Where Do Arsenal Go From Here?


The season began with a swish of Olivier Giroud’s left boot and the ball nestled into the bottom right corner of the net in the sixth minute of their season opener against Aston Villa. Although Arsenal would go onto lose that game, they managed to salvage a season that promised so much. After leading the league for more time than any other side, they looked in complete control of their own destiny.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as their most influential player so far got injured and their deficiencies in the striking department was shown up. Although they endured a difficult couple of months in February and March, they managed to shore up fourth spot yet again thanks to five straight victories to close their League campaign.

While the League campaign that promised so much faltered, their cup run gathered momentum. Although they were knocked out early in both the Capital One Cup and the Champions League, the FA Cup still remained. And it is England’s most historic cup competition that Arsenal showed their class.

It was in the FA Cup that Arsenal showed just what there are capable of, if they have their full quota of players. After breezing past Tottenham and Coventry at the Emirates, they came up against Liverpool and Everton in the fifth and sixth round respectively. They got through both obstacles unscathed and faced a giant-killing Wigan side in the semis, who they saw off via a shootout.

After all the hard work done throughout the season, it all came down to this. One football match that would decide outcome of not just the season, but the future of the club as well. Win the FA Cup final against Hull and Arsenal were assured of a successful season, which would have seen them claim their first trophy in nine years. Lose and the manager’s job would came under close scrutiny yet again.

Thankfully for the Gunners, one elegant back flick from Giroud’s boot was enough, this time, to set up their player of the season Aaron Ramsey to step up and score the goal that won them the cup. The victory meant a lot to not just the players, some of whom were claiming their first silverware but also to the manager, who claimed that “this was more important than all the others (trophies won in his tenure).”

Now that they have their trophy cabinet filled with a new piece of silverware, what next for the Gunners? Firstly, the departure of Bacary Sagna and possibly a couple of others means that the squad will come under close scrutiny yet again, over the summer. As brilliant as Ramsey was, Arsenal’s midfield, particularly defensively is in dire need of some rejuvenation. Although Giroud didn’t get injured during the season, towards the end, the Frenchman looked like he was on his last breath and he too, needs some support in the striking department.

First, defense. In Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal have finally found a reliable keeper and with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny growing in confidence with every passing game, they have a solid platform to build from. But beyond those two, Arsenal lack a bit of depth and now with the departure of Sagna too, Arsenal certainly need a couple of defenders to fill in at the back.

Whilst Wenger’s formula has been youth, he has to buck the trend here and sign a couple of experienced center halves and a right full back to replace Sagna. Should they do that, the chances of them keeping up their defensive record next season is almost a guarantee.

In midfield, the plethora of attacking midfielders, coupled with the returning Theo Walcott means that they are well stocked in that department, but defensively, they can be got at. Flamini and Arteta at 30 and 32 respectively are approaching the twilight of their careers and both need replacing, with a young yet experienced central midfielder. Given Arsenal’s penchant for passing football, a defensive midfielder with solid technical ability will be handy and someone like Morgan Schneiderlin will fit right into the Gunners’ plans.

Although defense and midfield reinforcements, it is up front that Arsene Wenger has to concentrate all his efforts at. Even though Giroud was excellent once again and another Frenchman Yaya Sanogo growing in stature with every game, they still are in need of a proven goal scorer to lead the attack.

Benzema, who is out of contract with Real Madrid next year, would be ideal. And even if Wenger considers the Frenchman a tad expensive, in Loic Remy, they have another player, who is available on the cheap and would fit right into Arsenal’s philosophy.

With a few right additions and the likes of Ozil and Ramsey enjoying a injury-free season, Arsenal will yet again be there or thereabouts in the League. Who knows, if they pull off another couple of coups like they did with Ozil, they might yet challenge for the League. But, if they have to do that, Wenger has to curb his natural instinct and spend, but spend wisely.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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