Arsenal Flags
Arsenal need to ensure those flags keep waving right till the end of the seasonReuters

So far, it hasn't quite been backed by performances on the pitch.

But, this year does feel a little different. On paper, and otherwise; that "Arsenal should compete for the Premier League title" feeling exists a lot stronger.

Wenger has the money now to strengthen his squad wherever necessary, and, more crucially, keep his players, as the new contracts of Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla proved.

Too many times Wenger has seen his Arsenal side being asset-stripped just when they looked primed for a challenge.

Cohesiveness and understanding is quite essential for a team to sustain a title challenge over nine gruelling months, and that certainly is the Arsenal mantra this season, with Wenger, so far, only bringing in Petr Cech from Chelsea.

That signing, though, could be the difference between the title and an "ok so there is another top-four place for Arsenal" finish, because there is little doubt that Cech is a truly world-class goalkeeper, and the best the North London club have had since Jens Lehmann.

A strong goalkeeper not only makes those crucial saves, but also gives the back-four confidence, and for Arsenal defenders that is always important.

There have been calls – obviously – for Wenger to strengthen his team further by signing a defensive midfielder as competition/cover for Francis Coquelin and a potent world-class striker, the one who will bag you 30 goals a season.

While Arsenal could use another defensive-midfield body in the centre of the park, it is not as essential as some of the fans might be saying. After all, if Coquelin had been bought in January, or even this summer, say from a Lyon for £20million, would there be such a hue and cry to buy another defensive midfielder?

Probably not, even if that does not necessarily mean Wenger should not go out and buy one – Mikel Arteta's fitness remains suspect, while Mathieu Flamini is clearly not the player he was. If the right deal and player comes into play, there is little doubt that the Arsenal manager will pull the trigger and make the signing.

The same can be said of that striker as well. Karim Benzema is the name on every Gooners' lips at the moment, with Arsenal reportedly working hard to try and complete the striker's transfer from Real Madrid.

If Wenger is able to pull off that major deal, undoubtedly Arsenal will go into the new season as one of the heavy favourites for the title, maybe even right along with Chelsea, but if the Benzema/any-other-world-class-striker deal does not come through, the team still have the firepower to challenge.

Olivier Giroud is a seriously underrated striker – the Frenchman scored 14 goals in 21 games last season, while Diego Costa, the man who has been complimented left, right and centre, had 20 in 24 – and someone capable of firing Arsenal to the title, as long as he has enough helping hands around him.

In Theo Walcott, Wenger has a player capable of hitting the 20-goal-for-the-season mark, while Danny Welbeck, if he can find those scoring boots, can get well past double figures as well.

Add Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, Arsenal have enough goals in there to be able to get right up there near the top of the scoring charts.

And then you have Alexis Sanchez, the little "tasmanian devil" who can turn any match around in the blink of an eye, and, who, having had such a great first season with Arsenal, should kick-on and do better this time around.

Sanchez, you feel, will be the key for Arsenal. If the Chilean can add another 7-10 more goals to his overall tally this season, the Gunners will be in serious contention for the title, no doubt.

Wenger will have to do without the former Barcelona forward for the first game against West Ham on Sunday, at least, with Sanchez only returning on Monday from holidays, after leading Chile to the Copa America title; but knowing the 26-year-old, it won't be long before he gets back into the team and makes them that little bit more better.

While goals might not prove to be a problem – with or without the world-class striker (read Benzema) – as Chelsea showed last season, and pretty much every season they have won the title, trophies are won on defence, and Arsenal's need to step up to the plate.

The Arsenal defence is nowhere near as bad as perceived by most, but that little step up in quality and consistency is needed in order to go all the way and lift the title.

That means, Per Mertesacker cannot keep getting caught out a little too high up the pitch and expect the other defender to bail him out; or Laurent Koscielny cannot make those silly mistakes inside the box, which costs Arsenal crucial penalties. Gabriel and Calum Chambers need to be confident and consistent enough to step in during injuries, while Hector Bellerin, Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs should provide Wenger enough selection headaches in the fullback positions, which is always a good thing.

Arsenal are always covered in midfield and attack; it is the defence that remains the question. If the back-four can be consistent enough – and Coquelin can provide them enough cover – this team should be right up there come the business end of the season.

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