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Plenty of positives point to another top-four finish; 4 ARSENAL.

LAST SEASON: Premier League 4th FA Cup S-F Carling Cup Q-F Champions League S-F MANAGER Arsene Wenger from September 1996

BEST PRICE 10-1

IT would not be summer without a supposed crisis at Arsenal, with some pundits suggesting their time in the Premier League top four is coming to an end.

Arsene Wenger has always found a way to deal with players being sold and this season could be a case of more of the same for the French miracle worker.

Big names have departed north London with regularity in recent times - Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Manu Petit, Marc Overmars, Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto all left and now it is the turn of Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure.

The African duo have chosen to leave for Manchester City, but it would be wrong to believe the hype that suggests this is the end of the Gunners competing in the Champions League.

Adebayor's performances last season were lethargic at best and Toure was not even first choice so Wenger has done fantastically well to pocket the best part of pounds 40m, particularly in the current financial market.

And there is no reason to think the Gunners are going to go backwards given the youthful age of the squad means many of them are still on the upgrade, while the injuries which caused so many problems have cleared up.

Wenger was forced to start last season without Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo and Theo Walcott, all of whom are vital members of the squad and bring a fine cutting edge to a team which already has great firepower in Robin van Persie.

Put January signing Andrei Arshavin in the mix and the only real negative was the broken leg suffered by Samir Nasri in preseason, although Wenger expects him to be back within two months.

Of course, things could be better, and a new dominant centre-back to play alongside Thomas Vermaelen or William Gallas would go down nicely, as would a strong holding midfielder.

Some Arsenal supporters believe Alex Song could be the answer to the anchor role, yet the Cameroon international will miss a vital part of the season on African Nations Cup duty and he is still living on reputation rather than solid performances.

However, there are still many positives which point to Arsenal being a good bet to finish in the top four again, and they could be dangerous runners in the Champions League.

CAPTION(S):

Theo Walcott Cesc Fabregas is ready to fire the Gunners to glory
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2009
Words:421
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