t has been an excellent pre-season for Arsenal, who won all five of their friendlies.
New signings have settled well and the Gunners look sharp and fresh. There is optimism among fans and those inside the club that they could finish in the top four.
The pressure is now on Mikel Arteta to finally deliver that Champions League return, while ignoring the inevitable distractions provided by the release of Amazon Prime Video’s new fly-on-the-wall All or Nothing documentary series.
Here, Standard Sport’s Simon Collings previews what could prove to be a memorable campaign at the Emirates.
How have they done in the window?
Very well. Signing a striker was the priority and they landed their No1 target in Gabriel Jesus. The arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko has eased their reliance on Kieran Tierney at left-back. The Gunners still need to shift some players and want a new winger, too.
Tactic to look out for
Arsenal have at times in pre-season played a 2-3-5 formation when in possession, with Ben White and Zinchenko pushing forward from full-back to play alongside Thomas Partey in midfield. Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard then push high to join the forward line.
William Saliba joined in 2019 but the 21-year-old is yet to play for the club after spending three seasons on loan. The France defender has been excellent in pre-season, and this should be the year he finally breaks into the team — and Arsenal finally see a return on the £28million they spent.
Is the manager under pressure?
Arteta has the full backing of the Kroenkes and in May was handed a contract until 2025. The Spaniard, however, needs to continue showing signs of progress and, given the level of investment this summer, a top-four finish should be the aim.
Success would be?
Qualifying for the Champions League. Arsenal were so close last season but fell at the final hurdle. Arteta has been backed this summer and has a stronger squad. Winning the Europa League could prove to be the way they return to the Champions League.
Failure would be?
Finishing outside the top six. Last season showed how tight the race for fourth is likely to be and, if Arsenal narrowly miss out, it would not be a huge failure. Slipping back out of Europe, though, would be a big step backwards after a year of progress.
Player of the year will be?
Bukayo Saka just gets better and better. The winger bounced back so well last season after his Euro 2020 penalty pain. Looks fresh after a summer off and should be Arsenal’s talisman in attack. The next step is to get 20 goals a season, having scored 12 for the club last term.