With the annual Arsenal bashing within the media in full affect at the moment I felt it was a rather apt time to put some positivity back into the blogosphere and actually talk about footballing matters and subsequently what our chances are for next season.
Despite what the media and pundits choose to depict about Arsenal at present, the bottom line is that with the arrivals of Giroud and Podolski our squad is a damn sight stronger than the one that finished the season. Whether van Persie stays or goes remains to be seen, but regardless of that the club has still attracted the services of one of German football's greatest ever strikers, as well as last season's top scorer in France. We now have greater options upfront and more variety on offer in the final third, therefore giving Wenger the opportunity to mix and match it against certain teams. For far too long we have been a little rigid with our formations, as the quality of personnel has simply not been there.
Other reasons to be optimistic is the likely return of Jack Wilshere to the midfield fold, having missed the whole season, and his presence will certainly feel like a new signing at the football club. No one can doubt that Mikel Arteta's injury in the last quarter of the season had a major impact in our slump that nearly saw the Spuds leapfrog us at the end, so having him fit again is a major boost. All this coupled with the maturing of Alex Song and Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as the return to form of Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott will provide Wenger with an embarrassment of riches in the midfield area. Perhaps bringing in a strong holding midfielder in the shape M'Vila or Tiote may be the ideal addition to the ranks and hopefully a deal could be tied up before the end of the transfer window.
The backline is obviously an area that Wenger should look to improve on this summer. While in Djourou, Mertesaker, Vermaelen and the impressive Koscielny we have able cover at centre half, I do feel we need to bring in reinforcements at full back. In my view Jenkinson is no replacement for Sagna; while in Kieran Gibbs we have a full back who you can't guarantee can go through a whole season without some sort of injury layoff. I don't think it is much of a secret that we were woefully exposed on the flanks at times last season and while a lot of that could be down to a lack of cover from the wide men in midfield, I do feel that both Sagna and Gibbs tend to get caught on their inside more often than not. Whether Wenger chooses to address this remains to be seen, but I do feel that is one area the squad needs to improve on.
So while the doom and gloom merchants are in full flow at present, I think looking at the current state of our squad then Wenger is right to suggest that things aren't as bad as has been painted. We finished 3rd last year without arguably our most talented player and we lost key players at crucial times to injuries. Unlike last year we are seemingly looking to conduct our transfer business early, so we won't suffer as we did last year with that bedding in period, after our last minute splurge on deadline day. While most will raise their eyes at the prospect of a title challenge, the reality is that the Manchester clubs aren't as dominant as the media will have you believe and therefore a challenge is certainly possible. I can't see Arsenal losing over a quarter of our games as we did last season, so with a little consistency anything is possible. The bookies don't seem to think so, but maybe we can upset the odds for once.
Written By Dean Brown
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