Last season: 5th
Arsenal fans will have to juggle their diaries this season to accommodate Thursday night Europa League football after seeing their side drop out of the top four – and miss out on Champions League qualification – for the first time this millennium.
That bitter pill was given a spoonful of sugar in the form of an FA Cup triumph over London rivals Chelsea and, with veteran manager Arsene Wenger’s contract situation finally resolved, fans will hope for a more consistent campaign this time around.
However, storm clouds loom in the form of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil’s contracts as both the players’ deals are set to expire at the end of the season. Allowing both to leave for free next summer is unthinkable for the Gunners and the club could have some big decisions to make before the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. French international striker Alexandre Lacazette has arrived for big money to bolster the attack while Bosnian left-back Sead Kolašinac has been brought in to help keep them out at the other end.
Glass half full: Lacazette should add a new dimension to the Gunners attack and, without the pressure of Champions League football, the club are free to focus on the Premier League.
Glass half empty: The Sanchez and Ozil contract situations will overshadow the whole season and, while the club have strengthened in the transfer market, the likes of Manchester City, United and Chelsea have all spent more.
New kids on the block: Alexandre Lacazette - Lyon, Sead Kolasinac – Schalke.
Left the building: Yaya Sanogo – released, Stefan O'Connor – released, Kristopher da Graca – released, Kostas Pileas – released, Takuma Asano – Stuttgart (loan), Chris Willock – Benfica, Glen Kamara – released, Marc Bola – Bristol Rovers (loan), Wojciech Szczesny – Juventus.
The gaffer: Arsene Wenger – Entering his 22nd season as Gunners boss, the Frenchman has everything and nothing to prove at the Emirates depending on who you talk to. Three FA Cups in four seasons would be enough for most clubs, but a downturn in Premier League form and their worst finish in two decades led to protests in the stands and demands for him to quit. If league results don’t improve this time around expect the pressure to start to build again.
Star man: Alexis Sanchez – The Chile international makes Arsenal tick and, if he can maintain his focus with the uncertainty surrounding his contract situation hanging over his head, he will again be key as the Gunners bid to reclaim their position in the top four.
One to watch: Alexandre Lacazette – Arsenal fans have been crying out for the club to invest in a world class striker and the Frenchman’s big-money arrival from Lyon ticks that box. Will the 26-year-old be able to live up to the hype and cut it in the Premier League?
First five games: Leicester City (H), Stoke City (A), Liverpool (H), Bounemouth (H), Chelsea (A)
Premier League Title Odds: 12/1
Top Four Odds: Evens
Relegation Odds: 1000/1
Top Arsenal Goalscorer Odds: Alexandre Lacazette 4/7
Star Bet: Arsene Wenger committed another two years to the Gunners at the start of the summer and his decision to refuse any offers for forward Alexis Sanchez will be key to their hopes of any success this season. Sanchez has scored 53 league goals in three seasons at the club and, while new boy Alexandre Lacazette is the bookies favourite to be the club goalscorer this season, it might pay to stick with last season’s 24-goal man. Top Arsenal League Goalscorer – Alexis Sanchez 5/2