Arsenal players start this reason with the disappointment of last reason still fresh in their minds. Underachieving fans expectations once again, manager Arsene Wenger is under considerable pressure to deliver the club’s first trophy since winning the FA Cup in 2005.
Arsenal were dumped out of three competitions in three calamitous weeks in February, losing the League Cup final to later relegated Birmingham City and going out of the FA Cup and Champions League to Manchester United and Barcelona respectively.
Their great early season form, which put them in good contention for the title with ten games to go, was lost spectacularly, with below par performances and poor results leaving the North Londoners finishing fourth and now have to overcome Serie A side Udinese, home and away the qualify for the Champions League.
Highlights from last reason include beating Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as the emergence of 19 year old Jack Wilshere to the first team, Aaron Ramsey being fit again and the prolific goal scoring of Robin Van Persie. But fans were still disappointed over all and expected big changes in the transfer
Early this Summer, speculation mounted that captain Cesc Fabregas would be sold back to his boyhood club Barcelona for a fee in the region of £40 million and that attacking midfielder Samir Nasri, who is on the last year of his contract, was wanted by Manchester City and Manchester United. While both are still Arsenal players, all this proved to unsettle fans and players alike, who were expecting improvements, not the sale of their biggest stars.
Wenger sold French left back Gael Clichy to Manchester City for £7 million, young Gunner Jay Emmanuel Thomas to Ipswich Town for £1 million, as well as loaning midfielder Denilson back to Sao Paulo.
But the transfer window remains open until August 31st, which could see more departures in the shape of strikers, Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela and defender Emmanuel Eboue as well as the aforementioned players.
Arsenal do however welcome back left back Armand Traore from a loan spell at Juventus and Japanese winger Ryo Miyaichi following a similar spell with Feyenoord.
Miyaichi in particular looks a good prospect and with Wenger is hopeful of getting the youngster’s work permit finalised before this weekend’s start to the new Premier League season, the youngster should see some action this season.
The return of defender Thomas Vermaelen from a long term injury will bring some much needed steel and experience to the back four although Arsenal are on the look out for defensive re-enforcements and are been linked with Premier League defenders Chris Samba, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka and Birmingham’s Scott Dann.
Young academy players such as midfielders Emmanuel Frimpong, Benik Afobe, Henry Lansbury and Craig Eastmond will given their chance to shine this season, but unfortunately Irish player Conor Henderson with not feature until January at best due to a serious leg injury sustained in pre-season.
So far Arsenal have not been as active in the transfer market as was first hoped, only signing young League 1 right back Carl Jenkinson from Charlton for £1 million, Ivory Coast international Yao Gervinho from French League and Cup champions Lille for £11 million and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a 17 year old winger, form Southampton for £12 million.
Pre-season has not all gone according to plan, loosing The Emirates Cup to Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls and losing 2-1 to Benfica in their last match.
Niggling injuries to key players are also not helping, with international friendly’s this week, maybe Arsene Wenger wants to protect these players from further stress and strain.
Arsenal’s first three league games of the season start with an away trip to Newcastle United, home to a rejuvenated Liverpool and then away to current title holders Manchester United. With those tricky Champions League qualifiers to contend with too, Arsenal will truly be tested at the very start of this campaign. Arsene Wenger will have to look to add more quality additions to his squad if he is maintain Arsenal’s high level and end the clubs long wait for a trophy.
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