By Chris Harris
Aaron Ramsey is convinced that Arsenal can challenge for honours next season - especially if they make a strong start.
Arsène Wenger's side finished a creditable third last term despite collecting just seven points from their first seven Premier League fixtures, a run that left them 12 points adrift of both Manchester clubs by the first week of October.
An Arsenal squad already bolstered by the signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud will kick off the new campaign against Sunderland at Emirates Stadium in a little over six weeks, and Ramsey's expectations are high.
"Absolutely, I'm convinced we can do well in the new season," he told Arsenal.com.
"The important thing is to get off to a better start than we did last year. If we do that and get ourselves into the mix, we can compete for trophies.
"We had a fantastic run from February onwards to get into that top three - even though a lot of people doubted us. We showed character to do that, we showed how determined we are to do well. This time we want to get off to a strong start and if we do we can have an exciting season."
Ramsey will spend much of his pre-season with the Great Britain Olympic squad after being called up for the London Games on Monday. He's disappointed to be missing Arsenal's forthcoming tour of Asia but he’s confident he'll be ready for the big Premier League kick off.
"I will miss out on the pre-season tour because I'll be with the Olympic squad from Saturday," explained Ramsey.
"We had a great time in Asia last year and it's nice to give something back to the fans over there. We had no idea how big the club was over there until we visited so I'm a bit gutted I won't be going back. But I have a big challenge ahead of me with the Great Britain squad.
"They [the Olympics] will be competitive games right from the start so hopefully that will be beneficial for me at Arsenal because I will be up to speed ahead of the new season. I will be ready to go for Arsenal when the Olympics are over."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 3 Jul 2012