by Adam Bond
Arsene Wenger has a reported £70million to spend in the summer and with that hefty sum we can only speculate who is on his shopping list. Let’s have a look at who he should buy and why he needs to act fast.
Arsenal’s performances of late have been a shadow of their former selves and his younger stars are not shining like he would have hoped. The Gunners have produced many top footballers through their academy with the League Cup being their chance to show what the manager is missing and play first team football. Gibbs, Wilshire and Frimpong are the current crop to have made the first team and they have shown they are capable if they can stay injury free. High profile players such as RVP, Fabregas and Song have all left the club with the chance to win silverwear, which they claim is not going to happen at Arsenal anytime soon. After watching the first leg of the Bayern Munich Champions League game it is obvious Arsenal need a change and those players were right. The 4231 system was used by both teams but Bayern looked composed and organised with precision attacking play, Arsenal looked like Bayern’s youth team trying impress the manager by running around a lot. If this was the case and it was a youth team verses the first team I would have taken Wilshere and Cazorla and the rest can be released.
In defence Mr Wenger needs to go backwards to go forwards and embrace again the tactics he used for the invincible’s team. 442 is Arsenal and they won everything domestic football had to offer with that system. Wenger used Lauren and Cole playing as second wingers and over lapping letting the wide men cut inside and leaving them as an option if there was no space to move inside. The centre back pairing of Campbell and Kolo Toure had plenty of pace and heading abilities to stop the forwards turning and allowing the full backs to recover. In midfield they had Vieira, Gilberto, Pires and Ljungberg who all stuck to their jobs and stayed fully committed. Vieira and Gilberto provided a sturdy partnership with Vieira being the box to box player starting most of the attacks and Gilberto being the calming defensive midfielder adding cover to the centre backs. Ljungberg and Pires left the full backs being the wide man while they cut inside looking for the killer pass or long range effort. Upfront Henry and Bergkamp had a deadly partnership with Henry’s pace and finishing abilities; allied to Bergkamp’s technical ability it was a match made in heaven.
If Arsenal are looking to get a team like this again I suggest they start by selling players which offer nothing apart from pace or being tall. The back 4 should have Vermaelen with Koscielny as centre backs as they have made a very good partnership and just need cover in front of them. Maybe Rami (Valencia) or Alderweireld (Ajax) would be fantastic options if they felt they needed cover at centre back. The left back situation is a problem for Arsenal as Gibbs looks like he could be a brilliant left back if he can stay fit for long periods of the season and the jury is out on Monreal who needs half a season before we can make a full assessment. The right back place needs changing and if Inter are serious about taking Sagna I would let him go and replace him with either Howedes (Schalke), Santon (Newcastle) or Piszczek (Dortmund) as all these players are internationals and can play in multi positions which will help Arsenal in the long run. In midfield Arsenal start with two defensive midfielders which can’t defend – they are both creative players which use the ball well. How Arsenal could do with a strong defensive player like Gilberto. Arteta and Wilshere who are the usual two in midfield would be better suited playing alongside a player which allows them to be creative without much of the responsibility when it comes to defending. I would like to see Arsenal spend a lot in this area as it would solve a lot of their problems. Toulalan (Malaga), Khedira (Real Madrid) or Banega (Valencia) would be the ideal players for Arsenal and could cover across the defence if needed. On the wings I think Arsenal have enough players to get the job done and if they play in the 442 system. Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho and Miyaichi are all top midfielders and Walcott and Podolski could come out of the forward line to play out wide if needed. Upfront is where Arsenal needs to get rid of the average players and get new and experienced forwards to lead the line. Giroud, Walcott and Podolski are a great forward line and given the chance in a 442 system would be given plenty of opportunities during the game but I should think a top striker is needed to add competition. Man City have Tevez, Dzeko, Aguero and Guidetti which is a fantastic headache for Mancini as all 4 could start and not look out of place and if Arsenal sign a top forward could have the same desirable problem. Looking at who would suit Arsenal it looks like any forward would slot straight in. They already have the height of Giroud, the pace of Walcott and the unpredictability of Podolski all they need now is a natural finisher like Soldado (Valencia), Bojan (AC Milan on loan from Roma), Lopez (Lyon), Huntelaar (Schalke), Villa (Barcelona) or Gomis (Lyon). All these forwards are all top footballers and would head up a very impressive team and would link up very well with the other forwards and midfielders.
Unfortunately Arsenal will have to try and get players before Bayern, Barcelona, PSG, Man City and Man United get a chance to spend their huge summer budgets. A swap situation might help Arsenal as many teams would like to replace their player as soon as they can but if they had a player ready to come in without using their summer money it might persuade them to make the transfer.
How many of these targets can be lured to the Emirates remains to be seen but what is becoming increasingly apparent is that every penny of that £70m needs to be spent if Arsenal are to return as a force in European and domestic football.