Season Preview: Arsenal

Neal Thurman
Stag looks at the current FPL trends and addresses "The Ake problem". He also examines the best captaincy options ahead of Gameweek 21

Ins and Outs

In – Yaya Sanogo

Out – Andrey Arshavin Denilson, Sebastien Squillaci, Vito Mannone, Andre Santos (Chamakh? Gervinho?)

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What to Expect This Season

The answer to this question is very much still up in the air. Arsenal ended last season in great form and they haven’t lost any players who contributed significantly to that form. Barring additional transfers in, the best case scenario would go as follows:

  • Podolski is somewhat better after recovering from his ankle issue; (he has looked about the same as last year in pre-season)

  • Giroud is better after a sizzling pre-season and additional time to adapt to the new league; (he's been exceptional so far)

  • Wilshere contributes for an entire season and continues to grow into the player everyone expects him to become; (not great so far)

  • Szczesny gets a bit better as he gains more experience; (he's been solid but the real tests here will come later in the season)

  • Walcott gets slightly better with his final product (shooting, crossing, incisive passes); (Walcott seems to have taken another step forward)

  • Ramsey gets back on track and starts to become the player he was predicted to be; and (the early returns are good here too)

  • Everybody else is relatively healthy and performs as expected. (the defense currently has little depth with Vermaelen and Monreal injured)

None of the individual outcomes above are unreasonable. What is probably unlikely is that they will all happen – especially the last one. If they DO happen then Arsenal can challenge Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City for the top three spots. If it doesn’t all come together then Arsenal’s fate will look very different – likely a dogfight with Spurs, Liverpool and maybe Swansea for the final Champions League place and the Europa League places.

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Players to Watch

Jack Wilshere – If he can make the same leap that Cesc Fabregas made – adding goals and assists to strong overall midfield play – he’ll be an exceptional bargain for fantasy managers.

Aaron Ramsey - If Wilshere continues to struggle to stay healthy (or his development hits a plateau) then Ramsey seems poised to resume his own ascent at potentially bargain prices.

Santi Cazorla - In this case, the thing to "watch" is fantasy regression. Caz was a great bargain last season as a new player to the league but with Ramsey and Wilshere both vying for time down the middle - also Cazorla's most effective position - Cazorla may suffer from playing in a less-than-ideal spot as well as being more expensive.

Predicted Finish

Fourth – But that could change dramatically depending on what happens with the final days of the transfer market between Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and the efforts of Spurs and Liverpool to replace those players should they indeed leave.