Arsenal: What Lies Ahead? Preview, Players To Look Forward & More

Arsenal have made a top-4 position their own over the years, as the team has not finished outside of the European spots for a long time. However, Arsenal in recent years, have struggled to get there, due to big-name sales and the lack of big-name replacements for them, as the club had observed austerity, before finally loosening their purse strings, signing Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez.

Manager: Arsène Wenger

Nickname: The Gunners

Stadium: Emirates Stadium

In: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Calum Chambers (Southampton), Matthieu Debuchy (Newcastle), David Ospina (Nice)

Out: Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Nicklas Bendtner (released), Fabianski (Swansea), Johan Djourou (Hamburg)

What happened last season?

Arsenal lost their first match of the season to Aston Villa. This led to a huge backlash from the fans, as chants of ‘Wenger Out’ were mercilessly heard through the stadium, as Arsenal had largely underwhelmed throughout preseason too, and the huge gaps in midfield and attack in the threadbare squad were not being filled. Fans were angry that Wenger was treating the transfer budget like it was his own money, as only Mathieu Flamini, a free signing, was capable of playing in the first-team.

Arsenal stumbled and stuttered through the first few matches as the players were disheartened by the lack of support from the management, but the club’s objectives seemed to be diverting from their fans’ objectives. Finally, on transfer deadline day, Wenger pulled off a coup, as he signed Mesut Özil from Real Madrid. This move rejuvenated the team as a whole, and the fans were delighted.

The club made their way to the top of the table, before injuries and fatigue put paid to their hopes of lifting the Premier League crown. They performed decently in the Champions League, as they lost to Bayern in the knockout stages. They lifted the FA Cup, which ended a 9-year trophy drought and seemed to take 9 years off Wenger’s face.

What will happen this season?

Arsenal have already lifted the Community Shield and have got their season off to a great start, as they beat Manchester City in a well-deserved win. They will challenge for a top-4 spot, as the significant addition of Alexis Sanchez will offer enough depth for the strikers and for the attacking midfielders. Olivier Giroud could be rotated more willingly, as Yaya Sanogo has shown signs of improvement over last year, and Joel Campbell performed well for Costa Rica in the recently-concluded World Cup.

There will be immense competition in the midfield spots, as there will be enough rotation to keep their oppositions guessing who will play. Santi Cazorla, Mesut Özil, Theo Walcott (once fit again), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Lukas Podolski and even Jack Wilshere can all play in the 3 attacking midfield positions. The defence seems strong, but could do with the addition of another player to replace Thomas Vermaelen.

One defensive midfielder is also a must, to keep up a competition for first-team places. Wenger has looked at options, but is also willing to look at playing Wilshere and Ramsey in defensive midfield along with Arteta and Flamini, if he doesn’t get what he wants at the requisite price.

Arsenal are expected to challenge for trophies, not just for a top-4 finish, but the relative strengthening of their competitors could throw cold water over these hopes. They will need to get one centre-back or one defensive midfielder who can hit the ground running (and also tackling). Their Champions League should be better, as there is hardly any difference between them and bigger oppositions. Also, at some point in time, their bad luck of being drawn against bigger teams early in the competition has to come to an end.

Who will be their impact player?

Mesut Özil. It took him time to settle into the rigour and the physicality of the Premier League in comparison to the La Liga, last season. He will be more rejuvenated this season, and the arrival of Alexis Sanchez will up his game, as Olivier Giroud will hold up play, while Sanchez creates space to unleash ferocious shots. Also, he will be better rotated, so he will not be too fatigued by the time it is January

Look out for:

Alexis Sanchez: Arsenal’s attacks will be trickier, as he lends power, pace and a ferocious shot from anywhere inside and around the opposition box. Having felt cheated at Barcelona, expect him to make his point in a team where he will be valued.

Aaron Ramsey: Such was his impact on the team last season that his injury coincided with the team’s fall from first position downwards. He will look to carry on from where he left last season, and goals can be expected from him again. Hopefully, not many famous celebrities should die.

Theo Walcott: Injuries made him miss the major part of last season and the World Cup, but Walcott will be looking to scorch the ground with his pace. If he could improve his finishing even further, expect him to create havoc alongside Giroud and Sanchez.

Calum Chambers: A utility player, he can play at CB and at RB. He proved his credentials as he played the role of a CB, with aplomb at Southampton. Expect him to make the most of the chances that fall his way, as he will look to prove that he is the next big thing in English football.

Verdict: Top-4 place – Arsenal have strengthened, but it might not be enough, as the squad depth of Chelsea and Manchester City could put most teams to shame. They could come in 3rd or 4th though, but they could use their element of surprise in choosing their team and win games, with the talent at their disposal, leaving oppositions scratching their heads.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina, Damian Martinez

Defenders: Per Mertesacker, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Debuchy, Ignasi Miquel, Calum Chambers, Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden

Midfielders: Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Santiago Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Ryo Miyaichi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry, Gedion Zelalem

Forwards: Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo, Olivier Giroud, Joel Campbell, Chuba Akpom

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