The 2016/17 season was a torrid one for Arsenal, as they finally dropped out of the Champions League places, after flirting with doing so for a number of seasons beforehand.
Although they salvaged things somewhat with a victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup final there were still calls for manager Arsene Wenger to bow out. Wenger is still in place for this season though, so what are the expectations for the club for the 2017/18 season?
While most Arsenal fans would love to see their team mount a serious challenge for the league title, it is fair to say that neither they nor many pundits really had this as a serious expectation for the team going into this season.
The mixed summer transfer window, when the only new signings were Sead Kolasinac and Alexander Lacazette and many of their defensive and midfield issues were not addressed, added to this. The demand among supporters of the club was that they regain their place in the top four and the Champions League, but their early season form suggested that even this would be a stretch.
Having started the season with a thrilling 4-3 home win over Leicester City, Arsenal subsequently slumped to a defeat at Stoke City before being thrashed 0-4 by Liverpool at Anfield. The lightweight defence and midfield failings that have plagued the club in recent seasons were clearly visible again – as well as their tendency to shrink under the pressure of the big matches. Despite these early setbacks, Arsene Wenger remains convinced that his team can contest the Premier League title, and the team did recover somewhat in the next few games. Wins against Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Brighton, as well as a battling draw at Chelsea, got the team back on the right track.
Arsenal also secured a big win at Everton, in a fixture where they were defeated last season, but it could be argued that this was deceptive as the Toffees are in the middle of a form crisis and were on the verge of sacking manager Ronald Koeman.
With two months played of the new season it is already very hard to see Arsenal competing with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Tottenham for the league title, but the possibility of regaining their Champions League slot is a real one. Despite that big win at Anfield, Liverpool’s defence is weaker than Arsenal’s, and this could enable the Gunners to regain fourth place. The bookies rate them 40/1 fifth favourites for the league suggesting they agree that a Champions League place is the realistic expectation for the team this season.
There will certainly be a lot of people betting on the winner of the Premier League, whether by visiting a land-based bookmakers’ or by using an online sports betting app. Some dedicated Arsenal fans may still want to take a punt on them for a first title since 2004, while others will place pragmatic bets on other teams, but if you can’t bring yourself to do either of these then football themed slot games like Soccer Safari are a fun alternative option.