Arsenal are known for keeping a tight budget, but they have begun to show their improved financial muscle in the recent years.
Arsene Wenger has bought some excellent players in one last bid to build a squad capable of winning the Premier League again. He has even managed to fill some important voids criticised by experts over the last decade.
However, as this Arsenal side might be the strongest squad since the ‘invincibles’, Wenger risks falling short yet again by failing to get that last jigsaw puzzle piece into place.
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People seem to agree that Arsenal need cover in defensive midfield and a striker, but Wenger remains patient and confident in the ability of his squad. But reality is that if Francis Coquelin is injured, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini will be called into action and this could come back to haunt the Gunners.
He's playing a dangerous game in the transfer market as always, and he would hate to have to sign someone in January like last season, as he was proved wrong regarding the need of a new centre back. However, he has still managed to fill some important gaps in the team.
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Arsenal have received a lot of praise for their acquisition of Petr Cech, who will add vital experience and security to Arsenal’s defence.
Prior to that, pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher agreed upon Arsenal’s need of a top goalkeeper. Ever since Jens Lehmann’s departure, Arsenal have had unconvincing goalkeepers.
Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabiansky and Wojciech Szczesny have all tried to fill that void with the latter being the only one to display glimpses of top ability. Last season, David Ospina came in and did a job but never gave off a ‘top-vibe’.
Defending isn’t just about the defenders.
A solid goalkeeper secures trust in the defence. Wenger recently stated how Cech brings calmness to the defence and even Cech himself revealed how he anticipates possible scenarios in open play and commands his defence hereafter.
That’s impressive and it comes with experience; something the Czech international has loads with 455 official overall league appearances in Czech Republic, France and England combined with 114 national caps.
The midfield enforcer
Arsenal fans have been shouting for Wenger to buy a midfield destroyer for ages, after Patrick Vieira’s transfer to Inter Milan left Arsenal short in that department.
Wenger was unwilling to buy a proper replacement.
Of course, this was during the construction of the Emirates Stadium, and Wenger can always use it as an excuse. However, he has failed to do the business ever since and relied too much on Mikel Arteta playing out of position.
Along came Francis Coquelin to become Arsenal’s saviour last season and arguably one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League presently. During his spell last season, Coquelin produced strong performances with stats to back him as the best defensive midfielder in the league in pure defensive actions.
He still needs to improve his game going forward, but his technical ability is underrated.
The last piece
A new striker is wanted by most, and it would certainly look neat on the team sheet with Karim Benzema or Robert Lewandowski. However, the way things are progressing, Wenger seems content with what he’s got at the moment and one must not forget what is already there.
Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are two very good strikers, and Olivier Giroud – even though he might not be world-class – managed to score a respectable 14 goals in 27 games missing three months through injury.
In addition, Arsenal are a team capable of scoring from every position. They don’t struggle to score goals.
Alexis Sanchez got 16 mainly playing out wide and Santi Cazorla scored seven as a deep-lying playmaker. Even right back Hector Bellerin scored two and could have scored more. The defence was screaming for improvement, and Petr Cech arrived.
A position still lacking is in defensive midfield. If Coquelin is injured, Arsenal will struggle a great deal because no one in the squad is capable of doing what he does. Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry labelled him ‘Columbo’ because of his ability to anticipate his opposition and figure them out. If Wenger does not buy proper defensive cover, they risk their title bid as Coquelin isn’t capable of playing every single game, and the other options are not good enough.
The transfer window isn't over just yet, but Wenger should have sealed a deal for a decent defensive midfielder by this point; someone a bit different to Coquelin with more physique and power.
Until he does, Flamini must stay put because Arteta at 33 definitely isn't up for the task anymore; if he ever was.