Comment: Why Arsenal will win the Premier League title this season
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the club finally has the stability to mount a serious title challenge - and he's right to be optimistic
Published 23/07/2015 | 14:48
Here are seven reasons Arsenal can launch a serious title challenge this season.
Petr Cech has signed
Is there a single pundit, player, manager or football fan who does not think that Arsenal have been enormously strengthened by the arrival of Petr Cech?
Arsene Wenger's biggest worry must be whether all the certainty over Cech's likely impact can somehow create an expectation that will be impossible to match.
His presence will add hugely to the team's defensive strength and confidence. Against Everton in Singapore, it was certainly strange seeing him in an Arsenal shirt and, as expected, just his mere presence seemed to give the team added authority.
And there were glimpses of the class that has established Cech among the world’s very best goalkeeper and the all-time greats of the Premier League, notable acrobatic saves to deny both Steven Naismith and Luke Garbutt.
John Terry says he will be worth up to 15 points to the Gunners. He'll probably be right.
Big game experience
Arsenal fell over the line in the FA Cup against Hull City in 2014 but were utterly clinical and ruthless in this year's final against Villa.
As Mikel Arteta noted during the club's pres-aeason trip to Singapore, a four-year rebuild of the squad is just about complete.
The debate over whether Arsenal still need a better striker or a more commanding defensive midfield presence will probably rage until the end of August but that added potential is evident in how Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and now Cech have arrived for a combined £100m in two years.
It is not quite Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp but, in Sanchez, Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Welbeck, Arsenal have rarely started a season with more match-winners.
Arsenal’s first team squad suffered 86 injuries in 2013/14. Collectively, they spent 2,472 days on the sidelines.
Then-club captain Thomas Vermaelen made just 21 appearances while Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna, Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Ramsey, Abou Diaby, Santi Cazorla, Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry, Yaya Sanogo and Lukas Podolski all missed more than a month of action.
Last year, Arsenal's title challenge unravelled before Christmas amid numerous injuries. However, the number of injuries dropped by more than 20 per cent, muscular injuries dropped by the same figure. And the number of days lost to injury dropped by more than 25 per cent.
Wenger is reluctant to put this upturn in fortunes down to just one man but the arrival of conditioning specialist Shad Forsythe has certainly been key. Ahead of the new season, Wenger is confident the injury issues have been addressed and, so far in 2015, the signs are positive.
It is three years since Robin van Persie was sold and, while Wenger wanted to keep Sagna, his best players are staying put.
The British core of Walcott, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs have never seriously looked like being prised away, while he has been able to fend off Juventus' interest in Ozil.
"We finished third (last season) and won the FA Cup so that shows we're not far away," said Wenger. "We have a good cohesive group with the ability to do better."
United and Liverpool have bought too many...
Man Utd's spending under Louis van Gaal is fast approaching £300 million in barely a year. This summer alone Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay and (imminently) Pedro will have moved to Old Trafford, and it will take time for them all to gel.
Liverpool, likewise, have recruited heavily, bringing in the likes of Christian Benteke, Danny Ings, James Milner and Roberto Firmino. Man City have recruited Raheem Sterling but do not look like the all-conquering side of old and are too reliant on the goals of injury-prone Sergio Aguero.
... and Chelsea have bought too few
That leaves champions Chelsea. Jose Mourinho's men are practically unchanged from last season, except they no longer have Cech. Arsenal have the creativity to match Mourinho's Blues and now, with a world-class keeper, can match them at the back too.