The spectacular, brand-spanking new AFCB Writing Team provides their predictions for the upcoming season. Just don’t take Alan Dixon-Lawrenson’s too seriously…
Where will Arsenal finish in the league this season?
Andrew Weber: It very much depends on signings made before the end of transfer window. No higher than third is no-one is brought in, possible champions if a goalkeeper and fourth centre-back are added.
Daniel Brookes: I think third place is the best case scenario if we do not sign at least two new players before the summer’s out. Our defence has been weak for the past four or five season, and now it’s a ghost town, we need some new faces in there as any serious injury will leave us very short at the back.
Andrew Enloe: I’ll be optimistic and say champions. If you’re not stupidly optimistic about a few things then what’s the point of following a football team?
Fatema Farhat: On top of the table – need I say anymore?
Darragh Murray: Tough to say, the competition is definitely harder this season. My heart says first, but brain says 3rd or 4th. We still need another central defender and need to replace the goalkeeper.
N’jabred Yemi Jr: Optimism says 1st, reality says 2nd.
Alan Dixon-Lawrenson: Relegated. Unless they can somehow sign John Terry during the transfer window. If that happens, then they’ll finish first.
How far will they go in the UEFA Champions League?
AW: The Champions League is such a lottery times. Anything more than the quarter-finals would be a success.
DB: They’ll qualify from the group and make it to the quarter finals where they’ll be knocked out by another English team. Woe.
AE: I can see an appearance in the final.
FF: We will win that as well. Yes, I’m a dreamer.
DM: Trying to be realistic – Quarter finals. I hope I’m surprised.
NYJ: Quarter-finals at least.
ADL: Look, I’ve always said that you don’t win things with kids. Thus I think Arsenal won’t do that well.
Can Cesc Fabregas improve on his performances of last season?
AW: It’s unlikely he will have a better season numbers-wise than last time around. His experience, leadership and general impact will still be huge though, and could push the rest of the team as far as they need to go to win the title.
DB: Cesc has made the most assists in the top five leagues in Europe over the past five years. I would be happy if he simply maintained his consistency! The only way he can get better is to stay fit for the entire season, and here’s hoping he does just that.
AE: Cesc’s professionalism and consistency won’t falter. His goal count, however, depends on if Wenger decides to play Nasri or Denilson in the remaining midfield spot.
FF: Totally, he will spread that winning feeling amongst his team mates and lead by example.
DM: I think Cesc is a player of great integrity. He understand that playing well for Arsenal means getting more starts for Spain.
NYJ: Definitely, but it’s quite hard to improve on 19 goals and 19 assists as a midfielder.
ADL: Only if he signs for Barcelona.
Which player do you think will surprise everybody this season?
AW: Last season I expected Johan Djourou to have a breakthrough season only to see his chances ruined by injury. If he can avoid the same problems then I expect him to be a nailed-on starter next to Thomas Vermaelen, rather than new signing Koscielny.
DB: I’m going to ignore the billions of promising under-20s and say Nasri. He showed moments of jaw-dropping class last year but lacked the consistency to dazzle us as fans. I think he’ll pull out all the stops this year and have a sort of ‘Alex Hleb’s final season’ season, only hopefully without the leaving part.
AE: I expect a big season from Andrey Arshavin. The surprise of the pre-season for me has been his workrate — at least compared with last season — and I think that will carry over.
FF: I will say Diaby.
DM: I think Walcott, if he can avoid injury, might come into his own this season. Also Nasri looked sharp in pre-season.
ADL: Almunia. He will surprise everyone by replacing Robin Van Persie during injury time at Old Trafford, and scoring via a scorpion kick. Top corner.
Should Arsene Wenger prioritise the FA Cup more highly this season after five seasons without a trophy?
AW: It all depends on injuries. If we have players available then we should definitely try a little harder win it.
DB: I think he should take it more seriously, if only to make sure that we don’t get humiliated by either our rivals or lesser teams in the competition. It’s still a massive competition in England, I would love to see us win it.
AE: He probably should, but he won’t. Depends on injuries.
FF: No, the youngsters do well and I personally want the other major trophies.
DM: Definitely. Lots of competition for this cup now. City, Spurs and Everton will be pushing hard for silverware as well.
NYJ: Yes. It’s high time.
ADL: The FA Cup is the pinnacle of English football. I actually think we should ban Arsenal from competing until they sign more English players.
Who would you play in goals if no goalkeeper is signed before the window closes?
AW: Wojciech Szczęsny has earned his opportunity to play after a great loan season at Brentford. He appears stronger, calmer and more confident than the other options despite his age.
DB: This question gives me all sorts of existential nightmares and brings me out in a cold sweat at night. I think at the end of the day it has to be Almunia, purely because he makes slightly fewer gaffs-per-minute than Fabianski. I’d send Fabianski and Mannone out on loan (perhaps for the next three or four years) and stick Sczeznenz… the Polish dude as our number two.
AE: Eesh. Almunia.
DM: Almunia is still the best option we have. Fabianski is not up to it.
NYJ: Almunia of course!
ADL: I think the era of player-manager should be revived and Arsene take on the burden of goalkeeping. Hey, Arsenal can do no worse than Fabianski.
Theo Walcott’s season appears to be a bit make-or-break, which way do you think it will go?
AW: I think he will probably do enough to have us answering the same question next season. He’ll have moments of real impact but will probably still let himself down with his decision-making.
DB: He’s going to tear it up this year, if he stays fit he’ll be absolutely brilliant, put your house on it!
AE: He’ll have a better season. He’s had a summer off and if he avoids the injuries then he’ll get his confidence back.
FF: He’s had the reality check. Has a lot to prove. He will shine.
DM: If he can avoid injury, he’ll do well.
NYJ: Very well but not extraordinary, spurred on by missing the World Cup.
ADL: He is English and therefore he will always do well.
What about Arsenal’s biggest new name – Marouane Chamakh – how will he fit in?
AW: Chamakh is set for a huge year. He appears to have the right attitude and his aerial ability, workrate and durability will make him a vital player for us this season.
DB: At the moment I am going to assume that he is like a good version of Nick Bendtner, and therefore he’ll do the unthinkable with all the chances our midfield assist machine provides for him – convert them. I reckon he’ll have a successful first season and reach double figures easily!
AE: I mainly see him as a substitute for Van Persie, though if Wenger can use Bendtner on the right then I can see Chamakh used in a fluid 4-3-3 on the right or something.
FF: He will compliment van Persie extremely well. I’m a fan already.
DM: I think he will be good. We need a big guy to bully the other team, hold the ball up and feed the likes of Arshavin, Cesc and Van Persie.
NYJ: Perfectly. I see him putting a lot of effort and adding some goals.
ADL: Chamakh will fit like a square peg in a round hole. Wenger will be undone by his pursuit of bargain signings. He should have signed Emile Heskey instead.
Who do you think will finish as top goalscorer?
AW: If Robin van Persie doesn’t top the scorers we will really struggle to win the league.
DB: RvP – He had a dry spell in the world cup and he should be desperate to get amongst the goals again. If we can keep feeding the beast, he’ll keep turning on a sixpence and smashing them in.
AE: Arshavin. He knows he had a poor season last time out and has a point to prove.
FF: Van Persie, as long as he stays fit.
DM: Van Persie.
NYJ: Robin Van Persie.
ADL: One of either Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs or Theo Walcott.
What do you think? Let us know your answers by leaving a comment.