The Blackburn defeat was a "wake up and smell the coffee" moment. Unless Arsenal can pull off a miracle in the Champions League, a la Chelsea, it will be eight years since they last won a trophy—ot good enough.
Add to that the possibility of not even playing in the Champions League next season and you have a club in decline and in need of serious reinvestment.
Victor Valdes could and should be one of Arsenal’s top transfer targets come summertime. As good as Wojciech Szczesny is, or rather, no matter how much potential he has, the Gunners’ lack of depth in the goalkeeping department has cost them.
Throughout the season the Pole’s complacency at knowing that nobody can challenge him for his spot has been clear for all to see. There has been the failure to deal with crosses, the silly Cruyff turns right by his goal, the woeful distribution with his feet and ultimately the culmination of all of this: conceding against Blackburn.
Valdes has already stated he will leave Barcelona when his current deal runs out next summer and, as a result, the Catalan club are looking to bring in a replacement at the end of the season. Therefore, he is available to Wenger for £10 million, according to the Daily Mail, which is well within his budget.
Yes, his wages could be a problem, but you will be getting a world-class keeper. What’s more, if Szczesny is willing to put his head down and work, Valdes’ experience will surely help bring the best out of him.
For all the moaning that Arsenal need a new striker, it is the other end of the pitch they have really been struggling this season. You only have to look at most of the games they have played since the turn of the year to see the number of goals they have leaked that could have been avoided with a little more alertness and organisation: Blackburn, Liverpool, Brighton, Chelsea, Manchester City.
Among the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna, etc, Arsenal have some very good defenders. But for one reason or another, something has just not been working, as they have all underperformed at times during this campaign.
The arrival of Nacho Monreal was a great bit of business and he has already helped steady the ship to some degree with two clean sheets in the Premier League. Another new arrival looks likely in the summer in Fernando Amorebieta, who will be out of contract and is reportedly in talks with the club (via Fox Soccer).
At 6'4", he offers similar attributes to Mertesacker in that he is good in the air and is a no-nonsense, uncompromising defender. One thing he does have over the German is a bit of pace.
While it could be said he is no better than what Arsenal already have, what they do have has not been up to standard, and his arrival will at least provide stiffer competition for places.
When Arsenal sold Alex Song last summer, it left fans in a state of shock, bewilderment and surprise. It could be argued that while last season he was laying some fine balls on a plate for Robin van Persie, perhaps this was to the detriment to the other side of his game, defending.
Either way, it was still a strange decision from Wenger to sell one of the club’s most important players.
It was all the more stranger when come the end of August no replacement was brought in and same again for the January transfer window.
There is no doubt Arsenal have missed both Song’s defensive security and his physical presence with Abou Diaby struggling for fitness and form, while the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin can do a job, but they are not that player Wenger craves.
That man is Etienne Capoue. The Toulouse player ticks every box and fits the bill perfectly with his defensive efficiency, his wide-range of passing, his physicality—the boy can even slot into defence if needed. Arsenal are crying out for someone like him.
Arguably what Arsenal fans most desire from the summer transfer window is a new striker. Put it simply, the club is short of options in that area. Yes, Lukas Podolski can play there, but the fact Wenger has kept him out on the wing all season tells you everything you need to know about that.
Gervinho up front? That was a failed experiment.
That only really leaves you with Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. Walcott, despite not doing a bad job as a centre-forward earlier in the season, is still learning the position and is far more effective when used on the wing.
When Giroud is good he is very good, but when he is not he is completely anonymous, like against Blackburn. What options did Arsene Wenger have to replace him on Saturday? Absolutely none, and that is not acceptable for a club of Arsenal’s size.
David Villa and Stevan Jovetic seem to be the names Arsenal have been linked with most. While Villa would be a great addition to the team, it appears Wenger is having cold feet about his age, his cost and most importantly his fitness.
As for Jovetic, if he did come onto the market, could Arsenal really compete with the other sides that he would attract, such as Manchester City and Juventus? I think not, and I’m talking both money and stature.
The Gunners may not even be able to offer Champions League football next year.
The target that makes sense is Christian Benteke. As a centre-forward, this guy has everything in his locker: pace, strength, power, aerial ability, a decent shot.
At times he has been unstoppable for Aston Villa this season. Yes, he may not have been as consistent as he would have liked but that will come with time. He is only 22.
It seems as if he is ready to up sticks in the summer, and if Villa get relegated, a cut-price deal could be on the cards. Plus, he has already admitted to being a Gooner.