Picking an Arsenal Starting XI Next Season to Exploit Stevan Jovetic
According to the Mirror, Stevan Jovetic is Arsenal's No. 1 transfer target this summer. If the Gunners win the £20 million race for the Fiorentina striker's services, they will finally have the marquee forward they have missed since the departure of Robin van Persie.
In 2012-13, Arsenal usually played with a traditional target man: Olivier Giroud. Jovetic is a very different kind of striker, and should the Montenegrin arrive in London, Arsene Wenger will have to restructure his side accordingly.
However, there's no need for sweeping changes.
In the last two months of Arsenal's season, there were signs that they were gelling into a competitive force. The introduction of a star like Jovetic should be used to build upon the solid base Arsenal have finally begun to develop.
Arsene Wenger will not want to significantly disrupt his defence. Since dropping Thomas Vermaelen for the match against Bayern Munich in March, the partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker has flourished. At the end of the season, only Manchester City had conceded fewer Premier League goals. The Gunners conceded just five goals in their final 11 games, keeping six clean sheets in the process.
Mertesacker and Koscielny will surely be the foundation of Arsenal's team for 2013-14.
On the left-hand side, Kieran Gibbs will battle it out with Nacho Monreal for a starting spot. Recent signs suggest that Gibbs is edging ahead: While Monreal had been starting most away games, Gibbs was picked for the crucial final day encounter at Newcastle.
At right-back, Bacary Sagna may find himself displaced by Carl Jenkinson. Sagna recently spoke to the Mirror about the possibility of moving to Ligue 1, and Arsene Wenger may decide to take the opportunity to cash in on the experienced defender. Should Sagna depart, Jenkinson is perfectly poised to take his spot. The young Englishman has boundless energy and outstanding crossing ability.
The crucial element to this potential Arsenal defence is the consistency with last season. Sticking with the same personnel should enable Arsenal to build from the back, allowing the creative talents of more attacking players such as Jovetic to prosper.
Arsenal's newfound solidity is not confined to the defence. Their midfield has also shown signs of an increasing sturdiness.
In Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, Arsene Wenger uncovered a partnership almost as effective as that of Mertesacker and Koscielny.
Arteta's positional intelligence dovetails beautifully with the effervescent energy of Ramsey. This partnership shows every sign of continuing to blossom in 2013-14.
Of course, Arsene Wenger still needs to find room for Jack Wilshere. The talented midfielder didn't start in Arsenal's final five games of 2012-13 due to an underlying ankle problem, but he will be back in contention come August.
Next season, I expect Wilshere to take Tomas Rosicky's spot as the most advanced of the midfield trio. Wilshere's eye for a through-ball will suit the intelligent movement of Jovetic perfectly.
Hopefully, Wilshere will also work on his ability get beyond the striker and thus improve his own goal tally.
Finally, we come to Arsenal's front three. While Jovetic has the capability of playing from wide, he is more likely to be handed the central striking berth.
Since moving Santi Cazorla to the left wing, Arsenal have looked significantly more stable. The advantage of fielding Cazorla and Theo Walcott on the flanks is that they are both capable of cutting inside to fill the gaps created by Jovetic's broad spectrum of movement.
This will give Arsenal a more varied attack and make them instantly less predictable.
A starting XI such as this would also create depth at Arsenal. Their bench would contain stellar talent such as Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky.
However, it's their first XI that would improve most dramatically. Adding a striker of Jovetic's undoubted quality to the solid foundations established in the latter part of last season could transform the Gunners' prospects for 2013-14.
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