Season Preview – #1 Arsenal

Will it be celebrations come May for the Gunners?

Arsenal:

This season, Arsene Wenger will be taking charge of his 14th year as manager of the Gunners – the last six of which have seen the London side end their campaign without a single piece of silverware – the last of which came in the 2004/05 season when they won the FA Cup. Luckily for Wenger he has the backing of the board, as always and has made it clear that he will be signing a new contract at Arsenal as soon as possible, so fans can breathe a sigh of relief on that front.

However, once again, doubts remain over the future of current club captain Cesc Fabregas who Barcelona continue to woo in a bid to get the Spanish midfielder to leave London behind, in favour for the club he grew up with in Cataluña. Arsenal have continued to put their foot down by dismissing Barcelona’s advances and it is fair to say that they are winning that battle. No doubt this story will continue to dominate this summer.

Wenger has already begun to dip his toe into the transfer market to strengthen his squad for the season ahead.  With William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre departing after the club chose not to renew their contracts, the Gunners seem to have signed ample replacement in the form of highly-rated defender Laurent Koscielny. It could be yet another coup by the Frenchman if Koscielny provides us with some of the displays of last summer’s star signing Thomas Vermaelen.

Striker Marouane Chamakh has also signed for the Gunners from Bordeaux on a free transfer – he should certainly add to Arsenal’s current attacking options of Robin van Persie, Nicolas Bendtner and Carlos Vela, as well as replacing Eduardo who has left to join Shahktar Donetsk. While Arsenal may look strong in attack, realistically they will possibly need another defender before the season kicks-off, particularly at either right or left back.

A bit like England at the World Cup, there is a question of who will be the number one keeper for the Gunners this season. This conundrum has come up time and time again over the past season or so yet Wenger is prevailing with Manuel Almunia. Although, if reports are to be believed Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is in the frame to join, as is Slovenian international Samir Hananovic. There were also links to Portugal’s number one Eduardo after his displays at the World Cup but he has since joined Genoa.

The future looks bright for Arsenal in terms of the upcoming talent – Jack Wilshere who was loaned to Bolton last season could certainly feature more prominently this season, Aaron Ramsey who suffered that horrific leg-break against Stoke a couple of months back, is close to recovery and another exciting prospect is left-back Kieran Gibbs along with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny who Wenger is a big admirer of, having previously stated: “I really believe in him that he will one day be Arsenal’s No 1. He has all the qualities you want from a goalkeeper.”

In terms of prospects for the season ahead, Wenger will be looking for an improvement on last season: “We finished third last season, so we of course try to improve,” said the Frenchman.”Manchester City have now joined in on the big targets, so it will be hard.” It could well be a tough season for the Gunners if City do challenge, however, many favoured the Gunners to drop out of the top four last season and they didn’t, therefore, they should well be considered as one of the contenders for the title.

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