Arsenal are nearly there. They’ve been nearly there for a little while, but it looks as if they are only a couple of quality signings in key areas away from a title push. This selection is not a ‘money is no option’ choice – Arsenal seem to have a policy of buying one big star over the last few seasons, and then adding to the squad where they need to.
This summer, if they buy one new star and possibly two players to join the starting XI, Wenger will have the starting quality and the strength in reserve needed for a title challenge.
With so much quality up front, it’s hard to pick an XI that’s better than the others, but I’ve chosen a balanced XI. If Arsenal want to play with more pace or a greater attacking threat then they have the means to do that. The fact that Arsenal could have a viable alternative for every position makes them a force to be reckoned with.
With that in mind, here is an XI that could realistically see Arsenal challenge for Premier League glory next season along with a mention for the cover in each position:
Arsenal’s pursuit of a top class goalkeeper could be over with the news that Petr Cech is edging closer and closer to the Emirates and pushing David Ospina closer and closer to the exit door.
Cech is proven quality and still has a good few years left at the top. He was unlucky at Chelsea when he found himself ousted from the goalline by a younger model, but the fact that Chelsea are willing to reward his loyalty by accepting a bid from a potential title rival speaks volumes about the man. That’s simply the kind of player that Arsenal would be getting – top class in every department.
Cech would have competition, however, with Wojciech Szczesny still at the club, but Arsenal’s dream XI would surely have to have the Czech over the Pole!
Mathieu Debuchy has had rotten luck with injuries since he joined the Gunners, and in his absence Hector Bellerin has proved himself a very promising Premier League backup. With Bellerin still learning his trade, though, it makes sense to start with Debuchy if he can get a full pre-season under his belt and stay fit.
The French international is proven Premier League quality and a very capable right back.
At 29, Debuchy should be at his peak, and Arsenal should get the best years out of Debuchy before turning their attention to the up and coming Bellerin the season after.
Whoever gets the nod from Wenger, Arsenal are not in need of a right-back
Laurent Koscielny has become a very good Premier League defender and his partnership with Per Mertesacker has been a very good one for Arsenal. The Gunners sometimes look shaky at the back, but the addition of a defensive midfield player should make the whole team just that bit more solid.
With the addition of Gabriel Paulista and Calum Chambers to the defensive ranks, Wenger now has four centre backs he can call upon, and should one of his starters get injured, he has two good replacements waiting in the wings.
Just like with Koscielny, Mertesacker is a solid defender who is commanding in the air and great with the ball at his feet. One of his problems is, of course, his lack of pace. Koscielny isn’t slow, but with the possibility of Gibbs and Bellerin covering Arsenal shouldn’t have too many problems there and Gabriel in reserve is also fairly quick. Mertesacker will be the starter, but again Arsenal have a lot of strength in this area.
Over the final weeks of last season Nacho Monreal staked his claim as next season’s starting left back, taking over from Kieran Gibbs. Gibbs was first choice at the start of last season, but found himself relegated to the bench with the good form of Monreal. Just like the rest of the Arsenal squad there is real competition for this place, and yet again Arsenal have a ready made replacement should their first choice be unavailable.
Arsenal have been said to be looking for a defensive midfielder for a while now. Sami Khedira is off to Juve, so that won’t happen. The Morgan Schneiderlin trail seems to have cooled off somewhat. Geoffrey Kondogbia would be a great signing for the Gunners, but William Carvalho is one of the brightest prospects in Europe.
Despite the good form of Francis Coquelin since the turn of the year, it might be a good idea for Wenger to bring in another defensive midfielder. Coquelin has put in some fine displays but we’re never sure exactly how many swallows make a summer – can Arsenal really rely on Coquelin to do such a vital role for the whole of next season?
Even if Wenger can, he seems to have two players for every other position, and adding Carvalho wouldn’t necessarily mean that Coquelin would be relegated to the bench. But if Arsenal are to win the title they need the best, and Carvalho might just be one of the best around at the moment.
Jack Wilshere is a player who needs a good season. He’s been blighted by injuries and perhaps hasn’t come on as well as many people thought he would. Maybe Wilshere can use his great performance for England as a catalyst for a good season with Arsenal. Despite interest from Manchester City, Wilshere is still very much an Arsenal player – and he probably owes the Gunners a season of good performances.
Aaron Ramsey is another player who has been blighted by injuries over the last few seasons, but he’s still a very good player. With both Ramsey and Wilshere in the midfield along with a defensive minded holding player Arsenal have a very balanced midfield, which is something they have lacked over the last few years. There’s still lots of competition for places with Arteta and Rosicky still there, but if Ramsey and Wilshere can produce some good form Arsenal might have a midfield to fear.
Probably the first name on the teamsheet, Sanchez is Arsenal’s best player. That’s probably because he’s their most explosive player, but either way he’s a sensational talent. The attacking midfield / winger positions are areas where Arsenal are well-stocked. They’ve quietly assembled a team with two players in every position, but with Sanchez, Ozil, Cazorla, Walcott and Welback and Oxlade Chamberlain, Arsenal have six very fine players to call on, and six players who add variety to the attack. If I had problems narrowing the six down to three then imagine the problems Wenger will have for the opening game of the season!
Another very fine player indeed, but one who hasn’t quite hit the heights we expected of him in an Arsenal shirt. Ozil was bought for £42.5m and hasn’t quite looked like a player worth that amount, however he has shown glimpses of real quality. If this season is to be the one where he can show the class we know he has then he’ll get the nod over the others.
If he doesn’t show his form though, Wenger has some wonderful players to start instead!
Olivier Giroud is a severely underrated, after all he scored 14 Premier League goals in only 15 starts and 17 goals in 25 appearances overall. Just imagine what he could have done if he didn’t break his leg. It’s unfair of me to say that Giroud shouldn’t be in Wenger’s starting lineup come September once the transfer window shuts.
But Gonzalo Higuain has been touted as an Arsenal target, and if he’s available you wouldn’t say no! And if that relegated Giroud to a place on the subs bench then so be it, the Frenchman would be more than a worthy backup.