For the first time in a long time, Arsenal has had a productive summer transfer window and fans are ecstatic about what the team can achieve this year. Wenger has brought in Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez, former Newcastle United right back Mathieu Debuchy and 19 year old Calum Chambers from Southampton. As we saw on Sunday, they’ve all settled in very well as fans witnessed during the Community Shield game.
But are they enough to help Arsenal make a real run at the title and other trophies this season? Despite the positive moves Arsenal has made in transfer market to bolster up the side that won the FA Cup last year, there are still some questions and concerns regarding the squad and how well they can do this season.
1. Is Jack Wilshere The Answer to Defensive Midfield Worries?
One of the main problems Arsenal suffered from last season was being overrun in the middle of the park by players who were much more powerful than them. Players such as Ramires, Javi Garcia and Steven Gerrard were able to push around and bully the likes of Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere, helping contribute to the onslaught Arsenal suffered against the other big name teams.
As soon as the season ended, the first thing many Arsenal fans begged for was a powerful anchor man who could break up the play and put a little steel into the midfield, allowing Arsenal’s many creative midfield players to play with more freedom.
So far Arsenal have been rumored to be in for every quality defensive midfielder you can think of. Sami Khedira, William Carvalho, Lars Bender and Morgan Schneiderlin have all been linked with the Gunners this summer, yet it seems as if Wenger has made the interesting decision to try and convert Jack Wilshere into a defensive midfield player. That’s right, Jack Wilshere.
Wilshere is certainly a talented footballer who has had a bad rap due to his antics off the field and the slow progress he’s made in terms of fulfilling the potential many saw in him as a teenager. However, I’ve always seen him as a box-to-box midfielder, never as a defensive anchorman.
There are a number of reasons why I don’t think he fits the role. Much like Paul Scholes – the man who chastised him last season – Wilshere has never had the best timing when it comes to tackling, his temperament during big games has always been questionable, and he’s also not the most physically imposing players on the pitch and is regularly shoved off the ball. It’s not the type of thing you want from a player who you want to protect your back four. I think my main problem with Wilshere being considered to be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield ways is that he lacks the discipline for the role.
As fans witnessed on Sunday against Manchester City, Wilshere is naturally an offensive player, who enjoys breaking forward so he can create and score goals. Wenger needs to either stick with Mikel Arteta and Flamini and pray that they’ve been working on their physical strengths over the summer or bring in someone new who can be a powerhouse in the middle of the park because Jack Wilshere is not the man you’re looking for.
2. Do Arsenal Really Need Another Striker?
I don’t know how everyone else feels after Yaya Sanogo was involved in two goals and Olivier Giroud scored an absolute ripsnorter against Manchester City in the F.A Community Shield, but I’d still like to see another striker at Arsenal. We all know what Giroud brings to the table. He’s a great target man, who combines with Arsenal’s marauding midfielders very well and he’s an underrated finisher too. Sadly, he lacks the type of pace that will put fear in the hearts of defenders.
Sanogo, on the other hand, has pace, power and can also link up with the midfielders and bring them into play. However, his composure in front of goal is still a little bit suspect. The Frenchman will certainly get opportunities this season, but he still looks as if he’s finding his feet in the Premier League.
Some say Sanchez can be converted into a striker but I’d prefer to see him on the wing. If Wenger is ready to put his faith in Theo Walcott then he could be the answer fans are looking for as he’s shown in the past that he can operate through the middle and be a significant threat. Mix that in with the fluid nature of the Arsenal attack and defenders will have a problem on their hands. However, if Wenger would rather keep Walcott on the wing then he’ll need to dip into the transfer market before the end of the summer window.
3. Is Shad Forsythe The Signing Of The Season?
While all eyes have been on Alexis Sanchez since he made his move to Arsenal from Barcelona, Wenger’s most astute piece of business involved bringing highly-rated American fitness coach Shad Forsythe to the Emirates. Forsythe was part of the Germany squad that recently won the World Cup and is believed to have a strong relationship with the German contingent at Arsenal.
His arrival couldn’t have come sooner, as Arsenal’s injury woes last season put the kibosh on the North London based team winning the Premier League title, despite staying on top of the league for an incredible 128 days. Wenger can’t afford to see a repeat of that this year.
Ramsey, Walcott, Wilshere, Podolski and Ozil all spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines and Arsenal lacked the strength in-depth needed to push on in various competitions. Wenger needed to stop whatever it was that condemned his players to long stints in the medical room and all signs suggest that he’s trying to do exactly that by adding Forsythe to the staff.
4. Can Mesut Ozil prove his doubters wrong?
A lot of people got on Mesut Ozil’s back last season and depending on how you feel about his contributions in his first season, the criticism was either justifiable or not. At the start of the season the German international looked fantastic, passing up a storm while playing just behind Giroud and even joining in with scoring goals,. Yet near the end he looked a bit jaded. Most players who are playing their first year in the English Premier League would probably be let off for slowing down in the later, but most players aren’t bought for an estimated £42.5 million pounds.
I might be in the minority, but I firmly believe that Ozil wasn’t to blame for what many perceived to be a lacklustre first season. Firstly, seven goals and 12 assists isn’t too bad for a player in his first season. Could he have added more to that tally? Of course. However, many seemed to put the sole blame of Arsenal’s lack of offensive flair down to him.
Secondly, for any team to get the best out of Ozil they need to have runners — something Arsenal lacked some times last season. Ozil’s eye for a pass is his key skill and with Alexis Sanchez now in the team, along with Ramsey, Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott all hoping to make an impact this season, Ozil should have plenty of options on hand when looking for the killer pass.
5. Which Arsenal Youth Players Are Set To Make The Step-Up This Season?
At the Emirates Cup, Arsenal fans got a good glimpse of some potential future stars. Obviously Calum Chambers looked solid at center back and the 19-year old’s performances are starting to show people why Wenger bought him for £16million in the summer.
However, if Chambers is going to be playing at centre back (or even central midfield according to some reports) instead of right back this season, then I hope Wenger gives Hector Bellerin a chance at right back. Obviously, Mathieu Debuchy is the deputy right back and so he should be after he ousted Bacary Sagna from the French national team. However, Bellerin looked absolutely superb as he bursted down the right hand side against Benfica. His crossing looked superb, his pace looked stupendous and, most importantly, his defending wasn’t too shabby either.
I know Arsenal have spent some money on David Ospina but his fellow South American Damian Martinez looked pretty decent against Benfica too. I’m not saying he should be the Gunners back-up goalkeeper, but he certainly showed that he’s someone who Wenger can call upon if needed.