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ARSENAL F.C.

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LAST SEASON AND THE STARTING POINT FOR 2016/17:

Arsenal played some impressive football for the most part of last season, even excellent when at their best. In the first half of the season they looked like potential champions, beating eventual league winners Leicester 2-5 and Manchester United 3-0. A bang in form Alexis Sánchez scored five goals in those two games, over a third of his tally for the whole season. However, that was just a purple patch for a Chilean, as he failed to find the from that made him one of the most interesting players of the 2014/15 season.

In October Arsenal managed to beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Emirates, which was a welcome boost to their Champions League hopes. The Gunners had started their UCL campaign with two disappointing defeats against lesser oppositions. 

Sadly for the North London faithful (well, the red half at least), the Gunners started to fade away around the halfway point of January. Eight lacklustre draws and defeats at the hands of Swansea, Chelsea and Manchester United meant that Leicester's lead at the top of the table had become insurmountable. However, they did experience a renaissance of sorts in the spring which eventually meant that they claimed second place over hated rivals Tottenham.

KEY PLAYERS:

Golden Glove -winner Petr Cech saved Arsenal on many an occasion last season, and he has proved to be one of Arsene Wenger's best signings in recent memory. 

Left-back Nacho Monreal barely put a foot wrong in 2015/16. A good example of his impressive season was the way he kept the whole league's player of the year Riyad Mahrez quiet as the Gunners beat the eventual champions 2-1. This was also right-back Hector Bellerin's breakthrough season, as the former Barcelona youngster sprinted himself into our hearts and the team of the season.

In midfield German maestro Mesut Özil single-handedly kept the Gunners afloat between October and January and was rightly nominated for the PFA Player of the Year gong. Özil's intricate passing and ability to create a chance out of nothing for Olivier Giroud to waste has made him one of the most important players in Wenger's squad.

Up front Giroud was Arsenal's top scorer with 16 goals, despite suffering a goal-drought that lasted a staggering fifteen matches. The Frenchman finally found his shooting boots in the final game of the season against Aston Villa, ending his season on a positive note thanks to a hat-trick.

Despite the flack he receives, Giroud is still Wenger's main man going forward, as Takuma Asano who was signed from the Japanese J1 League is unlikely to take too much responsibility of the team's scoring. It remains to be seen if Wenger chooses to add a top-quality striker to his roster before the transfer window slams shut.

EXPECTATIONS:

The season about to start is the last of Arsene Wenger's current contract, and the Frenchman who has been in charge of the Gunners since 1996 will want to end his stint on a high. However, being successful in what promises to be one of the most tightly contested Premier League seasons in recent memory is a tough task, with even a spot in the top four not guaranteed. 

There hasn't been much activity in the transfer window at the Emirates so far. Club captain Mikel Arteta chose to run down his contract and join Manchester City in a coaching capacity. Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini have also left the club.

Wenger's only major signing this season has been Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mönchengladbach. Xhaka boasts an impressive range of passing, and if he can find Giroud regularly enough the implications could be devastating for opposition defences. The Swiss international is a good addition to Arsenal's midfield, but without a consistent striker Wenger could be leaving Arsenal with a spot in the Europa League.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

Mesut Özil will yet again prove to be the most important piece of the Arsenal passing machine. 

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