Andrey Arshavin says Arsenal have a tricky start to the season, but remains confident of a top-four finish.
Many believe the Gunners could slip out of the UEFA Champions League places this season following Manchester City's summer spending spree.
The Eastlands side even have former Arsenal star Emmanuel Adebayor spearheading their attack, while Arsene Wenger's only signing is defender Thomas Vermaelen.
With Arsenal playing the likes of Everton, Manchester United and City early on this season, Arshavin knows they must start positively, especially with the group stage of the Champions League starting in September.
Although there is somewhat of an air of doom and gloom surrounding the Emirates following a quiet summer of transfer activity, Arshavin insists Wenger's side remain title challengers.
"We are heading for a very difficult start of the season," explained Arshavin. "We have four very hard opponents at the beginning of it. Then the Champions League games come.
"Getting to the group stage is one of our main tasks. It won't be easy, but I hope we'll manage to do it.
"With Adebayor signing for Manchester City, we lost a very good player. But Arsenal remain one of the best clubs in the Premier League, even without him.
"There are still the same big four clubs who will challenge the title next season. The remaining European slots will be taken by Manchester City, Aston Villa, Everton or Tottenham."
Reading the game
Meanwhile, summer signing Vermaelen believes his excellent ability to read a game will make up for any lack of height.
The Belgian stopper is slightly shorter than your traditional centre-half, although the former Ajax man is confident he will be a success in the Premier League.
"I'm not so tall, I know. So you have to be good at reading the game," he told Arsenal's magazine.
"But I think my heading game is good. I have a good jump and that's positive if you are a centre-back. On the field it's very important to be smart and thinking all the time.
"I will always give 100 per cent whether in games or training. In terms of attributes, I think I am decent in the air and technically, and I always want to battle on the pitch."