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Home > Sports > Football > Reuters > Report

Optimism burns bright for Arsenal

Mike Collett | September 14, 2007 10:46 IST

Arsenal go into their 10th successive Champions League campaign with burning optimism fuelled by their early season form and manager Arsene Wenger's newly signed long-term commitment to the club.

Wenger announced he had finally signed an improved four-year deal last week and with his place at the helm assured until 2011, the club hope their successes over the last decade under him will continue.

Although Arsenal are going through a relatively transitional period, it is one most clubs could only dream of having.

Behind the scenes former vice-chairman David Dein has been manoeuvring his position with a view to bringing massive foreign investment -- and ensuring his own return -- to the Emirates Stadium.

There have been changes on the field too. All-time Arsenal great and record goalscorer Thierry Henry [Images] and midfield Swedish buzz-saw Freddie Ljungberg have left.

However, their exits are being negated by the increasingly influential Cesc Fabregas and impressive Tomas Rosicky in midfield and the potentially potent force of Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo da Silva and Robin van Persie in attack.

Arsenal have won five and drawn one of their opening six matches so far, including two wins over Sparta Prague in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, and summer predictions of their demise as one of England's [Images] top four clubs now seem a little premature.

If there are any doubts, they are centered on goalkeeper Jens Lehmann who has made some early season blunders but Wenger retains his faith in the German who was sent off in the Champions League final against Barcelona in May 2006.

An illustration of just how much the team has changed in the last 16 months is that six of the 14 players that appeared in that final have now left -- Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Robert Pires, Juan Antonio Reyes, Henry and Ljungberg.

Wenger will be hoping their replacements can go one better than that team's European achievements and actually win the trophy in due course.

He said: "I want to win the championship, the Champions League and be consistent. It's that simple. I want to achieve the maximum with this team which is very young and is ambitious to do well."

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