Arsenal can challenge for the Premier League title, says Lukas Podolski

 

Lukas Podolski insists Arsenal can mount a sustained assault on the Barclays Premier League title - but whether captain Robin van Persie will lead the challenge remains to be seen.

While Old Trafford appears to be the preferred destination of the Dutchman, who announced earlier this summer he would not be signing a new contract, Manchester United will have to move closer towards the £20million at which Arsenal appear willing to do business for a player who could walk away for nothing at the end of the campaign.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has signalled his intent for the challenges ahead by adding experience in the form of German striker Podolski, France forward Olivier Giroud and Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla.

Podolski, 27, maintains this shows Arsenal can be thinking about an attack on the championship and not just securing third or fourth place again.

"The Premier League has five or six teams who can play for the title - and we are one of them. We really want to win this trophy." Podolski said.

"I hope I can score a lot of goals and make some assists to help the club in the Premier League."

If the Gunners are not to slip back to being also-rans again next season, then they will have to tighten up a defence which leaked 49 Premier League goals last term - some 20 more than champions Manchester City.

Laurent Koscielny found himself playing alongside several different central partners last season after injuries again took their toll at the back.

The France defender, 26, recently penned a new long-term deal and intends to do all he can to make the Gunners rearguard a secure unit.

"Now I know the Premier League - I am more mature and more physical," Koscielny told Arsenal Player.

"You know I like to be tactical and technical in my position, but I have worked hard to be fitter and stronger.

"Now I want to continue my progression with this club.

"I know I played a good season last year, but I want to do more for Arsenal this year. I want to win a trophy."

New Holland coach Louis van Gaal revealed Van Persie had no issue with being asked to play back-up to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the Oranje's future plans.

Speaking ahead of the friendly against Belgium, Van Gaal told reporters, as quoted by De Telegraaf: "I had a fantastic conversation with Robin. I had to tell him that his situation has changed and that I prefer Huntelaar for now.

"It was a great talk not just about football, but also about life in general.

"I was pleasantly surprised. This was probably one of the best conversations I have ever had with a player.

"It is pretty rare to have such a good talk with a player.

"I told him that the best player plays, but that his situation can quickly change.

"I am confident that there will be a moment where he pulls us through."

Van Gaal added he would happily offer advice on his club situation to Van Persie should he seek it.

"I think the player always has to decide for himself," he said.

"When he wants he can ask me for advice, but then I will speak to him, not to you."

Arsenal duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) and Theo Walcott (thigh) both pulled out of England's game against Italy in Berne with injuries, which could see them doubtful for Saturday's Premier League opener against Sunderland at Emirates Stadium.

PA

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