By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger is setting his sights as high as ever this season.
The departures of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City have prompted some to suggest that Arsenal have a job on their hands to keep their top-four place intact.
But while many observers project doom and gloom, Wenger’s outlook is optimistic. He admits that securing a Champions League place is the first target but he will not settle for that this season.
“The ambition is to finish as high as possible,” said the manager at his pre-match press conference.
“What is as high as possible is to finish first, it is as simple as that. The competition is of a high level and many aspire to that so let’s continue to play the game the way we want to play it and I believe we can show that we have made big steps forward.
“The ambition is to win the title but there is a maximum aspiration and a minimum aspiration. Of course you want minimum to be in the top four and maximum to win the title.
“It is exactly the same [in Europe] but first of all we want to qualify for the Champions League and we have a tricky opponent. But let’s first start well in the Premier League.”
At first glance the loss of Toure and Adebayor appears to have weakened Arsenal’s squad. But the issue is not so cut-and-dried for Wenger. The Frenchman has added to his defensive options this summer and expects a significant improvement from the youngsters who spent last season under the microscope.
“We have developed, and are young. Why should we not be better in August than we were in March?” asked Wenger.
“We have a very young squad and we lost two great players. However, we have bought [Thomas] Vermaelen to replace Kolo and we have Eduardo back, who for me is a great player.
“We have players who develop very well and are young, like Vela, Bendtner, Walcott, who are all strikers, so I do not feel we are short in these positions.”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 14 Aug 2009