ARSENAL: Transfers, predictions, best XI and fixtures
Published 15/08/2014 | 12:15
Arsenal have not entered a season with more confidence for almost a decade.
Two trophies have been added to the cabinet during the past four months and this has been Arsene Wenger’s best transfer window in recent memory.
An attack that was often lacking in pace and overly reliant on Olivier Giroud should be transformed this season.
Alexis Sanchez can play in any of the front four positions while the pre-season performances of Yaya Sanogo also make him a serious option as the main centre forward.
He is less reliable than Giroud but also quicker, more mobile and more unpredictable. Theo Walcott should also return in September.
Arsenal do also have considerable strength in depth in central midfield, especially if Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stay fit. All the indications are that this could be another massive season for Aaron Ramsey.
It is possible to argue that Arsenal should still add further steel in the holding midfield role and, while they are perhaps lacking in truly world-class options, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are options that would please most Premier League managers.
Wilshere and Calum Chambers could also develop in this role.
What is now critical, however, is that Arsenal add another quality centre back following the sale to Barcelona of Thomas Vermaelen.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny cannot simply be assumed to play so regularly this season and – however impressive he has looked in pre-season – it would be dangerous to go into defining games with Chambers.
There is a real optimism about Arsenal, however, and ending that nine-year wait for a trophy seems to have had a transformative effect on the club’s confidence and mentality. After some difficult seasons, Wenger has the chance over the next three years of his new contract to cement his place among the all-time great managers to have worked in Britain.
Manager: Arsene Wenger.
Best starting XI: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Walcott, Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez.
Prediction: Keeping key players healthy will be critical but, should they manage this, Arsenal can mount a serious title challenge.
In: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona, £30m), Calum Chambers (Southampton, £16m), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United, £12m), David Ospina (Nice, £3m), Elias Chatzitheodoridis (Mas Kallitheakos, Undisclosed), Hugo Keto (HJK Helsinki, Undisclosed), Ben Sheaf (West Ham, United, Undisclosed).
Out: Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona, £15m) Johan Djourou (Hamburg, £2.5m), Thomas Eisfeld (Fulham, Unidsclosed), Zak Ansah (Charlton Athletic), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City), Zachari Fagan (Welling United), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Chuks Aneke (Zulte Waregem), Wellington Silva (UD Almeria, Loan), Carl Jenkinson (West Ham United, Loan), Benik Afobe (MK Dons, Loan).
Released: Nicklas Bendtner, Daniel Boateng, Chu-Young Park, Leander Siemann.