In the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, Arsenal showed a lot of promise. The Gunners looked set to finally mount a strong title challenge with the morale boosting signing of £42.5million Real Madrid superstar Mesut Özil in the summer the red-hot form of Aaron Ramsey.
It certainly looked that way for most of the season with Arsenal on top of the table for more days than any other club in the Premier League.
Arsenal were impressive against smaller teams with the likes of Ramsey, Ozil and Santi Cazorla creating several chances for striker Olivier Giroud and scoring a lot of goals.
The defence wasn’t really tested and Arsenal usually ended up securing three points without any trouble (barring the 1-0 loss to Stoke).
However things seemed to be going all downhill for the north London club in when they had to face bigger teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.
The Gunners lost by huge margins like 6-0, 5-1 and 6-3; their defenders were left exposed by lighting quick counter attacks and quality finishing which you would expect from the big teams.
The lack of a quality defensive midfielder or midfield enforcer was evident. Mikel Arteta was unnaturally made to play in the holding midfield role and was unable to sufficiently shield the back four.
The need of a holding midfielder in a team is also very important if the team has attacking full-backs such as Bacary Sagna and Kieron Gibbs. As a result, Per Mertesacker and Laurant Koscielny were unable to stop the onslaught of counter attacks and Arsenal ended up conceding a large number of goals.
This summer, Arsenal have added to their already impressive line of attacking midfielders with the signing of Alexis Sanchez, who will be used on the wings. Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers have also been signed to replace the departing Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson.
However, they have yet not signed the world-class quality holding midfielder who can transform the team into title contenders. After missing out transfer targets Sami Khedira and Morgan Schneiderlin, Wenger seems to be content on not improving this particular area and we could see Jack Wilshire and Mikel Arteta perform in this role this season. This could be a major problem for Arsenal this season.
Another problem faced by Arsenal is the lack of competition upfront for Olivier Giroud. Wenger is likely to deploy Alexis Sanchez on the wing to replace the injured Theo Walcott leaving Giroud with only young Yaya Sanogo to compete with for the lone striker position.
During the beginning of last season Giround performed admirably scoring several goals for Arsenal. He was used in practically every game for Arsenal as they had no other quality striker to replace him with. Understandably, Giroud showed signs of fatigue by the end of the season and was a shadow of the same player that he was during the start of the season.
It remains to be seen if Arsenal can strengthen these areas and transform themselves into genuine title contenders.
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