Arsenal preview 2014-15: A new dawn or the same old Gunners?
A new dawn awaits at North London as the azure skies over the Emirates is set to open up. After ending their trophy drought of over eight years by claiming the coveted FA Cup, Arsenal are perhaps set to for a significant Premier League title Challenge. If last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Manchester City in the Community Shield gave glimpses on what awaits, come this weekend, Arsene Wenger is ready to enter the bandwagon.
Aaron Ramsey’s winner at Wembley against Hull City in the FA cup final looks to have cast a magic spell on the squad. The burden to win silverware is off their back and even though there were suggestions of a possible transfer window failure while Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United shopped at will, Arsen Wenger did, what he does best. The 64 year old was busy enjoying his holidays in Brazil during the World Cup and while photos of the former Economics professor enjoying a game of volleyball grabbed the limelight at the Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Arsenal fans all around the globe seemed despondent.
In hindsight deals for Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Alexis Sanchez were as good as done. Southampton’s Calum Chambers was soon to follow while Costa Rican World Cup star is back to his parent club after at Olympiakos. Though Thomas Vermaelen left the club for the greener pastures of Camp Nour, Wenger has suggested he still has the cash and the options to boost his squad before the transfer window slams shut.
A striker still remains the priority while the Gunners could also do with a central defensive midfielder given Mikel Arteta didn’t look at his best last season. Sami Khedira’s name has been doing the rounds while the rumour mill has been quiet qith Lars Bender and William Carvalho over the past few weeks. Theo Walcott should be back from injury early in September while Lukas Podolski is another option up front alongside Olivier Giroud. Yaya Sanogo too will feel he has a case of his own thanks to his four hits at the back of the next in the Emirates cup against Portuguese Champions Benfica.
How will the Gunners line up: Balancing between domestic cup competitions and the Champions League will once again take its toll, the squad depth will be fully tested but the priority for Arsene Wenger would be to reclaim the lost glory by lifting the Premier League title. Arsenal face an early test against Turkish side Besiktas in the Champions league playoff, one which doesn’t look easy as it seems on paper.
David Ospina will certainly challenge Wojciech Szczesny for a starting spot under the sticks while the form of the two wing backs in Debuchy and Gibbs will be the key going forward in the season. As the pre-season showed their link up with the wingers up front remains the key to Arsenal’s attack in the final third. Calum Chambers looks like a fine prospect with great positional awareness but the teenager, despite having significant Premier League experience isn’t perhaps ready to take up the mantle for the London club. Alexis Sanchez’s form remains Arsenal’s weapon, the Chilean as we know can create havoc with his raw pace and dazzling trickery on the flanks. Mesut Ozil too has vowed to improve in his second season for the club.
Expectations: Nothing less than a silverware at the end of the season would be considered as a successful campaign, yet Wenger has all the ammunition for a significant title challenge. The Gunners might be in the race till January and it will be interesting to see how to cope up with the expectations of retaining their FA Cup title and Champions League aspirations.