After multiple preseason matches, the Gunners finally reached the start of the English Premier League. After having signed Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, and adding Steve Bould as assistant coach, Arsenal have been looking to start their season on a good note despite losing Robin van Persie and Alex Song.
They started off their 2012-2013 campaign with a fixture against Sunderland at the Emirates. The Gunners were the dominant team throughout the match; however they just couldn't capitalize on any of their chances.
Cazorla had one chance in the first half as he drove through the field and took a strike near the edge of the box, which was saved by Mignolet.
Then, one of the best chances of the match for either team came when Cazorla played Giroud with an incisive pass into the box. Giroud had a right-footed shot that flew wide of the goal and left the striker with his head in his hands.
So this left Arsenal somewhere in the middle of the league table after the first round of matches.
The next team that Arsenal would face is Stoke City. The Gunners played a great match and had some great opportunities. One came in the first half when Podolski produced a shot that was blocked by what seemed to be a Stoke player's arm.
Another chance came late in the second half when Giroud received a pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Giroud received the ball somewhere near the halfway line and noticed that Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was not in position. The Frenchman's long shot was well struck, but just went over the crossbar.
At this point in time, the Gunners are 12th in the league table.
Arsenal's performances have been solid, but just not offensive enough. The impact of Bould's presence in the Arsenal coaching staff is already visible as the team's defense has seen improvements from the end of last season.
Now, the last piece Arsenal needs to add to their puzzle is that goal-scoring touch.
So with this, I will be reviewing and analyzing Arsenal's three new signings' Premier League performances thus far, and I will also formulate a prediction for how well the three players will perform in the Gunners' next match against Liverpool.
Arsenal vs. Sunderland
As the German forward came off a strong preseason performance against former club, Cologne, he expected to impact the team immediately as the season opener against Sunderland approached.
In the match versus the Black Cats, Podolski started out in a striker position. Against Cologne, Podolski played quite well in a central position, so maybe his good performance could have lead to an even better one in the first match of the Premiership.
However, the German forward had a rather quiet match against Sunderland and was replaced by Giroud close to the 60th minute.
He just wasn't able to play as freely as he would have liked, as Sunderland was playing a defensive game during the match. As a result of this, he wasn't able to create many chances for himself. The forward did have a good free kick chance in the second half that unfortunately curled over the crossbar.
Maybe the central position just isn't the one that will suit Podolski in the Premier League, and the left wing position he has played with Germany is the other option that the Gunners should start to use more often now.
Stoke City vs. Arsenal
After a goalless draw, the Gunners were looking to boost their confidence by leaving the Brittania Stadium with a victory. In this match, Podolski was placed on the left side of the attack with Giroud starting up front as striker.
Podolski seemed much more dangerous in this match as he was able to dribble into the defense with his speed and pace. This would result in good penetration into the box or a free kick due to a change of direction from the German.
As a result of a good dribbling run, he managed to receive a pass inside the box that lead to a shot. It was deflected by what seemed to be the arm of a Stoke defender, but nothing was called by the referees.
Even though no goal resulted from the opportunity, this still demonstrated a positive showing from the player.
One could tell that the energy was emanating from Podolski and that he had a better chance of scoring against Stoke than against Sunderland.
Despite his strong performance, Podolski was subbed off close to the 70th minute along with Gervinho as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
Now looking ahead to next match, Podolski is most likely going to start; expect to see him playing in the same left flank position he played against Stoke.
After a good performance, his confidence will be building up, and he could even score if he is able to finish his chances well enough.
So with this, I predict that Podolski will score his first Arsenal goal in the Premier League against Liverpool.
Arsenal vs. Sunderland
Unfortunately for new man Olivier Giroud, he wasn't part of the starting lineup for the season opener against the Black Cats. This did not in any way prevent him from featuring in the match. At one point in the second half, the Gunners needed fresh legs up front, and that was when Giroud came on as a substitute for Podolski.
