By Daniel J. McLaughlin
It was hardly an optimistic end to the season for Arsenal. They had missed out on a Champions League qualifying spot for the first time in 21 years, and fans were growing disillusioned with long-serving manager, Arsene Wenger. Chants of "Wenger out" were heard at the Emirates, even though the Frenchman added another piece of silverware - the FA Cup - to their trophy cabinet.
There were accusations that their manager, who had been at the club since 1996, was too stingy when it came to the transfer market. Mattias Karen notes there are two contrasting opinions of the Frenchman: either he is a master at handling the club's finances, or he helps the club's owners to sacrifice sporting success for profits.
Towards the end of the 2016/17 season, he was also facing uncertainty over his future at the Emirates. This is something he acknowledges may have cost Arsenal their Champions League spot, instead qualifying for the Europa League after finishing in fifth place in the Premier League. He admits that delaying his contract renewal until the season had finished was "maybe a mistake", the Independent reports. He later agreed a new two-year contract on the premise that he would challenge Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, who have won the Premier League title since the Gunners' last win in 2004.
He is now secure for another two years, and the Arsenal boss has been spending in the transfer window. He broke the club's record transfer fee by signing Lacazette for £46.5 million, surpassing the £42.5 million that Arsenal paid Real Madrid for Mesut Özil in 2013. The new additions, the Evening Standard notes, have created a "positive atmosphere", although he still needs to keep on adding to the squad for the remainder of the transfer window.
The positive atmosphere was no doubt improved with the celebration of the Community Shield victory over Chelsea. Arsenal made it their ninth victory in a row at Wembley, after defeating their London rivals 4-1 in a penalty shootout (the game was 1-1 after 90 minutes).
It was, by and large, a "glorified friendly", ESPN argues, meaning little beyond the niceties of beating a close rival at Wembley. However, Arsenal needed this glorified friendly to show that there is more depth to the Gunners than people may think. The squad that overcame Chelsea in the penalty shootout was missing key players such as Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi. It also provided a run-out for new signings Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette, with the former already looking great value after signing for a free from Schalke.
However, Wenger has admitted that his squad is too big, and there will be some players departing the Emirates before the end of the transfer window. He has already offloaded goalkeepers Wojciech Szczesny and Emiliano Martinez, and striker Yaya Sanogo, this summer, and more could join them on the way out, as the Frenchman believes too much competition could be potentially damaging to players.
He said: “To be honest, the number is too high. We will let some players go. Too much competition for places is detrimental, but not enough competition for places is detrimental as well.”
Arsenal play Leicester City in their opening game of the Premier League season on Friday, August 11 at the Emirates Stadium (K.O. 7.45pm).