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Why Arsenal Are Genuine Premier League Contenders Heading into the New Season

09/07/2015 20:12 BST | Updated 09/07/2016 10:59 BST

A list of Arsenal's Premier League finishes since 2005-06 shows that they are nothing if not consistent ​- 4, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 4, 3 - but the annual 'fourth placed trophy' has become something of a joke directed at Arsenal fans in the Emirates stadium era

Time and again, the club met their objective of finishing in the Champions League places, but they have achieved nothing other that just that and let's be honest, there's nothing that special for fans about finishing fourth is there?

To be fair to the club and the too-often ridiculed Arsene Wenger, the reason for this was simply sustainability. Both Arsenal and Wenger realised that while the new stadium repayments needed to be paid off, they simply couldn't compete financially with the likes of Chelsea and the Manchester clubs.

This didn't stop the excuse sounding like something of a smokescreen though, as more often than not it felt as if Arsenal were a fading force, one that could no longer compete in the epoch of billion dollar oil baron owners.

But over the last two seasons, Arsenal, a club which many football fans believe are run in the 'proper' fashion, have quietly but steadily caught up to their rivals once again.

Finally, as they always said would happen, the Emirates stadium is paid for and the club have the option to spend freely in the transfer market.

Where previously Arsene Wenger was restricted to bargain buys and gambles on unproven players, the Gunners now have the opportunity to blaze the transfer market and secure genuine talent.

The club now has a policy of bringing in one marquee signing every summer and the results have been almost instantaneous. The best thing for Gunners fans is that they are yet to make such a swoop this summer, but one is sure to follow before the beginning of the new season.

Two FA Cup wins later and Mesut Ozil is steadily improving and showing glimpses of his technical mastery after a slow start to life in England. Meanwhile, the magnificent Alexis Sanchez needed not a second to adapt to his new surroundings. At times it seems as if he was made for the Premier League - as if he'd been brought up on cold, rainy days and muddy pitches in North London - blasting his way through his first season in England, scoring 25 goals.

Before that was the financial nadir, though now you could make the argument that this short period has helped the club in the present day. They were forced to buy sensibly in the years after the building of the Emirates Stadium and could not take the same sort of risks as Chelsea and Manchester City pre-Financial Fair Play.

A number of genuinely quality players were picked up on the cheap, including Laurent Koscielny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.

Now that Arsenal have the financial clout to add to their understanding of the transfer market, they have the makings of an extremely talented squad - one that may just be the strongest in the Premier League.

Many of you will be scoffing at that statement, but when you take a look at the strength that the Gunners now have in depth, it is difficult to argue that anybody can match them, especially in midfield.

Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky all compete for one or two spaces in the side, while Wenger cannot fit Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud onto the pitch at the same time.

The emergence of Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin has also helped Arsenal's cause hugely, as both have seamlessly fit into an already improving squad.

Now that Wenger has added Petr Cech, he also has a blue-ribbon stopper between the sticks. The only place you could argue that Arsenal need to improve is in defensive midfield and at left-back. But even in these positions, Francis Coquelin and Kieran Gibbs have proved to be able performers.

Maybe a few years ago, this would have been a squad that was only capable of breaking the top four, but at a time when Manchester United are still recovering their knack of winning consistently, a time that Manchester City are in transition and a time when Chelsea's squad looks surprisingly thin beyond their stellar first XI, maybe it is finally Arsenal's time to have another crack at the Premier League title.

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