The English Premier League season kicks off on August 13th, and Arsenal will have the unenviable task of hosting rivals Liverpool on opening day. Despite the tough test that awaits them to start the season, and the trip to Leicester City the following matchday, supporters should feel optimistic about the season. The Gunners finished second a season ago, 10 points behind champions Leicester, and with a few tweaks this season already completed, should push for the Premier League title once more.
Arsenal is currently third favourite to lift the title, and come in at 15/4, according to NetBet; where you can use this NetBet promo code for 2016.
Now, Arsenal Vision looks at 5 reasons Arsenal can win the English Premier League in 2016-17.
5. Granit Xhaka
Arsenal, on paper at least, has one of the best midfields in the English Premier League. It is arguably the best assortment of midfielders in the English top-flight. Granit Xhaka’s addition was a brilliant piece of early business by Arsene Wenger, as the Gunners’ £30 million signing is well worth the cash.
Xhaka had a solid Euro 2016 tournament, and surely impressed Gunners’ fans with his performances. During Switzerland’s four matches at the competition, Xhaka averaged 2.5 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per match. That was just a teaser for what he can do in Arsenal’s midfield, where he will control the game for the team this season. If Xhaka can improve his disciplinary record, he will be the complete midfield general for Arsenal for years to come.
4. More recruits on the way
Arsene Wenger has been a stubborn manager over the years. Despite having money in the coffers, Wenger has shied away from throwing around cash like the Manchester clubs or cross-town rivals Chelsea.
Could the summer of 2016 be different? Wenger has already spent £30m on Granit Xhaka, and rumours persist he is still hunting for top-quality players. Neven Subotic and Ricardo Rodriguez are both being heavily linked to the Emirates. Last season’s 21 goal Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette could join them as well. All three would massively improve the Gunners. Although questions could be asked about Subotic’s decline in play, Rodriguez and Lacazette would be outstanding signings.
3. Olivier Giroud will get double digits in goals
Olivier Giroud is a top five striker in the English Premier League. Last season the Frenchman scored 16 of Arsenal’s 62 goals. He added a further six assists. He has scored in double digits every season since arriving from France’s Montpellier, and there is no reason he shouldn’t do the same again in 2016-17.
Giroud is having an excellent Euro 2016 campaign with France, and once he returns to the Arsenal fold, should be able to carry over the form that has seen him score three times at the Euro competition this summer. With Xhaka in the centre of the park and Arsenal’s creative attackers still in tow, Giroud should once again lead the side to the top of the league.
2. Petr Cech has a year under his belt
Petr Cech’s Arsenal career got off to a nightmare start last season with a mistake in the Gunners’ season opener against West Ham that cost them dearly. The Czech has now had a season to come to terms with being a member of the side.
This season Cech will have no excuses in goal for Arsenal. He shouldn’t need any this term either. Last season, Cech finished fourth in the English Premier League with 101 saves and posted 16 clean sheets, the most of any goalkeeper in the league. With Xhaka’s arrival and possible defensive re-enforcements, expect even better numbers this term as Cech keeps Arsenal near the top of the league.
No stars have left
There was a time when Arsenal continually lost players to the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Barcelona. This season, however, it looks likely that the Gunners will keep all the important pieces the club has assembled in recent years.
Last term’s assists leader Mesut Ozil (19) will be back as the creative spark for Giroud. Santi Cazorla is healthy after missing much of last season with a knee injury. His return will add more depth to the team’s talented midfield. Jack Wilshere, who played a minor role in England’s Euro 2016 campaign, should be fit as well.
With so many midfield options, the Gunners should be just as difficult as ever to defeat. With big names arriving – possibly – and the club’s stars staying, Arsenal should contend for an English Premier League title in 2016-17.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer. Check out his latest book, Soccer Travels, in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.