Last season, Arsenal finished above Tottenham. Some things never change.
Except, well, they do. Because last season may have seen something that we have seen every year for the past two decades: Tottenham’s name above Arsenal’s on the league table. And although Tottenham’s end of season collapse meant they finished below Arsenal once again, it really was all down to a collapse once it became apparent that the title was gone.
No matter how much Arsenal fans may want to celebrate the late arrival of ‘St Totteringham’s day’ – and they did celebrate it – they should also be a little bit wary of Tottenham’s rise last season. It should be a warning that Arsenal need to up their game. As if there haven’t been enough warnings about that over the past decade of slim silver pickings.
Arsene Wenger won’t raid Tottenham this season to nab their best players. It makes no financial sense, and even if Spurs were to sell for a hefty price, Wenger is the kind of man who looks for real value – something that is never achieved when pinching players from bitter rivals.
But if Wenger did look across North London, and if he were to think that the grass was greener over there, these might be the players he’d be coveting: not necessarily Tottenham’s best players, but certainly the ones that would make Arsenal stronger squad-wise.
Here are three…
Arsenal need a striker. Tottenham have a great one. Is there any more that needs to be said?
Well, it’s not quite that simple. It’s more to do with the style of play that Arsene Wenger seems to envisage for his side.
With Olivier Giroud up front, Wenger seems – in theory – to want to play with some sort of a hold-up player who can bring the pacey legs of the likes of Alexis Sanchez into play. Harry Kane may be more mobile and less of a link-up option than Giroud, but he’s tall, strong, good in the air and if he’s disciplined he can do that job.
But the one thing he does better than Giroud is put the ball into the net. And that’s the selling point!
Granit Xhaka was signed to add some bite to Arsenal’s midfield. And alongside Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin, Arsenal have some cover for their defence.
The only worry that Arsenal fans might have is who’s going to play the box-to-box role next season? Will it be Xhaka alongside a holding player? But he likes to take the ball from the defenders and start the attacks, not join them. Will it be Elneny with Xhaka holding alongside him? Or is this the role of Santi Cazorla?
Whoever does the job in the end should be moulded on someone like Moussa Dembele – a player who loves getting on the ball and driving his team forward. When he gets it, it’s hard to knock him off and he rarely wastes possession. Perfect for a grittier Arsenal who don’t want to lose their sleek.
What’s Arsenal’s problem position? You’re probably thinking striker, but in reality, a top class centre back would really shore things up and allow the attackers to do their thing.
In Laurent Koscielny, Arsene Wenger has a player he can trust in front of Petr Cech, but one more top quality centre back to pair alongside him seems like a good idea. Per Mertesacker is getting older and his legs are slowing like a camper van running short on diesel. He was never quick anyway. Whilst Gabriel and Calum Chambers didn’t prove themselves last season.
A solid defender like Vertonghen would do a great job at Arsenal, and what’s more, he’s supremely confident on the ball. He’d be a perfect fit.