LONDON • Mikel Arteta said Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph last season had raised expectations at the club as he chases new signings to boost their Premier League challenge.
The Gunners finished eighth in the league last year, their lowest position since 1995, but beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final and overcame Liverpool on penalties in the Community Shield, the season’s curtain-raiser.
“Every new season brings new expectations,” said Arsenal’s Spanish boss, whose side kick off the new Premier League season today at newly-promoted Fulham.
“I think obviously the way we ended last season and where we are starting this one with a title, obviously people want to see more and more and more. This is a really positive sign. We want that type of energy to drive our team forward and tomorrow we have a great test at Fulham.”
He said his players were not content with what they had achieved in his first season at the Emirates but they had been boosted by winning silverware.
“What I see from them is that they want more,” he said at his pre-match press conference yesterday.
“They are not satisfied and this is what we want to show tomorrow, that we want to go another step forward.”
He praised new recruits Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes but said the club, who remain linked with midfielders Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar, were still active in the transfer market.
“At the moment the squad balance is not ideal,” said the Spaniard. “There is still some work to do, but we have to bear in mind the complications of this market.”
Defender Gabriel, signed from Lille for a £22 million (S$38.5 million) initial fee, could make his Gunners debut today after Arteta revealed that five of his centre-backs – David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari and Shkodran Mustafi – have been ruled out.
But Arteta calmed the nerves of Arsenal fans by saying he was even more confident than he was at the end of last season that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will sign a new deal. He also dismissed suggestions fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette could depart during the current transfer window.
Arsenal centre-backs ruled out for their match against Fulham today.
Fulham manager Scott Parker has no injury concerns but new signings Alphonse Areola and Kenny Tete are unlikely to make their Craven Cottage bows.
FULHAM V ARSENAL
Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 7.30pm