Having not won any silverware since the 2005 FA Cup triumph, Arsenal supporters will be desperate to see their team pick up a trophy this season. Arsene Wenger though, will need to do certain things if Arsenal are to end the wait in this campaign.
1. Sign a centre-back
Arsenal currently have only three recognised centre-backs in their squad. Thomas Vermaelen is top-class, but new signing Laurent Koscielny is unproven and Johan Djourou is injury prone. Although William Gallas, Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre will not be terribly missed, Wenger will have to bring in another central defender if Arsenal are going to mount a serious challenge in the Premier League and Europe. Wenger has linked with a host of names this summer, including Per Mertesacker, Neven Subotic and Phil Jagielka. Jagielka has proven Premiership experience and is a quality centre-back, if Wenger can get a decent price for him, he would worth a serious look.
Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski are not good enough for Arsenal to win the title. As much as he needs a centre-back Wenger needs to find another ‘keeper. A top-class goalie can make a massive difference in the season, preserving crucial clean-sheets and gaining the team a few extra points along the way. Mark Schwarzer has been linked throughout the summer, and whilst he is preferable to Almunia and Fabianski, he does not provoke huge confidence. If Wenger can bring in a goalkeeper such as Joe Hart, Maarten Stekelenburg or Igor Akinfeev it would stand Arsenal in good stead for the season. Whatever happens, Arsenal will need a new goalkeeper.
3. Sort out defensive frailties
This is easier said than done, but if Arsenal are to challenge for the top honours then Wenger will need to sort out Arsenal’s defence, which leaked too many goals last season. He will hope Koscielny can bring solidity to central defence, but the mentality will also need to be changed. Too often Arsenal’s defence was caught too far up the field last season, with top-class teams especially punishing them with counter-attacks. Although Vermaelen is an attacking threat, he may have to rein himself in more than last season. Defence was Arsenal’s weakest link last season and it will need to remedied if a title is to be brought to the Emirates.
Arsenal’s passing style is unmatched in the Premier League, and it is an effective form of football. However sometimes it is true that Arsenal can overplay it, especially in the final third. Too often a player has a good shooting opportunity only to pass it to another player in an attempt to create a perfect scoring opportunity. When the move breaks down, this can be frustrating. The more shots a team has the more they are likely to score and there is no problem with players shooting from outside the box. If Wenger can put it into the minds of his players to shoot a little more often, it could be of great benefit.
5. Toughen the mentality
Although pundits like Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson are over-the-top when they lambast Arsenal’s lack of mental fortitude, there is a slight issue here. When Arsenal are losing and especially against the top sides, there can be a tendency for heads to go down. Even when Arsenal do take the lead, there is never total confidence they can ride out the victory. This though, is as much the players as the manager and both will have their parts to play in becoming that little more resilient. If Arsene Wenger can achieve all these things, then Arsenal will stand a good chance of winning silverware.