Arsenal to claim third

Following the departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas last summer transfer window, the news that club Captain Robin Van Persie was to leave the Emirates came as no real surprise; however his destination angered most Arsenal fans. However this season Arsene Wenger has dived into the market impressively, and more importantly early, with the additions of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, before pulling off arguably the biggest transfer coup of the summer with the arrival of the classy Santi Cazorla from troubled Malaga.

Twice Arsenal turned their season around impressively (Losing four of their opening seven as well as a poor run in January) and only a minor hiccup towards the end of the season meant they needed victory on the final day of the season to secure the all important third spot, which they duly did away to West Brom. Wenger’s current squad seems to have more mental strength about it, after previously bottling it in either a title race or in a cup final, and instead of being caught, found themselves successfully hunting down their target last season as they ended the season well to overhaul Spurs.

Their starting XI is as good as any in the Barclays Premier League, however following injuries to first choice full-backs Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs last season, their full back alternatives are incredibly weak. The same goes for the centre half position as in reality neither Sebastian Squillaci nor Johan Djourou are good enough.

It’s a huge first season for Giroud and despite being a different player to Van Persie, will be expected to score the goals. He and his former club Montpellier stunned Ligue 1 last season; however the Premier League is of a much stronger standard, so Gunners fans will be hoping he has more of the Thierry Henry about him then the Park Chu-Young.

Key player(s) – Arsenal have always been brilliant going forward, but for me keeping their centre half duo of Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen fit is a real must. Together they form a brilliant partnership, with the latter’s goal threat a brilliant bonus.

Verdict – 3rd Whether they’ll have the strength in depth to challenge for the title is another thing; however I do expect them to finish ahead of their London rivals in claiming another Champions League spot.

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