Edu impressed by Arsenal’s squad strength heading into new campaign

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Mikel Arteta is working with the best Arsenal squad of his tenure, according to technical director Edu.

The Gunners kick off the new Premier League campaign when they travel to Crystal Palace on Friday night, looking to build on their fifth-placed finish from last season.

Having finished eighth in the previous two years, Arteta took Arsenal to the cusp of a Champions League return only to miss out to rivals Tottenham by two points.

The club spent more money than any other in Europe last summer and have broken the £100million mark again this year to bring in Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos and Matt Turner.

Asked if this was the strongest squad since his own arrival, five months before Arteta was appointed in December 2019, Edu told the PA news agency: “Yes, of course. The intention is to be better every season.

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“Your sense in terms of squad balance, in terms of quality of the players, in terms of almost everything.

“So I think so far we were doing quite well and I hope we will finish the transfer season the way we have planned it.

“First of all I always have in front of me (in his office) the squad – because I dream for the squad every day I sit in my chair, I’m seeing there I’m just working myself and how can we improve, how can you be better.”

On the eve of their season-opener at Selhurst Park, a new documentary series ‘All Or Nothing: Arsenal’ launches on Amazon.

It begins with a look back on the first game of the previous campaign, a shock 2-0 defeat at newly-promoted Brentford, before losses to Chelsea and Manchester City left them bottom of the table.

Edu, though, feels there will be no repeat this time around: “To be fair, if you remember how we started we had an issue about injuries, Covid stuff, some challenges in that period, which cost us being 100 per cent prepared.

“I’m not saying we are better prepared, I think we are in a different situation right now. I think our pre-season was great.

“The strategy, our pre-season as well it was fantastic to play important games and to travel, it gives us a chance to start well.”

One slight dampener is the absence of England international Emile Smith Rowe, who is missing with a groin issue.

“I’m not fit yet but I’m getting there,” he told PA.

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“I should be there soon, It’s frustrating, but these things happen.”

It is understood Smith Rowe is scheduled to begin full training next week, with Leicester the first visitors to the Emirates Stadium on August 13.

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