Arsenal are no closer to winning the Premier League title

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Arsenal fans have every right to feel excited as the new Premier League season nears - they've already spent more than £60m, they've signed a new player once every four weeks since the transfer window opened, including one huge coup in Alexis Sanchez.

But, looking at the squad, they're no nearer to winning a Premier League title. Mathieu Debuchy for Bacary Sagna. Marginal difference. Calum Chambers ended the season in a battle for a place with Nathaniel Clyne. He is one for the future.

David Ospina in for Lukasz Fabianski. An upgrade, but he starts the season as a back-up goalkeeper.

Alexis Sanchez is a world-class player who will make Arsenal better - but his expected position is not one in which Arsenal needed strengthening. They have Tomas Rosicky, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott - six excellent players capable of playing the position in a title winning team.

The Sanchez signing carries echoes of Ozil last year - a stunning, surprising addition but one that merely makes a strength even stronger. Weaknesses, like support for Giroud and depth in central midfield, were left unaddressed.

Because winning a Premier League title is about squad construction, it's about balance. And it's something Arsenal currently lack.

They are extremely deep and talented in certain positions - defence and attacking midfield, but worryingly thin in others - striker and central midfield.

Last season Arsenal's title challenge collapsed in February and March. The squad could not cope with Champions League knockout games against Bayern Munich, FA Cup ties and Premier League showdowns.

The lack of an alternative to Olivier Giroud - who played 51 total games last season - and the absence of a defensive midfielder combined to ruin their season.

Yaya Sanogo replaced Giroud in the starting lineup and the goals dried up, while Mikel Arteta, a talented passer, proved himself incapable of shielding a back-four. A 5-1 defeat to Liverpool kicked things off, a 6-0 defeat to Chelsea followed, wrapped up by a 3-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park. Premier League title race over.

Giroud is not the most prolific striker even with a killer supply line. With Mesut Ozil on his side, Europe's most accomplished provider, his goal tally jumped from 11 to 16 from the 2013 season to 2014.

His game is not just about goals, of course. He brings out the best in Aaron Ramsey, who in turn brings out the best in Giroud by running past the Frenchman. His hold-up play thrives on the Welshman's dynamism and forward running. Without Ramsey in mid-season, Arsenal's attack suffered.

Giroud is useful, but he is not the elite striker Arsenal need to compete. He's 27, in his prime, and had two full seasons to prove it. He would be the perfect replacement for a true world-class forward at the Emirates Stadium. A Negredo to City's Aguero.

Alexis Sanchez could be that player though - he scored 19 goals last season. But playing through the middle as a single striker in a system like Arsenal's is not his game - at least not yet. He didn't do this at Barcelona. He's good enough, but an adjustment period is to be expected.

More likely, he'll be used off Giroud, on one of the flanks or behind. That gives Arsenal a fantastic looking starting four up front - a combination of Giroud, Sanchez, Ozil and Cazorla/Walcott.

But it doesn't address what happens when Arsenal get to February 2015, and they're still in the Champions League and the FA Cup and the Premier League title race. What happens to Giroud then?

When City call on Edin Dzeko or Alvaro Negredo to rest Sergio Aguero, when Chelsea sub out Diego Costa and in Romelu Lukaku.

That's where Arsenal's transfer activity comes in. Arsenal reportedly refused to match Sami Khedira's wage demands, believed to be £150,000-a-week, while Mario Mandzukic was available too. But Khedira and Mandzukic are exactly the kind of top-tier talents Arsenal should be breaking the bank for, the kind of signings that put them in the same bracket as City and Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger wants quality and long-term value - it's part of the reason he signed a 24-year-old Ozil and a 25-year-old Sanchez. But winning a title in today's circumstances requires compromise.

As noted, their competition has Negredo, Stevan Jovetic,  Aguero and Dzeko. Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world. Dzeko scored as many league goals as Giroud in 13 less starts.

Manchester United have Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney (and Javier Hernandez for the time being in case of emergencies).

Wenger is still clinging to his idealistic transfer principles. He wants to spend his money on long-term investments - young players like Chambers with potential. But Chelesea, who used to do the complete opposite, now dominate this area - and do it better.

Because they look abroad, snapping up the top talent from around the world (much cheaper), loaning it out and selling it on for a profit. Even if you don't agree with it, it's hard not to admire it from a purely financial perspective. It works.

Scouts identify a player like Christian Atsu or Kevin De Bruyne. Chelsea sign him for a fraction of the cost of an English equivalent, loan him out for a season or two and then sell him on. If he's good enough, he stays - although that's almost impossible at a club like Chelsea or Manchester City.

Because both still retain the financial muscle to sign Cesc Fabregas for £30m or Eliaquim Mangala for £35m if they want to.

Signing a player like Calum Chambers for £16m places Arsenal awkwardly between the two. It's impossible to prove, but odds would suggest Chambers does not become a world class full-back. Chambers' former-teammate on the opposite flank offered better odds of that.

He'll be solid, but is unlikely to be spectacular. How much would a foreign club have paid for him? For a teenage defender with less than 20 Premier League appearances - maximum £6m.

Unfortunately in the Premier League era being solid is not going to be good enough at the highest level. Not while you've got your rivals building super-teams while simultaneously buying and selling the world's top talent to pass UEFA's Financial Fair Play.

And there's little point complaining about it - football is a pyramid structure with Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top, and every team feeding upwards. Southampton's players go to Liverpool or Arsenal, Liverpool and Arsenal go to Manchester City or Chelsea, and the only 'dream' move from there is to El Clasico.

In fact, the only way you can challenge for a title while punching above your weight financially is when you have one of the world's best players in the game's most important position - like Liverpool and Luis Suarez last season.

Which brings us back to Giroud. All that talk during the World Cup of Mandzukic or Balotelli or Benzema. Mandzukic joined Atletico Madrid for slightly more than the cost of Chambers.

Alexis Sanchez was a welcome surprise, but it doesn't make Arsenal's needs any less pressing. A defensive midfielder and a striker, and Arsenal are all set.

Without either, get ready for more of the same - and more of the same is fourth place.

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