Arsenal FC is on the back of an increasingly embarrassing run of six years without silverware. Throughout that time, Gunners manager, Arsene Wenger, has continuously put faith in a young team that has yet to find a winning identity. Year after year the promising potential within the team, and the slick passing Arsenal moves, excite both fans and neutrals alike. After another season of disappointment however, this summer, and the upcoming season, are pivotal to Arsenal’s reputation as a top team in England, as well as Wenger’s reign as manager.
In order for Arsenal’s upcoming season to be successful, there are a number of things Wenger needs to do. Wenger must first deal with contract negotiations for a few key players, most notably, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri. Along with this, he must decide whether or not it is time for Arsenal captain, and talisman, Francesc Fabregas to head back to his boyhood club Barcelona. The squad as a whole needs to be streamlined, which possibly means the departure of a few old faces, and new ones to replace them. New recruits can have a significant impact on the squad, considering they do not flop.
Another area that may require a change is the formation.
Whether or not Wenger decides to keep the wide 4-3-3 formation he has implemented in recent years, it is imperative that he strengthens an inconsistent defensive line, and stabilizes an overeager midfield. Arsenal can score at will when they are in the mood, but the team's defensive frailties usually get in the way of success.
One such option that would be suitable for the team, without disrupting their free flowing movements, is a diamond shape 4-4-2, with the holding midfielder dropping into a central defensive position much like Sergio Busquets does for Barcelona. This would allow the fullbacks more freedom and further emulate the Barcelona style of play that Wenger seems to want the team to strive for.
From back to front Arsenal is in need of reconstruction in order to be considered a favorite for some sort of silverware next year. With possibly 60 million pounds to spend on players, Wenger must give Arsenal fans a sign of intent for the coming season. The transfer carousel is already rolling with a variety of names being mentioned to bolster Arsenal’s attack and defense.
The backline is in need of some toughness, and Blackburn defender Christopher Samba and his Bolton counterpart Gary Cahill, would provide just that. In attack Lille’s Ivorian winger Gervinho is making strong statements about his interest in joining the Gunners, whilst other names being touted include his teammate Eden Hazard and Velez Sarsfield attacker, Ricky Alvarez.
While these departments do need to be shaken up, it would be remiss of Wenger to neglect the defensive midfield area. Alex Song has blossomed into the best option in the squad for that position, but he is still not an out an out defensive midfielder a la Claude Makelele. Song's tendency to surge forward with his more attack-minded teammates did lead to some important, and impressive, goals last season, but it also left his defensive teammates exposed too often.
For all these supposed reinforcements, Arsenal fans will hold back their excitement until something is official. Arsenal is usually on the forefront when these rumors fly around, but in these last few years Wenger has rarely entered the market, and with good reason. Wenger’s disdain at the exorbitant amounts spent on player fees and wages during the last few transfer windows is a major reason for his reluctance to spend money. After holding out for so long, it is evident that he will have to enter the circus this summer.
While it may be the fans mindset that some amount of changes are necessary, Wenger may again surprise, and annoy, them by neglecting to change anything. He would be cautious to make too many changes to the squad after building a core of players that have known each other for quite some time.
Whatever Wenger decides to do he will be under increased scrutiny during the summer and this upcoming season.