So at last the first game of the season is upon us, and at least Arsenal have the benefit of playing at home where we rarely lose. Obviously fitness and injuries are always an issue in the early stages of every season, but it is the same for everybody and Wenger usually gets his preparation spot-on.
As Wenger said: “I’m very happy with the way we have prepared,”
“I felt the quality of preparation was there, the focus was there, the team spirit is there and the way we want to play football is shared by everybody.
“The players nowadays come back very fit compared to 15 years ago. There are no overweight people, the prevention, the work rate and rest is there. Their fitness level is quite good when they come back.
“They benefit from the fact that we finished well last season so the confidence is high. Some players also had a good experience at the Euros so their confidence level is quite high.
“It was a very positive [pre-season] overall, but now we want to transform all that work into points and that is a reality on Sunday that we have to catch straight away.
“We are full of hope, full of ambition and we are very focused to start well. We have a very intense game straight away with Liverpool, these games are always very unpredictable. We try to prepare well to be ready.”
So, although we will be without Ozil, Giroud, Koscielny and Mertesacker, the players that will be on the pitch have been training and playing together for the last month, except for Sanchez, but we know he will hit the ground running anyway!
I am expecting Holding and Chambers to take centre-back duties, but I also expect them to have extra protection from the debutante Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelinto tryand keepthe pressure off. Monreal and Bellerin will continue on the flanks. I’m wondering if Cazorla or Ramsey will take the Ozil role, but I’m going for the Spaniard – with Ramsey on one wing and Sanchez on the other. Wenger is desperate for Walcott’s confidence to return soI think he will be thecentre-forward.
So here is my line-up prediction, although I know Wenger will probably mix and match during the game (well with 20 minutesto go anyway!)
Cech; Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla, Xhaka; Ramsey; Sanchez; Walcott
It is not anywhere near our strongest team, but I expect our focus to be on protecting the young defenders, and going for our trademark breakaway goals.
A conservative 2-1 to the Arsenal
What do you think of this team to start the season?