Wenger: The hard work starts now
Arsene Wenger will take his Arsenal squad out to a 10-day training camp in Austria on Monday insisting the hard work starts now as he looks to mould them into a team capable of winning a first Barclays Premier League title since 2004.
While Cesc Fabregas and fellow World Cup finalist Robin van Persie will not be asked to return until the Emirates Cup begins on July 31, the rest of the Arsenal players who were out in South Africa will join up in Austria, where warm-up matches have been arranged against Sturm Graz and SC Neusiedl.
"We have six players coming back to join us on Monday when we go to Austria, and then the hard work starts," said Wenger. "We have some tougher challenges coming up, especially in the Emirates Cup, so those games will give the new signings an opportunity to adapt, but we have to give them some time."
Arsenal will then tackle AC Milan and Celtic in the Emirates Cup, before their final friendly away to Legia Warsaw on August 7 ahead of the trip to Liverpool for their Barclays Premier League opener.
Last season, the Gunners once again failed to sustain a title challenge as Wenger's young side could not produce mature performances when it really mattered to keep pace with Chelsea and Manchester United.
Wenger, whose contract runs out in the summer of 2011, is determined this time, things will be different.
"We finished third last season, so we of course try to improve," said the Gunners boss, whose 'Invincibles' team went through the entire 2003/2004 season unbeaten the last time they finished top.
"Manchester City have now joined in on the big targets, so it will be hard."