Arsenal fans thought this summer was finally the one where they would be making serious moves in the transfer market after signing Petr Cech from Chelsea, and sending their rivals into meltdown.
Then, because he clearly didn’t want to risk having a nosebleed, Arsene Wenger seemingly opted to stop dipping into the market altogether and decided to stick with what he has, something that has not gone down too well in north London, but after a pretty explosive pre-season, Arsenal fans are seriously starting to think a trophy better than the FA Cup could be on the horizon.
That being said, if they are to mount a serious title challenge this season, there are some things Arsene Wenger needs to get sorted, and here are five of them.
What is their strongest midfield combination?
Let’s face it, Arsenal aren’t struggling for choices throughout their midfield, and on paper, probably have one of the strongest in the Premier League in terms of options.
In the deeper roles they can pick between Wilshere, Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Cazorla or Coquelin. Moving forward into the advanced central roles they have choices of Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and if he’s ever fit, Rosicky. Ramsey and Cazorla are more than capable of playing further forward too, so it’s a great dilemma for Wenger to have.
But, after spending the last couple of seasons without these players during key times, hopefully for his sake the squad will remain injury-free so he can get his strongest players out, and performing together, which would be such a novelty for fans.
Gibbs or Monreal?
Not exactly a Gerrard or Lampard for England debate, but one that does need resolving at Arsenal. They’ve both had chances to consolidate that left-back role, and they’ve both looked assured given their opportunities.
For me, Monreal doesn’t give you anything more than Gibbs does, so I’d be going for the Englishman.
Just for the record, the Spaniard shouldn’t ever be considered a centre half, because we all know what happens when Wenger plays him there.
There are no two ways about this, if Arsenal want to be challenging for the title and competing with their rivals in the transfer market, this has to happen.
They’ve been linked with the Frenchman during almost every transfer window during the past few years, but things seem to be edging closer to a deal than ever before. And, the photo on Instagram of Benzema jetting off ‘somewhere’ will only add to the rumour mill.
Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez has been playing Ronaldo and Bale as his main men up top at times during pre-season, and the rumours in the Spanish press are that if the right offer comes in, Benzema is for sale.
But, if there’s no Karim, who starts as the main striker?
Again, they have options. Walcott netted a hat-trick at the back end of last season in that central striker role, but Giroud has been an ever-present in the Arsenal line-up over the past couple of seasons, and averages just over a goal every other start.
People might criticise the Frenchman, but he can score goals. Maybe not enough to win you the league, but certainly enough to get you into the top four.
There’s also Welbeck, who can offer something different to Wenger’s attack. There’s plenty of options, and if these guys are all in form, it gives Wenger plenty of decisions to make.
Keep Ozil firing, and don’t burn Alexis Sanchez out too early
There’s not a lot more pleasing on the eye than Mesut Ozil pulling the strings in the Arsenal midfield. He’s a creator, not to mention a goalscorer for the Gunners, and he’s certainly not someone the club want to be seeing out of form – or shoved out on the wing. So, Arsene, get him on-song for the start of the season to help you fight for the title.
Sanchez has had a long summer with his Chile side going all the way to the final of the Copa America, and beating Argentina on penalties to secure the trophy. The final was played on the 4th of July, days after most teams were returning for pre-season training.
Wenger’s already given him time off after the tournament, and he looks unlikely to make the start of the season either, and the Frenchman needs to ensure the time is right for Sanchez to return, as he’s a key asset for Arsenal.