Premier League preview: Arsenal

Arsene Wenger faces the biggest test of his managerial career this season.
Arsene Wenger faces the biggest test of his managerial career this season. Photo: PA

Last season: 4th

Whatever they might have said joyfully at the end of the season, after they pipped Spurs to fourth place in another hugely underwhelming "scrap" for Champions League football, the majority of Arsenal supporters lost faith in Arsene Wenger some time ago.

Quite rightly, they applaud him heartily for turning the club around into a major European force but pinpoint his persistent transfer stinginess in recent years as the biggest reason behind their galling lack of trophies as Chelsea, City and United thrived.

A massive, ill-fated bid for Liverpool agitator Luis Suarez aside, Wenger has failed to weave proven world-class excellence into the existing lightweight squad this summer. On the positive side, perennial underachievers Andrei Arshavin, Gervinho and Sebastien Squillaci have gone nevertheless only raw French striker Yaya Sanogo has arrived.

There is no doubting that the Gunners can blow away anyone when Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott are all reading from the same page, but that dynamic core has rarely been on song together due to injuries or loss of form.

If Wenger can keep Wilshere fit, along with getting Walcott and Olivier Giroud firing week in and week out, then they might trouble the top three and the latter stages of the Champions League. Anything less, however, and you sense Wenger's time in north London will finally come to an end with a sheepish move upstairs whether they win a domestic Cup or not as the boos ring round the fickle Emirates.

Ins: Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre, free)

Outs: Andrey Arshavin, Samir Bihmoutine, Reice Charles-Cook, Denilson, Sead Hajrovic, Conor Henderson, Jernade Meade, Nigel Oldfield Spence-Neita, Joshua Rees, Philip Roberts, James Shea, Sebastien Squillaci, Sanchez Watt (All released), Craig Eastmond (Colchester, free), Vito Mannone (Sunderland, undisc), Francis Coquelin (Freiburg, loan), Johan Djourou (Hamburg, loan), Andre Santos (Flamengo, undisc), Chuks Aneke (Crewe, loan)

Arsenal fans will be hoping The Ox can produce goals like this on a more regular basis for the Gunners this season.

Player to watch: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The young midfielder's assured displays for England suggest that he can become a lynchpin in the Arsenal midfield, if Wenger gives him more playing time ahead of Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky.

Something to prove: Lukas Podolski. It seems unbelievable that the former Cologne striker has already racked up 110 caps for Germany when you saw him at times last season. The Emirates flat track bully needs to weigh in with more goals away from home.

Predicted finish: 4th

Title odds: 10/1

Your view:


@itvfootball our usual spot - winning the "trophy" that comes with a 4th place finish


@itvfootball 4th, just behind Chelsea in 3rd, will go down to last game to decide 3rd/4th spot