It has been widely reported that Jose Mourinho is set to return to Chelsea in the near future, but Matt Stanger ponders whether this is really a good thing for the Blues and the PL...
Roll up, roll up to have a good laugh at your Football365 scribes, as we look back on our pre-season predictions to see who was wrong, who was right and who was stupid...
Premier League 3rd; Champions League Last 16; FA Cup Fifth round; Carling Cup Quarter-finals
Manager Arsene Wenger (since October 1996) Odds on being first out of his job 40-1 (joint 16th)
Transfers in Lukas Podolski (Cologne), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Santi Cazorla (Malaga)
Transfers out Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Manuel Almunia (Watford), Denilson (Sao Paulo)
"Thank God that's over" may be a tempting sentiment now that Robin van Persie has finally left the Emirates, but you would be foolish to think we could escape that easily. With the Dutchman having moved within England, and especially to Manchester United, we are destined for months if not years of comparison between him and his Arsenal replacements, and debates over which club got the best of the deal, which will be ratcheted up whenever Arsene Wenger's side face Sir Alex Ferguson's. This is Fabregas and Nasri rolled into one, with Old Trafford and the folk enemies it contains the destination rather than the nouveau riche of Eastlands, who are easy to look down on even when they are champions if you have spent so long tending the moral high ground.
Which Robin van Persie has been sold and bought? The one who scored and won Footballer and Player of the Year, or the balsa wood version of some previous seasons who still had a great goals ratio but could not manage 20 league games? It will hurt Arsenal fans to see him play for United but if both he and his replacements perform then both sides could be winners in a deal for a player in the last year of his contract.
The obvious positive for Arsenal is that Wenger has spent in advance of the sale and the purchases have got to play a part in their new club's pre-season, rather than being snatched away on deadline for hasty integration, as happened to Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker last year, after that 8-2 Old Trafford humiliation and the departures of Fabregas and Nasri.
Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski all have pedigree, though there are the inevitable questions. Podolski, the flavour of the 2006 World Cup, failed famously at Bayern Munich. Can he prosper this time away from his beloved Cologne? Giroud helped Montpellier to the French title but will he prove the new Marouane Chamakh? Of the three, Cazorla - extracted from basket cases Malaga - looks the most likely to succeed but all three may do so. As long as none of them turns out to be the new Park Chu-young, Wenger will probably be reasonably happy.
You can expect the manager to argue "it's like having a new signing" if Jack Wilshere is able to restart his career in October and stays fit, and last August's emergency acquisitions should benefit from having a pre-season. There is a certain amount of disarray and adjustment at the Gunners' London rivals and it is easy to imagine a less trying route to third place: on 1 February they were seventh, a point behind Liverpool, and had Tottenham kept things together even slightly better then it would have been Arsenal's Champions League place snatched away by Chelsea.
What many Arsenal fans want - especially those more recently lured in by the glamour of Wenger's zenith - is to see some sign that the 19-point advantage held by the two Manchester clubs may be eaten into. It is what Van Persie wanted, too.
Stan Kroenke, Wenger and their devotees would argue that this is unrealistic, that City, United and also Chelsea have such financial advantages that prudence is only prudent, and that financial fair play will one day cut some of their rivals down to size. To sell this proposition Arsenal must at least be consistently entertaining at home.
First up at the Emirates are Sunderland, before trips to Stoke and, at the start of a tricky month, Liverpool. Promoted Southampton come to the Emirates immediately after the international break but then there is the tricky date at Eastlands before Chelsea travel across London.
If Arsenal are there or thereabouts after this run then perhaps that 19-point gap will not look quite so daunting.