As the Robin Van Persie saga threatens to rumble on all summer, distracting from Arsenal’s preparations for the coming season, Gunners fans would do well to remember that the team needs more development than just a possible replacement for the outgoing Dutchman (provided Arsene Wenger isn’t happy enough with new signings Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, that is).
Last season, they finished in third, thanks to a catastrophic loss of form from Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham, but this year Spurs are unlikely to suffer a similar finale, and have strengthened their squad already. Plus there’s the issue of Newcastle United, who pushed Arsenal and Spurs all the way to the final day in the race for 3rd and 4th place, who will look to come on again strongly with a reinforced squad of their own. And that is to make no mention of either Chelsea or Liverpool, who both suffered uncharacteristically poor seasons in the league, but who have both since brought in fresh managers and fresh talent to close the gap again.
With that in mind, we’re looking at five specific areas that Arsenal need to strengthen before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August, if they are going to compete for the top four.
Having missed out to local rivals Spurs in the race to sign highly-rated Belgian centre-half Jan Vertonghen, Arsene Wenger needs to line up an alternative, with his current options looking a little thin on the ground for the centre of defence, barring a major upturn in form from some of the current squad. Arsenal do have Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny as the first choice pairing, who will form a strong foundation provided Arsene Wenger can keep ahold of both, and keep them both fit, but beyond that, the back-up so far haven’t exactly excelled.
Per Mertesacker may have offered experience and presence when he signed, but the German is too slow for the pace of the Premier League and his history of ligament injuries will hardly give Wenger much faith that he will be around for the long-term. Johann Djourou isn’t up to the exacting demands of a top four Premier League team and Sebastien Squillaci has been a disaster since joining from Sevilla in 2010.
Arsenal could certainly do with another Premier League class centre-half, with four competitions to compete in next season, and Wenger’s expressed interest in Vertonghen at least suggests he is looking to boost his available options.
- Click next to reveal the next area of development…
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