Gunners not far away from the title, says Wenger
Wenger says his squad 'not far away' from glory but plays down Benzema rumours
They have had several false dawns since they won their last Premier League title 11 years ago, even though they have finished in the top four during this period.
But, Arsenal's FA Cup triumph - a record 12th win for the Gunners - and their third-placed finish in the league last season have given manager Arsene Wenger hope that the Premiership crown may be heading for the Emirates Stadium sooner than later.
At a press conference for the Barclays Asia Trophy final yesterday at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, the 65-year-old Frenchman said: "(The title) is our target, we feel that we have a chance in a very competitive league.
"We finished third last year and we won the FA Cup, so that shows that we are not far away. We have a cohesive group that has quality and ambition to do better.
"But it is difficult to tell how good our opponents are, so it's important to be as good as we can be, then we have a chance."
While the club have had to sell top players such as Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to balance their books in the past, Wenger recently said that those days are over, and they are ready to compete with the best in Europe in the transfer market.
Mesut Oezil and Alexis Sanchez were signed on big transfer fees in the past two seasons, although goalkeeper Petr Cech ($21.3m, from Chelsea) has been their only major signing so far in the off-season.
Fullback Hector Bellerin, who enjoyed a breakout season last term, has been rewarded with a long-term contract, Wenger confirmed.
When someone suggested that Arsenal have not been active in the transfer market because they have all the players they need, Wenger swiftly reiterated his stance from earlier this week.
He said: "We don't rule out (more signings), but we do not guarantee we'd sign more. I am happy with the squad I have and, if I find an exceptional player who will strengthen the squad, I will do it.
"It depends on what is on the market now, and it's not easy because many clubs are out there to buy and the number of players who can strengthen teams is very (small)."
Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema have been linked to the north London side, and Wenger seemed to have left the door open on Benzema.
Asked about transfer rumours regarding the Real striker, the long-serving manager said: "I don't know where that story comes from, but no... not happening at the moment."
On the move for the Gunners, though, is Yaya Sanogo, who will join Ajax Amsterdam on loan this season.
Wenger said: "We have not finished the paperwork yet, but he will go on loan. He came to us injured and it took us a while to get him to top level.
"He's ready to play now and will have an opportunity to feature in the Champions League with Ajax.
"(Former Arsenal players) Marc Overmars and Dennis Bergkamp work there, that's why we have a great relationship with them, and hopefully he (Sanogo) can have a great season."
I am quite surprised that he has moved to Turkey. It's a loss to English football because he's an exceptional football player. He has exceptional technique and is one of the best I've managed.
—Wenger on former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie's move to Fenerbahce
BY THE numbers 162
Arsenal's new goalkeeper Petr Cech is seven cleansheets away from matching retired David James' Premier League record of 169. The third-best goalkeeper on the list is Mark Schwarzer of Leicester, with 151.
Koscielny hails Cech impact
If there is one player who could help Arsenal end their league title drought since 2004, it is Petr Cech.
With the arrival of the former Chelsea goalkeeper, who knows all about winning league titles with the Blues, the Gunners are entering the upcoming EPL season full of optimism.
"Cech has played for around 11 years, and has played over 400 games in the Premier League and won a lot of trophies," said Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny of the Czech international at the Emirates Football Clinic at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.
"He's a professional and, upon entering his first training session, he's a leader. He talks with his defenders and it's very important. He will do well for us.
"When you have a goalkeeper like him behind you, you're very serene and calm on the field."
Koscielny was among eight Arsenal players who dished out some football lessons to 65 lucky kids at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.
Koscielny said that his team will take tonight's Barclays Asia Trophy final against Everton very seriously.
"We will be focused. We want to win tomorrow and have a good game," said the Frenchman.
Looking forward to the new season, Koscielny is confident that the Gunners will mount a serious title challenge.
He said: "Last season and two years ago, we had a lot of players who were young, but now they have more experience playing in the Premier League.
"We have good technical players with good mentality. With new players like Mesut (Oezil), Alexis (Sanchez) and Petr, I think it's good for the team."
- ALEXANDRIA SCHOON