Mikel Arteta has set his sights high for the coming season.
And that is even before Arsenal do all of their transfer business this summer.
“It doesn’t matter who we have, we will challenge for the top, 100 per cent,” said Arteta with a sense of bullish confidence.
Arteta regards the traditional season curtain raiser as a chance to send a message of intent from an Arsenal team which finished on a high but can get so much better.
This is Arteta’s first full season in charge, having taken over in December, and he has already set about stamping his authority on the club and squad.
They have brought in Willian on a free transfer from Chelsea, are on the brink of tying down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract and completing a £27m deal for Lille defender Gabriel.
There will still be plenty more ins and outs this summer as Arteta sets about a major reshuffle of his squad and his infectious enthusiasm has already attracted players.
Brazil forward Willian, 32, admitted that Arteta persuaded him to sign a three year contract by promising that they can get back into the Champions League and win the trophy during that time.
That might seem a very lofty ambition but the top four is a game changer for Arsenal both in financial terms and also getting back on the big European stage.
When asked about the three year plan he shared with Willian, Arteta said: “Well, it is the right spirit! I want players who are optimistic and willing and they want to win for our club.
“That is the feeling I got from the first day I met Willian: he is not satisfied with what he has done in his career, which is a lot, and he is going to bring some special qualities for our team, and the type of attitude and mentality that you just mentioned in your question.
“Let’s see how we look like at the end of the transfer window. It just started and everything looks pretty slow at the moment not many teams are moving aggressively so a lot of things are going to happen from now to October 6.”
It was a challenging first season in charge for Arteta which he turned around after inheriting a mess from Unai Emery but their patchy league form was saved by the FA Cup success.
That was the passport into Europe and a much needed financial boost but they did show in flashes signs of promise that they can compete with the best.
They beat Liverpool at the Emirates during the run-in, upset Manchester City in the FA Cup semi final and then Chelsea in the final.
Those sort of results were huge for Arteta because they made his players believe in his vision and is the reason why he thinks they can push on and get back into the top four this season.
“You’re right, I think it gave us a big platform of confidence and belief that we could challenge and play against the top teams at that level as well and beat them,” said Arteta.
“And you know, always finding a way to win a game, after we did it with Man City and we did it with Chelsea but I agree that that moment probably was a moment where the team clicked a little bit and went into more of a belief mode.”
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It was difficult to believe Arteta on one thing, however. Arteta talked about a clean slate for Matteo Guendouzi who fell out of favour last season while Mesut Ozil was also missing.
This summer will be more about trying to offload unwanted players to try and freshen things up to build an even stronger platform. Arteta talks a good game but his message to Guendouzi was exactly the same as to Ozil last season and he was ostracised. But his ambition is clear.
Arteta added: “I have been really clear that everybody starts from zero all the time in football. What you did two weeks ago or two years ago doesn't really matter. It's what you are able to contribute to the team now.
“Everybody is going to have the same opportunities. They'll have to show with their performances and their attitude that they are better than their teammates or somehow contributing to what we want to achieve this season.”
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