Players Arsene Wenger Can Work Wonders with at Arsenal This Season

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal looks on during the match between Arsenal and Napoli at Emirates Stadium on August 3, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger has the ability to work wonders with his players. If the Frenchman truly believes in an individual's potential, you can bet he is more than ready to help develop and emphasise key attributes.

Thierry Henry is a fine example. Struggling as a winger at Juventus, Wenger snapped the future legend up and developed him into a world-class striker. Henry's pace, power, control and finishing prowess were evident from the outset, but Wenger proved to be the vital key in unlocking one of the Premier League's most prolific talents.

Which of Arsenal's current squad could use a little Wenger TLC to help improve their prospects? Let's take a look.

Much like Henry, Lukas Podolski has been yearning for an opportunity to become Arsenal's leading striker. As reported by The Sun (subscription required) back in 2012, the experienced forward outlined his ambition to take on a central role. This was undoubtedly a bad time to do so.

Wenger faced the same pressure from Theo Walcott at this time, as reported by BBC Sport. While he satisfied the Englishman's hunger for a handful of games, it wasn't long before Walcott was back bombing on the wings (after he signed his new contract, to be precise). Podolski's treatment has been similar and often seen him tucked on the left when Olivier Giroud is available to play.

With a year to settle under his belt, both Wenger and Arsenal fans will expect a more consistent showing of quality from Podolski. The German international flitted between explosive and disappointing during his first 12 months with the Gunners, but he could get another shot in the front line if Arsenal fail to land Luis Suarez.

Giving Podolski an opportunity to spearhead the attack could work wonders for a side that naturally creates space with smart runs around the box. His natural pace and power are often stubbed out on the flanks, and he is forced to spend much of his time retreating. Similarly, the deadliness of his left foot is wasted when coming in from the wing.

As highlighted by, Podolski's 15 goals and 10 assists in 39 appearances is a decent record. If he were to see his wish granted and take up position in the middle, these numbers would likely improve.

Podolski's potential move to striker would also give Wenger the opportunity to start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain more often.

The exciting youngster is trusted at the international level and needs to be receiving more responsibility as we head toward the 2014 World Cup. He made just 14 starts and 15 substitute appearances during the last Premier League campaign, a total that needs to progress if he is to continue improving.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is relentlessly confident on the ball and always willing to take on the nearest defender. Much like Walcott's early progression at the club, his delivery and distribution still need plenty of work. Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered less than one cross, long ball, through ball or key pass across last season's entirety, as reported by

The 19-year-old doesn't lack confidence. Harking back to Walcott, his biggest obstacle is knowing when to release the ball or hold on to possession. Wenger's decision to give Oxlade-Chamberlain more opportunities will not only see Arsenal add to their cutting edge, it will help England's prospects too.

While the likes of Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain have by no means represented Arsenal poorly in recent times, there's one player who certainly needs a consoling hug from his manager. It's no secret that Thomas Vermaelen suffered a disappointing 2013-14 campaign. The Belgian defenderwho was elected captain just one year agofailed to inspire his troops with a number of poor personal displays.

The Daily Mail reports Vermaelen is confirmed to miss the start of the season through injury. This couldn't be worse placed for the club captain who needs a run of confidence boosting games.

He barely featured for Arsenal after playing terribly in March's 2-1 loss to Spurs. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny formed an unbeaten partnership of 10 matches after this, suggesting Wenger is likely to stick with the German-French combo for the new campaign.

Now Vermaelen is injured, the manager has no choice. Even so, his faith and trust can restore the 27-year-old to his previous best. Vermaelen is a well-rounded player who has a tendency to lose concentration in the vital moments. Now he is facing another spell on the sidelines, it's time to get his mind back in the right place.

Wenger is willing to stick by players when they struggle. Mertesacker and Koscielny are among squad members who have needed support in the past. The boss is adamant Vermaelen will remain captain throughout the coming season, as confirmed by The Guardian.

Wenger's insistence couldn't be clearer; he believes Vermaelen is the right man to lead his side to silverware. A few weeks of bad form won't change that. Vermaelen's return is around six weeks away, but this showing of confidence will fill the centre-back's belly with the fire needed to rekindle his best form.

While many Arsenal fans are preoccupied by whom the club may or may not be signing, the upcoming season will offer many players the opportunity to correct their previous wrongs. Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Vermaelen have different reasons to improve their game and must work closely with Wenger to ensure their most impressive year in an Arsenal shirt.