After nine long, hard, painful years, Arsenal finally ended their trophy drought with the 2014 FA Cup. The gunners were in the race for the league title until they spectacularly crashed out in March and had to settle for fourth place. The FA Cup victory will lift pressure off of Arsene Wenger and his players, but the team do need to push on. This is a big summer for Arsenal football club. If Arsene Wenger can push on and fill the weaknesses in his squad, they could seriously compete for the title. If they do not fill those weaknesses, the team could stagnate. The main three holes Ivan Gazidas and Arsene Wenger must fill are defensive midfielder, striker, and right back.
Striker is probably the most glaring need in the current Arsenal team. Arsene Wenger went through the entire season with Olivier Giroud as the main striker and with Yaya Sanogo and Nicklas Bendtner as cover. Bendtner has now left the club and, while an interesting prospect, Yaya Sanogo is not currently good enough to be the number two striker for a Champions League club. The gunners could also use an upgrade for their number one striker as well. While he had a good season and is a good player, Olivier Giroud is not going to be able to lead a team to a league title. Arsene Wenger will have a few different options to go for in the summer.
The one striker that looks closest to signing at the moment is Loic Remy. The French striker was linked to Arsenal back when he moved to QPR from Marseille. After the west London club was relegated to the Championship, the 27 year old striker was loaned to Newcastle for the 2013-2014 season. The former Marseille man impressed in his time at St James Park scoring 14 goals and finishing 21% of his chances. Remy has admitted he is an Arsenal fan in the past and was seen at the Emirates for the last game of the season. There have been reports in the media that the deal is all but done.
Alvaro Morata is another name that has been thrown around. Morata has been linked with a move to the Emirates since January. The Real Madrid striker is currently behind Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu and is in search of regular first team football. The young Spanish striker has been touted for big things and has lots of potential. With prices being thrown around in the range of £25m and Real’s insistence of putting in a buy back clause makes a deal look unlikely.
Mario Mandzukic has admitted that he will be leaving the German champions, Bayern Munich, and could be an interesting prospect for the gunners. Mandzukic is a similar striker to Olivier Giroud but just a touch better at finishing. Arsenal’s main competition for the Bayern man would come from London rivals Chelsea. With the Croatian wanting to leave because of the arrival of Robert Lewandowski, he may prefer a place where he would come in as the number one striker. If Chelsea were to complete the signing of Diego Costa, that might give Arsenal the edge in signing the Croatian.
The most intriguing prospect would be the link to Mario Balotelli. Balotelli has talent in abundance, but is a major problem child. He is always in the media and had problems with the English media in his time at Manchester City. He seems to move clubs every two or three years so far in his career. He is a big risk, but, if he settled at the Emirates and realized his potential, Arsene Wenger would have himself a world class striker.
After Bacary Sagna confirmed he would leave Arsenal, right back became a major problem for Arsene Wenger. At the moment the only first team right back is Carl Jenkinson. There are questions whether the young Englishman is ready to be the number one right back, but regardless you can’t only have one right back.
The only big link right now is to Ivorian right back Serge Aurier. Aurier is a young talented prospect from Ligue 1. He sounds like a prototypical Wenger signing. He is also a very interesting character. He is a big Arsenal fan and has repeatedly linked himself to Arsenal. He has even gone so far as to tell a fan he was definitely moving to the Emirates at an Ivory Coast world cup preparation game.
Arsenal’s two defensive midfielders at the moment are Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. The former Everton man has shown signs that he can’t play week in week out. Too many times this season Arteta’s legs have not been their and he has been exposed. He can be used as a rotation player next season, but the Spaniard can’t be playing week in week out next season. Flamini is a solid player but can certainly be ungraded upon.
Lars Bender is someone who has been linked with a move to the Emirates on and off for about a year. The German midfielder will miss the World Cup with an injury, but is an established midfielder that would be a good buy for Arsene Wenger. He did sign a contract extension with Levekusen in October making a possible move difficult.
Sami Khedira is another German midfielder that could be a very interesting prospect. The 27 year old midfielder missed most of his season with Real Madrid with a knee injury. The German is a very talented midfielder that could add the solidity Arsenal need in their midfield. Khedira is also very good friends with Arsenal’s record signing, Mesut Ozil. Arsenal’s large German contingent could be a big selling point to the Real Madrid man along with being the number one defensive midfielder.
Arsenal need to build on their successful 2013-2014. The FA Cup is a good start for Arsenal and breaking that nine year trophy drought is a big thing for the gunners. They must push on to seriously compete for the Premier League title in 2014-2015. Filling these holes in the squad would go a long way to doing just that.