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Can Arsène Wenger reignite the flames of hope?

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Being without a Premier League title since the 2003/04 season would have seen many a manager before him hand the reigns of power over to a new, younger and fresher face. But not Arsene. This is a man who spent half of last season battling a baying crowd calling for him to go, ship out and make way for a change at the top. Although he made his disgust with the attitude of some of the supporters known, he continued. Wenger ploughed on and developed his team strategy which saw Arsenal lift the FA Cup trophy at the end of last season. This was an outstanding achievement from a team that lacked depth and whose ethos was beginning to settle on shaky ground.

Having signed a new two-year contract, Wenger now has the confidence of the board to renew his strategy for Arsenal. From the experiences of last season, it became clear that there were too many individuals who couldn’t raise their game at the crucial moment. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott have provided patchy form and need to show their metal from the get-go this season. By the same token, Ozil and Sanchez need to be firing on all cylinders in the same way as they were last season. Their talents enabled Arsenal to finish fifth last year, a position that could so easily have been sixth had they not performed.

Times They Are A-Changin’

Whereas the manager has remained the same for twenty years, there are signs that Wenger has changed direction this season in terms of strategy, gameplay, and formation. With a more dynamic 3-4-3 formation and the addition of prolific goal scorer Alexandre Lacazette up front, betting on the winners of the Premier League being Arsenal doesn’t seem such a far fetched notion. With Arsenal not playing in the Champions League for the first time since the start of the millennium, their focus can be solely on the Premier League prize.

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Expectations

Although a new two-year contract has been signed, Wenger understands the importance of returning to Champions League football in 2018. There would be no excuse for a poor showing in this year’s Premier League, and the ultimate strategist must have his wits about him to get the most out of his squad that remains adrift from the depth that Manchester City and Chelsea can afford to exploit. One or two injuries, and Wenger is reliant on those sketchy performers who lack consistency.

As with every summer break, Arsenal fans have a lot to be hopeful for. The man at the helm of the club is a guy who has delivered two domestic doubles and seven FA Cups. It’s worth keeping the faith for just that little bit longer. The first team squad is the best it’s been for a good few seasons, the manager isn’t afraid of trying something new and Lacazette, if he settles quickly, could be the reliable goal scorer Arsenal have been craving since Thierry Henry. The flames of hope are well and truly ignited.

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