Arsenal 2013/14 preview: Wenger's defining season?

A preview of Arsenal for the forthcoming Barclays Premier League season 2013/14.

Last season: Premier League: 4th Top Scorer: Theo Walcott (14) FA Cup: Round 5 League Cup: Quarter-final Champions League: Round of 16. 

Arsenal finished in fourth place securing a Champions League spot for the 16th consecutive season, a credible performance, when on occasions they looked as if they might miss the financially lucrative position. The North London side performed to a high standard, particularly in the latter part of the league campaign, stringing together wins on the road in their five final away games.

This was Arsenal’s best patch of away form since 2004 displaying confidence while the newer recruits settled in at the Emirates to aid in winning eight of their last ten matches, to preventing North London neighbours Spurs a tilt again at the money pot Champions League tournament.

Consistent title contenders historically, now fighting and scraping for a top-four spot. Arsenal last won the Premier League in season 03/04 so the eight year trophy drought continues with an FA Cup success in 2005 the Emirates team's last silverware.

12/13: 4th, 11/12: 3rd, 10/11: 4th, 09/10: 3rd, 08/09: 4th, 07/08: 3rd, 06/07: 4th05/06: 4th04/05: 2nd03/04: 1st

Clearly there is a level of continuity but not that extra push demanded since 2004 to win the league title. 

The Emirates Stadium saw 70 goals in total last season, attacking entertainment on show at a price, 47 of these strikes were for the home side a meagre 23 conceded at home.

The conclusions are tricky to draw from such simple information, but to turn the draws into wins, even in half of their matches, would have put another 10 points on the board for Arsenal, leaving them one point adrift of Manchester United in 2nd place in the league.

Arsenal's top Premier League goal scorer was Theo Walcott bagging 14 goals, followed by Santi Cazorla with 12 strikes, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski in their inaugural Premier League campaigns netting 11 goals apiece.

The goals are spread out amongst four players reaching double figures. They are only the fourth team in a Premier League campaign to achieve this feat, yet Arsenal crave for a proven perennial World Class 20+ goal-scorer each season.

Is Luis Suarez this predator? Albeit missing six games wherever the Uruguayan ends up, he has a chance of being that man. Arsenal surely have not replaced 30 goal Robin van Persie (2011-12) at the Emirates as their vital striker.

Arteta the clubs vice-captain is critical both on and off the pitch, since he arrived from Everton in the summer of 2011. The Spaniard has established himself as the fulcrum, conductor of the side, dictating the tempo of the game making the most successful passes (2,517) of all the players in the Premier League last season.

Manchester United's Michael Carrick is second with in the table of accurate passes, but surpassed Arteta in finding team-mates in the opposition half and making chances.

This is of course is Arsenal's philosophy, to retain possession and pass the opposing teams into hanging out the white flag, with the highest % of possession stats in the Premier League last term 58% (60% in 2011/12) equalled only by Manchester City in 12/13.

Dropping out of the Champions League at the round of 16 - being eliminated by the eventual winners Bayern Munich was nothing to be too down beat about, and the result in Germany however, should give the Gunners some belief that they can compete with the very best on their day, and inspired a fightback for the remainder of their league campaign.

It did take domestic cup howlers at the hands of Bradford City and Blackburn Rovers to cause the impetus at Arsenal to get their act together in the league, which may suggest a serious lack of depth in the team in what on paper looks a talented squad.

Several fringe players have been moved on from Arsenal including Andrey Arshavin, Sebastian Squillaci, Gervinho and Denilson, which should allow new players to be purchased in freeing up wages budget at the club, but so far fans are still waiting.

Arsenals Fixtures: The first five, to get off to a flyer or a hiccup

Last season presented tougher ties to navigate in facing Liverpool (A) Manchester City (A) Chelsea (H) of the recognised big hitters in the league, Arsenal only registered two wins from their first eight matches last term.

This season the North London derby represents the fly in the ointment for Arsenal to be buzzing. For the Gunners to get off on a five win run this term - which includes welcoming Tottenham to the Emirates - would inject a huge amount of needed confidence this season at the club. The opening five games are: Aston Villa (H), Fulham (A), Tottenham (H), Sunderland (A), Stoke (H).

Later on, March 2014 is a huge month for Arsenal with Stoke (A) Swansea (H) Tottenham (A) Chelsea (A) and finally on the 29th of March, Manchester City (H). Could Arsenal’s whole season polarise into one month in a make or break title push? It certainly can't get any tougher for the Arsenal in the mad dash to the finishing post.


With managerial changes at Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City amongst others, doubled with those managers venturing into the Premiership for the first time with new clubs. Is this not the prime opportunity for Arsenal to challenge for the top of the league?

During this period of management transition with Arsene Wenger now the longest serving experienced Premier League custodian. Can he take advantage of this?

Transfer news

Arsene Wenger plunders Ligue 1 recruiting 20-year-old Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer from French side AJ Auxerre. Although at the time of writing Arsene Wenger is eyeing want away Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, but the Reds do not want to sell.


Arsenal will wish to crank it up a gear from last season and challenge for the top of the league, but they need the major confidence boost by winning their Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce. Lose that and the Gunners could slip into reverse gear and have to deal with the complication of the long-winded Europa League.

What is your prediction for Arsenal's season?

image: © dyobmit

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