Granit Xhaka (mid) Borussia M’gladbach; Takuma Asano (att) Sanfrecce Hiroshima; Rob Holding (def) Bolton; Mathieu Debuchy (def) Bordeaux – end of loan; Wojciech Szczesny (gk) Roma – end of loan;
Mikel Arteta (sp) (mid) end of career; Mathieu Flamini (r) (mid) released; Tomas Rosicky (sp) (mid) released; Wellington Silva (mid) Fluminense;
The Gunners must be kicking themselves for failing to win the title last season and Wenger’s men have only themselves to blame after allowing the surprise package Leicester to finish above them. The fact that Arsenal also missed out on their usual consolation prize, the FA Cup, also hurt the fans and the mood this summer was mainly negative.
It’s been too long now since Wenger put silverware of the highest quality on the club’s shelf and the experienced manager has been under fire throughout July. He remains calm though and Arsenal are preparing at full throttle for the new campaign, knowing that their tested style of football will keep them amongst the contenders again. That said the only big summer arrival so far was that of inner midfielder Granit Xhaka, whose time in the Bundesliga made him an international star and now he is tipped to have a regular double-six place in Arsenal. Apart from that the two other new arrivals are of young players that might have to wait a season or two before they are used often. Arsenal’s squad will have injury-problems in the early months of the campaign as Welbeck will be sidelined until after Christmas, Mertesacker is out for three months, plus half a dozen internationals are behind with their fitness after the Euros. Still in the long-term the Gunners are blessed with talent and Wenger already hinted that he is expecting this season to see a lot more from the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Wilshere and Ramsey. All four of them are extremely talented attacking midfielders that will have to compete with several other players for one starting place, Ozil and Sanchez seem to have guaranteed regular positons in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Up front Giroud will be given a run for his money by Walcott, while the double-six role seems to be reserved for Xhaka and Cazorla. Gabriel is expected to get a chance in defence while Mertesacker is injured, but some concerns were raised as to how good the 34-year-old goalkeeper Petr Cech can be this term after he made two awful errors during friendly games in July. That said Wenger has Ospina and Szczesny in the team and both of them will be eager to prove their worth if Cech is underperforming.
Arsenal start another season aiming at the title, but the lack of cover in defence and attack makes the Gunners drop behind four-five other teams in the Premiership. The pressure on Wenger can also be a factor and Arsenal might find it even hard to qualify for the Champions League this season.