Arsenal season preview
Arsenal go into the 2016/17 season with a point to prove. After the disappointment of slipping away and losing the title to Leicester City last year there is a feeling –as there usually is – that this is Arsenal’s time. But this team needs reinforcements. The outgoing players have been replaced but the starting line-up undoubtedly has weaknesses which will need to be addressed. There’s a whiff of panic amongst Arsenal fans about what will happen this season if the club don’t sign what’s needed.
What about the players?
Arsenal started the transfer window exceptionally well with the signing of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach. The 23 year-old midfielder made the move to The Emirates for a fee of around £30 million and seems to be exactly what the club has needed for years. He starred for Switzerland at the European Championships and exhibited an exceptional array of passing and defensive solidity, the likes of which the Arsenal midfield hasn’t seen in years.
Xhaka was later joined by the young Japanese striker Takuma Asano. The 21 year-old is yet to appear for the club but scored in Japan’s opening match at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The other signing made by the club so far is the £2 million recruitment of defender Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers. The 20 year-old has only made 31 first team appearances in his career but impressed for The Gunners during their pre-season tour of the United States. The Englishman even got his first goal for the club in the 3-1 victory over Chivas Guadalajara.
The biggest problem area is undoubtedly up front. It’s no secret that Arsenal are in the market for a striker and have been linked with almost everyone in Europe so far this window. The one that keeps coming up is Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman has scored 63 Ligue 1 goals in his last three seasons at Lyon and is rumoured to be valued at around £40 million by his club.
Another transfer saga is the future of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi. The 24 year-old played for Germany at the European Championships in France this summer and has been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium for a number of weeks. The rumours came after the injury to Per Mertesacker who will be out of action for upwards of five months. The German is 31 years old now and Mustafi could also act as a long-term replacement. Another name which keeps cropping up is Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian was voted PFA Player of the Year last season and has been strongly linked with a move to The Emirates.
The big name departures from the Emirates come from the midfield. Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky were released while former club captain Mikel Arteta retired to become an assistant manager at Manchester City. Wojciech Szczesny will spend another season on loan at Roma while youngsters Isaac Hayden and Wellington Silva have joined Newcastle Untied and Fluminense respectively.
Arsenal really need to sign at least a forward and centre back before the start of the new season. With Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, and Jurgen Klopp for company, Arsene Wenger knows he is in for perhaps the toughest – and maybe even the last – title race of his Arsenal career.
How does the betting look?
The odds for the North London club to end their agonising wait for Premier League silverware currently hover around the 6/1 mark. In the midst of last year’s three-way title race between Arsenal, Spurs and of course Leicester City, the Gunners dropped to as low as 6/4 in the outright markets in early spring.
Those looking to back Arsene Wenger’s men this year, should do with the mind-set that they may need to abandon ship and choose the right time to lay off their stake before their inevitable ‘implosion’ makes their bet become untenable.
With no proven striker (as of yet) recruited, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez are the two men Wenger will be hoping to provide the bulk of the goals this season. They are currently around 20/1 to win the 2016/2017 golden boot, although with the entrance of Swedish goal machine Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the prowess (we admit this begrudgingly) of Harry Kane, a bet on either of these two wouldn’t be advised.
Should you be looking to have a bet on Arsenal or indeed any team this season, please check out Responsible Gambling at SaferGaming.com for tips on how to stay responsible when betting online.
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