What stats can’t hide is that you can’t drive yourself to the title in the double-decker bus. Barcelona won the treble thanks to the amazing attacking trident of Messi-Suarez-Neymar that combined for an incredible 122 goals in all competitions. Mourinho can thank his attacking department (Fabregas-Hazard-Diego Costa) and their impressive two thirds of the season for making a gap that neither Manchester City nor Arsenal could bridge. Manchester City edged Arsenal in the battle for second place thanks to an impressive attack (The Citizens scored twelve goals more than Arsenal) led by Sergio Agüero, arguably the best striker outside Barcelona and Real Madrid. It should be said that we helped City to pip us for second with a three-game-streak without scoring at home in the last month of the season. So, what can we do to mount a serious challenge for the title next season?
We have a lot of pace across our attacking department.
Alexis Sánchez is the best among our forwards. If Agüero is the best forward outside Barcelona and Real Madrid, Alexis is among the Top 5. The world-class Chilean who used to be named The Squirrel as a child (via theguardian.com) has been immense in his first season at Arsenal and has become the first Arsenal player since Dennis Bergkamp to top the score-charts in all four competitions. However, we already have to prepare for the beginning of the season without Alexis as he’ll be featuring at the Copa America that takes place in Chile. Alexis’s national team has every chance of progressing beyond their group and so he might be on holiday until the second or third league match next season. Alexis can play in all three positions in the attack but I prefer to see him on the left wing as he makes Nacho Monreal’s job much easier.
Theo Walcott has made a huge statement of intent to play down the middle with four goals in the last two matches of the season. He is close to shaking off the rustiness and can race past opponents with his pace and finish on a regular basis. Hopefully Theo will sign the contract extension and commit himself to Arsenal for years to come. The fact that Wenger has already confirmed Theo’s future role in the team as a striker means that we’ll use someone else on the right wing.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pops out as the favourite to make the right-wing position his own. However, Chambo has three big problems. Firstly, his injuries. He has missed thirty-nine league games in the last two seasons. Secondly, he still lacks final product. Hopefully his assist for Giroud’s cherry on the top of our victory over Aston Villa in the FA Cup Final was a sign of more fruitful performances from The Ox. Finally, the way he sometimes gets dispossessed offers opponents counter-attacking options.
I have written a lot about Danny Welbeck this season. He has incredible physical abilities – quick, tall, capable of beating his opponents with pace and making sixty-meter-runs with the ball…before he wastes it with poor finishing. I can see him again either on the left wing – especially with Alexis being on prolonged holiday after his return from Copa America – or down the middle. He has to improve his finishing though – it’s difficult to say whether it’s more frustrating that he has scored just one goal in 2015 or that he needs more than ten shots for one goal.
Olivier Giroud has been in great shape this year but he will always be under suspicion because of his obvious lack of pace which makes it harder for him to find enough space to take a shot. In a way, our transfer policy when it comes to attack will revolve around Giroud – if Arsene thinks our Big Handsome Frenchman is good enough to lead the attack next season, we won’t sign a new striker.
Yaya Sanogo has been on loan at Crystal Palace but has failed to impress. He’ll return and it seems Wenger sees him as the one for the future. He’ll need to improve a lot in order to become a decent option for our attack though. He is still too raw for the top level.
Lukas Podolski is 30 and – according to some reports – earns less than the usually mentioned £100.000 pounds per week (via tsmplug.com). He has had a very unsuccessful loan spell at Inter which means the Italians won’t be too sorry about his return to Arsenal and I don’t see him at Arsenal next season either. He is still a top finisher but he has always looked like a bit of a square peg in a round hole at the Emirates.
Serge Gnabry has had a lot of problems with injuries in the last fifteen months but he might get a chance to show his amazing talent again at the beginning of the new season. He might get a chance on the right wing when Chamberlain is injured, suspended or out of form. Chuba Akpom is also an exciting prospect for our attack but I can see another loan spell for him next season.
Raheem Sterling has been linked with Arsenal since 2012 and the first article in 2015 about the possible swap that would see Theo Walcott going in the opposite direction was published at allarsenal.com. Sterling is a versatile forward who can operate as a false nine, a winger or a No. 10. However, he is yet to reach the ten-goal-mark in the league which proves that he is far from being a finished article. The worst thing is, his lack of loyalty towards Liverpool and wage demands that go beyond insanity (via 90min.com) make him a player that we should avoid – we have had enough Nasris, Van Persies and Fabregases for this decade. The fact he would be considered as a home-grown player is a positive one though.
Marco Reus is the biggest dream for most of the Gooners. I’m one of them. The German forward might be reluctant to stay at Borussia after they failed to qualify for the Champions League and ended their cooperation with Jürgen Klopp. According to le-grove.co.uk, we had reached an agreement with Borussia over Reus last summer but the player himself had been interested in Barcelona. His wish, however, didn’t come true once Barcelona got their hands on Luis Suarez. Reus might reconsider his opinion regarding Arsenal this summer and join our very exciting line-up. He can play in any position across the attack. He might be too prone to injuries though.
In the light of Real Madrid’s possible interest in Sergio Agüero (via Metro.co.uk), we might try to sign Karim Benzema. The French striker has been connected with Arsenal ever since his breakout at Lyon (via espn.com) but he has never fulfilled my dream by signing for Arsenal. If Rafa Benitez and Florentino Perez somehow get Agüero, Benzema’s days at the Santiago Bernabeu would be over. Benzema has pace and, what is very important, great hold-up play. Most of the candidates for Giroud’s replacement at Arsenal can’t match Giroud’s hold-up play but Benzema is good in that area too. The Frenchman would be able to reach the 40-goal-mark in all competitions – with his mobility and ability to score being combined with a supply-line consisting of world-class talents like Cazorla, Özil and Alexis, only the sky is the limit.
And, how about Carlos Tevez? Yes, I went there. He might be on the wrong side of thirty and his previous spell at England was ridden with disciplinary issues but he is an all-round striker in the mould of Alexis Sánchez. He never stops working, he scores and he wouldn’t be new to English football. He is approaching his final year of the contract with Juventus and given that the Italians have already signed Paulo Dybala, they might be interested in selling Tevez (via skysports.com). The player himself, however, would prefer a return to Argentina (via Dailymail.co.uk) but if we give him a satisfying offer, it wouldn’t be the first time financial benefits have cured homesickness (hello, Cesc Fabregas and Jesus Navas).
Yann Ferreira-Carrasco has already proven his worth against us during the Champions’ League tie between Arsenal and Monaco. His pace and dribbling were difficult to deal with and that culminated with an injury-time goal in the first leg that effectively decided the tie. He is still very young so he would be a long-term investment as well.
Finally, Zakaria Bakkali has been connected with us lately (via Metro.co.uk). He’s been frozen out by PSV for not prolonging his contract so he would be ours for just a little bit as his compensation fee is low. He is 19, has a low center and his dribbling has already drawn comparisons with his compatriot Eden Hazard. I would be reluctant to sign him for the same reason as in Sterling’s case.
When it comes to some other reported targets like Alexandre Lacazette (via Metro.co.uk) and Carlos Bacca (via Express.co.uk), I must admit I’m not impressed with either of them. Lacazette does have a powerful shot but his team-mate Nabil Fekir looks more like a future world-beater to me. Bacca’s goals come usually from the penalty box and if we want to sign an upgrade to Giroud, we need a player that would add a variety of goal-scoring options.
Conclusion: If I were Wenger, I would add Čech, Schneiderlin and Reus to our ranks. I think it would be enough for us to win the title next season.