Football Season Guide



Olivier Giroud (forward)(Montpellier); Lukas Podoloski (midfielder)(Cologne); Santi Cazorla (midfielder)(Malaga)


Manuel Almunia(Goalkeeper) (released), Gavin Hoyte(defender) (released), Jeffrey Monakana (Preston, free), Joel Campbell (Forward)(Real Betis, loan), Denilson (Midfielder)(Sao Paulo, loan)

Arsenal have just gone through another frustrating season, without a trophy yet again after 6 barren years. They had a dreadful start last summer and, in spite of a spirited run midway through their campaign, they left themselves with way too much to do to catch up in the title race, though they managed to secure third place, thereby hanging on to their Champions League status. They return still under the stewardship of Arsene Wenger this summer with question marks over the involvement of their star player Robin Van Persie, who is in the final year of his contract. He is understandably in the compass of most top clubs in Europe as a result although he might just let his current deal run out till the end of the season. Fans will want this issue clarifiied as soon as possible to avoid the same kind of situation that led to the acrimonious departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas last August and Wenger having to panic buy on deadline day. The Gunners do have some new faces in already with last season's French League top striker Olivier Giroud, seasoned German international Lukas Podolski and versatile Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla. All three look like quality signings and should complement Gervinho and Theo Walcott in the offensive roles. It remains that a Van Persie departure would be a major blow to Arsenal's aspirations this season. The Dutchman finally had an injury-free campaign last term and really came into his own, rising to the top of the scoring charts, which earned him a well deserved PFA Player of the season award. Injury has been the curse of the Gunners over the past few years and it remained a problem last season, with Jack Wilshere pretty much missing the whole of the campaign. The England rising star should return from the start in midfield along with Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, with Alex Song also back in a holding role he made his own last season. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who showed great promise last term, will look to confirm that this season while Sanchez Watt, who has been handed the number 10 jersey, will look to follow in his footsteps after a number of loan spells at lower level. At the back, Thomas Vermalen should return in central defence with Laurent Koscielny for company. A couple of quality signings should be needed in defence since right back Bakary Sagna will need some time to fully recover from a leg fracture while Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos didn't exactly convice last term. Young full backs Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs remain on board, along with Wojiech Szczesny, who should easily retain the number one goalkeeper spot.


Fans will hope that lessons have been learned from past campaigns and that the Gunners will come out this season with a squad enabling them to go the distance. The title is once again the avowed target but with other clubs strengthening, the top four remains a more reasonable objective.