Arsenal must sign world-class players this summer
Arsenal opinion: The Gunners should splash the cash on world-class talent to challenge for silverware next season
The average football fan can tell you that Arsenal haven't won a trophy now for eight seasons.
The average Arsenal fan will tell you that the Gunners haven't even challenged for a title in recent years; seemingly settling for a Champions League place.
With the right prompting, that same fan may very well vent their frustrations, slamming the current Arsenal squad for inconsistency, and Arsene Wenger for his apparent reluctance to spend.
They may also mention that Arsenal have recently developed a horrendous habit of selling their best players: most recently their deadliest striker in the form of Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United. The most extreme (and delusional) fans will demand a summer clearout as well as the sacking of Wenger, blaming the Frenchman for the team's below-par performances.
The truth is, brace yourselves, the current Arsenal squad is more than capable of challenging for major honors. If current form is anything to go by, Arsenal have shown glimpses of a truly formidable outfit.
Since their 3-1 Champion League drubbing by Bayern Munich, Arsenal have gone on to win eight of their following 11 matches - the longest current winning streak in the Premier League, and find themselves third in the table - albeit with games in hand on their pursuers.
One of these wins came in particularly impressive fashion: dismantling the same Bayern Munich team 2-0 away from home in the return leg and narrowly missing out on a quarter-final spot. Arsenal were also unfortunate to draw 1-1 with the newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester United, having dominated the match before an ill-timed tackle from Bacary Sagna granted United a penalty and a equaliser.
Arsenal have also scored 67 goals throughout the campaign, the joint third highest total in the league.
Eleven games doesn't tell a story of the whole campaign, however. Inconsistency from both the team and individual players have hampered Arsenal's season greatly. The back-line in particular has suffered from instability, with Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbss both suffering from long-term injuries. Thomas Vermalean, despite a strong inaugural season, has seen his form dip significantly, earning him a new position on the bench - along with the underperforming Wojciech Szcezsny in goal.
The duo's gaffes were responsible for dropped points earlier in the season, with shock defeats to Swansea City and Norwich City still ringing in the minds of disgruntled fans. Not to mention humiliation at the hands of Manchester City and Chelsea, who both comfortably defeated Arsenal in both fixtures. Couple those results with several draws, and Arsenal will rue the points that should have been.
With that being said, the hunt for solutions in the Arsenal camp should start soon. A few integral parts will fine tune Arsenal into a trophy-winning machine.
First and foremost, deadweight must be trimmed in order for the change to ring. The notorious underperforming duo of Andriy Arshavin and Gervinho should be amongst the first to go, along with old man Sebastian Squillaci.
Players on the outskirts of the first team should be replaced with the youth prodigies. Enough with the loans, players like Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson and Marouane Chamakh simply have to go. They have proven unworthy and only hinder the growth of the fantastic youth prospects in the club's academy.
Now comes the fun part: the "in" portion of the "out with the old, in with the new" cliché.
Contrary to the stigma, Arsenal have indeed dipped into the market in recent times, shelling out just over 50 million Euros this year for Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Nacho Monreal. The problem isn't spending, its scouting.
Giroud is a handful of a forward: physically strong and combative, good in the air and a decent finisher. He has enjoyed a mixed season, hitting 11 Premier League goals; 17 in all competitions. But he is no Van Persie. Giroud would make a fantastic support striker from the substitutes' bench.
Arsenal's main priority should have been, and still should be, to sign a renowned world beater in front of goal. A goal machine if you will. Arsenal should dare to dream. Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao, Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski - these are the names that should top Wenger's list.
Let me guess, wishful thinking? Those names would never be interested in transferring to Arsenal and would probably seek moves to bigger clubs. But my question is: says who?
With Financial Fairplay getting set to take full effect, Arsenal's sound inner monetary workings place them in a better position than you may think. Not to mention the funds from the recent transfers of Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Arsenal can and should aim for a proven hitman. Of course there are cheaper options. There are several Premier League players that are more than capable of performing in an Arsenal shirt that have flown under the radar.
Top of the list is Edin Dzeko, who has suffered a form dip but is still a quality player. Relegation victims QPR possess the talented Loic Remy, who could prove quite the buy, as he would be eager to stay in the Premier League. A decent bid could prize him away from Loftus Road. The same goes for the impressive Michu and Christian Benteke (Jermain Defoe, anyone?), who undoubtedly wouldn't mind trying their hands at Champions League football.
Rumour has it that a certain Mexican goal-poacher could look for a move away from Manchester United this summer, with Javier Hernandez becoming increasingly frustrated with his opportunities this year. He would make a great signing, as would Lyon's Bafetimi Gomis and St. Etiene's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, given Wenger's history of sniffing around the French market. One or two names from that plethora should do, and will significantly boost Arsenal's chances.
Next up: the engine room, Arsenal's midfield. The Gunners are still reeling from the departure of Song to Barcelona. Mikel Arteta is quite the tidy passer, but lacks the physical presance, as does Aaron Ramsey, despite impressing a defensive role as of late. The glass-legged Abou Diaby is more than capable of fulfilling this role when fit, but spends more time on the treatment table than the pitch.
Arsenal are still without the ball-winning bruiser. My solution: Everton's afro of terror, Marouane Fellaini. The man has been heroic for the Toffees this year, and could be a great bit of business. Luis Gustavo from Bayern is another option, as is Lyon's Maxime Gonolans, with Arsenal allegedly keeping tabs on the Frenchman.
The mastermind Santi Cazorla has stepped nicely into Fabregas's role, and has created quite the duo with the fantastic Jack Wilshere. The two should rule the midfield together for years. A winger should top the priority list as well after Gervinho and Arshavin see the Emirates exit. In Theo Walcott, Arsenal have a ready-made world beater to brace one side of the pitch, and with Wenger reluctant to fully blood the young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Podoslki better off as a forward, a winger will make a significant addition to the squad.
Arjen Robben is rumored to be on the chopping blocks at Bayern Munich, and what a massive statement of intent that would be. Jesus Navas and Angel Di Maria are also reportedly up for sale, and the two will prove more than capable should they pull on the red of Arsenal. That will leave quite the strong bench with Podolski, Chamberlain, Giroud, Ramsey, and Rosicky all providing cover.
Last but not least: a defender. One will do. Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have grown well together and look like quite the strong pair. At the ages of 28 and 29, they should serve as Arsenal's go to centre-back pairing for the next few years.
Vermalean is still a quality defender, and will be eager to prove himself once again after losing his place. Another centre-back would do well to provide cover or perhaps compete for a place. Mamado Sakho and Christian Zapata are names that ring a bell for me. Arsenal already possess four quality full-backs, so one more centre-back should do the trick.
Small tweakings, massive difference.
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