How worried were you at the end of August?
Lucy Woolford: I certainly accept that it’s been a miserable start to the campaign, but I wouldn’t say I’m worried. It’s such a new squad and it’s early days in the season. I just hope this is our season blip and we won’t hit many more stumbling blocks.
Emily Pulham: I’m not worried so much as disappointed. I was so optimistic heading into this season, and it’s not great to be three games in without any points – however, we’ve got the tools to do better and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
David Bowden: I agree with Emily — it is still very much early days in this new era. Of course, it would’ve been nice to hold onto that lead against Bournemouth and Arsenal — but there have been signs of improvement and we just need to get that first win to get that monkey off our back.
Greg Richardson: I am worried in the sense that we have ground to make up so our pre-season aspirations of pushing top eight seem already to be a bit far-fetched but not worried overall. We have a new manager and with lots of new faces and a new philosophy, it was always going to take time. But I think we will be fine in the long run
What do you think needs to change?
LW: The players need to become a team and from there, confidence can grow. Everything just needs to settle down: players, manager, team selections. I feel it’s too early to be making drastic changes because there have been glimpses of positive play.
EP: Establish our starting XI and improve defensively.
DB: The lads need to believe more – Pellegrini has come out and said there is a fear factor amongst the squad. We also need to become more defensively solid. Completely revamping the back five was always going to be a risk but we must find a settled back line and start being more clinical in front of goal.
GR: Similar to what Emily says really, just getting a settled starting 11 so we find consistency and understanding especially finding a centre back partnership that works for us.
What have been your early impressions of our summer signings?
LW: Jack Wilshere has impressed me – I don’t know why I’m so surprised by that! He’s confident in his role and I like that. I was disappointed with Felipe Anderson in the first couple of games – he looked like he just expected everything to happen for him.
EP: We haven’t seen as much of them as I would like – I was surprised in a summer of strong signings, a drastically unfit Antonio managed to get 90 minutes against Liverpool. My biggest surprise so far has been Sanchez – he brings organisation and drive to the team, and makes an impact when he’s out there.
DB: As Emily said we haven’t really see them fulfill their full potential yet — it has been a slow start for many. Anderson finally showed flashes against Arsenal, and despite Fabianski conceding nine — he has pulled of some important saves. I’d like to see more of Yarmolenko before I make any judgements.
GR: Fabianski seems shrewd business, Anderson showed against Arsenal what he’ll bring to the side and Sanchez, on early showings, seems to be the central defensive midfielder we’ve been looking for. Wilshere obviously has settled in easiest. The jury is out on the rest still.
Going by what you’ve seen, what would be your preferred starting XI and formation?
LW: I’d like to see everything working in Arnautovic’s favour because he will be our key match winner. Maybe a 4-5-1 with a couple of supporting attackers sitting just being Arnie. We’ve got a really strong left side with Masuaku able to run forward to feed him great crosses as well.
EP: I don’t know the answer to this – but then again, neither does Pellegrini. I’m sure it involves Anderson, Sanchez, Arnautovic and Yarmolenko.
DB: Again, if Pellegrini doesn’t know — what chance have us mere novices got? From what I can see though, I’d go with Fab, Cresswell, Balbuena, Og, Fredericks, Rice, Sanchez, Wilshere, Anderson, Arnie and Yarmolenko (4-2-3-1).
GR: As Emily says, that is the million dollar question. For me, Fabianski, Fredricks, Sanchez, Wilshere, Anderson and Arnie are the players who have to start. I’d like to see us pair Rice and Diop at centre-back too. The rest, I’m unsure with.
After Wolves, we’ve got Everton away, and then Chelsea and Man United at home, how many points do you hope we get before September ends?
LW: Wolves are hungry and Everton look stronger this season – I’d be happy with two draws there. I’m not sure we can beat Chelsea but it’s a nice time to face Man Utd. I’ll go conservative and say six points out of all four games. Then ask me if I’m worried at the end of September!
EP: I hope we get 12. I think we’ll get three, all being well.
DB: The fixture Gods really haven’t been kind on Manuel. But we do seem to have improved game-on-game and I do think we will surprise a few. If we had our shooting boots on we’d have beaten Arsenal. With that in mind, I am going for five points. Win against Wolves, which would be massive, draws against Everton and Chelsea.
GR: Well Pellegrini traditionally loses his opening three games before finding a real up-turn in form so hopefully we beat Wolves and can then pick up points against the rest too. I’d be happy with six from those four games overall.