Are the North Londoners ready to challenge United like they used to?
Remind me how they did last season? Finished in fourth place – just – guaranteeing that all-important Champions League slot.
Happy with that, were they? Anything less would have been a disaster so, ultimately, yes. Few were predicting a top-three finish for them at the outset of 2012/13 – with United, Manchester City and Chelsea considered superior – so that left them to battle for fourth and fifth with arch-rivals Spurs. It was a pretty close-run thing – it went to the final day, in fact, when Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Newcastle kept Tottenham at bay by a point.
Still, no trophies though... Don’t rub it in. They did finish the season strongly, to be fair, and that might give the Gunners confidence and a decent platform for the coming season.
What’s this about them sticking by their manager? Bit old-fashioned, eh? Now Sir Alex has retired, Arsene Wenger has taken up the baton as the Premier League’s longest-serving manager. Though some Emirates-goers may suspect he is hiding an allergy to silver, the fact is his methods have kept the Gunners near the top of the English and European pecking order for 17 seasons. It’s a record not to be sniffed at. And Arsenal’s hierarchy, to their credit, have sniffed not.
Splashed much in the summer? Some tough talk has been emanating from the Emirates just recently, with chief executive Ivan Gazidis bullish about the club’s punching power in the transfer market. Seems they’re putting some wedge where their mouths are – offering a club record £25m for Real Madrid and Argentina hotshot Gonzalo Higuain, only for him to join Napoli, and also hoping for a bite with a record bid for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, yet only young French striker Yaya Sanogo has, in fact, booked in.
Cleared a bit of space in the squad first, presumably? Absolument. Fourteen contracts that ran out over the summer were