2010 promises to be an exciting year. At the halfway point of the season, we’re in a three way battle for the title, have a very winnable looking tie in the Champions League, and are about to kick off our FA Cup campaign. Some of our players look to be coming of age, and the progression of youngsters means that we have real competition for places (in certain positions, anyway).
I’m not much a resolution person, so instead I’ll start the year by making some predictions for the year ahead. All of the following top 3s are obviously subjective, and I’m sure you’ll have your own views, so feel free to have your say in the comments. Enjoy.
3 Arsenal teenagers set to shine
3. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. By the end of the year, I think we’ll have heard a lot more about the man who captained us to Youth Cup success last season. He has a battle on his hands to get near the first team, but the Carling Cup is his platform to shine, and he has already been on the first team bench on a couple of occasions.
2. Jack Wilshere. In the summer, he probably would have topped this list, and he still could be the future of English football. But Wenger is being extremely cautious with him, wise given how quickly youngsters are judged, especially hyped ones (Walcott and Vela being current examples). He only turned 18 a couple of days ago, and his integration needs to be slow for his own sake. May go on loan to Burnley, although an Owen Coyle exit to Bolton might ruin that deal.
1. Aaron Ramsey. Sometimes a manager intends to gradually introduce a young player to first team football. And sometimes performances dictate that they are in every match day squad. Ramsey is a standout player at club and international level already, and having only just turned 19 that is an incredible achievement. Getting into Arsenal’s midfield is no mean feat, and 2010 could be the year his secures a spot for good.
3 Arsenal players to leave the club
3. Mark Randall. Some young players shine at reserve level but never make the step up, and I suspect Randall might end up on that list this year. An undoubted star of the second string, he has never really made the first team impact you would expect, and at 20 he is older than a lot of his midfield competition. A move to the lower half of the Premiership awaits.
2. William Gallas. This time last year, after being stripped of the captaincy, he probably would have topped this list, but he got his head down and has produced his best form for Arsenal, while forming an excellent partnership with Vermaelen. But his contract is up at the end of the season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move back to France after the World Cup. His exit would now leave a massive gap at the back.
1. Phillippe Senderos. I have a confession – I like Senderos, and I rate him, but clearly something is amiss, and it would be a huge surprise to see him here next season. A January exit isn’t out of the question, especially with him keen to get football before the World Cup.
3 Premiership managers to lose their jobs
3. Gianfranco Zola. It is more likely that the Italian will resign that be sacked, but he continues to work in conditions that conspire against him – no money, broken promises from owners, and general turmoil that was too much for his predecessor, Alan Curbishley. He might walk.
2. Rafa Benitez. It doesn’t matter how badly Liverpool do, he won’t be sacked before the end of the season – the club have a history of being loyal to their managers. But if Liverpool fail to make the Champions League, which looks increasingly likely as their dependence on Torres means he isn’t being allowed to return to full fitness, he may be gone in the summer.
1. Phil Brown. Seemingly on his way out a couple of months ago, Jimmy Bullard almost single handedly saved his job, but with the club still 19th and the good start to last season a long distant memory, he’ll be gone by March.
3 tedious Arsenal transfer rumours that won’t happen in 2010
3. Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Championship/Football Manager has a lot to answer for. It seems that decent players in the game become constant rumoured signings, and immediately appear on fans’ wishlists, despite the likes of Guarin, Bakayoko and Bakircioglü not turning out to be all that. Huntelaar scored plenty in Holland, but then so did Dirk Kuyt and Mateja Kezman. Since leaving the Dutch league, his record is unspectacular, and he barely plays anymore.
2. Shay Given. Yes, he’s a good keeper. Yes, he is probably better than any we have. No, Wenger has no intention of signing him.
1. Yaya Toure. For five years, the midfielder was rumoured to be joining us, despite Wenger deciding not to make a move after two separate trials. It all seemed based on his brother being at the club, so why the continued stories now that Kolo has disappeared up to Eastlands?
Note: I didn’t include Chamakh, because he might actually arrive in the summer.
That’s about it for now. If you want to add yours, feel free to do so below. Happy New Year.