Over the past decade, Arsenal have consistently finished within the top four, becoming a Champions League knock-out stage regular, and often finishing the season having narrowly lost out in a title-race-tussle.
However, as demonstrated last season, without a 'main-man' to inspire the team - a player which they always had in former stars such as Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry - their place in the Champions League places; as well as their ability to challenge for the title, is becoming under threat.
Arsenal definitely have the core for a title-challenging team. 2012 summer signing Santi Cazorla is the embodiment of everything a manager wants in an attacking midfielder; speed, flare, vision and immaculate ball control.
Theo Walcott is undoubtedly one of the quickest players on the planet, and whilst he might not be the most technically gifted, he is a nightmare to face for even the highest calibre of defender.
And young players such as Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs will almost definitely become key components of England's future national team. But there are too many areas in the current Arsenal starting 11 where they lack depth or consistency, and Saturday's defeat to Aston Villa was the perfect indication for Wenger to start strengthening these areas...
Area No. 1: Goalkeeper
This is a problem which has plagued Arsenal since the departure of Jens Lehmann. Since the former German International left for Stuttgart in 2008, inconsistency between the posts has been a recurring nightmare for the club, with names such as Almunia and Fabianski quickly becoming laughing stock for opposition fans, and goal-fodder for opposition strikers. Wojciech Szczesny has not quite reached the same levels of embarrassment, but his weak parry against Christian Benteke's first penalty on Saturday, and his clumsy tackle on Gabriel Agbonlahor to hand Aston Villa the penalty in the first place, reflect how this a keeper lacking in experience and confidence.
A solution for Wenger could include veteran Brazilian international Julio Cesar, who would be relatively cheap due to his age, and who would be likely to be keen on a move to the North Londoners, after expressing his desire to remain in London, and in the Premier League. Cesar would bring the experience, confidence and consistency that Arsenal have lacked in their shot-stoppers over the past 5 years.
Area No. 2: Defenders
In my opinion, defence is the area where Arsenal lacks in the most. Last season, despite Arsenal statistically having an impressive season defensively, there were too many games where they threw away points thanks to a defensive error.
Over the past few years, Wenger has never quite been able to ‘make the right signing’ regarding centre backs, always either going for raw experience, e.g. Mikael Silvestre and Per Mertesacker, or gambling and going for less experienced, hot-headed players, such as Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci.
Unfortunately this has never really paid off for the Arsenal manager, with recently players such as Koscielny and Mertesacker demonstrating how they are prone to pace, and are riddled with inconsistency. The summer transfer window so far has been relatively quiet regarding defensive signings, so if Arsene moves fast, he could have the pick of the bunch.
Defenders such as Liverpool want-away Martin Skrtel, and Valencia stalwart Adil Rami are both high calibre, consistent defenders, who could very well be looking for an escape route from their current clubs (Skrtel falling second fiddle to new Liverpool recruitment Kolo Toure; Valencia looking to offload star players to reduce wage-bills), and if Wenger could land a defender or two of these players’ stature, I believe the likes of Arteta and Wilshere would be able to penetrate a lot further up the pitch, without having to constantly babysit the back-line.
Area No. 3: Striker
The final area which Wenger needs to strengthen, is definitely the club’s strike-force. In the 2011-12 season, the Gunners demonstrated that with a prolific target man such as Van Persie, they could knock goals in for fun.
However, last season, after losing a star player yet again to a Manchester club (following Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri), they found it much harder to find goals, unable to rely on the regularly misfiring Olivier Giroud and Gervinho.
This season, if they are to rekindle the goal-scoring flame of their 2011-12 campaign, Wenger must seek a new goal poacher, and there are several options. With interest in Luis Suarez cooling off, alternatives could include Swansea’s Michu, who netted 22 times in all competitions in his opening season at Swansea last year, and Samuel Eto’o, who is part of a cost-cutting exodus at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.
A personal favourite of mine though, who I would love to see in the Premier League, is Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz, who currently plays for Galatasaray in the Super Lig. He scored 32 goals in 39 appearances last season for the Turkish champions, but he has proved he can also perform outside his domestic league, finishing top scorer in the group stages of the 2012-13 Champions League group stage with 6 goals. Regularly using his strength and speed to foil defenders, Yilmaz would certainly fit into the pace and physicality of the Premier League, and if snapped up by Arsenal, could once again re-instate Arsenal’s reputation as an attacking force to be reckoned with.
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