Unai Emery has called for realism and already waved goodbye to a title tilt from Arsenal this season.
Arsenal finished two points behind third-placed Chelsea and one point off Tottenham Hotspur last season as they failed to qualify for the Champions League in Emery’s first campaign.
This term will be Arsenal’s third consecutive season without Champions League football and Emery may well be facing tough questions from the boardroom if the Gunners miss out on the top table again next May.
A top-four place though sounds like the best Emery is hoping for as he urges his side to improve defensively in a bid to catch Tottenham and Chelsea.
Arsenal finished 28 points behind winners Manchester City last season and, when asked if his side could pose a title challenge this time around, Emery said: “We need to be realistic and now the distance between Liverpool and Manchester City to us is [a lot of] points.
“City and Liverpool are very strong, Chelsea have kept all of their players and Tottenham is growing up and making big signings.
“Manchester United were behind us last year but they have a lot of potential as a team and have bought some expensive players.
“So we need to believe in our process and in our players.
“We have very good young players and now we want to sign two or three more to help us on our way.
“We need to improve defensively but with no loss offensively, because the first idea we developed with this team is to be offensive. Sometimes it is true that we struggled defensively and to take the balance. Sometimes we took this balance last year and our challenge is to keep producing that.
“My idea is the same,” added Emery after his side lost on penalties to Real Madrid. “I want a team with good positioning, good combinations between the players and also good experience in all situations, being able to attack and play with a big intensity. I like the energy, I like to be the protagonists.
“I think we can take some matches last year where we can see this is our philosophy, our match, the intensity we want to create 100 per cent. At other times we could not do that.”
Emery is close to adding Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos to his squad on a season-long loan, William Saliba, is also widely expected to complete his move to Arsenal in the coming days.
“When I have the player here, for me it is the same, every player they are the same, some players with contracts and some players who can’t come here for long,” Emery added.
“For me, it is to improve our team, and we are speaking about this, [we want] to sign players only if we are convinced they are going to improve our [squad] and be able to help us with different qualities with different conditions. I don’t know how many we are going to sign, but there is two or three, no more than four, who can improve that.”