Don't look now, but there is an eerie calm around north London. Arsenal, a club that had been so drained by transfer setbacks in recent years, appears to have turned the corner in 2015 with a sharp uptick in performance that provides hope that successes will carry over into next season.
The rumors of Arsene Wenger being sacked have died down. The desperation to find an elite striker is over. Pressure to add top central midfielders has been alleviated. And the backline is currently stacked with depth. Meanwhile, young players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Calum Chambers and Hector Bellerin have injected optimism around the Emirates.
It wasn't that long ago that Robin van Persie bolted for Old Trafford, Samir Nasri sought greener pastures at Manchester City and Cesc Fabregas packed his bags for Barcelona. The mass exodus was particularly distressing for a club intent on ending their prolonged silverware drought, and seeing some of their most prominent players accept defeat for more talent-rich clubs.
But Arsenal ownership opened their wallet, and an influx of top talent arrived. Alexis Sanchez has been a revelation and Santi Cazorla has proven to be one of the best transfer bargains in years. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey has made enormous strides from his 2012-2013 form, and Olivier Giroud has shown on multiple occasions why he might be the most under-rated striker in Europe.
Like for any club, there is room for improvement. Arsenal could use a world-class defensive midfielder who can play sound defense and also play a strong role in maintaining possession. Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin appears to fit that description, and he could join the club on a £25 million bid, according to recent reports.
Wenger may also need to decide on a No. 1 goalkeeper. An upgrade on Wojciech Szczensy and David Ospina appears to be on Wenger's agenda in the offseason, though both could prove to be solid performers next season.
The big question mark surrounding the Gunners is can they catch up to Chelsea. The Blues were the favorites to win the Premier League at the start of the season and rarely showed signs of faltering on their way to the title. Jose Mourinho seemed to have a well-oiled machine with Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Oscar and an excellent defensive unit.
But Mourinho craves Champions League glory far more than league titles, and that will no doubt be his focus next season. That could also mean Chelsea may let down their guard a bit in the Premier League season with Arsenal potentially closing the gap. Arsenal might be a player or two away from filling all their holes and providing a real scare to Chelsea. With Financial Fair Play, Roman Abramovich may not be able to throw money at his problems like in previous seasons, which is happy news to the rest of the Premier League.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham are not expected to fold and could pose an additional threat. Indeed, the Premier League has grown in depth and few clubs can ill-afford to stand pat. Arsenal may have to consider a big splash signing this summer to keep up. Sami Khedira would be ideal, but most reports have linked the Real Madrid defensive midfielder to a Bundesliga return.
The future of Theo Walcott might be the biggest storyline this summer. Wenger is pushing Walcott to re-sign and may consider using him at striker to keep him at the Emirates. Walcott has been sparingly used in the role before, but now he might be poised to have a resurgence after overcoming injuries problems and could perhaps gain time over Danny Welbeck. There's a possibility that Wenger believes Walcott could be on the verge of a breakout year, similar to Ramsey in 2013-2014.
"Being 26 to 32 is the best age as a striker and I wouldn't like to miss that golden age," Wenger said about Walcott.
"He can be transformed. He is naturally gifted to play in this position."
Wenger has stated his confidence that Walcott will stay at the Emirates. It might be a scary thought for Premier League opponents that a healthy and improved Walcott is on the horizon for Arsenal.
For a club that appears to be narrowing the talent gap with their deep-pocketed competitors, improved play from one of their stalwarts could be enough for them to finally taste Premier League glory.