Arsenal must strengthen to challenge Chelsea next season

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The number of people that have talked about the need for Arsenal to bolster their ranks cannot be de-emphasised. Ever since Thierry Henry left for Barcelona in search of more silverware, a lot has been written in detail appertaining to a weak Arsenal squad in dire need of reinforcements.

It comes as no surprise therefore, that it took last season’s triumph in the FA Cup to end a nine-year run without a trophy. Just before the win disillusioned fans, weary of waiting, had called
for Mr. Wenger’s resignation.

Arsenal are in the FA Cup final again this season and are favourites to carry the day against a rejuvenated Aston Villa. Still, they should remember that it took until the ninth minute of extra time to cement a 3-2 win over a less-fancied Hull City.

A win will silence naysayers amidst reports that Alisher Usmanov - Arsenal's second largest shareholder- is resentful over the perceived lack of ambition from the manager.

While Arsene Wenger has the golden chance to prove to everyone that he still possesses his Midas touch, a loss will see renewed calls for his sacking. The matter leaves the 64-year old sitting in a precarious position that might see him fail to see out his contract extension.

Consequently, should Wenger emerge victorious at Wembley, it would whet the fans’ desire to see him lift the Premier League as well and finally scratch an itch that has waited 11 years.

The stature of Arsenal’s desire to win cannot be understated and Wenger is certainly alive to its gravity. As a result, it is clearly to him that should he fail to win either of the FA cup, the Premier League or the Champions League, the club would have little desire to keep him as manager.

Hence it was surprising when as reported by Metro he stated that Arsenal had a strong
battery and were under no pressure to buy in the summer.

Chelsea example

To be the best you certainly have to match the best. Chelsea are the best this season and the team to beat. One only needs to look within their ranks to see why.

For every position they have an equally capable back-up and it is no surprise that they have already been crowned league champions with three games to go.

In a period that Man City spent huge amounts of money on flops, arsenal-albeit with a fat purse- could not secure an anchor-man and Manchester United spent £150million on bench-warmers, Chelsea invested wisely in Costa, Fabregas, Courtois, Remy and re-signed Drogba.

It is the depth of the Blues unit that has won them the league. When Costa was injured Remy stepped up and led the line with authority.

Towards the business end with both Costa and Remy sidelined, Drogba featured and used his experience against Leicester City to earn the Blues three valuable points.

In goal Thibaut Courtois has the immensely accomplished Petr Cech as his understudy. In defence Terry and Cahill have Zouma, a player who has been likened to Chelsea legend Desailly, breathing down their necks.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal cannot boast of the same depth. While Arsenal’s attack of Alexis, Ozil Giroud and Welbeck may be the best in the league, their deputies lack the quality to exhibit the same proficiency. Meanwhile, most of Man United’s back line would probably be third choice at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal options

Whereas Arsenal players are not low on talent, a big chunk of the squad is yet to step out of the cocoon of their ‘talented’ moniker. They continue to be incubated way past their prime. Even at 34 Rosicky is yet to grow into the midfield genius and goal-scoring machine he was touted to be when he moved to Arsenal as a 25-year-old.

It is unfortunate that he does not seem to have fully recovered from the career-ending leg injuries that he suffered in the stretch spanning 2007 to 2009. A setback that has seen him lose his best playing years.

Such is the sad situation at the Emirates Stadium. The whole midfield is made up of injury-prone players. Diaby, Rosicky, Wilshere to name just but a few. Rather than aid the team on the pitch, a huge chunk of Arsenal's detachment has spent a lengthy lay-off on the sick-bed.

But for his limited playing time Abou Diaby is a joy to watch with the ball. His is a tale of fresh starts followed by new disappointments. Each time he suffers a new injury, mourners line-up to tell a traumatising story of what might have been the best midfielder in Europe.

Though touching, one cannot win any major trophies with such a squad. It would be better to let Diaby kick-start his career elsewhere before its twilight. Mikel Arteta is another example who at 33 has a knack for picking injuries at unwarranted occasions . He continues to hold space and significant wage demands that could be relinquished to a younger and fitter man.

Theo Walcott has spent more than 11 months out since last January, his absence partly contributing to his team’s lacklustre start to the season. Though he has since come back, he is yet to convince the manager that he is good enough for a starting berth.

The jet-healed winger is yet to learn the strings of his shooting boots and has often stated publicly of his desired to be a target-man though it is clear that his pace is more devastating out wide.

This appears to undermine Wenger’s authority who has at his disposal more suited players such as Giroud and Welbeck in the number nine position.

This summer

The Gunners have been linked to Monaco’s Ferreira Carrasco, a player that tormented them at home in their latest failed attempt to mount a Champions League challenge. He also appeared in the A-list of the Champions League dribblers and they could do more with the Belgian international than they would with Walcott.

Arsenal should do away with the contract rebel to finance a move for Carrasco or Raheem Sterling both of whom put in more defensive work than the former Saints youth.

The work done to build the defence is commendable. Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers were acquired and settled in quickly while Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal continue to impress.

The defensive cover in midfield situation should be addressed though. Coquelin continues to do a tidy job week after week. It is a performance that is surprising since the combative Frenchman had been sent on loan and was only brought into the team after injuries crippled the Gunners midfield.

Both Arteta and Flamini have become increasingly sedentary. That they continue to feature for club
with big title ambitions is ludicrous. While Wilshere has been deployed in front of the defence for England, he is not a born defensive midfielder and is susceptible to afflictions.

Since last season, the Gunners have been linked with moves for either Ilkay Gundogan, William Carvalho, Moussa Sissoko or Morgan Schneiderlin. Consequently, it would be prudent that the London club disposes of some of the fringe players such as Lukas Podolski, Joel Campbell, Ryo Miyaichi and Carl Jenkinson to finance the acquisition of one to their midfield targets.

Should Wenger fail to clinch neither the domestic league nor the Champions League next season, then posterity should only judge him right as the manager that spent much time coming so close and yet ultimately going home crestfallen.

Who do you think Arsenal should sign this summer? Let us know below!

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Morgan Schneiderlin
Mikel Arteta
Mathieu Debuchy
Theo Walcott
Petr Cech
Carl Jenkinson
Lukas Podolski

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