Picking a Dream Arsenal Starting XI to Include Rumoured Transfer Targets

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16:  Mikel Arteta of Arsenal and Marouane Fellaini of Everton applaud the fans at the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on April 16, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arsenal fans are dreaming big.

Ever since chief executive Ivan Gazidis made his bold public proclamations about the club’s spending power, Gunners supporters have dared to hope for a new dawn in the club’s recent history.

For almost a decade they have lived prudently, mortgaging their aspirations against the huge cost of the Emirates Stadium. Now, at last, Arsenal are ready to join the big spenders.

Gazidis was bullish when speaking to The Mirror. He said:

Could we spend £25m on a player and pay him £200k p/week? Of course we could do that. We could do more than that. We have a certain amount which we’ve held in reserve. We also have new revenue streams coming on board and all of these things mean we can do some things which would excite you.

These words are music to Arsenal fans’ ears. Thoughts now turn to the line-up that this kind of budget could put together.

Arsenal are unlikely to abandon their basic 4-3-3 formation any time soon. It is part of the club's identity—even the Arsenal youth teams play in the same style.

It’s a helpful foundation on which to build, as are the promising performances at the end of last season. From March onwards, Arsene Wenger managed to introduce a pragmatism and professionalism to the Arsenal side which will be essential components of any successful campaign in 2013/14.

Key to Arsenal’s improvement were the performances of the central defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, so I don’t expect to see either of those players displaced.

Similarly, Kieran Gibbs showed terrific tenacity to see off the challenge of Nacho Monreal, so few Arsenal fans would want to see him relegated to the substitute’s bench.

There is a question mark over the right-back spot. Bacary Sagna’s displays were indicative of an athlete in decline, and speaking to The Guardian, the player himself seems fairly equivocal about the prospect of leaving this summer.

According to The Telegraph, Arsenal have investigated the possibility of signing Borussia Dortmund’s adventurous full-back Lukasz Piszczek as Sagna’s replacement.

While Piszczeck is set to undergo surgery that would rule him out of the first month or two of 2013/14, there’s no doubt he’d prove to be a significant upgrade on the ailing Sagna in the long-term.

Arsenal may also look to improve their goalkeeper. Wojciech Szczesny was dropped after a series of wearisome displays in the spring, and Lukasz Fabianski has never managed to convince Arsene Wenger that he can be a reliable alternative.

Stoke’s imposing shot-stopper Asmir Begovic, linked with the Gunners by The Independent, would immediately add authority to the Arsenal defence.

In midfield, Mikel Arteta is all but certain to continue as ‘pivote’ and captain. However, although Aaron Ramsey impressed as his all-action partner last season, Arsenal may choose to upgrade by pouncing for Marouane Fellaini.

According to the Daily Mail, the Belgian powerhouse is top of Arsene Wenger’s list of targets this summer, and it’s easy to see why: he would add an intimidating muscularity to the Arsenal midfield which has arguably been lacking since the days of Patrick Vieira.

Ahead of Arteta and Fellaini, the fit-again Jack Wilshere is likely to be deployed in the No. 10 role, flanked by Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott.

The final addition Arsenal fans will be hoping for is a shiny new centre-forward. The Gunners have already been linked with a variety of strikers, but the most tantalising rumour is one published by The Mirror, suggesting that Arsene Wenger is making a move for Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain.

Higuain is a superb finisher, capable of netting comfortably with either foot. His first-team opportunities in Madrid have been limited by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, but there is no doubting his quality. In just 32 caps for Argentina, the French-born hit-man has already nabbed 20 goals.

If Arsenal could secure Higuain to accompany Begovic, Piszczek and Fellaini, they’d be able to line up like this:

It’s a team capable of challenging for the Premier League and more.

Arsenal fans will be hoping that this is a dream they don’t wake up from.