Arsenal: Wenger's starting XI for 2012/13
The new Premier League season is almost upon us and one man in particular has been particularly busy by his standards in the transfer window. Arsene Wenger has attracted three top class internationals in Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski to Arsenal, with a loan move for Nuri Sahan in the pipeline, but the Frenchman is on the verge of losing his captain Robin Van Persie.
The Gunners suffered an embarrassing start to last season's campaign before Wenger snapped up Mikel Arteta and German defender Per Mertesacker as the curtain came down on the transfer window. They will want to get this campaign off to a flyer.
With internationals throughout the squad the burning question today is: What will be Wenger's ideal starting XI?
In goal it has to Sczcesny. He may have made a few gaffes last season and his performance in the Euros were hardly inspired, but the Polish shot stopper has a great future ahead of him. He's confident and brave and will only get better with time.
The centre backs are Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny. Vermaelen looks to have overcome his injury concerns and is a class act defensively and offensively, while Koscielny has become a firm fans' favourite following a sticky start to life in England. The back four will definitely improve with the arrival of Steve Bould as Wenger's number two.
The left back berth has to go to Kieran Gibbs. The young Englishman is now 22 and played in as many games last season, scoring twice. He has the pace and drive to get down the flank and has more positional sense than his rival Santos.
At right back it has to be Bacary Sagna. The Frenchman has been at the club for the past five seasons and is a seasoned pro. Currently out after suffering a broken leg against Norwich at home, Wenger faces a real dilemma filling his place for the opener against Sunderland. Would you put your faith in Carl Jenkinson?
Arsenal's holding midfielder is Alex Song. The 24-year-old was a key player for Arsenal last season and struck up a great understanding with RVP. Song can break up and dictate play. With Barcelona sniffing around, Wenger will be desperate to keep hold of Song.
On the left of a three man midfield will be one of the new signings, Santi Cazorla. Technically gifted, Cazorla is a versatile attacking midfielder who will complement Arsenal's style down to a tee. Having featured for Spain in Euro 2008 and 2012, Cazorla will bring a touch of flair to the Emirates.
On the opposite side will be his fellow countryman Mikel Arteta. The former Everton man helped steady the ship last season and is a class act on the ball. Arteta can ghost past players, unlock the meanest defences but most importantly looks after the ball. You can count the number of loose balls he plays on one hand.
On the left of a three pronged attack will be the German international Lukas Podolski. The 27-year-old seems to have been around for years but he is only now entering the prime of his career. Left footed, Podolski will give Arsenal's attack some real balance and his driving runs and poaching instincts will concern the opposition.
On the right hand side I have to go with Theo Walcott. He may be the most frustrating player ever to have pulled on an Arsenal shirt but on his day he can be lethal. If Walcott can show some consistency then he could be a world beater. His performance against Sweden in the Euros would have lifted his confidence. Hopefully he will have learned something from the finals.
Now here is the biggest dilemma. Do I stick with RVP up front, knowing that there is a real risk that he may leave or do I plump for the French sensation Oliver Giroud? RVP has been there, seen it, done it. Without him it's debatable whether the Arsenal would be playing in the Champions League this season. But with the Dutchman refusing to sign a new contract can he be trusted to give his all for the team? Knowing RVP he probably would, but there's always that nagging doubt in my mind.
Giroud of course is untested in the Premier League, just like Cazorla and Podolski, but he is a French international and looks as though he could be the next big thing in the Premier League. But then some people said that about Chamakh and look how good he has been.
If RVP stays and commits his future to the Arsenal then he has to be the first name on the team sheet and as he is still an Arsenal player, until further notice, I have to go with him. But I know for a fact that Giroud hasn't come to keep the bench warm.
Young Jack Wilshere would force his way into this team but it remains to be seen when he will actually see the youngster in action again.
The subs bench would consist of Santos, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho and Giroud.
Well that's my opinion. You probably don't agree with it, but if that is the case then please let me know who would be in your starting XI and why. We'd love to hear from you.
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