Aug 152009

Very short of time this morning so I’ll be very brief – suffice to say I’m over-excited today. The talking is over, the excessive analysis of strengths and weaknesses is done, and the usual wild media predictions have been made (and guess what – half of them are tipping Liverpool for the title, as they do every year).

It is time for the real thing to start. Oh yes.

We are beginning our campaign with a few injuries – Nasri and Rosicky we already know about, but Diaby, Djourou and Walcott and also unavailable, along with reserve keeper Fabianski. Clearly, talk of Clichy’s back problems keeping him out for months was wide of the mark.

Realistically, only Nasri would have started, and with Denilson likely to replace him, I’d bank on the first choice back five being Almunia-Clichy-Vermaelen-Gallas-Sagna, the trio in midfield of Song-Cesc-Denilson, and an attacking three of Arshavin-Van Persie-Bendtner.

Nice to see the doom merchants are at it already – Lawro’s tipped us for an opening day defeat.

Everton have issues of their own – Arteta is injured, while the defence is weakened by the loss of Jagielka and a big question mark over the mental attitude of Lescott, following City’s continued pursuit of him. We’ve done our sales, Everton are still in a state of flux, and we can take advantage of that.

I’m going for a 2-1 win, which fits in nicely with a series of bets I put on last night, as you may already know if you follow me on Twitter. Every season, I place some pre-season bets, optimistic as ever, and this year is no different.

The fact that we’re being written off in all corners is fantastic if you’re a betting man, as the odds you can get on any Arsenal success are superb. Consider this – last season we were 5/1 to win the league. This season our odds have gone out to 8/1, despite all the sales the top four have made. Are we really in a far worse position than last summer? I don’t think so.

The same odds can be found for us to lift the Carling Cup, in which we are fifth favourites. Frankly, that it a joke – Liverpool and United have shorter odds than us despite the fact that they also play their youth players, and theirs are nowhere near as strong as ours. Odd indeed. Another pound has gone there.

An outside one for you – Eduardo to be Premiership top scorer at 28/1. Now, that requires two things – 1) For him to play most of the season, which given his injury record and our abundance of forwards is not a guarantee, and 2) Torres to get an injury. Number two is almost a given seeing how Liverpool rely on him so much, and personally I think this is the Croat’s season. At those odds, I can’t refuse.

I’ve placed two more bets – Bolton to go down at 8/1, which would make me far happier than just the £8 profit I would receive, and Portsmouth to win the Premiership handicap, otherwise known as the award for the team who exceeds media predictions the most. I think they’ll be fine after the takeover is finalised.

Groan’s random predictions

So what else do I think will happen this season?

  • Man City will not only fail to break the top four, they will fail to break the top five, finishing sixth.
  • Hull will finish comfortably bottom, Phil Brown being sacked before Christmas.
  • Wolves and Birmingham will join them in going down, Burnley surviving by the skin of their teeth.
  • Darren Bent will be rubbish at yet another club.
  • Spurs will be mediocre and celebrate a draw with us as if they’d won the title.
  • West Ham will be fighting for a top six spot.
  • Liverpool to finish fourth and Benitez to be put under severe pressure.
  • Mark Hughes not to be in charge of City next season.

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