One could tell already that he would be key for Arsenal. He was a part of various link-ups, and he was also a good target man. He can receive the ball, control it, and then either chest it or just pass it to a running teammate.
So, as the match went on, Giroud eventually had what was probably the best chance of the match. Cazorla played the Frenchman through with a great pass. This put Giroud in the penalty box with a right-footed effort. But, he wasn't able to get the right finish, and the shot went way past the post.
He must have felt the whole team's pressure fall right onto his shoulders at that moment as he could have won the match. However, this was just his first match in the Premier League, and he was still getting used to speed, physicality and atmosphere of his new league. After a decent showing, the big striker would be looking to finish at least one chance against Stoke in Arsenal's next match.
Stoke City vs. Arsenal
Whenever Arsenal head to the Britannia Stadium, a daunting task always lies ahead of them. The Gunners have never been particularly successful whenever they have had to play in Stoke's stadium. However this time, Arsenal looked to earn their first win of the season.
The beginning of the match was pretty open; both teams were getting good opportunities. Stoke had a good cross sent in, which led to an offside goal. This made the Arsenal defense start to think a bit. But, from that point on, Stoke just wasn't able to establish themselves in the match.
Arsenal was dominating possession, and Giroud was able to get involved in the match very well.
In the first half, he didn't have any great chances; however in the second half, there were two chances of his that rally stood out. His first great chance came off a corner. The ball was sent in, and Giroud was left wide open to take a shot. It was somewhat of a bicycle attempt that he hit into the ground, so it bounced up and couldn't go in.
Then, as the match was inching to its conclusion, Giroud received the ball near half field when he noticed that the Stoke goalkeeper was off his line. Seeing this, the Frenchman took a long effort. It was extremely close, but it just glided over the crossbar.
A 0-0 draw was the result for the Gunners once more, so after that they will really be looking to get a goal against Liverpool when they travel to Anfield.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
Looking ahead to the Gunners' upcoming match against Liverpool, Giroud will need to make an impression in the match. He has had two matches to realize and adjust to the Premier League. It might be enough for him to score his first Premier League goal with Arsenal, but if that is not to happen, he must at least earn numerous chances.
Against Stoke, Giroud showed improvement from the season opener, and he will need to show even more improvement against Liverpool. The Reds have been active this summer like Arsenal, acquiring some players such as Fabio Borini and Joe Allen.
The part of his game Giroud will really need to do well is his finishing.
In the previous two matches, his finishing has been a bit off but despite this, I foresee that the Frenchman will find his touch at Anfield and score his first goal for Arsenal.
Arsenal vs. Sunderland; Stoke City vs. Arsenal
You must be wondering why I put two matches under one heading. Well, the reason is that Santi Cazorla's performances in these two matches were pretty similar.
He was the dictating force of Arsenal's midfield, and he was the one stringing together key passes and one-twos. He also managed to produce some good shot opportunities for himself.
The creative Spaniard played in a sleek, incisive pass toward Giroud in the match against the Black Cats; unfortunately, the chance wasn't finished by Giroud. But, it was an insight as to how important Cazorla will be for the Gunners this season.
Against Stoke, he was playing all the right passes; he did have a few misplaced passes, but ultimately, it was pretty rare that Cazorla made mistakes.
He gave the team the energy and spirit the team needed to put up a good offensive match, and without him, Arsenal would not have had the number of shot opportunities they did in the first two matches.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
In this next match, Cazorla's role won't change; he will still be the creative man on the pitch for the Gunners and will be leading the attack.
Due to his nonchalant dribbling abilities, he might even set himself up for his first goal with Arsenal.
The possibilities are numerous for how well Cazorla will do against Liverpool. I predict that the midfield maestro will be the man of the match for Arsenal, and that he will score his first Arsenal goal.
So how do you think each new signing has performed thus far in the Premier League? Will Podolski be able to put up another good showing against the Reds? Will Giroud be able to find his finishing touch? And, will Cazorla be able to keep up his great performances not only against Liverpool, but for the rest of the season?
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