Friday, May 27, 2011

Arsenal FC: Gunners' Position Analysis and Transfers That Wenger Should Target

Arsene Wenger has come under immense pressure in recent weeks for his club's failure to win any trophy for the last six years and his youth policy has come under huge criticism. However, the Frenchman has already signed young Charlton defender Carl Jenkinson and according to Sky Sports News, the Gunners have tied up deals for Barcelona youth players Hector Bellerin and Jon Miquel Toral. Wenger is a manager who believes in developing youth players with the potential to become an excellent player in the future and all the three players must be viewed as signings for the future.

However, time is running out for Arsene Wenger to prove that he can bring trophies and sustained success to the club in the future and with fans frustrated by the Frenchman's transfer policies in the recent past, it is expected that Wenger will strengthen the squad in the summer. With Manchester United ( who are close to signing Atletico's David De Gea), Chelsea and Manchester City set to strengthen in the summer, Arsenal will have to bolster their squad in order to win the Premiership in the 2011-12 season.

There are indications that Wenger might finally be prepared to change his transfer policy this summer and with the Frenchman claiming that a bid for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is not impossible, the supporters will have high hopes regarding the Frenchman's deals in the summer. It is important that the Gunners sign the players who can make the difference and though the Gunners cannot compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in a bidding war, it is possible for Arsenal to get good players if they spend the right amount of money.

With Wenger targeting various players around the world playing in different positions, it is important that he gets players who can provide quality depth to the squad. Injuries have played an important role in the trophy drought at Arsenal though it was not the reason for the Gunners' meek collapse towards the end of the 2010-11 season. Signings who can be versatile are important for Arsenal and it is important each position has enough depth to challenge for all trophies.


Arsenal supporters were disappointed to see Manuel Almunia starting in goal for the start of the season and with no transfer materializing before the end of the transfer window, supporters were disappointed with Wenger's decision. After Almunia's clangers against West Brom, he was injured and Fabianski took over the starting spot from him.

The Polish International had been heavily criticized for his errors in the past but in the 2010-11 season, he showed why he is highly rated by Wenger with some good consistent performances till he was injured in January before taking part in the game against Manchester City. Wojciech Szczesny, who had an excellent spell at Brentford in the Championship, was given the opportunity to start games regularly and has shown that he can be a future no.1 for the years to come.

Though Szczesny has made errors including the high profile blunder against Birmingham, he has enough mental strength and quality to be regarded as one of the finest young keepers in the world. Fabianski has also shown that he has the quality to be a good keeper and with two young promising keepers in the squad, a new goalkeeper should not be at the top of the agenda for the Gunners.


Bacary Sagna was Arsenal's most consistent performer in the defence and he is one of the best right backs in the world. He is certain to be the first choice right back and if Eboue is not sold, he will be the second choice in the position. Carl Jenkinson is likely to be signed in the next few days and he can also play in the position though Arsene Wenger is more likely to use him in the League Cup if he does not loan him out.

Gael Clichy has been inconsistent throughout the season and with reports emerging that he will not sign a new contract, he could be sold by the Gunners in the summer. Kieran Gibbs is a promising player for the future but has been injury-prone this season and has also not been impressive at Left Back this season. Armand Traoare on loan at Juventus has not had a good spell with the club and is not yet good enough to play in the first team on a regular basis.

Thomas Vermaelen is arguably Arsenal's best centre back and after missing out on almost the entire season due to injuries, it is important that he is fit for most of the 2011-12 season. Laurent Koscielny who was signed last year from Lorient has shown that he can be an excellent defender in the future and will also have an important role to play in the next season.

Johan Djourou, who came back from his long term injury in the 2010-11 season, has also been impressive in a number of games and should hopefully improve on it in the next season. Though Djourou and Koscielny have shown a lot of promise, they do tend to make some mistakes due to their inexperience and it is important that Wenger brings in a defender who has experience and can be the no-nonsense defender that Arsenal require at the heart of the defence.

