With the resumption of the Barclay’s Premier League just over a month away, and the transfer window now open, Retain Possession will be taking a club-by-club look at what your team needs this summer to help them reach their aspirations for the coming season – First up, FA Cup holders Arsenal.
If Arsene Wenger’s men can start the season in the form that they finished the last campaign, they will be expected to mount a serious challenge for the title. But, as with most teams, there are areas that will need to be addressed in order to meet their goals.
£10 million steal: Petr Cech to Arsenal
Wenger has acted early and successfully with a bid for Chelsea’s Petr Cech, a steal at approximately £10 million. In Cech, Arsenal have landed a world-class goalkeeper with vast amounts of Premier League experience from one of their biggest rivals.
The Czech international will undoubtedly be Arsenal’s first choice, and he has the ability to win them 10-15 points alone. This will give Arsenal a major boost in this area with Wojciech Szczesny largely inconsistent, and David Ospina still bedding in.
If the media are to be believed, Arsenal’s main transfer targets this summer are a midfield anchor and a world-class striker, as they have been for the last couple of seasons. And there are a plethora of names being bandied around, with some targets already missed if reports are accurate.
Holding midfielder: End of Coquelin?
In the defensive midfield area, Wenger has been linked with compatriot Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton and Portugal’s midfield monster William Carvalho.
Manchester United looked to have landed Schneiderlin, with a deal to bring the 25-year-old to Old Trafford believed to be done and dusted, but talks appear to have stagnated. Carvalho impressed at the European Under-21s Championship in the Czech Republic this summer and would be a coup for any Premier League side. Both are undoubted talents, but there would be a couple of Arsenal players who would be understandably aggrieved by their transfers – none more so than Francois Coquelin.
The young Frenchman was an absolute revelation following his return from a loan spell at Charlton and was a key factor in the Gunners upturn in form. He added some much needed steel to compliment the silk in the starting XI, and may well feel that he had done enough to pin down a starting berth for this campaign.
Another factor in this position is Jack Wilshere. Wilshere struggled to hold down a place in the Arsenal starting XI last season, with Wenger opting to play Ozil, Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla in the advanced midfield role.
However, it could be argued that Wilshere’s best performances this season came for England, where he picked up a number of Man of the Match awards and more notably chipped in with a coupled of goals – from a deep lying midfield role. Surely that proves that he would be worth a run out in a similar role for his club?
Inconsistent Giroud, flop Welbeck: Arsenal’s striker options
Further up the field, Arsenal will be looking for more firepower from an out-and-out front man. Olivier Giroud had a very inconsistent season, but finished in fine goal-scoring form, while Danny Welbeck failed to live up to his price-tag.
Theo Walcott (now Arsenal’s longest serving player) has always maintained that he is a number 9 and put in a couple of impressive performances in that position at the end of the season, whilst on the comeback from injury, which will have done his cause no harm. Colombia’s Jackson Martinez was a reported target, but has since announced that he will be moving to Atletico Madrid, and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette is also a £21 million option.
Lacazette looks to be a fantastic prospect, and at the fee quoted could prove an absolute bargain. Last season he scored 31 goals in 38 appearances for Lyon, and also opened his international account. He looks tailor-made for the Premier League, but there will be fierce competition for his signature should he be available.
With a number of new signings on the cards, players will also have to make way. Wenger has quiet a large squad and some players will be deemed surplus to requirements as Arsenal look to trim the fat. Having released the perennially injured Abou Diaby, there are still a number of players on large contracts whose game time will be restricted by the others around them.
Lucas Podolski has returned from a loan spell at Inter Milan, where he was largely disappointing, and is expected to seal a move away in the coming weeks, with Galatasaray keen to complete a meagre £1.4 million deal. Club captain Mikel Arteta may feel that it is time to move on, and if a defensive midfielder is recruited as expected, both he and Mathieu Flamini may be heading for the exit door.
Worryingly, Laurent Koscielny seems to have been earmarked as a potential replacement for want-away Real Madrid centre-half Sergio Ramos. Arsene Wenger will not want such a key defender to leave the club and will do everything in his power to ensure that he remains in a red shirt this season.
The next few months appear busy for the Gunners, as Arsene Wenger looks to build a side capable of challenging for the Premier League top spot next season. Having already secured Petr Cech’s signature, Arsenal are already a much stronger side than they were last season, but there is plenty more to come.
Who do you want to see at the Emirates next season? Leave a comment below.