Champions League 2015/16 profiles: Arsenal
Coral experts preview Arsenal, 22/1 to finally lift the Champions League, and their chances of European glory in the upcoming campaign.
The Gunners begin their challenge in Group F, where they face German big-guns Bayern Munich, plus tricky underdogs Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb of Greece and Ukraine respectively.
Domestic league: Premier League
How they qualified: A third place Premier League spot, ahead of stumbling rivals Manchester United, saw them skip the play-off problem.
Best Champions League era performance: It has to be 2006, when the Londoners achieved their best ever-finish in Europe, falling in the final 2-1 to Barcelona.
As the moment where Arsenal came closest to claiming the crown that continues to escape them, Jens Lehmann’s 18th minute dismissal lingers long in the memory.
Coach: It never seems as though the Champions League is the Holy Grail for Arsene Wenger, though as a three-time Premier League champion and six-time FA Cup winner, it remains the biggest prize to elude him.
The long-serving Frenchman undertakes his 19th term in the Arsenal dugout. Is this his time?
Ins and outs: Well… Arsenal’s outlay of £10m pales in comparison to even most Champions League minnows. Custodian Petr Cech, prised from Chelsea, is the only summer signing of note.
The Gunners silverware charge could rest on frugal Wenger’s faith in his disciples, as the English capital club really needed to upgrade their defence, while an extra striker would not have been surplus either.
Key players: Schemer Santi Cazorla conducts the play after becoming increasingly influential from deep. They need the Spaniard on the ball to dictate. In attack, Alexis Sanchez is, of course, the top class spark.
Ones to watch: Hector Bellerin continues to excel ahead of more experienced peers at right back, while Francis Coquelin is doing an admirable job marshalling the engine room.
Emerging talent: Could this be Calum Chambers’ campaign? The young defender is still finding his feet, but the promise is there for all to see. As for youth team prospects, all-round midfielder Krystian Bielik, 17, is tipped to be Poland’s next big thing.
CL group and fixtures:
v Dinamo Kiev (Away), September 16th
v Olympiakos (Home), September 29th
v Bayern Munich (Home), October 20th
v Bayern Munich (Away), November 4th
v Dinamo Kiev (Home), November 24th
v Olympiakos (Away), December 9th