Arsenal will once again be contenders for the Premier League title during the 2015-16 season, as the Gunners look to win their first PL crown since 2004.
[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]
Progress has been the key word around the Emirates Stadium over the past few seasons, as Arsenal have won back-to-back FA Cups and finished third in the PL last season, as big-money has been spent on star players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
The north London club share a bitter rivalry with neighbors Tottenham Hotspur and under manager Arsene Wenger they have won three PL titles, six FA Cups and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League during the PL era.
Best possible XI:
— Bellerin — Mertesacker — Koscielny — Monreal —
— Wilshere —– Cazorla —
—– Ozil —- Ramsey —- Sanchez —-
—— Giroud —–
Transfers In: Petr Cech ($12 million, Chelsea), Jeffe Reine-Adelaide and Yassin Fortune ($5 million, RC Lens), Jordi Osei-Tutu (Undisclosed, Reading), Vlad Dragomir (Undisclosed, Poli Timisoara)
Transfers Out: Abou Diaby (Released), Jack Jebb (Released), Austin Lipman (Released), Josh Vickers (Released), Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill (Free, Swindon Town), Semi Ajayi (Free, Cardiff City), Ryo Miyaichi (Free, St. Pauli), Lukas Podolski ($3 million, Galatasaray)
Last season: Third place PL finish, FA Cup winners – Arsenal got off to a poor start but were sensational in the second half of the season with a renewed defensive approach as Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla held down the midfield. Alexis Sanchez was sublime and despite cashing out of the UEFA Champions League to Monaco early in the knockout rounds, it was a successful campaign.
Star player: Alexis Sanchez – The Chilean superstar scored 25 times during his debut season in England and his powerful running, ability to swerve shoots in from tight angles and relentless work rate have turned Alexis into a cult hero. The attacking midfielder will be rested early on in the season due to his involvement in the Copa America with Chile, but he will be the main man if Arsenal are crowned champions at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Coaches’ Corner: Wenger is the longest tenured manger in the PL and although he has been heavily criticized in recent seasons for worrying too much about “fancy football” rather than getting results, the Frenchman has seen an upturn in his fortunes since 2013. With the debt for moving to the Emirates Stadium now paid off, the Gunners can afford to splash out on top talents and Wenger has been handed some top-class attackers and now a goalkeeper in Cech. With a few more additions this summer and a little bit of luck, Arsenal’s fans will be more hopeful than ever that they can once again rule England. Plus, not having the dreaded Champions League playoff early in the season will help them concentrate on the PL. Wenger is a legendary manager. Can the 65-year-old lead Arsenal to another league title?
PST predicts: The Gunners are on the up, there’s no questioning that. Defensively there appears to be a few frailties and although they are stacked with world class midfielders and attackers, keeping everybody happy will be a big concern for Wenger. If either Danny Welbeck or Olivier Giroud go down injured there could be major problems. Expect Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey to step up big this season to drive the Gunners on from midfield, while Francis Coquelin will have a big part to play, especially away from home.