With the season now incoming fast, we thought we’d take a look at a few predictions for the season ahead…

Arsenal kick off the new Premier League season on Friday night against Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners have traditionally made slow starts to the season in recent campaigns, however, will be optimistic going into Friday’s game.

Here are my predictions on how Arsenal will get on this season:


Where will Arsenal finish in the league?

Looking at how Arsenal fared in the Community Shield against Chelsea on Sunday, fans should be fairly optimistic going into the season – but it could just be another case of deja vu.

In terms of squad depth and quality in the first XI, Arsenal have a squad right up there with the very best. The questions will come during February time whether they can grind out results and maintain momentum.

I don’t expect Arsenal to win the league, Manchester City will in my opinion, but a return the top four is a must and is certainly doable.

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While I think Manchester City are clear favourites, the rest of the pack do have some flaws. How will Spurs handle playing at Wembley? Chelsea’s lack of squad depth and disharmony. It’s hard to predict but I am going to tip Arsenal to finish third.

Of course, more business could be done by teams in the next few weeks which could change my viewpoint.

Prediction: Third


Top goalscorer?

The two likely candidates for this are Alexis Sanchez or Alexandre Lacazette. If the latter hits the ground running then he will be Arsenal’s top goalscorer this season in my opinion.

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Sanchez carried Arsenal last season in terms of goals and assists, however, I think Lacazette will be Arsenal’s main man this time around and I reckon he will be in contention for the golden boot with the likes of Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku considering the amount of chances the likes of Mesut Ozil and co create.

Prediction: Alexandre Lacazette


Key player?

There’s no denying Arsenal’s quality going forward, however, all teams who have aspirations of winning the Premier League must be solid at the back. The fitness of Laurent Koscielny is crucial to Arsenal’s success this season.

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Despite this, I feel Arsenal can cope without Koscielny for parts of the season, as seen in the Community Shield on Sunday.

While he initially struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, and the role he was put in, since Wenger’s change in tactics to a 3-4-3 formation in the final third of last season, Granit Xhaka has improved significantly and has been crucial to Arsenal’s impressive recent from – both offensively and defensively. His passing range is exquisite and the defensive side of his game is continually improving.

I could have gone for an obvious choice, Sanchez or Lacazette are obviously key players, outstanding individuals, but to keep the team ticking going forward and solid at the back then Xhaka will be key this season.

Prediction: Granit Xhaka


ONE YOUNGSTER TO WATCH?

17-year-old Reiss Nelson impressed everyone during pre-season. He was one of the shining lights in Arsenal’s heavy defeat to Chelsea in China and performed well against Benfica in the Emirates Cup.

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Nelson offers a unique, special talent to the Arsenal ranks and is certainly one to watch. Whether he can break into the first-team and take part in the Premier League this season remains to be seen though.

Prediction: Reiss Nelson


Who needs to step up?

For Arsenal to win the Premier League title this season, many players need to step up. We saw with Chelsea and Leicester City before that, there were no weak links and every player played to their maximum.

Mesut Ozil is the most gifted playmaker in the Premier League. His vision and technique is unrivalled and for Arsenal to succeed this season then they need Ozil at his best again.

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Whether it’s in big games, or when Arsenal go away from home on a Tuesday night in February, they need the likes of Ozil to step up and push Arsenal over the line.

Prediction: Mesut Ozil


Strongest XI?

I expect Wenger to maintain the 3-4-3 system which has worked so well in recent weeks. With everyone fit, Arsenal’s strongest XI is…

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Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Kolasniac, Xhaka, Ramsey; Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez.

Read more from Connor McDonagh