BT Sport is where the best in domestic and European football go head to head, with Arsenal hoping to challenge on both fronts this season.
As the face of the broadcasters Premier League coverage, Jake Humphrey will be seeing an awful lot of the Gunners this season, with club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette and fellow new arrival Sead Kolasinac catching his eye already.
Speaking exclusively to Arsenal Insider at BT Sport’s media day, Humphrey was keen to laud the pair.
“I think Lacazette is going to come in and be a superstar for Arsenal,” he said.
“He’s well equipped for the league, he’s quick, physical and I think the players around him are excited he’s come in. I think he’ll be up there in the 20s in terms of goals.
“He’s going to bring pace, goals, movement and real stretch defences. He’s the signing that Arsenal needed, while Kolasinac has shown real pace and aggression which is what Arsenal need at the back.”
Last season was a mixed bag for Arsenal, finishing outside the top four for the first time under Arsene Wenger, but winning the FA Cup against Chelsea.
It appeared that Wenger’s 21-year reign might have been coming to an end but he chose to sign a new two-year-deal to remain at The Emirates, something that Humphrey believes was due to the cup final triumph.
“I’m not surprised Arsene Wenger is still there. It seems the hierarchy at Arsenal are happy with what he is achieving and I know he didn’t a finish in the top four but he won the FA Cup.
“I have a sneaky suspicion that had he not won it, he may very well have walked away and that’s why they waited and waited.
“I remember chatting to him on the pitch after the final at Wembley and he looked like a different man compared to the stressed out Arsene Wenger that I interviewed earlier in the season.”
The BT Sport presenter was also full of praise for Wenger, having seemingly reinvented himself tactically.
He was also keen to point out that he thinks the Frenchman does not get the credit he deserves.
Humphrey told Arsenal Insider: “Wenger has proved a lot of people wrong who say he’s stubborn and has his set ways but here he is playing with a back three.
“How many other managers at the top of the Premier League go and find Rob Holding for £2 million from Bolton and turn him into a player who I think will make the England squad in the next 12 months?
“That is impressive and if Jose, Conte or Klopp had done that we’d be hailing them as absolute footballing geniuses. You’ve got Kolasinac on a free transfer. I don’t think Arsene Wenger gets enough credit for that kind of work.
“It wasn’t long ago that Arsenal fans and the media were asking when the club are going to do what everyone other club is doing and spend big. Then the Ozil deal happened and the Sanchez deal happened, which I think is another area where Arsene Wenger proved people wrong.
“People were saying he doesn’t want to spend the money but if the right player is available he will go and do it.
“I still think he wants to be seen as the kind of manager who can go and unearth a gem and turn them into a world class players but I think he realised in the modern era that he has to go and spend money.
“There are reasons to be optimistic if you are an Arsenal fan, I think.”
Despite his praise for Wenger, one issue did not escape Humphrey’s attention.
The saga involving Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil – Arsenal’s two star players, both with just a year left on their contracts – has rumbled on all summer and cast a shadow over what has been a positive pre-season both on and off the pitch.
“I think the club are culpable for allowing themselves to get into this position with two such important players having a year left on their contracts because it’s not great player management,” Humphrey said.
“They’ve now got a big decision to make because combined you’ve got a £150 million worth of talent if they are signed to long contracts. Are Arsenal going to want them to walk away for nothing in 12 months time?”
So how does Humphrey think The Gunners will do in the 207/18 season?
“I don’t think they’ll push for the title without tinkering with the team and moving on some of the players that need to leave for the sake of their own careers as well as Arsenal while going out and strengthening a little bit.”
“They still haven’t spent on multiple players and strengthened across the board so I see Arsenal challenging for the top four but they’ve got this difficult situation where it’s going to be a challenge for the top four because teams will improve.
“So Arsene Wenger needs to do what Jose Mourinho did last season and look at the Europa League and think at what point will it be the focus, as United did after the group stages. I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsene Wenger does that around January time.”