By Ant Carey

It will take a few days to come back down to earth after what was certainly an explosive start to the season. As per usual, the pre-season hysteria reached a climax with the vast majority claiming that the current Arsenal squad are too weak to be noted as serious contenders for the title this season. Even leading pundits remark that the likes of Manchester City, Everton, Tottenham or Aston Villa will gatecrash the top 4 at our expense. It is always at our expense! Well, having watched all of the big 4 in action this weekend, I am pleased to say that I have plenty of confidence in our team, and certainly do not think that it will be us who surrenders their place in the Premier League's elite.

If truth be told, I can't see Liverpool, Chelsea or Man Utd being up-rooted from the top either; 38 games is a lot of playing time and you need to learn consistency to have a shot at the title. This includes the ability to have an 'off-day' but still come away with 3 points, which is something that is vital in such a cut-throat league(where, incidentally, the standard of the so called 'lesser teams' appears to just get better and better). Although it pains me to say it, take Chelsea's opening game against Hull as an example. They were by no means at their best, and I thought that Hull were hugely unlucky not to get something out of the game. However, in typical Chelsea fashion, they managed to get a late, late winner and bag the 3 points. A lucky win, but a win all the same. It was at the beginning of last season when we were caught out by this, not always being 100% alert and paying the price. However, this blip in concentration seemed to fade and by the end of the season we were at our consistent best. I see no reason why we cannot continue this consistency throughout this season. As Wenger likes to remind the doubters, our young players are all a year older and therefore one year more experienced. People seem to confuse age and experience, and insist that we need another old head or two in the midst of our ranks. The thing is, our young stars such as Song and Denilson continue to gain more and more first team experience and, before long, will be as experienced, if not as old, as the players demanded by certain sections of the press. Where else in the world would that situation arise?! Wenger's plan is certainly working...

I like Bendtner. He has been hugely criticised by many of our own fans as well as everyone else's, but I think this will be the season when he shows that he is good enough. His touch is excellent and he holds up the ball well, allowing more creative players to arrive for support. Some confusion, though, seems to revolve around his place in the new-look 4-3-3 formation. In this new system, we would all assume that he would be at the forefront of the 3, with Arshavin on the left and van Persie occupying the right hand side, as he often does for Holland. It is easy to assume this, given that he has the build and qualities of a target man. Eventually he should end up as the furthest striker forwards, but for the time being, I think that Wenger has made a masterstroke. In my opinion, Wenger, as he often does so well, is employing Bendtner in this wider role to reduce the pressure of expectation on him. Arsene is an avid exploitant of techniques such as this, what with him divulging just this week that he may have seen more than he let on with regards to diving! It would be easy to point the finger at Nicklas and charge him with our hopes of a 20+ goal season after Adebayor left for the not-so-green grass of Man City, but with him in a less critical role it should bring out the best in him. Also, as confusing as it may look given his height and build, I find that he makes quite a good winger, with quick feet and elastic ball control. On top of these attributes, I hear he has shelled out over £10,000 on refunding fans' Arsenal shirts with his old number printed on the back. What a nice guy! Even if it is just a few days wages...

Final positives from the game at Everton(although there were many more, of which I’m sure others will discuss) were Vermaelen's debut, in which he produced a commanding performance, Song continuing his much improved form, and Denilson's wonderful strike (why can't he do that more often?!). I am firmly of the belief that, although no one would say "no" to another signing, we do not require one to challenge for honours this season. Remember, I know it often sounds like a cheap excuse, but Rosicky and Eduardo really will be like new signings for us, as they didn't feature last term. Also remember; In Wenger We Trust.

Mean Lean's Response

Great article Ant, I would have to agree with pretty much all of that. I also agree that the top four will remain the top four although I am not quite sure which of the sides will finish under us in 2nd, 3rd and 4th and to be honest I do not care, just as long as we finish as the very best.

In regards to Bendtner I have never seen him as a leading forward, I still think that many mistake his frame and size for the typical center forward which he is not apart from his great ability to leap above central defenders and head into the net. He is probably best just off the front man, linking up with the midfielders and striker but as we know many many of our quality players are best in that position.

Bendtner works pretty well on the right because it appears that he has a bigger engine than Van Persie. Bendtner can track back and make tackles outside his box and break forward to support the attack.

Whilst many tend to look at his weaknesses, I think he has many qualities to add to our squad, even slightly out of position on the right. Many times over the last few years, Clichy has crossed balls over from the left only for the ball to miss everyone at the back post and bounce away towards the throw on line, I can see big Nic getting on the end of many crosses and scoring from set pieces. His power in the air will also improve our defending from set pieces.

The more he plays there, the more confident he will become and the more of an impact he will provide. He is another who can score 15-20 goals which can only help us in the end.