Arsenal have been a team under construction for as long as most of us care to remember.
A series of false dawns have made many fans wary of title talk, however after two successive FA Cup wins and some flashy moves in the transfer market, Arsène Wenger finally looks like he has the shell of a title winning squad that just needs to add some flesh to the bones. Here we are going to try and see what form that flesh could take.
I am going to start at the back, the dark place where the wild things are, where only the brave dare tread. I am talking about the position of goalkeeper. Since David Seaman left - excusing perhaps a season or two from Jens Lehmann - Arsenal have not had a keeper that inspires much confidence, someone that could win you a match with their saves.
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It’s no secret that Arsenal want Petr Cech and that the wish is mutual. Chelsea have moved on to Thibaut Courtois, with Cech being far to good sit on the bench Roman Abromovich has allegedly given him the blessing to go where he likes.
Cech wants to stay in London and as such Arsenal is the perfect fit, despite Jose Mourinho’s misgivings. If all the hype is true and Cech does end up at Arsenal, then finally they will have a keeper who you can put your full trust in.
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If this doesn't happen there are few options. Arsenal need a top GK with Premier League experience. One I would like to see however is Mattia Perin from Genoa. The only problem being that he is still a work in progress. Were Arsenal to get Cech, I would definitely send Wojciech Szczesny out on loan to a PL club. There would be no shortage of suitors and he needs the fresh air between the sticks to and find himself again.
The back four has been shaping up quite nicely of late. Laurent Koscielny has this season started to cut out the silly errors that prevented him from becoming a top CB. Per Mertesacker has got over his World Cup hangover and been solid, but will be pushed for his postion now Gabriel has settled in.
For me Gabriel is going to be every bit as good as Koscielny. He has pace and looks tough - perfect for the Premier League. I also have a sneaking suspicion that he has a crazy streak in him; something that I love in a defender. Calum Chambers forms the cover at CB, thus I don't see any need for anyone else, especially as it would be to the detriment of his development.
At RB Mathieu Debuchy looked impressive when he was fit. Hector Bellerin has taken his chance well and at the moment looks to be first choice. It will be interesting to see their fight continue next season now that Debuchy is back. It is a similar situation at LB. Nacho Monreal has taken his chance with Kieran Gibbs’ injuries and, provided the former stays - something that looks more likely now - the fight will be on.
The midfield department has the quality to match that of most squads in Europe. This forms a nice puzzle for Wenger to wrestle with. This is not to say that there is no room for tweaking. Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Mathieu Flamini need to go.
Arteta will probably stay another year as club captain but I do hope we don't see him on the pitch again. His legs are gone and for me he is a liability, whether he can offer something in the dressing room thats up to Wenger.
Diaby has been dragged along for too long, if he were a race horse they would have put him down long ago for his own good. He has been released but could still sign a new contract - although that would seem unlikely, despite the patience of the manager.
Flamini has been one of my favourite players for Arsenal. He brought so much passion and drive back last season, just when the Gunners needed it. However he too has little left in the tank and with the swashbuckling nature of Francis Coquelin in the side, there is little use left for him.
Tomas Rosicky is a bit of a favourite of mine, thus I am happy to see him stay for one more season. In my mind he still has a lot to offer especially when things aren't going so well. He understands the club and the way we like to play and can be very useful in the capacity of guiding the others when needed.
As for the rest of the midfield there is great ability with each player offering something different. This competition can only be good for the club. I would like to see Zelalem and Beilik go on loan to PL sides to develop for the season after.
This leaves space for a new CDM to provide competition for Coquelin, who I do not think is the complete player just yet. There are plenty available, Arsenal having been linked with their fair share. Morgan Schneiderlin is angling for a move away from Southampton. He would fit the bill however I am not completely sold on him.
First of all his price is too high. Secondly look at all the other Southampton players that have left recently, none have performed as well as with the Saints. Seemingly it’s the team making the players look good, rather than the other way around. This being said his statistics are very impressive and he has performed well for France.
Victor Wanyama and William Carvalho are two other mooted options. I personally don't think that they have the finesse to play for Arsenal. They are undoubtedly effective defensively however they would hinder the game going forward.
My favourite option is that of Geoffrey Kondogbia. Anyone who saw the Champions League game vs Monaco at the Emirates Stadium, will attest to his all round abilities. Defensively he breaks up play brilliantly with perfectly timed tackles and great athleticism. However on the ball he is also brilliant, with a deft touch for such a big man and an eye for a pass, he is everything that we thought Diaby would be before his injuries - a new Vieira.
Another interesting story that keeps cropping up is that of the arrival of Arturo Vidal from Juventus. He is undoubtedly a great player and if he becomes available at the right price then you have to go get him, but I feel there’s a long way to go before that happens.
On a more selfish note, I would love to see Javier Pastore at Arsenal. For me he is one of the most underrated players around. Arsenal do not particularly need him but he would fit right in and would come at good value.
Finally, the attack. Alexis Sanchez is clearly the club’s most dangerous player and long may that continue. Olivier Giroud improves year on year and is a very solid striker, however he will never be as good as Wenger wishes him to be.
Theo Walcott can be lethal as demonstrated in the last two games of the season, but I would like to see him bulk up more to fulfil that central role which is where he should be played as he does not have the work rate of Sanchez or Danny Welbeck. Welbeck is a worker and a decent finisher. I could see him being a lot like Thomas Muller, however he’s not good enough to lead the line.
What this leaves is a gap for a real well rounded top level striker. Karim Benzema would be great, but It looks like Madrid would want Koscielny as part of any deal. This would then mean spending big money on someone who could fill his boots - a rarity in itself.
In the past I have liked Edinson Cavani, however I feel the ship has sailed on that one. A move for Gonzalo Higuain has again been talked up. The Argentinian has been brilliant for both Napoli and Madrid. He is in his prime and would fit Arsenal’s style well. Had Wenger pushed it through two years ago he would already be at the Emirates. Hopefully the board will learn from previous mistakes and make it happen.
So, not much needs to change for Arsenal to climb the mountain. The team and the manager’s attitude has finally changed since January and in my mind just three players are required; A top class GK (Cech - £10m), a bit of beef in the midfield (Kondogbia - £25m) and a quality striker (Higuain - £25m). They have the cash - Go gett’em Arsène!
Who do you think Arsenal should sign this summer? Let us know below!