COMMENTARY | With the 2013-2014 Barclays Premier League season set to begin in just a few weeks, Arsenal is preparing for another season at The Emirates.
While every player on the squad is important to the team, there seems to be three players that need to have excellent seasons if the Gunners want to contend for trophies. The following list of players is also assuming Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, will not make any major signings during this summer's transfer market (although I still believe he will, at some point. Anytime you're ready Mr. Wenger).
Olivier Giroud - Giroud's inclusion in this list is because Arsenal has not yet bought a proven, prolific striker (Yaya Sanogo does not count). The French striker started last season slow with Arsenal as it took Giroud 7 matches to find the back of the net. While some fans were quick to write off Giroud, he did end up scoring 17 total goals for the Gunners (and also added 10 assists). The lanky striker has an outstanding first touch, and he scores most of his goals without running with the ball at his feet.
Giroud cannot create too many scoring chances on his own and needs his teammates to help out in this department. If Wenger does not buy a top-of-the-line striker before the summer transfer window slams shut, Giroud will have to be a massive goal-scorer for the Gunners. The French striker has gotten off to a solid start this preseason with six goals in the five matches against select teams from Asia.
Jack Wilshere - Wilshere oozes talent, but he has a rough history with staying healthy. He is also a very important piece of the puzzle for the Gunners. When Wilshere was on the pitch for the Gunners last season, Arsenal won 60% of its Premier League matches. When Wilshere sat out because of injury, the Gunners managed to win only 46% of their Premier League matches. The 21-year-old England international may not score many goals for the Gunners, but that's not his job at the moment.
Wilshere is fantastic at tackling and also creating scoring chances for his teammates. The hard-nosed midfielder is fearless on the pitch, and he seems to be a "Gooner" through and through. Any chance for an Arsenal triumph this season could very well fall right on Wilshere's shoulders.
Wojciech Szczesny - The 6-foot-5-inch Poland international is a bit of an enigma. While he shows weaknesses during some matches (three goals at home to Newcastle, and two goals to Brighton this past season), Szczesny did finish the 2012-2013 Premier League season on a strong note. After being benched for fellow Pole, Lukasz Fabianski, Szczesny kept four clean sheets in the final six Premier League games to help Arsenal reach the Champions League for the upcoming season.
When comparing Szczesny to other top four Premier League finishing goalkeepers (David De Gea, Petr Cech, and Joe Hart), his goals allowed per Premier League game is comparable to the others (at .96 goals a game).
Most Arsenal fans assume Arsene Wenger will buy another keeper to give Szczesny some healthy competition (or even take over the starting spot in goal), but, if not, Szczesny's play will be vital for Arsenal's trophy challenge for the upcoming season.
Christopher Moore has been following Arsenal Football Club for over 10 years.
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- Olivier Giroud
- Arsene Wenger
- Barclays Premier League
- Wojciech Szczesny