It seems like a long time since Arsenal last won the league, and that's because it has been. Since the "Invincibles" lifted the title in 2004, Facebook has been invented, there have been four Doctor Who series and 1.24 billion people have been born.
While Arsenal fans have probably grown tired of hearing these jokes, along with the now acerbic phrase of "there's always next year," this season there seems to be something different in the air, a strange sensation that is giving fans the hope that this might be there season.
Signs of change
The tell-tale signs started on the 10th of July, when Arsene Wenger announced the signing of former Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez for around £35million, breaking his three most stubbornly guarded principles of not spending more than £30million on a player, not signing the finished article, and not signing a player before the transfer deadline day in the process.
Since then he has gone on to sign France international right back Mathieu Debuchy, as a replacement for Bacary Sagna, Colombian world cup goalkeeper David Ospina, and has even admitted taking a "gamble" by paying over the odds for England U-19 captain Calum Chambers, who cost the Gunners £16m, which before this summer was unheard of at Arsenal.
Business not concluded
However, reports are that he has no intentions of stopping there, and that Arsenal are in the market for a holding midfield player in the mould of Patrick Vieira of Gilberto Silva, that the Gunners have lacked for some time, with the names of Morgan Schneiderlin, William Carvalho, Sami Khedira and Lars Bender all being touted by the press.
Rumours are also linking the north London outfit to another defender, should captain Thomas Vermaelen move on this summer, with Wenger apparently interested in signing one of Phil Jones or Chris Smalling as cover for the centre back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, who kept the second most clean sheets in the English top flight last season.
More and more
And it doesn't stop there with the Gunners also being linked heavily to a cut-price deal for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, which create a front line that would not only leave Premier League, but Champions League defences running scared.
But can Arsenal really sign these players? The truth is yes they can. The Emirates Stadium outfit have long since payed off their debt for the new stadium, and now can start to afford playing the inflated salaries and price tags that the modern footballer demands.
Whilst negotiations to sign the aforementioned players are likely to be drawn out and complicated, the question is now not can Arsenal challenge on all fronts, but will they? They've strengthened and got rid of most of the deadwood that held them back for years before, and also regained the fitness of key players, and now they are on the brink of achieving something really special again.
Sign Khedira, Bender, Carvalho or even Schneiderlin and the statement will be clear; this season, the shackles are off, and Arsenal are a wounded animal who are to be feared once again.
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