Arsenal have the X-factor: Arteta

London : Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta is confident his side’s opening Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on Saturday will mark the start of a sustained challenge for the title.

The past 10 years have seen Arsene Wenger’s team achieve a top-four finish on every occasion, but not once have they been strong enough to pip either Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City for pole position on the final day. Yet Spanish midfielder Arteta believes that could change this season.

The arrival of marquee signing Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, coupled with an impressive pre-season that culminated with a 3-0 victory over reigning champions City in the Community Shield last Sunday, has generated a wave of optimism at the Emirates Stadium. “In the last three seasons, we’ve signed ‘X-factor’ players,” he said. “When Santi came, I think fans got really excited because he was giving us something really special. With Mesut it was something very special. Now we have Alexis – but you forget about Theo, who missed six months last year and was superb when he was fit. Then there’s Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack and Rambo (Ramsey), who was unbelievable last season.

“Suddenly you’re talking about six or seven really good players that can make a difference in a game and that’s what you want to win trophies.”

Arteta says his arrival would complement the earlier sterling work done by Wenger in the transfer market. “We’ve done our business early this season so we can start from the off and that’s what we want. We want to set a marker and we don’t want to miss that opportunity.” —AFP

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