COLOGNE, GERMANY - AUGUST 12: Lukas Podolski (R) of Arsenal celebrates scoring the third goal with Oliver Giroud (L) during Pre-Season Friendly game between FC Cologne and FC Arsenal at Rhein Energie Stadium on August 12, 2012 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
In the post-Robin van Persie era, Olivier Giroud will once again be asked to score lots of goals for an understaffed team and guide them into European places without a ton of help.
Arsenal begin the post-Robin van Persie era on Saturday, and they have plenty of experience in these matters. The first game of the post-Cesc Fabregas era was the first game of last season, and a few of these guys played in the first game of the post-Thierry Henry era. How one of England's giants turned into a selling club, no one really knows, but they should still open their season with a win at home against Sunderland.
Olivier Giroud is going to be thrown into the fire and immediately expected to duplicate the success he had at Montpellier. Behind him will be another new acquisition, Santi Cazorla, who should be a massive upgrade over Aaron Ramsey. Behind him will be someone not named Alex Song, because he's forcing his way out of the Emirates as well.
Theo Walcott, Laurent Koscielny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continue to possess Arsenal DNA and are unlikely to play because of injuries. Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere are definitely out. Sunderland have a fair share of injuries as well, and should be missing Phil Barsley, Wes Brown, Connor Wickham and David Vaughan. They have enough remaining fit players to fill out a decent first XI and Martin O'Neill got the better of Arsene Wenger last season, but the Gunners still remain firm favorites in this clash.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. local
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London, England
TV: ESPN (U.S.), TSN2 (Canada)