Also, youngster Kyle Bartley who was on loan at Sheffield United first and then Rangers has shown immense quality and promises to be an exciting talent for the future. Though he will not be very important for the 2011-12 season, he could be retained by Wenger to add to depth of the squad as he can also play in defensive midfield.

There is no need for mentioning Squillaci's role for the 2011-12 season because he is a mediocre defender and Wenger should sell the French defender despite signing him only in 2010. If Clichy also goes, then Wenger would have to bring in an established Left Back like Everton's Leighton Baines though there is also a possibility that he could sign a versatile centre back like Jan Vertonghen who can play at Left Back as well.

Central Midfield

Arsenal's most consistent players over the course of the season has been Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna and the former Arsenal youth player has been immense in midfield for the Gunners this season. He was impressive for Bolton on loan last season but has further improved and has formed an excellent partnership with Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas in midfield. Though his shooting and his final ball can be better, he is a player who is bound to develop into a world class midfielder if he can steer clear of controversies and injuries.

Cesc Fabregas suffered from recurring hamstring injuries throughout the season and it might be due to the number of games he has played in the last few years. With two months of holidays, Fabregas can improve his fitness and can be important to the Gunners next season. Though it is expected that Barcelona will make efforts to sign the Arsenal captain in the summer, Arsene Wenger would want to retain the services of the midfielder considering the fact that he is amongst the best midfielders in the world and he has the ability to unlock solid defences with his vision and creativity.

Alex Song has played in a more advanced role compared to the 2009-10 season and though he has contributed more in attack this season, he has to improve in order to be solid for the Gunners. He concedes a number of cheap free-kicks and should also avoid his rash tackles that could get him sent off. He is only 23 and can further improve in the 2011-12 season.

Denilson has made it clear that he wants to leave Arsenal and he has been poor this season. Though Abou Diaby has got a lot of potential, he spends a lot of time on the treatment room and also, it has hampered his progress at the Emirates. Diaby is not an orthodox holding midfielder and is effective with his powerful bursts in the midfield.

Though Diaby can play in the DM role, Arsenal need another defensive midfielder who can be effective for Arsenal. Song will also be absent in January because of the African Nations Cup and it is important the Gunners sign another holding midfielder. The Gunners have been linked with a move to sign Scott Parker and it will certainly be a good signing for the Gunners.

Aaron Ramsey has recovered completely from his horrendous injury and has shown no signs of any impact of the injury which is great for the Gunners. He is a player who is rated very highly by Wenger and can play an important role for Arsenal in the next season. He can play alongside the holding midfielder in the role currently occupied by Wilshere as well as in the attacking midfielder role.

Emmanuel Frimpong is an exciting youngster who can develop into an excellent defensive midfielder but his recent injury means he has still got a long way to go before being a regular and if there is an opportunity, he should be loaned out to a Premier League team. Henri Lansbury has had a good loan spell with Norwich who are in the Premiership next season and it is better for the Gunners that he continues his loan spell with the club.

Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri can also play in the attacking midfield role though the Czech International is not as effective as he used to be when he was signed by Arsene Wenger. There is enough depth for the places occupied by Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas in the 4-2-3-1 formation but Wenger will need to bring in a defensive midfielder in order to have good depth in that position.

Also, if Cesc Fabregas does leave the club, it is imperative that Arsenal sign an established attacking midfielder and not rely on the British duo of Ramsey and Wilshere. Another way to deal with the departure of the influential Spaniard would be to sign a versatile winger which would allow Samir Nasri to play behind the striker.


Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri were dropped by their respective National teams for the World Cup in South Africa and they have both had creditable seasons for the Gunners. Walcott who has been accused in the past by some critics and journalists for having no football brain has improved on his final product and has scored 13 goals along with making 13 assists in the 2010-11 season.

Nasri had a sensational first half of the season but could not sustain the same kind of form in the latter half of the campaign but was still amongst Arsenal's best performers in the season. He scored some scintillating goals and had his best season with the Gunners but there is only one year on his contract and it could be a problem if he does not renew his contract with the Gunners.

