2013/14 Season Preview: A return to glory or more disappointment? Arsenal’s crucial season

With less than a week until the Premier League makes its long-awaited return, the prediction mill has been in full swing and we thought we’d join the party too. Obviously, with the transfer window open for another three weeks a lot can change, but the landscape of the 2013-14 Premier League season should be almost shaped up by now.

Over the next four days we’ll have a season preview for each of the 20 Premier League clubs and we kick off today in North London’s red and white corner.

Last season’s position: 4th (W21 D10 L7 F72 A37)

Key man: Jack Wilshere

Predicted position: 5th

For all the talks of financial firepower and of a £70m “war chest” to be invested on world class players, this summer has been a customary quiet and frustrating summer for Arsenal fans, who are still waiting for one the world class signings promised by Arsene Wenger to materialise.

Early in June, Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s chief executive, had fueled hopes of Arsene Wenger ditching his bloody-minded approach to secure a world class signing but, as yet, the only new face at the Emirates is 20-year-old striker Yaya Sanogo, who arrived on a free transfer from Auxerre in France’s Ligue 2.

Arsenal could have, and should have, signed Gonzalo Higuain but, having hesitated to produce the chequebook, they were pipped to the post by Napoli, while Higuain was soundly booed at the Emirates Cup.

The Argentine would have represented the sort of world class striker Arsenal need if they’re to be competitive, for neither Lukas Podolski nor Olivier Giroud were fully convincing in front of goal last season.

With Higuain off to Serie A – where Arsenal have done to well to offload Gervinho to Roma for £8m – Arsene Wenger continues to monitor Luis Suarez’s situation at Liverpool but even if the Uruguayan was to become available, doubts persist over Wenger’s willingness to fork out in the excess of £40m for the Liverpool striker.

Furthermore, Arsenal’s bid of £40m plus £1m was seen by Liverpool as a classless and futile attempt to further unsettle the player and the feeling is that, were Liverpool prepared to sell Suarez, Arsenal would be the last club John W Henry and Brendan Rodgers would consider selling to.

Wayne Rooney, also touted as a possible target for Wenger at one stage, is likely to favour a move to the Chelsea, were United to soften their stance and sanction his sale.

“It takes a little bit something out,” Wenger said when asked about his reluctance to sign established, expensive, players. “Because it doesn’t give a chance to somebody who works well in the club and develops people and players, and focuses on the quality of the game.”

Those words are likely to sound ominous for the increasingly growing number of Arsenal fans who are growing disillusioned with Wenger’s transfer policy and have been crying out for a top player for quite some time.

However important the signing of Higuain might have proved, Arsenal have priorities in other areas too, particularly in the centre-back position. With Thomas Vermaelen out for six weeks and Johan Djorou loaned out to Hamburg, Arsenal look dangerously short of options at the back.

However, Arsenal have something to be optimistic about. Jack Wilshere has had his first pre-season since 2010 and this season could be very important for the England midfielder, whose fitness will be crucial to Arsenal’s chance of success.

Arsenal are the only top four team not to have changed their manager and while stability might give them an egde over their rivals, another top four finish won’t be celebrated with the same rapturous scenes that were witnessed last year.

Arsene Wenger’s contract is set to expire in June and his long-term future could well depend on Arsenal’s performances this season.

Where will Arsenal finish this season? Will Arsene Wenger get his man before the transfer window shut? Which areas do Arsenal need to strengthen in?Let us know below or get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter

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