The Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, has moved to reassure supporters that qualification for the Champions League does not represent the height of the club's ambitions. The victory at Newcastle United on Sunday secured a fourth-place finish and prompted scenes of giddy celebration at St James' Park.
Players posted pictures on Twitter of jubilant team-mates in the dressing room after the 1-0 win served to stave off Tottenham Hotspur's challenge and confirmed Champions League football for the 16th consecutive year under Arsène Wenger's stewardship. He has vowed to invest in the summer to maintain the momentum generated by an impressive run-in that collected 26 points from the last 10 games, as he seeks a more concerted challenge for the title next season.
That remains a daunting target given that Arsenal, who have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, finished 16 points off the top. But Gazidis, echoing the sentiments of the majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, will be seeking evidence of real progress next term. "Arsène and the team put together a remarkably strong and consistent run in the final stages of the season, a run of form of which we should all be proud," Gazidis said. "It puts us into the Champions League fight for the 16th consecutive year.
"But it is important to reiterate that, for everyone at the club, qualification for the Champions League is not our ultimate ambition. Our majority owner, Mr Kroenke, has made it clear that, while it's an achievement to make the Champions League, our ultimate objective is to win the major trophies.
"We all share that clear ambition and will be driving the club forward to achieve it. Arsène and I have already been planning what we need to do to strengthen so we are better placed next season. One thing is certain: the club is in a very strong position to move forward and our form of losing just one of our last 16 Premier League matches shows that we have a solid foundation on which to build for success."
Arsenal have been in this position before in recent seasons only for title challenges to peter out with the onset of winter, leaving the pursuit of the top four as a sole objective. Yet there are particular circumstances this time that suggest theirs is now an opportunity that must be taken. All three of the clubs who finished above them are facing managerial upheaval this summer, with Wenger hopeful the stability at the Emirates will work in his favour. Furthermore, there will be no big-name departures this summer to rock the boat in the way the untimely sales of Cesc Fábregas to Barcelona, Samir Nasri to Manchester City or Robin van Persie to Manchester United so unsettled both preparations and the squad.
Off the field, the club have secured a lucrative shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates worth £150m over the next five years, and they have also agreed a five-year contract with Puma to manufacture the kit that will amount to more than £30m every season. Those agreements come into effect at the end of the 2013-14 campaign but will effectively guarantee an increase in future revenues, further bolstering the funds available for the management.
Wenger has had money at his disposal in the market before and still struggles ideologically with the concept of spending £30m on a single addition, his instinct always to buy two or three for that amount, yet he is also entering the final year of his contract and that may force him to tweak his approach. Although Gazidis retains complete faith in the club's manager of almost 17 years, there is a recognition that the coaching team must deliver more than merely another battle to finish fourth if Wenger is to extend his stay further.
Wenger has said he will "go out in a proactive way" to strengthen the squad, with Arsenal's recruitment department having scouted extensively and interest registered in a number of targets. Principal among them is the Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuaín, currently at Real Madrid, while they will also consider Fiorentina's Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic and have even discussed Wayne Rooney's situation at Manchester United, though forcing through a transfer for the England forward seems unlikely given the size of the fee and his wage package.
Wenger will also seek to add a centre-half to his ranks, with Swansea City's Ashley Williams a target, and a right-back with Bacary Sagna, who is out of contract in 2014, expected to leave. The Borussia Dortmund full-back Lukasz Piszczek, 27, has been heavily scouted and would cost about £14m.
Júlio César, available on a free from relegated Queens Park Rangers, could also be signed. Those additions will be balanced by the release of Andrey Arshavin and Sébastien Squillaci, whose contracts expire at the end of June, and the likes of Johan Djourou, Park Chu-young, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner are available for transfer.