It has been an all too familiar story for Arsenal supporters during the off-season - with plenty of positive noises coming out of the Emirates regarding possible summer recruitment, but little progress made in the pursuit of fresh faces. Arsene Wenger claims he is prepared to spend on the right players - and has showed his hand with a £40million-plus offer for Luis Suarez - but the Frenchman continues to frustrate with his inability to act early in transfer windows. That means the Gunners will likely head into the new season with virtually the same squad with which they ended the last. That may be no bad thing, considering how they surged past the finishing post into fourth spot in the last campaign, but a number of those sides expected to be in and around them have strengthened while the red half of north London has stood still.
Following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Wenger is now the longest-serving manager in English football - having spent close to 17 years at Arsenal's helm. He is about to enter his 18th season in charge - and it could be his most important yet. Having gone eight years without a major trophy, the pressure is on the Frenchman to deliver silverware and ensure that his perfect record when it comes to UEFA Champions League qualification is maintained.
Ins and Outs
- Yaya Sanogo - Free
- Gervinho - £8m
- Vito Mannone - £1.5m
- Andrey Arshavin - Free
The Polish goalkeeper started and ended the 2012/13 campaign as Arsenal's number one, but fell out of favour at one stage after suffering a dip in form. The Gunners have been linked with numerous shot-stoppers this summer, but none have arrived and Szczesny must now show that he can be consistent over the course of an entire season.
Wilshere would appear to have overcome the ankle surgery he underwent at the end of last season and will be looking to put the injury troubles of the recent past firmly behind him. Still only 21 years of age, Arsenal and England will be looking to Wilshere to provide inspiration during a crucial 12 months for club and country.
As club captain, Vermaelen needs to step back up to the plate. He was given a rude awakening last season when dropped to the bench for a spell and must prove that he can be the on-field leader Arsenal require at the heart of their back four. He is more than capable and remains one of the Premier League's most complete centre-halves on his day.
Strengths & weaknesses
The manner in which Arsenal brought the curtain down on 2012/13 suggests they have addressed their defensive issues - with only five goals conceded during a 10-match unbeaten run down the final stretch. Stability at the back will be key heading forward, with Wenger needing to settle on a favoured starting line-up. Creativity has rarely been a problem for the Gunners down the years and they remain well-stocked in the playmaking department - with Santi Cazorla looking to build on a productive debut campaign. The one concern for the Gunners - as has been the case for some time - would appear to be in the goalscoring department. Olivier Giroud should weigh in with his fair share, as will the likes of Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski, but they still lack a prolific marksman - with Robin van Persie yet to be suitably replaced.
Having missed out to Napoli in the race for Gonzalo Higuain, Arsenal have turned their attention to Suarez. The Reds are, however, reluctant to sell and Wenger has left himself little time in which to look elsewhere. Another striker is clearly needed - especially now that Gervinho has been moved out and Marouane Chamakh has joined Crystal Palace. Arsenal left it late last summer to get business done and there could be another flurry of activity at the Emirates before the window slams shut on 2nd September.
"I can assure the fans we will try very hard to keep them happy. We are certainly ready to spend the money, but the process is going slowly, but surely."
"Even if we stay as we are now, we are a great team and we showed that in the last 10 games last season. We just need to do that a bit more on a consistent level at the start of this year, but every player who is at Arsenal is a top-class player."
Facts and Figures
Arsenal averaged 58% possession in Premier League games; the highest in the division
Theo Walcott scored two of the five goals scored inside the first minute of a game in 2012-13
Lukas Podolski was substituted off 23 times in the Premier League in 2012-13
Arsenal won a higher percentage of duels than any other team in 2012/13
Arsenal were forced into making 22 last man tackles in 2012-13, more than any other side
Arsenal fans will be expecting more of the same because not a lot has changed. They've signed one young player from France - Yaya Sanogo - but that's it, so you'd be worried about their ability to kick on. There was talk about them spending a lot of money and they still haven't done it. It doesn't look like Luis Suarez is going to go because Liverpool have said they're keeping him and while I wouldn't worry about them - because they're a top-four team - if they are starting to think about winning trophies and challenging for the title then I'm sorry, I don't see it happening.