The new Premier League season is just days away and Arsenal are one of the teams that just can’t wait to get it started. Off the back of a pre-season treble that included a morale boosting win against Chelsea, the Gunners are itching to get the season underway. After a superb end to last season and back to back FA Cups, Arsene Wenger wants to push on and believes he has the resources to try and help the club win their first Premier League title since 2004.
After experimenting with the 4-1-4-1 formation at the beginning of last season, Arsene Wenger changed back to the 4-2-3-1 a couple of months into the season. This benefited the team massively, and the Frenchman looks like he’ll start this season with that formation. Something else they showed at the end of last season was the intent to press teams high up the pitch. For all the praise they got for the performance away to Manchester City, the performance they want to be able to replicate was their dismantling of Liverpool, specifically the first half of that game. They pressed Brendan Rodgers’ side into submission and it allowed them to create clear cut chance after clear cut chance. Especially for home games, Arsenal will be looking to play more on the front foot this season and keep the game in the opposition’s half.
It has been a pretty quiet transfer window at the Emirates. Not too many outgoings or incoming signings. While some fans are disconcerted with the lack of business, they’ve still managed to address their greatest weakness. They’ve lacked a world class goalkeeper since Jens Lehmann left the club in 2008. With the acquisition of former Chelsea stalwart, Petr Cech, they once again have a world class shot stopper. Brought in for only £11m some are saying that this deal will prove to be the deal of the summer. As far as outgoings, Arsene Wenger has not lost any important members of his first team. The only permanent outgoing has been Lukas Podolski, while both Carl Jenkinson and Yaya Sanogo have gone out on season long loans.
Of course some Arsenal fans demand more of both Wenger and the board on the transfer front. They demand that Arsenal sign a “world class striker.” While everyone wants one, no one is quite sure where to find this mysterious, and possibly mythological, creature, much less capture it. There have been rumors that one with a distinctly French accent has been spotted in Madrid. Some fans, specifically one very outspoken one that may or may not want Arsene Wenger in or out depending on the position of the sun, have suggested drowning the specimen’s owner in money. In reality, transfers don’t work that way and, while I’m sure the Gunners would love to purchase a “world class striker” chances are they won’t be able to do so in this window.
Mesut Ozil is one of the best players in the Premier League and he looks like he could be ready to have an incredible season. After missing three months with a knee injury in the first half of the season, the German was sensational in the second half of the season. He was instrumental in Arsenal’s rapid climb up the table and finished the season with more chances created per 90 minutes than any other player in the Premier League. He’s done his best to carry that form into the new season enjoying a fantastic preseason. The former Real Madrid man has his doubters, but, with his first full preseason under his belt, he looks ready to be that £42.5m player over the course of a full season.
Alexis Sanchez was Arsenal’s player of the season and had one of the better debut season’s in recent memory. The Chilean scored 25 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions and averaged a goal every 184 minutes in the Premier League. That’s impressive for a striker, and that production coming from winger in incredible. The Chilean carried the Gunners for times last season and, while they hope they won’t need that this season, he is the player capable of hauling the rest of the team across the finish line in games.
There are stark differences between an Arsenal team with and without Laurent Koscielny. He’s the Gunners’ best centre-back without question, and is one of the best in the league at his position. His fitness and form will be vital for Arsenal. He seems to be over his nagging achilles injury and there is no reason for his form to drop off, so it seems like he could once again be a vital cog in Arsenal’s success.
The two biggest weaknesses in the Arsenal squad at the moment are quality in depth at defensive midfield and quality at striker. The defensive midfield situation is an interesting one. The meteoric rise of Francis Coquelin has made it so that Arsene Wenger doesn’t have to go out and buy a first choice defensive midfielder this summer. That said, if Coquelin were to suffer a long term injury, his back up is Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, and they just aren’t good enough for a side competing for the title.
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of people that feel Arsene Wenger needs to improve on his striker options. While the likes of Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, and Danny Welbeck aren’t bad options, there are plenty of people saying that they need to buy a “world class striker.” As also mentioned above, it’s not too easy to find an available world class striker. While Arsene Wenger may want to buy a world class striker, chances are it doesn’t happen due to lack of availability.
I think Arsenal have definitely improved this summer. The acquisition of Petr Cech could easily prove to be a masterstroke and allow the gunners to give Chelsea a run for their money at the title. I think they’ll be able to sustain a title challenge this season, but I feel they might just come up short at the end due to the incredible squad that has been assembled at Stamford Bridge.