Season preview: Arsenal

Season preview: Arsenal
© PA Photos
Having not won the Premier League since 2004, Sports Mole assesses Arsenal's chances of success over the upcoming campaign.

With the new Premier League season beginning this weekend, Sports Mole has cast its eye over Arsenal's summer and their prospects for the 2013-14 campaign.

In:

Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre, Free)

Out:

Andre Santos (Flamengo, Free), Reice Charles-Cook (Bury, Free), Martin Angha (FC Nuremburg, Free), Andrey Arshavin (Zenit St Petersberg, Free), Craig Eastmond (Colchester United, Free), Kyle Ebecilio (FC Twente, Free), Vito Mannone (Sunderland, Undisclosed), Elton Monteiro (Club Brugge, Free), Denilson (Sao Paulo, Free), Sanchez Watt (Colchester United, Free), Jordan Wynter (Bristol City, Free), Conor Henderson (Released), Jernade Meade (Released), Sebastien Squillaci (Released), Francis Coquelin (Freiburg, Loan), Johan Djourou (Hamburg, Loan)

Last Season: 4th

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Three key players:


Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny in action against Blackburn on February 16, 2013© PA Photos
Laurent Koscielny - Arsenal teams under George Graham and even Wenger during his early years at the club were built on solid foundations. The likes of Tony Adams would put his head where others wouldn't even stick their boot! Many will argue that Koscielny is not as good as the former skipper, but last season in particular he started to become a stubborn presence in the Arsenal defence. The 27-year-old also showed that he has a knack for scoring important goals after he converted his chance against Newcastle United to secure Champions League football.


Jack Wilshere celebrates scoring the opening goal during the FA Cup third round replay against Swansea on January 16, 2013© PA Photos
Jack Wilshere - He may only be 21, but so much hope has been placed on Wilshere's shoulders - both by club and country. Not since the emergence of Wayne Rooney have the Three Lions had a genuine top class talent to be excited by, while in terms of the Gunners, the last one to come through the production line was probably (whisper it) Ashley Cole. It will all be about maintaining fitness for Wilshere over the next few months. If he can steer clear of injuries, he has the ability to play himself in contention for the Player of the Season award. Having always been a creator of chances, Wenger may also be keen for his midfielder to add more goals to his game.


Arsenal's Santi Cazorla takes on Aaron Lennon of Spurs on March 3, 2013© PA Photos
Santi Cazorla - The Spaniard took little time last season in showing what a clever footballer he is. Despite being small in size, he was rarely out-muscled while in possession and laid on numerous opportunities for his teammates. However, it was his ability to score goals that really stood out. He had never been prolific in his native Spain, but Cazorla found the net 12 times in the Premier League last term and added two more in other competitions. If he can improve on that total this time around, the Gunners could mount more of a challenge to the top three.


First game: Aston Villa (H), Complete fixture list

Sports Mole says: Arsenal supporters will not need reminding that their side has not lifted a trophy since 2005, but you have to go back another 12 months for the last time that they got their hands on the Premier League title. This summer has been no different to recent ones gone by in that the squad is in need of three or four additions to make them challengers. A goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and a clinical striker is a lot to find, but it is essential at the Emirates Stadium. Failure to land the stellar names, such as Luis Suarez, is likely to result in another battle for Champions League football with rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Predicted finish: 4th

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City65102121916
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd65101721516
3Chelsea6411125713
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs6321105511
5Liverpool63211211111
6Watford6321910-111
7Arsenal631298110
8Huddersfield TownHuddersfield62315329
9Burnley62316519
10Newcastle UnitedNewcastle63036519
11Southampton622245-18
12West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom622246-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton621357-27
14Everton6213411-77
15Swansea CitySwansea612337-45
16Stoke CityStoke6123510-55
17Leicester CityLeicester6114912-34
18West Ham UnitedWest Ham6114613-74
19Bournemouth6105411-73
20Crystal Palace6006013-130
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