By Chris Harris
A new cycle has begun for Arsenal Football Club, according to Arsène Wenger.
The Frenchman has emerged from what he admits was a "crazy" summer during which seven first-team players left Emirates Stadium in permanent deals while nine came the other way. Five of those signings arrived during the frantic final days of the transfer window and four of those - Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Yossi Benayoun - have already appeared in the first team.
Arsenal are unbeaten since completing their summer business and head to Blackburn on Saturday where they will attempt to make up ground on the Premier League pacesetters.
Of course Wenger is no stranger to new beginnings at Ewood Park - his Arsenal tenure started there just under 15 years ago. On that October afternoon the Frenchman began to mould a side that would win the Double 18 months later. Now he has some more new names and faces to work with.
"We were a team on the up and that was not rewarded last season because we were maybe too hungry to go forward for four trophies," reflected Wenger at his pre-match press conference. "But the basic qualities were there and we were certainly very close to winning last year.
"Then we were suddenly hit by major departures. And so we had to review and just with the injuries we had with Jack Wilshere out, with Abou Diaby out, we couldn’t survive without buying players. And the players available now have more experience.
"So the cycle starts again because we have taken five players. But we have invested as well, our highest investment has been in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a young player. We have the work permit for Ryo too, so we will not give up on our youth policy."
This may be something of a new era but expectations are as high as ever.
Wenger, his players and the Arsenal supporters expect to be challenging for the four major trophies this season - even if they have been handicapped by a difficult start in the domestic top-flight. Wenger admits he faces a tough balancing act - bedding in new players while striving for silverware.
"I agree completely but we want our fans to be happy, we want to win trophies and we will give absolutely everything to do it,” said the manager. “That’s all I can say.
“Is the balance difficult to find? Of course. But look at the Champions League results of all the English teams - it is not as easy as it looks to cope with both.
“For me [standing still is not an option] and in the modern society a cycle takes zero days. But I will judge myself by giving the best of my intelligence, experience and commitment to the Club and after I let other people judge what I do.
"At the end of the day and at the end of the season you know yourself whether you took the maximum out of the team and the team's potential or not. I want our fans just to be happy and you make your fans happy if you win things and if you win games. That I think is that."
Arsenal: Diaby, Vermaelen, Ramsey (doubt), Wilshere (all ankle), Rosicky (knee), Squillaci (calf).
Blackburn: Gamst Pedersen (hamstring), Nelsen (knee), Dunn (calf) (doubts).Copyright 2017 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