It began some time before the transfer window had even opened; even before the 2011/12 campaign drew to a close.
The first new arrival was Lukas Podolski; made official in April, the deal had been all but completed at least a month earlier, despite Arsene Wenger’s protestations otherwise.
Olivier Giroud followed soon after and things were looking rosy at the Emirates Stadium until Robin van Persie dropped a bombshell.
The Dutchman’s statement on his website revealing that he would not be signing a new deal to keep him in north London beyond next summer prompted what has now become the biggest transfer saga of the summer.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, Van Persie is not the only one who could be off if the papers are to be believed. Theo Walcott and Alex Song are targets for some of Europe’s biggest clubs this summer – Song in particular is said to be attracted interest from Barcelona, something that will cause real worry amongst Gunners fans.
But while there may be some players leaving there should be a handful of arrivals soon, with Santi Cazorla and Nuri Sahin closing in on signing for the north London club.
Whether the arrival of Podolski and Giroud were attempts to make Van Persie stay or the north London club planning for life without the 28-year-old – the fact Podolski has yet to be allocated a squad number perhaps answers that one – remains to be seen, as does Arsenal’s line up next season.
The impending arrival of Santi Cazorla next season certainly puts a few cats amongst the pigeons. While he was deployed out wide for Malaga for the majority of last season, the Spaniard’s passing stats for 2011/12 bear an uncanny similarity to those of another player soon to leave north London, Luka Modric.
He is just as adept through the middle as he is out wide and has been touted as a long-term replacement for Cesc Fabregas, so Wenger may opt to deploy him through the middle.
With Van Persie on the cusp of leaving Wenger will need to identify a new man to lead the line, and unless Fernando Llorente, a potential target, arrives at the Emirates, Giroud will be charged with spearheading the Arsenal attack.
The big Frenchman is a lot more deft than his hulking frame suggests so Arsenal fans need not worry about long ball becoming the norm at the Emirates, although his size makes him the perfect foil for Cazorla to bounce off, although he is not the most mobile.
Wenger has experimented with Gervinho through the middle in pre-season, but its unlikely the Ivorian will be deployed there this season; Wenger has better options at his disposal while the former Lille man proved himself unreliable in front of goal last time round.
Another interesting move by Wenger is the potential signing of Nuri Sahin. The Turkish midfielder has struggled at Madrid but has a remarkable range of passing – his ability to ping balls from deep to spark counter-attacks is remarkable.
The move for Sahin looks to be quite shrewd, especially as it should be a season-long loan agreement, thus covering for the absence of Jack Wilshere without exposing the club financially. He is likely to push slightly further forward than Mikel Arteta who was deployed much deeper last season, although Sahin’s fine defensive abilities means the two should be fairly interchangeable.
At the back, full-back looks an area in which Arsenal could be vulnerable yet again, especially with Bacary Sagna injured for the start of the season. Carl Jenkinson and Keiran Gibbs will likely get the nod out-wide, while the trusty partnership of Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny will be relied upon once again. Arsenal face plenty of upheaval but there should also be reasons to smile; their attacking line up next season, if all their potential deals come off should be explosive - even if they remain vulnerable at the back.
Potential starting XI v Sunderland (4-2-3-1): Szczesny, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Arteta, Sahin, Podolski, Cazorla, Gervinho, Giroud
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