The Arsenal Affair

The Arsenal Affair

Thursday, 7 May 2015

What Arsenal must do to become Champions

If Arsenal are to claim 2nd place and win the FA Cup, the season will be regarded successful, marking an improvement with a heavy step towards the mountain top that has evaded the Gunners for so long. However, in order to make that all important next step they must address the big decision of what to take with them and what to leave behind on this mountainous trek.

There will be an avalanche of opinions of what Arsene Wenger should do in the transfer market this summer and while this will have its importance he will need to be just as attentive to the needs of his current squad. One overlooked issue is the white elephant that is captaincy. Critics have suggested for years Arsenal lacked leadership. Whilst previous captains like Adams and Vieira embodied everything a leader should, more recently the armband came with not so hidden agenda's to keep Fabragas or Van Persie at the club. In the present day the captaincy holds its own conundrum's with Mikel Arteta either being injured or benched, that leaves Per Mertesacker. Whilst the German does possess leadership qualities, it is likely his days in the first team are numbered due to his vulnerabilities and the signing of Gabriel Paulista. So Wenger must promote a new first team captain. Candidates are unfortunately lacking, but it is likely to be a closely contested affair between Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey, both leaders by example, but with the Frenchman being indispensable to the team, he would seem to be the more sensible option.

That brings us to the controversial topic of Goalkeeping. Arsenal started the season with the flamboyant Wojciech Szczesny. If the pole was consistent in one thing, it was his erratic nature of decision making on and off the pitch. Less said the better about smoking in the shower, but this led to an opportunity for David Ospina which he grabbed with both hands, whilst the Columbian has impressed, there is still an uneasy feeling that more is required if the Gunners are to ascend to the next level. So this is where Wenger's number one transfer priority lays in wait, and it will be a battle. Maximum effort must be afforded towards prising Petr Cech away from Jose Mourinho's arms, you can see the Chelsea boss salivating at the chance to play mind games with Wenger but this is the signing that is most needed, the chance to have a world class Goalkeeper is one Arsenal cannot afford to let slip through their fingers, Let Battle commence.

The impact Francis Conquelin has had since his insertion into the team has changed the fortune of Arsenals season, his protection of the back four and positional discipline has allowed Cazorla and Ozil to play with the time and freedom they need to hurt the opposition, but to ask Francis to do this alone for a whole season is unwise. He needs an accomplice who can either rotate or stand beside him, someone to give Wenger more options. Possible names mentioned have been Morgan Scniederlein and Geoffrey Kondogbia, both would be more then adequate, but Arsenal are likely to face competition for their signatures.

Despite Oliver Giroud's impressive goal record since his return from injury, some may say Arsenal are still lacking in what is needed in front of goal to compete with the worlds best. If this is to be so someone will surely have to make way, considering the plethora of attacking talents Wenger has at his disposal. This someone is most likely to be Theo Walcott. His career appears to be at a standstill, unable to break into the team he was once an integral part of. Injuries are where the blame must lie, but you can't help feeling the England international hasn't developed into the player we all hoped. This opens the door for a signing in the calibre of Gonzalo Higuain or Alexandre Lacazette, although both would be difficult to obtain they could be the difference between very good and world class.

Finally like most clubs this summer, Arsenal must offload the deadwood. Lukas Podolski will most likely attract enough suitors in Germany, whilst big decisions need to made about the futures of Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky. Matthieu Flamini could make way if a new defensive midfielder arrives, but is likely to sign a year extension. Joel Campbell is at a pivotal stage, he must prove himself quickly or face the exit. This leaves Abou Diaby, a career so ravaged by injuries its difficult to remember him as a player, He may be offered a pay-as-you-play deal, but surely if something is to be salvaged from his career, he must return to France where he can start afresh and play without pressure or expectation.

If history tells us anything, it's that Arsene Wenger will ignore these issues and sign of creative midfielder but if he controls that impulse and makes the necessary changes, the Gunners could finally achieve the greatness they have so long strived for.

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