Arsenal is one of the heavyweights of English football, and is always poised to be one of the greatest opponents in any game. This season, however, after a nightmarish game against Manchester United, that ended 8-2 in favor of the Red Devils, the Gunners have made significant changes to their squad.
Here are the top 10 players who could make a difference this season.
Robin van Persie (striker): Dutchman van Persie was recently named the captain of Arsenal after the departure of Spaniard Cesc Fabregas to his boyhood club Barcelona. Van Persie, 28, earned his first ever Player of the Month Award for November 2005 after bagging eight goals in eight starts which was possible due to his good form at the start of the 2005–06 season. This season, after the departure of Fabregas and Frenchman Samir Nasri, expectations are high about van Persie’s performance. The Dutchman has made 159 appearances for the Gunners and has managed to find the back of the net 67 times.
Wojciech Szczesny (goal keeper): Szczesny, in reality, would never have got a real chance to break into the first team had it not been for his Polish counterpart Lukasz Fabianski’s injury. The 21-year-old, however, pushed any doubts aside to prove himself in a League Cup game against Newcastle United at St James' Park where he kept a clean sheet and showed quality by stopping numerous attempts from Newcastle players. I believe one day he will be the No 1 at Arsenal, certainly, Wenger previously commented. If his good form continues this season, Szczesny can prove to be a real head-ache for a number of strikers In the Premier League.
Per Mertesacker (defender/Center-back): Mertesacker, 26, is the latest arrival in the Gunner’s squad from Bundesliga club Werder Bremen. Dubbed “the Defense Pole” (die Abwehrlatte) by German tabloids, Mertesacker gained a reputation for his good disciplinary record and went 31 Bundesliga games without being booked while his stay at Hannover 96. With a wealth of experience for Germany, Mertesacker has helped his country to the Semi-Finals of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and to the Final of the 2008 European Championship. Mertesacker has made 147 appearances for Werder Bremen.
Theo Walcott (striker/forward): Theo Walcott made his first Premier League appearance for Arsenal, following his surprise and controversial selection in the England squad for the World Cup 2006, against Aston Villa when he came as a substitute and set up a goal for Gilberto Silva. Walcott has currently scored his first goal of the season in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League qualifying match against Italian club Udinese, giving a vital 1–0 win to Arsenal to carry on into the second leg of the tie. Walcott has appeared in 117 games for Arsenal scoring 19 times.
Gervinho (striker/winger): The Ivorian arrived at Arsenal from Ligue 1 club Lille whom he helped to secure the league and Coupe de France. On July 2011, Gervinho completed a transfer from Lille to Arsenal for a fee believed to be around £10.5 million($16 million). He was sent off on his Premier League debut against Newcastle United for slapping Joey Barton. If Gervinho goes out all guns blazing in his later games then it could spell doom for the other teams. The Ivorian has appeared in 67 games for Lille and has scored 28 times.
Mikel Arteta (midfielder): Arteta is the most recent Arsenal signing this season on a four year deal for a reported fee in the region of £10 million ($16 million) just minutes before the 11pm deadline. Arteta, 29, has himself admitted that it was the “right time” for him to leave Everton and join Arsenal. The 2005–06 season saw Arteta pick up both the Everton Fans' Player of the Season and the Players' Player of the Season awards. He was also voted the Premiership's 'Midfielder of the Year' by the readers of Sky Sports, beating PFA Players' Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.
Jack Wilshere (midfielder): Jack Wilshere is one of the most skilful, versatile and exciting young talents in English football. Wilshere, 19, is known for his movement, aggression, dribbling, vision, passing and combination play. Bolton manager Owen Coyle previously praised his ability to tackle and take a knock. He has also been compared to former England great Paul Gascoigne for his attributes as an all-round midfielder. In Wenger's words, “He's a box-to-box player, more than just a holding midfielder.”
Andrey Arshavin (Winger/Attacking midfielder): The Russian playmaker, whose arrival was one of the most protracted transfer sagas, proved almost instantly that he is a world-class talent who can make a big difference. He scored four goals during a thriller in Anfield against Liverpool in April 2009. The 2006 Russian footballer of the year is a versatile attacking midfielder who can also play as a second striker. Former Arsenal forward Dennis Bergkamp has speculated that Arshavin has every chance of becoming a favorite of the London fans. The Russian has scored 22 times in 82 games for Arsenal.
Thomas Vermaelen (defender/center-back): Currently Arsenal’s vice captain, Vermaelen has spent most of last season on the sidelines. However, on the evidence on his first year in English football, he looks set for a long and prosperous Arsenal career. Vermaelen joined Arsenal from Ajax on June 2009. He made his Premier League debut on August 2009 in a game against Everton, and scored in the 37th minute. Arsenal fans voted him as their player of the month twice in a row on arsenal.com
Aaron Ramsey (central midfielder): Ramsey moved to Arsenal in 2008 from Cardiff City. His progress was put on hold after suffering a broken leg in a match in the 2009–10 season, in a challenge with Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross. On August 2011, Ramsey made his first Champions League appearance of the season at home against Udinese. In the fourth minute of the match he assisted on Theo Walcott's goal that gave Arsenal the 1–0 advantage in the first leg of the match.