Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists the Gunners are still on track to challenge for the Premier League title despite the club’s turbulent build-up to the new season.
Rather than spending the summer strengthening the team, the Frenchman has been forced to focus on persuading star players Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to stay at the Emirates for another year.
However, Wenger is as bullish as ever and remains convinced that the squad he will have at his disposal for the first match of the campaign against Newcastle will be good enough to challenge for the title.
Crucially, the squad is increasingly likely to retain Nasri after Wenger reiterated he is willing to risk losing the playmaker on a free transfer rather than sanction a sale this summer.
Nasri could leave for nothing next year as his contract has just 12 months left to run.
“I’m willing to keep him for another year, even if it means we risk losing him for nothing in a year’s time,” Wenger said.
“I think the board agrees with me as it is a technical decision.”
Meanwhile, he said he remained hopeful that the club could resist overtures from Barcelona for Gunners captain Fabregas, adding that he would need players of the Spaniard’s quality to end Arsenal’s title drought.
“Our goal is to win the championship and we need good players to do that,” Wenger stated.
Arsenal are fourth-favourites for the Premier League with odds of 13/2 in bwin’s football betting market.
This means that a successful £25 free bet on Arsenal to win the title, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £187.50.
Arsenal odds are likely to drift if Nasri and Fabregas depart, although the Emirates outfit could be good outside bets for the title if the duo stay and Wenger can bring in some new talent to strengthen the squad.
The Gunners get their league campaign underway at St James’ Park against Newcastle on 16th August.
Early Newcastle v Arsenal betting makes the away side 4/5 favourites.
New customers can register here to claim a £25 free bet.