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Pep return won't distract Barcelona

Barcelona
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Szczesny: We're stronger than last year

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny claims Arsenal are in a stronger position to challenge for trophies this season even if skipper Robin van Persie leaves the club.

• Blog: Encouragement but frustration... again
• Giroud, Podolski doubtful for start

Manager Arsene Wenger has already added strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to his squad and is still in the hunt to sign Santi Cazorla and Nuri Sahin.

And despite the continuing speculation surrounding the future of top scorer Van Persie, Szczesny feels the Gunners are in good health.

"At the beginning of pre-season last year, everyone was saying it was doom and gloom with everyone leaving the club," he said. "No-one's left the club at the moment. We have new signings, we're stronger defensively and so we're in a better position."

"Those who were lacking experience last year now have that experience. We have a couple of signings, more players who can score goals.

"Podolski's goal record speaks for itself. We're strong offensively, and Steve Bould has been doing some fantastic work with the defence. That seems to be working very well. It all makes me believe we'll be that little bit stronger."

Arsenal's last silverware came in 2005 when they beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Despite appearances in the Champions League final and League Cup final, they have yet to add another trophy - but Szczesny believes this season could bring an end to the drought.

"This club always has the same aim - and that's winning trophies," the Poland international said. "We obviously haven't done it in the last few years, and that's disappointing for the players and the fans, but I believe we will be that little bit stronger than we were last year.

"We have a couple of quality signings already. We're already sure of our place in the Champions League. And we're confident we can fight for the trophies more than we did last year."

Speaking about Van Persie's likely exit, Szczesny said: "It will be disappointing if he leaves because Robin is our captain and he's our leader.

"I'm very happy to have him at the club. He's still an Arsenal player, and we support him all the way."

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