I think we can already safely file Arsenal’s summer under the ‘not messing about’ category.

The question facing the Gunners after last season’s title charge finally unravelled in the face of Manchester City’s relentlessness was ensuring their push for glory was not a flash in the pan. Given how they have operated over a period of several years, it was hardly a given that this transfer window would unfold with the ruthless efficiency we have witnessed.

And yet Arsenal have made behaving how fans believe ‘big clubs’ should look effortless these past few months. An often reasonable gauge of a clear recruitment strategy and an effective execution is just how many signing targets have been attained and integrated by the time a team sets off on its pre-season training camp.

In Arsenal’s case, Mikel Arteta’s top targets were already in and around his squad by the time they boarded a flight to the USA. Managers will tell you no end just how much difference it makes to have every possible minute with players old and new at this time of year.

This pre-season will have been made all the more enjoyable for Arteta with the fact he was not overseeing another rebuild. Those had become a staple of 2010s Arsenal, the process of ripping it up and starting again an all-too frequent process for their fans to suffer through.

But given how excellently they acquitted themselves last season, Arteta’s task is more about finding the final pieces of his jigsaw and slotting them into place, not dumping the whole puzzle on the living room floor and sifting through with increasing levels of exasperation. The Gunners’ recruitment has ranged from impressive to intriguing, with Declan Rice as its headline name.

Arsenal’s money men were required to push the boat out to the tune of £105million in order to convince West Ham to part with their influential midfielder, but it is a sure sign they are prepared to give Arteta everything he requires to end a Premier League title which has lasted the best part of 20 years. What Rice brings to the table is well documented, and the Arsenal manager will be confident the England international will be the driving force in an engine room that eventually ran out of puff last term.

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How the player handles the inevitable weight of expectation that accompanies such an exorbitant price-tag could be Rice’s toughest task. But he has always exuded an evident confidence that should stand him in good stead, and he could prove to be the glue that brings the rest of a very talented squad together as the finished article.

If Arsenal’s interest in Rice was an open secret for several months, their interest in Kai Havertz may just have caught people off-guard. I remember first setting eyes on Havertz at Bayer Leverkusen as he gave Rangers the runaround in the 2019/20 Europa League, and thinking he looked destined for the very top.

He may have gone on to score the goal that won Chelsea the Champions League not much longer than a year later, but his spell at Stamford Bridge was an underwhelming one. His talent is obvious, but successive Chelsea managers struggled to get the best out of him. An attacking midfielder, a false nine, an out-and-out striker, no one in charge was able to quite figure Havertz out.

Arteta, though, clearly feels he can rejuvenate the 24-year-old. He has, thus far, played as part of a three-man Arsenal midfield throughout pre-season, in the position formerly occupied by Granit Xhaka. Havertz is not an obvious like-for-like replacement for the Swiss, but Arteta has such credit in the bank that Arsenal are content in trusting him with the freedom to reshape his team as he sees fit.

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Given how much of a puzzler Havertz has been for several coaches, including the likes of Thomas Tuchel, his signing is not without risk. But, as good as they were last season, Arsenal still ended up a comfortable second best to the City juggernaut, and risks must be taken if they are to be the club to end Pep Guardiola’s period of dominance. A lack of defensive cover was among the reasons Arsenal came unstuck in the run-in, and that has been addressed by the addition of the highly-rated Jurrien Timber from Ajax.

With Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur all undergoing varying degrees of transition, it is the Gunners who again look best-placed to trouble the reigning champions. Indeed, the side who might trouble Arsenal’s claim as the number-one contenders to the City crown could be Newcastle United, given their rapid rate of ascension since their Saudi-backed takeover. That picture will surely become clearer in the coming weeks, and there is still time in the transfer window for further season-defining movement.

The question which has hung over Arsenal since the end of the previous campaign is: what does success look like this year? Namely, is anything less than winning the title a disappointment? That would be a harsh assertion given how difficult it will be to shift City from their pedestal at present. Another title challenge, at least, is surely a must, as will be a strong showing in the Champions League.

It has been quite some time since a club which once prided itself on sitting at UEFA’s top table every year has graced the biggest stage, and a manager as ambitious as Arteta will have eyes on making a serious impact. If he cannot guide his team to the Premier League title, then you feel that he would then be required to deliver success in a cup competition. The Spaniard now has a reputation as one of Europe’s most prominent emerging managers to uphold, but he projects a sense of being the type of character who would relish the scrutiny that accompanies such a burgeoning reputation.

If his team can match that, they might just be onto something this year.