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May 19, 2013

Rumour-free pre-season suits Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident the usual early season transfer speculation hanging over the club will be a thing of the past when the new campaign kicks off in August.

• Blog: Giroud the central man for the final day

And the Frenchman is predicting the missing distraction could be an indicator of a very good season which lay ahead.

In seasons past, Wenger and club officials have been forced to deal with rumours of star players leaving just as the side were preparing for their opening match.

Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona) and Samir Nasri (Manchester City) both left the Gunners at the start of the new season, while last year, forward weapon and club captain Robin van Persie only returned from holidays to sign for eventual champions Manchester United.

But with the rumour mill focused on players and events in other parts of the country, Wenger is preparing to return Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League.

"It is a very important thing because, last year and the year before, the summers were of course very difficult, because of the Fabregas case, the Nasri case and last year the van Persie case," said Wenger.

"We started pre-season, on camps, with every time a player being half in or half out and that is not the best way mentally to prepare the season.

"(But) Let's first finish well on Sunday and then we will give ourselves a good potential chance to win the championship next year by doing well in the transfer market this summer."

Arsenal face Newcastle at St James' Park on Sunday knowing that anything less than a victory could cost them a place in next season's Champions League.

But Wenger believes that with the team's enduring 'belief', Arsenal will, for the 16th successive season, again participate in Europe's premier competition and, in doing so, will start preparation for next season on the right foot.

"When you finish the season strong - like we do - you prepare already next season, because you go with more certainty," Wenger said.

"Last year we had a new team and we have built up some belief and, of course, with belief we want to use it to win the game on Sunday.

"The game on Sunday is also for next season, to know when you have to turn up, you turn up, that makes your future stronger as well: the strength and belief that you can start strong again, that you are on a run and you don't interrupt that because of the summer break.

"You just know that there are some qualities in this squad that will come out next year."

However, with Spaniard Mikel Arteta expected to miss the trip to Tyneside, Wenger may be forced to rely on the already injury ravaged Jack Wilshere.

But Wenger was quick to alleviate fears the England international's participation could see him further sidelined, believing Wilshere will be back fully fit for a "big season".

"It will keep him out for two to three weeks, maximum. Then he will come back and have preparation for next season," said Wenger.

"It will be a very big season for him because, first of all, it will be a very important season for Arsenal, but as well we also have a World Cup you want to bring back from Brazil."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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