Welcome back to my
new blog on Gunners Town. Into the second week of it, and I’m already a day
late. I have good reasons for it though and will hopefully make it up to you
with today’s piece. You should be thanking me by the end of reading this as
this (practically) contains no transfer gossip nonsense.
My word it is no wonder as to why they call it silly season.
Every day that passes you see new rumours sprout up on Twitter, #ITKs giving
their trustworthy word that a deal is done, and before you know it, the ‘deal
of the window’ has already been put to bed before it has even had time to get
up and do its teeth.
People may be moaning about the amount of Royal Baby news that
is clogging up your timeline, but I for one welcome this as it at least
distracts me from the utter frustration, pettiness and negative atmosphere
surrounding Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and transfers. I for one would like to
congratulate Will and K Middy on the offspring and have been told by sources
close to the couple that they are seriously consider naming the boy ‘Dennis’
but that they are open to other offers. See what I did there, bore off #ITK
with your ‘exclusives’ and ‘reliable contacts’.
Anyway, on with today’s blog, and with all the transfer
drivel slipping out of peoples’ mouths left, right and centre, we’ve almost
forgot that our beloved Arsenal are back in action! It’s nice to have positive,
constructive conversations with Gooners on my Twitter timeline about the team
in action, rather than about players who some are begging for the club to sign
despite never having heard of them. Honestly, how many sudden experts on
Bernard have come out of nowhere I do not know.
Fans are looking so far ahead that they cannot see what is
right in front of them now, they cannot see the talent that we have, not only
in the senior team, but also coming through in the youth ranks. Some of this
talent has been revealed in parts during our 2013 Asia tour, and with that in
mind, here are my five players to watch heading into the new season.
Gunners Town Top 5: Players to watch at the start of the season for Arsenal
5. Gedion Zelalem
I, and other Gooners on the internet, are running out of
superlatives to place upon this geniuses’ head. But to keep it simple, if you
watch this 16-year-old German then you will understand the hype.
The kid is unreal. He is just 16, 16! He should be in school
dossing about at lunchtimes while refusing to attend catch-up classes because
he missed that mock exam in biology, but instead he is playing passes that
nobody could dream of finding. He has eyes in the back of his head and he
hasn’t even hit adulthood yet.
Zelalem operates in the middle of the park, a mobile figure
who pulls the strings and this talent has on show caused Gooners to wet their
pants on the summer tour. He was outstanding against Nagoya Grampus on Monday,
obtaining a brilliant assist for Theo Walcott’s goal, while he also pulled off
the pass of the match to send Chuba Akpom through on goal.
A lot are labelling Zelalem as being better than Jack
Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas when they were 16, but let’s not put too much
pressure on this young man’s shoulders just yet. I can’t see that he will be a
regular for the upcoming campaign, but I expect him to at least get a sniff of
the action. We have enough talent in centre as it is at the moment, so if he
can get a foot in the door, that will prove that this kid is the real deal.
4. Bacary Sagna
I won’t bore you with explaining the background of Bacary
Sagna, you all know the deal with him. He’s been brilliant for years, had a
shocker for much of last season, is starting to be pushed by Carl Jenkinson, is
in the final year of his contract but seems to be staying at the Emirates.
I literally have no idea as to whether he will sign a new
deal or not, but I still believe that the Frenchman will be crucial this year.
Firstly as a guidance for Jenkinson, and also Hector Bellerin who will battle
it out for the right-back berth for years to come. His experience will be
priceless for them, and having played in Premier League, Champions League and
on the international stage, Sagna has a lot to offer the younger players in the
Secondly, Sagna has been getting a go at centre-back in
recent weeks, and this spell could determine whether or not Wenger goes out to
buy a new man in the middle. Thomas Vermaelen is out for a few months, Laurent
Koscielny could be crocked for a while, as could left-back Nacho Monreal and
Sagna may be called upon to fill in for all of those players. Bac was fantastic
when forced into the middle against Sunderland last season, and has the pace,
power and strength in the air to be a success at centre-back.
Despite being in the final year of his contract, he seems
more determined than ever to prove a point to his doubters, and I think he will
be a leader for us this year.
3. Aaron Ramsey
Long story short; Rambo’s recovery has been excellent. He’s
gone from promising talent, to being crocked by a career-threatening injury, to
being a victim of the boo boys, to being an integral part of the team.
The Welshman’s gritty determination and evident passion has
made him a new hero among the Gooner faithful and this was recognised when he
picked up a player of the month award towards the end of the last campaign.
Ramsey’s good form has continued in pre-season, with his
attacking prowess wowing the fans of the Far East along with his flair, defensive
commitment and leadership. Despite the competition already in the squad, not to
mention the possibility of more players being added during the current window,
Ramsey deserves to be lining up against Aston Villa at the Emirates come August
17. Regardless on my view, he will do all he can to prove that he is worthy of
being a starter and could definitely be a key man for us this year.
2. Serge Gnabry
We had a brilliant
piece on the site from Chris Mader last week, who told you all you need to
know about the young Serge Gnabry. He is a special talent, has fierce pace and
lightning trickery that will terrify full-backs for years to come.
However, with Gervinho seemingly out the door, Theo Walcott
and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain likely to end up central, and Ryo Miyaichi in and
out with injury, Gnabry could end up playing a big role in North London this
Rumours suggest that Wenger could be about to bring in
Bernard from Atletico Miniero for £21m or so, but even if that didn’t happen, I
could see Gnabry getting a run in the team.
He is playing rather a lot in pre-season, as you would
expect, and it will be interesting to see how much involvement he has towards
the start of the campaign. Should he earn a spot on the bench, don’t be
surprised if he is used as an impact substitute late in the game how Walcott
was used a few years back. In fact, I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen.
1. Olivier Giroud
Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuian, Luis Suarez. The list is
longer, but while we’re frequently being linked with a new star centre-forward,
our current man up top is banging them in for fun.
Olivier Giroud hasn’t had an easy ride since joining from
Montpellier last summer. Despite finishing as the Ligue 1 top scorer and
winning his side the title, Giroud was always going to be find it difficult to
follow in the shadow of Robin van Persie upon moving to the Emirates.
All in all, Giroud had a good debut campaign with the
Gunners. It took him a while to get going, but 17 goals and 10 assists (might
be more) is a pretty good return if you ask me. Not to mention the panic that
flew around the red half of North London when it was revealed that his suspension
would not be overturned.
He may only be playing against minnows, but Giroud has
scored six times in just three games for Arsenal over the summer, and it’s not
like he has even been playing full matches. He looks razor sharp in both the
air and with the ball at his feet, and his hold-up play to bring others into
the action is superb. As you can tell, I’m a fan, and I think that having got a
season under his belt, he will shine this year. I expect a new striker to join
him, but Giroud is going to be a tough cookie to wrestle a starting place from.
Do you agree? Who do you want to see getting a
chance at Arsenal next season?
Let me know by Tweeting me or leaving a comment at
the bottom of the page.
Thanks for reading, and never forget that you’re a