Star man: If he is still at the Emirates when the transfer window closes, Alexis Sánchez will undoubtedly be Arsenal’s biggest player, not least considering the equally unsettled Mesut Özil’s occasional flakiness.
On the pitch
The German is not the big-name bottler some would have you believe, but Sánchez is far more consistent.
Biggest summer buy: Bought from Lyon for £46m, the 26-year-old Alexandre Lacazette is the striker Arsenal fans have been crying out for as they called for Arsène Wenger to spend some money. No pressure, Alex.
Breakthrough season: Fast, strong and full of tricks, the 17-year-old midfielder Reiss Nelson has impressed in pre-season, prompting Wenger to say he is “very, very close” to making his competitive debut.
Bad boy: Granit Xhaka got his marching orders three times last season, with two dismissals coming while he was on Arsenal duty. A flurry of bookings after the last of those red cards led an exasperated Wenger to say the Switzerland midfielder was “a victim of his own reputation”.
Boo boy: Take your pick. Wenger will obviously be the subject of barracking as soon as things start to go wrong, while recent history suggests any or all of his players could be mercilessly booed if Gooners feel they’re not getting the requisite bang for all those bucks they spend on the most expensive seats in football.
Destination Russia: After playing at various age‑group levels for Germany, Sead Kolasinac switched his allegiance to Bosnia‑Herzegovina, the country of his parents’ birth. They’re reasonably well poised for a play-off place in Group H.
Glass half-full: Lacazette scores a hat-trick as Arsenal win their opening game of the Premier League season for only the second time in six seasons, prompting optimistic talk around the Emirates of how this could be “our year”.
Glass half-empty: Lacazette suffers a season-ending injury as Arsenal lose their opening game of the Premier League season for the fourth time in six seasons, prompting the scribbling of “Wenger out!” posters and inquiries about the price of chartering a plane to trail a banner over the Britannia Stadium a week later.
Off the pitch
The manager: An occasionally spiky but fundamentally decent man who has forgotten more about football than most of his detractors will ever know, Wenger will almost certainly continue to divide opinion at the Emirates. No matter what altitude those planes hired by idiot fans reach, he invariably manages to rise above them.
The owners: The US billionaire Stan Kroenke owns a 67% stake in the club and became the subject of much recent outrage when the entertainment company from which he made his fortune launched a vile pay-per-view blood sports channel in the UK. It is the kind of big game trophy-hunting even Arsenal fans must abhor.
Bernard Azulay’s fan’s view: Until we discover the fate of our Chilean Duracell Bunny it’s hard to know what to expect. If Sánchez stays we’ll be feeling pretty positive; if not… Prediction: 3rd with him, 6th without. Follow Bernard @GoonerN5
Title odds 11-1
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