safc.com profiles Saturday's opposition, Arsenal.Arsenal’s 2011-12 pre-season preparations were hampered by continuous speculation over the futures of Samir Nasri and captain Cesc Fabragas, who joined Manchester City and Barcelona respectively on the eve of the new campaign.
The Gunners found it difficult to cope with the departure of two of their more influential players, losing three of their opening five games which included an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
A flurry of new signings, including German defender Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta from Everton on the August transfer deadline day appeared to provide a much needed boost as their famed free-flowing football returned, propelling Arsene Wenger’s side up the table.
Their 15th successive season in the Champions League was secured with a third place Premier League finish, but their seven year wait for a trophy continues as Arsenal were knocked out of the FA Cup Fifth Round against Sunderland, failed to overcome Manchester City in the Carling League Cup and were narrowly defeated 4-3 on aggregate by AC Milan in Europe.
Transfer speculation threatens to overshadow yet another summer at the Emirates Stadium, with captain Robin van Persie the latest player to be linked with a move away from North London.
But Wenger has acted quickly bolster his squad, signing German international Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud from French champions Montpellier.
Off the field, former Arsenal legend Steve Bould has replaced the retiring Pat Rice as assistant manager.