Arsenal Season Preview
Ahead of the new Premier League season, Sky Sports examines Arsenal's strengths and weaknesses as well as giving you the chance to select your preferred Gunners XI...
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 13/08/14 4:46pm
Are Arsenal ready for a real tilt at the title? Here's the lowdown on what's new at Emirates Stadium...
Arsenal finally ended their wait for silverware last season following their comeback win against Hull City in the FA Cup final in May. Arsene Wenger certainly seems to have ridden the storm to find smoother waters after surviving growing discontent that reached its nadir with the home defeat to Aston Villa on the opening weekend last year. Unburdened by the financial shackles of recent times and fresh off a convincing Community Shield performance, the Gunners come into this campaign with renewed optimism.
After failing in their pursuit of Luis Suarez last summer, the Uruguayan’s move to Barcelona has facilitated a high-profile arrival at the Emirates Stadium after all. The signing of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez offers a very different threat to Olivier Giroud with the possibility to play instead of or alongside the Frenchman. Wenger certainly has plenty of options in attacking areas while, in defence, Mathieu Debuchy looks a straight swap for compatriot Bacary Sagna at right-back.
Mesut Ozil was last summer’s club record signing and showed glimpses of why he is so special. He produced more Premier League assists than any other Arsenal player but also faded at times – perhaps with the World Cup in mind. Ozil will be expected to thrive with Sanchez offering increased movement in attack and when Theo Walcott returns we might see the very best of the German. He remains the man capable of turning a good Arsenal team into a great one.
Injuries are a familiar problem for the Gunners and robbed them of an extended title challenge last season. In particular, Aaron Ramsey’s drive was a big miss, while without Walcott’s pace the team lacked further penetration beyond Giroud. Poor results in the big games mean there is an ongoing perception that Arsenal can be derailed and Wenger must improve against the best opponents if the Gunners are to fulfil their potential – that record against Jose Mourinho remains an issue.
Sky Bet Title odds – 6/1
- A league-high 92.7% of Arsenal’s goals came from inside the box last season.
- The Gunners racked up 29815 ball touches in the Premier League last season, more than any other side.
- Alexis Sanchez was involved in 29 Spanish Liga goals for Barcelona last season (19 goals, 10 assists) – only Cristiano Ronaldo (40), Lionel Messi (39) and Diego Costa (30) managed more.
Arsenal finished seven points off the title and a lot of the time they missed their best players. Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott were all out for long periods. But they won the FA Cup last year and they could feasibly win the league this year. I wouldn’t write them off. With Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez up top, that is pace to burn. That will scare the life out of any defence. They need to replace Thomas Vermaelen and maybe they need a defensive midfielder as well. But they’ve got to do better against the big teams. They conceded so many goals against the top teams last season and they have to do better in those head-to-heads if they want to contest for the title.