Arsenal in 2017-18: Wenger must prove he can lead Gunners to Premier League title | Gooner Talk


Arsenal in 2017-18: Wenger must prove he can lead Gunners to Premier League title

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The start of a new season has become something of a double-edged sword for Arsenal and the club’s supporters over the last decade.

As at the same time as in previous years, the Gunners faithful are looking forward to the new campaign with optimism and a hope against hope that a consistent Premier League title challenge can be put forward.

The technical abilities and quality in the Arsenal squad is undoubted, with the North London club proving that on their day they can beat anyone in the English game.

The problem, however, is that the side have also proven that they can lose to anyone too. Inconsistency and a perceived mental frailty have robbed the club of realistically challenging the Premier League’s elite over a campaign in the recent memory.

So what will be different in 2017-18?

While online bookmakers have Arsenal as fourth of fifth favourites to become English champions, there are a number of reasons to suggest that Arsene Wenger’s men can be firmly in the running next May.

The most-important element to the Gunners’ chances for the new campaign is keeping attacking talisman and undoubted star player Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium.

The Chile international has every right to demand that he is competing for the game’s top prizes; his ability and electrifying skill means he could command a place in almost any team in the world.

While Sanchez’s contract situation remains unclear as he is in the final year of his current deal, in the short-term if the South American is still on Arsenal’s books come September 1, this will be a massive shot in the arm.

Secondly, Wenger looks to have added a centre forward that has the attributes to score consistently and provide the firepower necessary for a title challenge.

Arsenal have broken their club transfer record to land Alexandre Lacazette and the France international arrives in North London with an intimidating scoring record from his homeland.

With pace to burn, trickery and a predatory edge in the opposition penalty box, the former Lyon man looks well-suited to the Gunners’ style of play.

Much will depend on Lacazette being the clinical player that Arsenal have lacked in recent seasons; all of English football’s other top teams have a number nine at their disposal capable of scoring 20+ goals in a campaign.

Thirdly, a change of tactics, which is linked to Lacazette’s purchase, could also provide a winning formula.

Wenger has played 4-2-3-1 for more than a decade and stuck to his guns over the formation, but towards the end of last term he turned to a three-man defence.

Whether this was out of desperation, mimicking other successful teams or trying to play to Arsenal’s strengths, the 3-5-2 system of sorts looks to be working.

Lacazette has been playing in a tandem with Olivier Giroud in pre-season and all signs point towards a strike partnership in 2017-18 rather than the lone frontman that the fans have become accustomed to.

The formation could also unleash the likes of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, make the team’s midfield more compact and make use of pace in wide areas.

Finally, back-to-back victories over London rivals and current champions Chelsea must be a source of optimism.

Arsenal have won the FA Cup and Community Shield at Wembley against the Blues in the space of three months, with the respective performances more promising than the eventual victories.

Wenger’s men have stood up to Chelsea, showed more determination and toughness than in past showings and clubbed together to succeed.

The Arsenal supporters will pray that these reasons do not lead to another false dawn – the club need a successful season and to be fighting for the game’s top prizes in 2017-18.

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