It’s been a mixed start for the Gunners so far this season. Despite a few bad results (Newcastle, West Brom and Sunderland) Arsenal are still scrapping it out in the top four. It originally looked as though Chelsea would run away with it this season, but the wheels have turned and the Premier League is beginning to look more and more open. Chelsea remain favourites, but Manchester United, Man City and Arsenal are still in the running.
The trouble is – we’re only 12 games in and it’s clear that Arsenal have problems that require addressing. Arsenal are still dropping too many points against teams that they should be beating. Perhaps it’s indicative of the increased level of competition in the Premier League, but Arsenal simply can’t be content to drop points against the likes of Sunderland and West Brom. To go from beating Man City 3 – 0, to dropping points against Newcastle isn’t Premier League winning material.
The fact that Arsenal are still in the running is a good sign. They have a good, if not quite great squad, that has a nice mix of young talent and experience. There are still a few areas that need redressing which Wenger may turn his attention to when the transfer window opens in January. The Gunners may have suffered as a result of injury but that cannot be used as an excuse to justify their failings this season. If their squad had better strength in depth then perhaps they’d be topping the table right now.
With the Premiership wide open, fans will hope that Wenger addresses some of the problems within the squad this January. The first port of call must surely be the goalkeeping position. Despite a good performance against Wolves, yet another mistake against Newcastle has shown that Fabianski’s not yet ready to be first-choice goalkeeper at a club as big as Arsenal. Since Wenger seems to have lost the faith in Almunia and the Gunner’s young Polish goalkeeper Szczney doesn’t appear to be getting a look in perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere.
Whilst Laurent Koscielny looks like another astute Wenger signing, it remains fair to say that the Gunners have struggled defensively this season. This is likely due to the absence of their big Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen who has been stricken by injury this season. His return should bolster the Arsenal defence significantly and it’s unlikely that Wenger will feel the need to strengthen those positions any further.
There’s been a lot of talk about Wenger eying Dutch international Ibrahim Afellay. With Arshavin underperforming this season the Dutchman could trigger an increased sense of competition in the Arsenal midfield that will hopefully raise the game of all those around him.
There’s no need for a massive overhaul. You get the feeling that with a few small tweaks Arsenal could be genuine title contenders. Wenger has the difficult job of balancing the development of his young players with the expectations that Arsenal win something this season. If he brings in a new keeper and bolsters the midfield, it’s possible that he can pull off both tasks.
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