Arsenal head into the 2014-15 season full of momentum after winning the FA Cup and the Community Shield to end their nine-year trophy drought. The new summer arrivals have prompted growing excitement among fans and provides a platform to return to the top of the English game.
Having secured new lucrative sponsorship deals with Puma, Emirates and smaller commercial partnerships, the club have been able to maximise revenue streams and from 2014-2015, are expected to become one of the select few clubs in Europe to generate more than £300 million a year. This marks a turning point after being restricted by debt repayments on the Emirates Stadium and seeing star players such as Cesc Fàbregas and Robin van Persie exiting in recent years. There is a general consensus that the club are entering a new era with greater financial firepower.
The acquisition of Alexis Sánchez is a signal of intent by Arsène Wenger and emphasises his ambition to win more silverware in seasons to come. After the record transfer of Mesut Özil last summer, this is the second time in less than a year Arsenal have operated in the higher price-bracket of the market. Sánchez’s eye-catching displays at the World Cup for Chile have instilled a sense of optimism that he can offer a different dimension to the Gunners’ attack. The combination of immaculate close control and a tireless work rate with sheer pace are traits that particularly entice Arsenal.
Wenger has endorsed the player’s versatility in occupying any of the attacking positions and could potentially have a galvanising effect to establish a fluid and threatening front line. Sánchez has the speed and clinical finishing ability to suggest he might thrive as a cutting edge centre-forward. Alternatively, he can be a dynamic and direct threat on the wing and complement the physical presence of Olivier Giroud in making vital runs beyond him. Sánchez will add skill, power and urgency to an Arsenal attack which was static and lacking invention at times with the absence of Theo Walcott in the latter stages of last season’s Premier League campaign. More importantly, Sánchez will provide a crucial outlet for creative-minded players like Cazorla and Özil and be instrumental should Wenger adopt a more counter-attacking style of play. These attributes will be pivotal in unlocking defences and creating space for teammates to exploit. He will therefore be seen as a potent threat in stretching the opposition and adding goals to help improve performances, especially against the bigger teams.
Mathieu Debuchy represents a solid replacement after the departure of Bacary Sagna. The French international has adjusted to the rigours of the Premier League and should take little time in adapting to the high tempo nature of games. Debuchy offers an improvement offensively and his athleticism may be vital to recover and fulfil his defensive duties should the team lose possession. His aggression in tackles and proficiency in heading the ball should also reinforce the team’s defensive resilience.
The signing of Calum Chambers from Southampton is a long-term investment for Arsenal. He is a young, promising talent that is viewed as a versatile player and whilst he is able to play at right-back or centre-back, Wenger’s preference is to mould Chambers into a defensive-minded midfielder in the future. The 19-year-old has impressed in pre-season, most notably in the Community Shield where he demonstrated a maturity beyond his years with good defensive instinct and positional awareness. There is experience to be gained and improvements in his technique that can be developed but the youngster appears to be another rough diamond uncovered by Wenger. Under his guidance and nurturing, Chambers is expected to flourish and establish himself as a vital member of the Arsenal set-up and English core envisaged by the manager.
At Arsenal, David Ospina will provide competition for the first-choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny while helping to fill the gap left by Lukasz Fabianski. The goalkeeper was technically secure in helping Colombia reach the quarter-finals at the World Cup and will add strength to the squad.
With the German World Cup-winning trio of Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski returning along with Theo Walcott, there is an evident unity among the squad and growing optimism that Arsenal can obtain more trophies in the future. Nevertheless, the 2014/2015 season promises to be an intriguing and entertaining spectacle.
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