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Arsenal must put title aspirations on hold until they return to the top four

When Arsene Wenger announced he would be staying on at Arsenal, he signalled his intent to win the Premier League.

There was none of the rhetoric about maintaining their top four status and the importance of qualifying for the Champions League as the Frenchman signed a new contract to keep him at a club for the next two years, but simply one aim – finish top.

While such promises and aims can be perceived as empty words with Wenger’s popularity hitting and all-time low after a disappointing fifth-placed finish (and no Champions League football as a result), there are at least signs of hope for Arsenal.

Not only does it currently appear that the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will be staying on for another year at least, but they also splashed £47million on filling a position which has long been a bugbear for Gunners fans.

Alexandre Lacazette – a proven finisher who has managed 20 goals in each of his last three Ligue 1 campaigns – has excited fans with the prospect of a striker who will regularly find the back of the net, and is surely an upgrade on Olivier Giroud.

While Giroud has been sometimes unfairly criticised by fans (he stands behind only Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku for goals in the last four seasons) he did seem to go on too many long streaks without scoring and wasn’t always as efficient in front of goal as necessary.

But is one striker really enough to win Arsenal the league?

After finishing 18 points behind eventual league champions, Chelsea, you could argue it will take more than one signing to get the Gunners in a position to lift the trophy.

They have reinforced elsewhere however; Sead Kolasinac has joined for a free transfer from Schalke 04.

As well as being a cultured defender with an eye for creating chances, the Bosnian is a physical player – something Arsenal have been criticised for lacking in the past.

He will also fit nicely into the three in the back formation that Wenger appears to be sticking with – another factor which should bode well for the Gunners.

After switching to the en-vogue formation, Arsenal won seven of their last eight games and kept five clean sheets in the process – form that would have seen them challenging for the title had it come earlier.

Despite these positives, there are still a few things that could hold them back. They arguably still need more pace and power in the middle of midfield – particular if they continue using a pairing. Chelsea have Kante, Spurs have Wanyama and Dembele and you feel that Ramsey and Xhaka are neither mobile nor strong enough to compete with those two.

They also have the tendency to crumble without Laurent Koscielny, whose repetitive injuries could see his playing time curtailed recently. It is worth noting, however, they survived well without the Frenchman in their FA Cup final win over Chelsea.

So what’s the verdict? Well, realistically getting back into the top four and title fold would be an achievement.

Perhaps if they manage that, next year Wenger might be able to challenge for the fairytale ending he has promised.

Article title: Arsenal must put title aspirations on hold until they return to the top four

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