What Arsenal Fans Expect from Arsene Wenger This Summer
Beating Tottenham to the top four was a thrilling way to climax the season, but it does not represent the height of Arsenal's aspirations. It is merely the minimum requirement.
Champions League qualification must be used as a springboard to launch an assault on the major trophies next year.
If Arsenal are to be truly competitive in 2013-14, there are several measures Arsenal fans expect Arsene Wenger to take.
Building for the Future
If there is one piece of summer activity that Arsenal fans can take as a guarantee, it's that Arsene Wenger will be scouring the market for the best young talent available.
Whatever limitations have been put on his spending, Wenger's willingness to gamble on potential has never waned. It's easy to see why: Some of his greatest signings have been unheard-of teenagers upon their arrival in north London.
Already, The Guardian are reporting that Arsenal are close to signing young French striker Yaya Sanogo. Wenger may only have one year left on his contract, but he is a conscientious manager and will look to bring in talent who can serve Arsenal long beyond 2014.
A Marquee Signing
For the first time in years, Arsenal fans are anticipating the arrival of a major new star.
Arsene Wenger generally prefers to scout around for bargains, but Gunners fans are hopeful that the club's improving economic circumstances mean Wenger might opt to bring in an established name. The Guardian report that Arsenal have a veritable war-chest to lavish on new signings:
Arsenal are expected to strengthen the squad during the summer, with a reported £100m to spend in the transfer market.
If there's one position where Arsenal need to bring in a world-class talent, it's centre-forward. Since losing Robin van Persie last summer, Arsenal have lacked a natural finisher in the penalty area.
The Gunners have already been linked with a host of star strikers. The Express published a story about a renewed bid for David Villa; The Daily Mail mooted the Emirates as a potential destination for Wayne Rooney; The Mirror insists Arsenal are pursuing Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic.
Any single one of these transfers could immediately transform Arsenal into serious challengers.
One Major Sale
Arsene Wenger usually dispenses with one of his senior players every summer.
Sometimes it's by choice; sometimes it's by necessity. However, it is almost unheard of for Arsenal to go between one season and the next without losing a first-team player.
This summer, the obvious candidate looks to be Bacary Sagna. The France defender has just a year remaining on his contract, so this could be the last chance to get a fee for him. The Daily Mail has suggested Sagna could be eyeing a move to PSG, the club he supported as a boy.
A New Captain
There is little point in having a captain who barely plays. Thomas Vermaelen is officially the skipper but has lost his place in the team to Laurent Koscielny, who has emerged as Arsenal's outstanding central defender.
Mikel Arteta is already Arsenal's default leader. He is captain in all but name, and Arsene Wenger ought to do the decent thing and hand him the armband on a full-time basis.
Vermaelen has already been linked with a move away by The Mirror. His time as captain is surely coming to a close.
Considering His Own Future
Arsene Wenger is certain to stay until the end of his contract in 2014. He has never broken a contract in more than 20 years as a football manager.
However, this summer he will have cause to consider what he wishes to do beyond that date.
The last time Wenger got to within a year of the expiration of his contract was in 2010. On that occasion, he signed an new deal in August to prevent speculation about his future undermining Arsenal's season.
Wenger must now decide whether or not he wishes to discuss an extension before seeing how the 2013-14 season pans out.