Arsenal – 16/17 Premier League Season Preview

Are Arsenal the only team in the Premier League who haven’t seen change this summer? The Premier League is a distended and bloated mess thanks to its over-indulging at the buffet of TV rights; it’s in need of a long lie down.

But Arsenal are in the middle of a summer like every other over the past decade. A never-ending purgatorial cycle of hope, turned to apathy, turned to despair and repeat. Every year we hear that Arsenal have money – well this time they definitely do, everybody does. Will they spend it? They can certainly afford it. Can they afford not to?

Last Season

Arsenal 1516

Nothing other than a huge disappointment, given how the season went across the league. But the problem is, any attempt to be optimistic will probably hurt the team’s ability to progress this season.

They finished second, their best finish since 2005. But to be positive about that probably gives Arsenal licence to just plod along as normal, which is surely not ok. It was a very Arsenal capitulation that saw them fall out of the title race, only to rally when the pressure was off.

They need a top class finisher and a dominant centre back to bolster the starting XI – and if they don’t get it, maybe the pressure will be off again come March.

What does success look like?

Arsenal v Aston Villa - FA Cup Final

Surely trophies. But it has been so long since Arsenal have been able to count a season an unqualified success that the idea of a good season is a little bit warped by now.

Is another FA Cup win a success? Or does it have to be a Premier League title? Or maybe just being competitive in April and May is enough. Honestly, anything past the Champions League last 16 is a successful European campaign at this point.

How has the summer gone?

Romania v Switzerland - EURO 2016 - Group A

The one thing Arsenal have that most of their title-rivals don’t have is stability and a solid platform to build on.

Granit Xhaka will add a kick to the midfield in every conceivable way. A throwback to an old-school Wenger favourite: a technically brilliant bastard and just what they needed. But if they don’t manage to find someone to put the ball into the net, Arsenal’s Limbo will continue.

Still, Purgatory is better than Hell, right?

Key man

Mesut Ozil Infographic

It’s hard to pick one, because right now the ‘key’ man almost looks like one they haven’t signed yet: a striker to put the ball into the net.

Of the current squad, Mesut Ozil had a big season last year and the season still ended in disappointment, so perhaps it will be the explosiveness of Alexis Sanchez to grab the team by the scruff of the neck and pull them over the line in games that will make the difference. Sanchez can make the difference in most sides.

Make or break season

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott. If he doesn’t perform this season, surely all hope is lost, at Arsenal certainly. Walcott is still only 26, he still has years left of being a top Premier League player, if only he could put his talents to good use.

The problem is, we’re not really sure what those talents are – he’s got pace to burn, but end product is always where Walcott falls down. He’s not a striker, and as a winger he’s rarely effective. It’s time for him to deliver or move on, to put it nicely.