Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph at the end of last season papered over the cracks of what should be considered a very poor season for Arsenal. The Gunners dropped out of the top four for the first time under Arsene Wenger’s leadership, and given the activity of their rivals it will be a huge struggle to regain their Champions League place. So far, they have brought in former-Schalke left back Sead Kolasinac and striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon. Lacazette netted 28 times for Lyon in the league last season, so should lift the pressure on Alexis Sanchez, but it remains to be seen if the forward can adapt to a more competitive league, especially as 10 of those goals were penalties. Arsenal suffered a drop in form around the middle of the season last year, winning just two out of eight games from the end of January, including shock defeats to Watford, West Brom and Crystal Palace. This was indicative of Arsenal in recent years, as they buckled before picking up in form when they were no longer able to achieve anything. Arsenal fans will hope that the addition of the Invincibles keeper Jens Lehmann to the coaching staff will install a bit of backbone in to a very mentally fragile team.
Key Player: Alexis Sanchez. Alexis Sanchez was the main reason that Arsenal were able to challenge for a top four place last season. His 24 goals and 11 assists meant that he was involved in 46.9% of all of Arsenal’s league goals. The Chilean only has a year left on his contract, and if Arsenal want to return to the Champions League and keep hold of their stars, Sanchez’s contribution will be vital. The arrival of Lacazette means that Sanchez will probably be utilised on the left wing this year, but does offer another option up front.
One to Watch: Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The versatile midfielder made 7 appearances last season in all competitions, and will be looking to break in to the first team more often this time out. A part of England’s victorious Under 20 World Cup squad, Maitland-Niles has already been confirmed to have been promoted to Arsenal’s first team squad for this season and has started four of Arsenal’s pre-season friendlies.
Last Season: 5th
Predicted Finish: 6th