It’s not been the start to 2017-18 that Arsene Wenger was hoping for. Injuries have forced the Frenchman to play the likes of Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal, to name just two, out of position. Poor performances from experienced players such as Petr Cech and Mesut Ozil have also caused the Gunners issues.
Whilst a 4-3 win over Leicester saw them pick up three points in the opening game, it was a terrible performance defensively. Monreal was constantly beaten whilst Kolasinac and Holding often gave the ball away too easily. Hector Bellerin’s defensive frailties showed yet again, whilst Cech looked largely confused. His positioning for crosses and decision making when coming out was horrendous, and he missed an awful lot. It isn’t acceptable for one of Arsenal’s few so-called leaders.
Sell to buy
It seemed that Wenger would be getting rid of a lot of the dead wood from the Emirates this summer, but moves have failed to materialise for most of these unwanted players, probably due to their huge wage packets. Arsenal have too big a squad, and that needs to be changed.
First off, Petr Cech has to leave the club. There would surely be another top club that wants him, where his wages are affordable. He has, of late, made too many errors, and simple ones at that. With poor decision-making and reactions, it is time someone younger with great determination comes in to take Arsenal to the next level.
Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs were both close to moves away, but both were cancelled. Debuchy failed his medical at Nice, whilst Kieran Gibbs couldn’t agree on wages with West Brom after a fee of around twelve million pounds was agreed. Both players are unsuited to the wing back roles but also aren’t of a high enough quality for a team who should be aiming to play and reach the latter stages of the Champions League.
There are more defenders though, with the trio of Monreal, Calum Chambers and Carl Jenkinson all of a poor quality. Monreal is not a centre back and never possessed the right qualities to play there. His lack of pace and poor crossing also means he would struggle to play in the left wing back position, leaving his centre-backs exposed far too often.
I was never convinced by Carl Jenkinson, and he never looked like a player with a great potential. He now looks like never reaching that level that Arsenal’s scouts apparently saw in him, which is no great surprise to many. He looks set to join Birmingham on loan, Arsenal fans can only hope they want to sign him on a permanent deal at the end of 2017-18. Cohen Bramall will also join the Blues on loan from the Gunners.
Calum Chambers spent last season on loan at relegated Middlesbrough but was one of few players who did not perform particularly poorly at the Riverside. ‘Boro were poor attacking-wise, but their defence was not a major issue compared to the other sides who struggled. Chambers could not cut it at a club as big as Arsenal, but with regular game time for a few seasons at a mid table side, he could turn into a good option for most Premier League sides. With more and more teams playing three at the back, he could slot in well to play in the ball playing defender role.
Moving into the midfield, there are four players who should be moved onto pastures new. First of all, Jack Wilshere should move. His injury proneness and inconsistency make him an unreliable option, particularly when he struggles for first-team football at the Emirates. Wilshere played well for Bournemouth last season and, for the most part, they kept him fit. He fits into Eddie Howe’s style perfectly and loves to pass the ball, adding creativity from midfield.
German international Mesut Ozil is another player Wenger should look to sell. After watching Ozil in the Premier League since he joined Arsenal, he seems to have got worse. The former Real Madrid man is an overrated player and should be leading the side with his performances, especially in the absence of Alexis Sanchez. That hasn’t happened, and he has gone missing in far too many games.
It seemed that Lacazette would be the perfect striker for the German but, in truth, I haven’t been aware that Ozil was playing in Arsenal’s first two matches. At times, he is a great player, but he showcases his skill on too few an occasion and is a lazy player. Without the ball, Arsenal may as well be a man down when playing Ozil.
Arsenal have two defensive midfielders currently, neither of whom are of sufficient quality for a side that ought to be challenging for the title. Francis Coquelin’s rash decision-making and lack of quality on the ball make him a liability, whilst Mohamed Elneny often runs around stupidly and aimlessly, tiring himself out and leaving huge gaps for his teammates to fill.
Theo Walcott is a player Wenger seems intent on keeping, no matter how badly he performs over the course of a season for Arsenal. His wages, which are more than £100,000 per week, could be much better spent elsewhere- on a winger who could cross, for example.
Joel Campbell had a decent season for Arsenal after the World Cup but then went out on loan. He performed averagely whilst away from the Emirates and now needs to play regularly to realise his potential, which won’t happen at a top six club.
Lucas Perez didn’t play regularly last season and should look to move for the sake of his career. With the addition of Lacazette, he will play even less in 17-18, with Newcastle and his former club Deportivo apparently interested in the Spaniard.
The shopping list
Obviously, some of these players need to be replaced to strengthen the squad, and we take a look at who these could be.
In goal, there is only one real option for me. Arsenal have to sign Jack Butland. He was brilliant against them for Stoke on Saturday and would have great determination to succeed at a big club. He also wants to become England’s number one goalkeeper for the World Cup next summer, which is a realistic aim. If he could perform well across the season at a big club like the Gunners, surely Gareth Southgate would have a simple choice to make when picking his goalkeeper.
One centre back that could turn Arsenal’s defence around (particularly when Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and others are fit) is Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk. Why Arsenal seem to have no interest in the Dutchman is beyond me when their defence is so unreliable. Van Dijk is arguably one of the best two centre-backs in the Premier League, and his drive to succeed, as well as aerial presence, could be particularly revolutionary for Arsenal. It would also allow one of Holding and Mustafi to step into the ball playing role, which suits them better.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has apparently been offered a new deal, is not a right wingback, and Hector Bellerin is being exposed there an awful lot in recent games. A new signing could be ideal there, to sure up the defence and also be good going forward. Serge Aurier, based solely on ability, is one of the best right-sided defenders in world football, but his attitude has caused major issues at PSG.
Another target could be Alessandro Florenzi, whose versatility would also prove useful. The Italian seems well-suited to the Premier League and could be persuaded to move from Roma. The wages across Serie A tend to be a lot lower, and we all know money is a huge motivating factor for players nowadays, but he should still be the right back they look to sign.
A backup left-wing back is required too, to play behind Sead Kolasinac and in cup games. With plenty of Thursday evening games this season too, Arsenal will need a good squad depth. Someone young with a huge potential would be a good option, so Jose Gaya could be an excellent capture.
It remains to be seen whether the 21-year-old will stay at Valencia with them not enjoying particularly good fortunes in the past couple of years. With his ability, he would also provide stiff competition for Kolasinac, which should motivate both of them to perform better to earn or keep their place in the side.
Santi Cazorla will be like a new signing when he eventually returns from injury, but it remains to be seen when that will be. The Spaniard will add some much-needed quality to Arsenal’s midfield, but they still need to sign a defensive midfielder.
There have been rumours emerging from La Liga that Sevilla’s Steven N’Zonzi is available for around thirty million, a great price for someone of his ability. N’Zonzi uses the ball extremely well and is excellent defensively, something Wenger hasn’t really had in his side since Patrick Vieira left all those years ago.
To replace Mesut Ozil, Arsenal should look to sign Lorenzo Insigne. He has scored 30 league goals for Napoli in the last two seasons and could be the ideal man to play right or left forward. His nineteen assists in that time and mazy dribbling make him a player much better than Ozil. He has much more quality on the ball than Ozil at times and works much harder.
These transfers would make them title challengers, and surely they could reach the latter stages of the Champions League with this squad.
Let us know what you think about this hypothetical buying and selling strategy. Would this take Arsenal to the top of the Premier League? Let us know below.
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