Arsenal: 5 Reasons They'll Be Stronger This Season Than Last
It's been a difficult summer for Arsenal, with fans left somewhat disappointed at the lack of incoming transfers over the past few months.
Following a season in which the Gunners narrowly crept into the top four, supporters had expected major reinforcements over the close season to hold off expected challenges from North London rivals Tottenham and Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool.
While their rivals have not held back in the transfer market, Arsenal have seen a series of transfer targets head elsewhere.
However, ahead of the season, let's take a look at why Arsenal may be stronger than last season (even if it may not earn them a top-four place):
Jack Wilshere Has Had a Full Preseason
“I haven’t had a pre-season for two years and it’s like you’re always playing catch up," Wilshere told the Daily Mirror earlier this summer, and he makes a valid point.
If you are unfit at the start of the campaign, it can be easy to pick up niggling injuries and difficult to capture form when your opponents always seem that one step ahead. For Wilshere, his return from injury last season was a godsend, but he was never able to regain peak form.
When fit, Wilshere is the driving force of the Arsenal midfield and there is no doubt they have missed his impact over the past two seasons.
Should he recapture his pre-injury form in the coming months, it will be an enormous boost to Arsenal and, until a new face is brought in, help to ease the blow of Mikel Arteta's injury absence.
The Dead Wood Has Been Released
Arsenal have had a good summer in the transfer market in one respect—offloading several high earners that consistently had been failing to produce in recent seasons.
Marouane Chamakh has headed to Crystal Palace, Andrey Arshavin has returned to Russia, Gervinho has departed for Italian shores, while Denilson has remained in Brazil after the end of his loan spell.
Many other players have also headed for the exit doors.
For too long Arsenal have paid inflated wages for mediocre footballers. All those named could be good Premier League players, but were far from value for money.
The dramatic clear out this summer can only be a good thing and will remove any culture of complacency from the club.
Better Youth Talent on Cusp of First Team
Since the arrival of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have very much been a club famed for the development and recruitment of youth talent—predominantly from European countries.
While that flow has slowed somewhat over the past couple of seasons, since the emergence of Wilshere, it is clear that the Gunners have some highly-promising youngsters on the verge of making a breakthrough.
Striker Chuba Akpom is one of the best English talents to have emerged at Colney in recent years and will hope that his impressive preseason displays will earn him playing time later in the year.
However, leading the way to the first team for the club's youth ranks are two young German prospects—Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem. Gnabry, a spritely winger, could play a part this season, while 16-year-old central midfielder Zelalem will need more delicate handling for the time being.
The Season When the 'British core" Steps Up
Arsenal have made a big deal over recent months regarding their British core, using their young English and Welsh players in all the advertising for their new kit launch.
While Wilshere is already a highly-impressive player, for the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson, in particular, it is now time to stand and deliver.
All three players have long been touted as potentially top-level Premier League performers, but are yet to reach that level of consistency at present.
There were signs last campaign that all three could be maturing into very good players, with Ramsey enjoying a very good end to the campaign.
Until they make that step up, however, all three will remain prospects rather than fulfilled talent.
Potential New Signings
Will Arsenal finish in the Premier League top four?
The final point is very much the key point as to whether Arsenal will be able to retain their top-four place this campaign, with departures not really weakening the side but no real improvements having been made.
The talk all summer has been that Wenger has £70 million at his disposal to spend, as per the Daily Telegraph). However, he is yet to properly delve into that allocation.
Arsenal need a centre-forward and a top-quality defensive midfielder, at the very least, to hold off their rivals over the coming months. They have attempted to recruit big names in both positions, but nothing has yet come off.
There are still two weeks remaining of the transfer window—a period of time which could help decide the direction of Arsenal Football Club over the coming years.
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