After finishing last season strongly, Arsenal will hope the momentum continues into 2021/22.
The Gunners' preparations didn't begin as planned, with a defeat at Hibernian and a draw with Rangers, but a first pre-season victory arrived against Millwall and the games have allowed Mikel Arteta to get a feel for what his team might look like when the season gets underway. As ever, there has been an opportunity for youngsters to impress, and Gunners fans have liked what they've seen of Miguel Azeez after the teenager made his debut last season.
Preparations were hit by a number of Covid tests prompting Arsenal to withdraw from the Florida Cup, but they've been back in action closer to home with a run-out for players old and new in a narrow defeat to Chelsea. The biggest concern from that game was an injury to Thomas Partey, who may now miss the start of the campaign, while Gabriel Martinelli is also unlikely to be available early on after featuring for Brazil's under-23 side at the Olympic Games. Arteta confirmed things were "not looking good" for Partey after he left the field early, and a decision needs to be made on whether the current squad is equipped to cover for him or whether they need to dip back into the transfer market.
Arsenal left things late last season with the October signing of Partey, but things are different this time around with a £50m move for England defender Ben White already over the line.
Before that move, Portuguese defender Nuno Mendes joined from Sporting CP and a deal for Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga was also completed. David Luiz is the highest-profile departure, following the expiry of his contract, while Matteo Guendouzi and William Saliba will both spend the coming season on loan in Ligue 1, but Granit Xhaka will be staying put despite interest from Roma, with Arteta saying "He's a player that we rate and value so much, he's a key member of our squad," though others such as Hector Bellerín and Joe Willock continue to be linked with exits.
Reiss Nelson is another who could start the season away from the Emirates Stadium, albeit just on loan, with Crystal Palace reportedly interested in the youngster as former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira builds his squad in south London, but one academy product who is very much part of the Gunners' plans is Emile Smith Rowe: the youngster has taken the number 10 shirt ahead of the new campaign, suggesting he has a big part to play, especially considering Martin Ødegaard's return to Real Madrid after impressing on loan last term.
What the odds tell us
As we close in on 20 years without an Arsenal league title, the 65.064/1 exchange odds on that run ending are reflective of a side whose place in the top half wasn't guaranteed for a chunk of last season. A top-four finish at 5.80 would be a first since 2015/16, while the Betfair exchange has them at a short 1.251/4 to end the season 10th or higher.
The Gunners were down in 11th as late as February 21 last season, though the absence of European football could work in their favour after previous continental distractions held them back. As for an unlikely relegation, you can get odds of 50/1 with Betfair Sportsbook.