It’s been a familiar off-season for Arsenal fans. The optimism of having two big deals done early on has been largely eroded by the potential loss of a club legend. Robin van Persie’s departure from the Emirates is a huge blow but with Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud on board we’ll have to wait to find out just how unrealistic next season’s unrealistic expectations are. The pre-season friendlies unearthed a few more young talents that make for an optimistic future, but probably still a trophy-less present.
Something to be positive about
The signings of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and, to a lesser extent, Oliver Giroud. The German didn’t enjoy the best of times at Bayern Munich, but his international record shows he’s a quality player who has the pace and moaniness to fit seamlessly into the Arsenal system. Oliver Giroud doesn’t have the same distinguished history so his success is a little more uncertain. Spanish international Cazorla played a vital role in Malaga qualifying for the Champions League and the 2007 Spanish Player of the Year will also fit perfectly in to Wenger’s passing style of play.
Alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the (hopefully) returning Jack Wilshire and (hopefully) staying Robin van Persie, it could make for some spectacular football.
Something to be a bit worried about
Apart from occasionally trying too hard to score the most beautiful goal in history, Arsenal’s attack has rarely been the problem in the last few years. The defence has been flimsy as John Terry’s reasons for using those words at Anton Ferdinand. There are few signs of Arsene Wenger making the couple of big signings they would need to remedy the situation in the short term, If everyone stays fit, the Gunners will have a useful rear-guard, but this is Arsenal, so they won’t all stay fit. Their lack of defensive strength in depth could undermine their efforts at forward progress.
An optimistic season bet
If you can’t be widely optimistic about the upcoming season in July, when can you? Arsenal to defy the pessimism and win the Premier League is 11/1.
A more realistic season bet
Milking the cash cow that is Champions League football is a crucial part of Arsenal’s financial strategy.Winning trophies less so. They’re 8/15 to claim a Top 4 Finish and get another go on UEFA’s bountiful udders.
Olivier Giroud (Montpellier, £13m)
Lukas Podoloski (Cologne, £11m)
Santi Cazorla (Malaga, £16.5m)
Packing their bags
Robin van Persie (Man Utd, £24m)
Manuel Almunia (released),
Gavin Hoyte (released)
Jeffrey Monakana (Preston, free)
Joel Campbell (Real Betis, loan)
Denilson (Sao Paulo, loan)
Tom Cruise (Torquay, free)
Benik Afobe (Bolton, loan)