Picking a Comprehensive Summer Transfer Wish List for Arsenal
Do you want to continue to wallow in the misery of Arsenal's 5-1 disaster at Anfield on Saturday? No? Then read on.
Here, in an article that is not intended as any sort of response to the Gunners' embarrassing shellacking by Liverpool, we will examine five players and/or areas in which Arsenal fans—and hopefully Arsene Wenger—want to improve upon this summer.
For, as we have seen, even a team that has been atop the Premier League table for most of the season can use some reinforcements in certain key areas.
At Least One Good Center-Back
The catastrophe at Anfield not withstanding, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have been consistently outstanding for the past year.
But they need some relief occasionally to maintain their mental and physical health and, of course, Arsenal need to provide adequate cover when one of the two is injured or suspended.
Right now, Thomas Vermaelen is the only true backup center-back Arsenal have. But for one, keeping only three center-backs in a squad is not sustainable, and for another, the club captain will almost certainly seek new pastures this summer after being continually shut out of the starting XI.
With Bacary Sagna, who has filled in admirably during emergencies, looking increasingly likely to depart on a free transfer, Arsenal have some serious shopping to do in this position.
When Ashley Cole left in 2006, Arsene Wenger felt confident enough in Gael Clichy to give the young Frenchman his chance. When Clichy departed in 2011, Wenger similarly placed his trust in Kieran Gibbs.
But can he do the same with Carl Jenkinson if Bacary Sagna leaves?
First, Sagna has to leave. And the fact that he has not yet signed another contract with Arsenal is an inescapable sign that he has one eye on pastures anew.
Arsenal therefore need a contingency plan. And, while Carl Jenkinson might be developing nicely on the training ground, he has yet to display on a consistent basis the all-around skill necessary to be first choice.
Ajax's 22-year-old Ricardo van Rhijn might be an option.
Any Arsenal fan with an Internet connection is surely well-versed on the Julian Draxler transfer saga, which dominated the rumor-sphere in January.
But once one waded through the sea of speculation and mere hopefulness that permeated the media's coverage of the affair, it was clear that Schalke were not going to sell their most prized asset during the middle of the season.
The summer, though, is quite a different story. While the World Cup and Draxler's probable involvement in it might complicate the mechanics of the transfer, there will be quick movement if Arsenal are still interested in the £37 million wunderkind.
Defensive Midfield Help
Arsenal really need at least one more player to supplement and compete with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.
This is simply because only the latter has proven himself consistently able to both stymie opposition and allow the Gunners' attack to play at its preferred pace. Compounding the issue are the ages of both: Arteta is 31 and Flamini 29.
Flamini is not world-class and he cannot be Arsenal's sole holding midfielder anyway. As was brutally exposed against Liverpool in the Frenchman's absence, Arteta is slowing down and has been in atrocious form for much of this season.
Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen, who is of the perfect age (24) and was linked with Arsenal last summer, would be perfect. His energy could also supplement Mesut Ozil, who needs a bulldog to make up for his relative lethargy.
For over a season now, pundits have justifiably been beating the same drum: Arsenal need an upper echelon striker to compete with Olivier Giroud and relieve the Frenchman's burden.
And no, neither Nicklas Bendtner nor Lukas Podolski are sufficient alternatives.
This needs to be at the very top of Arsene Wenger's to-do list this summer after failing to fill this vacancy in the last three transfer windows. Questions are rightly asked of Giroud's ability to be a dynamic front man and whether he is making the most of having Ozil behind him.
The upshot is that Wenger seems to know that his squad is deficient in this area. Arsenal's transfer business last summer was dominated by their failed pursuit of one striker after another.
Arsenal fans only hope Wenger isn't stirred by a late-season title collapse.