenger saying on the official site that Fabianski will be given part of today’s game to prove he can be the number 1 it is looking highly unlikely that we will be signing a new goalkeeper. There are decisions to be made in defense as well.
Will Wenger start with Gibbs, who has started the majority of the pre-season games, or mark a return to normalcy and play Clichy? The other grey area is surrounding who will partner Thomas Vermaelen at center back. The smart money’s on Koscielny but that could all change after today’s match.
The midfield is where things start to get a bit messy. Song, Denilson, Diaby and Fabregas haven’t featured in any of the friendlies so far so it’s unclear which players are ready. That said you can expect Fabregas to start and I’d like to see him alongside Samir Nasri.
The Frenchman has been the star performer in pre season and seems to be a natural fit for that spot. It would be a big ask for Chamakh to make his Premier League debut at Anfield so expect to see Arshavin, Robin Van Persie and one of Rosicky or Walcott in the forward three.
I admit I could be way off with some of that, so feel free to come back next week and ridicule if the lineup is drastically different.