Last season: 4th
FA Cup: Quarter-finals
Carling Cup: Runners-up
Champions League: Last 16
Opening three fixtures: Newcastle (a), Liverpool (h), Man Utd (a)
Transfers in: Gervinho (Lille, £10.7m), Carl Jenkinson (Charlton, £1m), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton, £12m)
Transfers out: Gael Clichy (Manchester City, £7m), Denilson (Sao Paulo, loan), Tom Cruise (released), Mark Randall (Chesterfield, free), Wellington Silva (Levante, loan), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Ipswich, undisclosed)
Key man: Robin van Persie
Title odds: 9/1
With title rivals Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City strengthening their squads during the summer transfer window, and Arsenal’s transfer activity being restricted to one-way traffic out of the Emirates, the Gunners will struggle to make an impact this season. Both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are seemingly edging closer to an exit, meaning that the Wenger boys will have a fight on their hands if they are to compete on four fronts against the big guns.
Finishing in top four odds: 13/20
A few seasons back, the top three of the Premier League were clearly established as Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal, with fourth place up for grabs. Now, however, the top three has seen Man City trade places with the Gunners, leaving them to fight for fourth place against the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham. They always entertain and are impressive in Europe, but will have to show a desire greater than their opponents if they are to get there.
To finish above Tottenham: 9/25
It is quite simply inconceivable to any Arsenal fan to think that Spurs could finish above them, but this season more than any it is a real possibility. Harry Redknapp’s boys have already inflicted painful defeats upon The Gunners in recent times and the Gunners faithful will not tolerate any more. Expect Arsenal to come out on top in this battle.
To finish above Man Utd with 8.5-point headstart: 17/20
With such a lead, at any point of the season, it would be impossible to either back Arsenal to complete the job or rule out Man Utd catching them up. Arsenal’s main problem since the ‘Invincibles’ of 2003-04 has been consistency. If they can perform as well as they do against their rivals week-in-week-out and avoid needlessly dropping points, then no team would be able to catch them.
To finish above Chelsea with a 6.5-point headstart: 17/20
Fortunately for Arsenal, London rivals Chelsea can also suffer from major lapses in form and concentration at vital stages of the season. Man Utd will be unsurpassable, as these two will be locked in battle for second and third place, so a price of 17/20 looks to represent decent value.
To finish above Liverpool: 3/4
The Gunners should comfortably finish above Liverpool and Tottenham as mentioned above, although Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has worked wonders since rejoining the club. Bringing in the likes of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez for a floundering Fernando Torres was the right move for the club, and this will be the first full season for the pair to prove that fact.
The promise of silverware is always an enticing one when it comes to a new season and this term is certainly a fresh start for Arsenal. But that is all it ever seems to be at the Emirates these days – optimism.
With a reluctance to spend coming from either the manager or the board – although that could change if Fabregas and Nasri depart – it is simply impossible for them to be able to compete on four fronts right the way through what is always a gruelling season.
They remain as one of the most entertaining teams in the league, but that does not always guarantee success. Arsenal will do well to finish fourth again this season.
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