Author Credit: Jonathan Day
It’s been almost eight years since Arsenal last won a major trophy and Arsene Wenger’s recruitment drive over the summer will arguably the most eagerly watched in English football.
Arsenal’s victory in the 2005 FA Cup final saw the likes of Patrick Vieira, Kolo Toure and Gilberto Silva lead by example in a game that was thoroughly dominated by Manchester United.
Jens Lehman led from the back that day producing a string of crucial saves including one from a Paul Scholes shot in extra time that almost certainly gave Arsenal the confidence and impetus to go on and beat the Red Devils during the resulting penalty-shoot out.
Wenger chose to bench Sol Campbell in favour of Philippe Senderos ahead of the game, but all over the pitch there were strong voices, gifted players and determined leaders full of resolve and determination.
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Indeed the 2005 FA Cup final squad serves as stark reminder to the strength in character and leadership that has been sorely missed in Arsenal’s current set-up over the years.
Arsenal have already been linked with Barcelona’s Victor Valdes and Liverpool’s Pepe Reina this season, but whether Wenger decides to keep the faith in Wojciech Szcesny for the next campaign remains to be seen. An approach of the bigger sides in Europe has been to loan out young stoppers in their earlier years; a move which Premier League rivals Chelsea have exploited with Thibaut Courtois, who has blossomed in Spain at Atletico Madrid.
Willy Caballero who played alongside Nacho Monreal at Malaga could be a good fit for Arsenal, but Barcelona’s Victor Valdes remains undoubtedly the fans favourite, should reports linking the Spanish stopper with a move away from the Nou Camp come to fruition.
A fourth defender is crucial for any side competing on multiple fronts and along with the likely departures of Johan Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci this summer, Wenger may choose to bring in an additional centre-back.
Injuries to Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen over the past couple of years have marred potential partnerships, but the pairing of Vermaelen and Mertesacker did hold promise earlier in the season.
Whether a player with the calibre of Mats Hummels, a back-to-back title winner with Borussia Dortmund is being sounded out seems unlikely, but the Germany international is the type of committed leader that would add voice to Arsenal’s cause on the pitch.
French defender Adil Rami has been linked with a move to the Emirates, whilst Fernando Amorebieta is another that could arrive after failing to agree terms with his club Athletic Bilbao.
Arsenal’s midfield trio of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta have showed superb dynamism and ability at times, but the need for a more disciplined and defensive minded addition to the Arsenal midfield could prove very effective.
The likes of Patrick Vieira and Alex Song have done exactly that in the past for Arsenal and the latter is one of many names that have been linked with a move to the Emirates.
Celtic’s Victor Wanyama is another that would fit the mould perfectly and the Kenyan international could be set for a move south of the border, following his exploits in the Champions League for the Scottish champions.
Etienne Capoue could follow in the footsteps of former teammate Moussa Sissoko who has thrived since his move to the Premier League, whilst Newcastle’s Yohann Cabaye is another reportedly on the radar.
Theo Walcott has showed some form for Arsenal when played up front this season, but the Gunners have almost certainly missed a world class focal point in attack following the departure of Robin Van Persie over the summer.
Napoli striker Edinson Cavani remains the idealists’ choice and the Uruguay international currently finds himself as the top scorer in Serie A after another prolific season in Naples. Cavani has showed continued pedigree in Italy and in Europe over the past three seasons and the arrival of the Uruguay striker would be seen as a huge statement of intent by the club, especially given the competition the Gunners would face from both Chelsea and Manchester City.
Robert Lewandowski and Falcao, who both lead their club’s attack chould also be considered. Poland international Robert Lewandowski has scored 14 goals in 20 league games for Borussia Dortmund, whilst Falcao has been a key part of Atletico Madrid’s success in recent years.
Stevan Jovetic provides a less direct option, but the Montenegro forward‘s goalscoring record has markedly improved in Serie A over the past two seasons.
Arsene Wenger’s period of vindication seems increasingly protracted and the quality and calibre of his arrivals over the summer could shape both the manager and the club’s destiny.
Jonathan Day is a leading betting expert on Premier League and European football. Jonathan currently writes for Sportingly Better, a football betting blog offering free football tips and predictions. Follow Sportingly Better on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest betting tips.