5 Things Learned from Arsenal's 2015/16 Premier League Season
Now that the Premier League season is done and dusted, it's time to reflect upon the events of the past 10 months.
Arsenal will look back at 2015/16 wondering what might have been. Although they achieved their highest league position since 2005, they will be frustrated that they ended up without silverware. Given their resources, the Gunners ought to have been stronger challengers for the league title.
There is one conclusion, of course, that goes without saying: Despite an excellent season, Tottenham Hotspur remain in Arsenal's shadow. After seemingly running Leicester City closest for the title, Spurs ended up slipping to third place and finishing behind their neighbours for a 20th consecutive season.
Nevertheless, Arsenal must examine themselves closely if they are to improve next year.
Read on to discover the five lessons the Gunners must take from this strange season.
Arsenal Need a New Striker
If you were to scroll back through the archives, you'd probably find this statement in the assessment of Arsenal's last few seasons. Arguably they have not yet replaced the predatory instincts of Robin van Persie, who left north London back in 2012.
Olivier Giroud was their top goalscorer this season with 16 Premier League goals. However, he also endured a 15-game barren spell in the competition, which meant Arsenal could not rely on their main goal threat in a crucial period of the season.
They can't afford to be in a similar situation next season. Look at the other sides in the top four: Tottenham had Harry Kane with 25 league goals, while Manchester City and Leicester City had Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy, respectively, with 24 apiece.
Arsenal need a forward who can deliver that kind of tally next season.
Counter-Attack Is the Way Forward
Some of Arsenal's most eye-catching displays in 2015/16 came when they launched lightning counter-attacks against the opposition.
The game that stands out is the 3-0 victory over Manchester United in October. Arsenal were superb at turning over possession and quickly turning defence into attack, unleashing the pace of Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez via Mesut Ozil's passing ability.
Once the Gunners had assumed their lead, they then reverted to their possession play to see out the game and collect the three points.
Walcott's position in the team is up for debate, but Arsenal have looked at their best when they made use of the speed in their squad.
Arsene Wenger must decide upon a suitable strategy that enables them to be more efficient on the attack.
Laurent Koscielny Needs a Better Partner
By the end of the season, it was difficult to determine who was Arsene Wenger's preferred partner for Laurent Koscielny in the centre of the defence.
Through the campaign, Wenger alternated between using Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista alongside the Frenchman. The truth is that neither really convinced.
The problem with Mertesacker is his lack of pace. It forces Arsenal to defend deep, which seems to contradict the pressing style adopted by the likes of Alexis Sanchez. Gabriel is quick, but unlike Mertesacker, he can lack positional discipline and is prone to overt displays of aggression.
The solution may lie in the transfer market. Koscielny has developed into one of the league's best centre-halves and deserves a better foil.
The Midfield Requires Reinforcements
On the final day of the Premier League season, Arsenal bid farewell to the experienced trio of Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini. Having lost three players from the middle of the park, the onus is now on Arsene Wenger to make recruits in that area.
He began that process in January with the addition of Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian has had a significant impact and looks as if he could fill a variety of roles in the team.
However, there is more work to be done—especially as Jack Wilshere proved beyond doubt this season that his fitness can not be relied upon.
Borussia Monchengladbach have confirmed on the club's official website that they've received a bid for club captain Granit Xhaka (h/t ESPN FC), and it seems as if he may be the target to shore up the midfield.
Arsene Wenger Should Not Sign a New Deal Yet
Arsene Wenger has said he will not consider his Arsenal future until "very late" next season, per Amy Lawrence of the Guardian.
That's probably for the best: With the fans divided over whether the manager should remain at the helm, signing a new deal now would only create more tension around the club.
Wenger must first win the faith of the supporters with a summer of ambitious spending. Then, if results look positive in 2016/17, he can begin to contemplate the possibility of an extension.