Arsenal season preview

Posted by Andrew Mangan and Sam Limbert

What's changed since last season?

Andrew Mangan: Not much at this point. The squad has been trimmed of the deadwood and that's certainly something Arsenal needed to do, but in terms of additions, there hasn't been much action. Only Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre, and as good as he might be, he's not going to make up the difference between fourth place and champions.

Sam Limbert: Even though there has been little in the way of arrivals, the squad has changed with a much-needed clear-out of players. Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh join the likes of Sébastien Squillaci, Andre Santos, Denilson and Djourou on the list of leavers this summer, something that was long overdue for some who were sitting on the wage bill and contributing nothing on the pitch. If the squad isn't added to, the least fans can hope for is that the squad will take the newfound mind-set from the end of last season into the new campaign.

Key to this campaign
AM: Adding quality and depth to the squad. Otherwise it's going to be another struggle for the top four.

SL: Making it through the Champions League playoff round, as that could end up being important for bringing players in late on in the window, plus it would be hugely disappointing to waste the effort put in to hold off Tottenham for fourth place last season. After that, it'll be about not falling away during the middle of the season and leaving the team with a fight to qualify for Europe.

Predicted finish/realistic goal
AM: As it stands, I think Arsenal will do well to finish fourth.

SL: With the current squad, fourth. If new signings are made, a title challenge isn't an impossibility. A realistic goal should also be to win a cup competition. The fans feel like they're owed one after the dismal exits to Bradford and Blackburn last season.

Make-or-break season for ...
AM: The owner and the manager. Failure to use the substantial resources on hand, translated into a season of struggle, could be the straw that breaks the back of many camels.

SL: Should the club not invest and end up with a similar season to the previous few, obviously there will be plenty of people who question Arsene Wenger. However, after he was vocal in the media about the money available, I suspect a failure would be more costly to Ivan Gazidis than Wenger. Everyone knows that the manager has his own way if doing things -- that's been made pretty clear in the last 17 years -- but questions remain over whether the chief executive could be putting some more pressure on Wenger to use the war chest that has been much talked about, and about getting deals sorted when a player has been identified.

One to watch
AM: He's been around for a while now, but I think this could be the season when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain really makes a breakthrough.

SL: Since Robin van Persie left, it's been clear that Arsenal have needed another striker to progress and not just stand still. Another one might yet still arrive, but if they don't, the lead role will likely fall to Olivier Giroud. He might not be the world-class forward many fans want, but he should be capable of 20 goals this season if he keeps his confidence up.


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