Andrei Arshavin is a player who tends to polarize fans on his importance to the team but it is undeniable that he is one of the quality players at Arsenal. Despite performing well below his potential, the Russian managed to be one of the most effective players at Arsenal with regard to statistics. Though Wenger expects the Russian winger to stay at Arsenal, there are reports linking him with an exit.

Tomas Rosicky who has never recovered his best form since recovering from the long term injury, has also been used on the wings but he has mostly been on the bench if the players ahead of him are fit. The versatile Czech International is useful as a squad player but he has not had a good season and could move on at the end of the season.

Though Carlos Vela and Nicklas Bendtner have been used as wingers, they are more suited to the central role and while the Danish International has made it clear that he intends to leave, it is still uncertain if Vela will follow him out of the Emirates.

Wenger's only January signing this year made an instant impact for Dutch club Feyenoord and the Japanese winger could have a bright future ahead of him. Ryo Miyaichi has still not been called up for the senior Japan team and hence, securing a work permit might be a problem.  He has started a number of games since he joined Feyenoord on loan and could extend his loan with the club in order to gain more experience.

Arsenal have been linked with both Lille wingers Gervinho and Eden Hazard and are also eyeing some players other than the duo to replace any potential departures. If Arshavin does leave the club, then Wenger must bring in a new winger so that the Gunners have a strong replacement if any of their first choice wingers are injured.

The other way for Arsene Wenger to ensure that there is depth is to sign a forward who is capable of playing on the wings like Karim Benzema who is comfortable on the left as well. But the manager should consider this option only if it is certain that Cesc Fabregas is staying at the club.

The worst situation that can happen for Arsenal is the departure of Samir Nasri due to unsuccessful contract negotiations and Wenger would have to replace him with a quality winger who can replace the talented Frenchman. As discussed in my earlier article, signing his French team mate Karim Benzema could also help in tying down Nasri to a longer deal at the club.


Robin van Persie has been nothing short of sensational since the turn of the year and has scored a career best of 22 goals in a season despite being injured for around three months. The Dutch forward is one of the best strikers in the world but his unfortunate injuries has meant that he has not started as many games for the Gunners as he would have liked to. He is clearly Arsenal's best striker and without him, the Gunners lack  a striker who is clinical in front of goal.

Marouane Chamakh was signed in the last summer transfer window and proved to be an astute signing for Wenger as he notched many important goals for the Gunners. Though he is not clinical with his feet, he is a player who wears down defenders with his immense work rate and has good awareness. He is also excellent in the air and has scored many goals due to his aerial prowess. He was fatigued by the end of the first half and he is expected to adjust better to the demands of the league in his second season with the Gunners.

Nicklas Bendtner has frustrated the Arsenal supporters on a number of occasions with his profligacy but it is undeniable that he has the potential to be a good striker in the future. The Dane has been played out of position this season and has been frustrated by the lack of opportunities in the first team. He has declared his intention to leave the club and could be on his way if any club meets the valuation of Arsenal.

Carlos Vela is a very talented striker who has not been able to showcase his potential with consistent performances on the pitch. He was loaned out to West Bromwich to get more playing time but with Roy Hodgson taking over just after the Mexican signed for the Baggies, he was on the bench in a number of games and was not able to gain much playing time. It remains to be seen whether he will remain at Arsenal for one more year but if he does not make an impact this season, his time at the club would be definitely over.

Arsenal have been linked with a number of strikers including the talented duo of Radamel Falcao and Karim Benzema and if Bendtner does leave the club, the Arsenal will have to replace him with a new striker. Wenger has already confirmed that he is ready to spend if the right player is available and signing a quality striker will be important for the Gunners in the summer.

If Arsenal do sign a striker, it is still uncertain as to whether Wenger will revert to the 4-4-2 formation or stick with the current 4-2-3-1 formation which would mean Robin van Persie or the new striker will have to play on the wings. Van Persie could also fit in easily in the role behind the striker if Fabregas is not available and his versatility could be utilized by the manager to accommodate the new striker.

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