It has been an interesting last twelve months from an Arsenal fans perspective. For the first time since 2005 the North London club have finally been able to add silverware to their cabinet. Some believed that when Aaron Ramsey scored the winner in extra time against Hull City a few months back that maybe Arsenal were finally getting their aims for success back on track. There is no doubt that their success in the FA Cup eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger and his future at the club. But what is in store for the North London side this season?
I’m sure Arsenal fans were thrilled to see the signing of Alexis Sanchez for £35m and is certainly an exciting prospect for the Gunners. Sanchez scored 21 goals for Barcelona last season and was a bright spark in what was certainly a strangely dull campaign for the La Liga team. Sanchez offers everything a manager would want to see in a striker, as well as his eye for goal and his great speed the player offers commitment to help his fellow team mates as seen at Barcelona and with Chile. It will be interesting to see if Wenger decides to play Alexis on his own upfront or in a partnership with Giroud. Nevertheless, if Arsenal can keep Alexis fit and not wear him out like how Ozil was last season, then they will have made quite a purchase.
Arsene Wenger has certainly seen the defence as an area that needed to be changed, enforced undoubtedly by the departure of Bacary Sagna to Manchester City on a free, Carl Jenkinson’s loan move to West Ham and the inevitable future departure of Captain Thomas Vermaelen. Therefore the signings of both French World Cup star Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle and future England star Calum Chambers from Southampton more than adequately fits the bill. Debuchy in theory will be the player who replaces Sagna in the starting eleven. Regarding pace Debuchy may not be as good as Sagna but I’m certain that he will be much more of a presence on the field and concentrate more on defensive roles rather than constantly bombing up and down the pitch, don’t get me wrong I don’t mind a wing back going forward, but they must always ensure they get back to defend, or else, what’s the point?
Chambers has had a sensational past two seasons with Southampton, not only breaking into the first team in the 2012/13 season, but also being part of a big money move, all be it, one of many who have exited Southampton this summer. Chambers offers not only the ability to play on the right but also apparently in the middle, as seen this Pre-Season, maybe the manager saw the young defender as a potential CB for the club, adding to an already impressive CV. I suppose with Chambers coming just shy of six foot it wouldn’t be a position to rule out and he might prove to provide appropriate cover for Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
Columbian goalkeeper David Ospina was a revelation in the World Cup this summer so it makes the situation interesting as to whether he is worth only being on the bench this season. Arsene Wenger insists that Wojciech Szczęsny will remain the first choice keeper, but you can’t help but think that David Ospina will be desperate to get that first choice position, not just in the League Cup and FA Cup like Lukasz Fabianski before him. Certainly something to keep an eye on!
It is key for Arsenal to ensure that all their key players are kept fit. Last season the injury of Mesut Ozil and his dip in form had an impact on performances. Many believe that it was due to exhaustion as to why Ozil was out of action, whether this was due to the lack of a winter break, or maybe he was relied too heavily upon. One thing is for sure if they can keep him fit and confident then Mesut Ozil will be a prize asset for the club.
We all know the capability of Alexis Sanchez and what he has achieved at Barcelona. As long as Sanchez is provided with through balls throughout matches then he may be the prolific striker the club has been looking for. In order to score, Sanchez needs a creator up there with him (not just Ozil), whether this is Giroud, Podolski or even Yaya Sanogo. It is important that he receives the ball on a regular basis as Arsenal need to reap the benefits of a player like Alexis Sanchez.
Up until December last season Aaron Ramsey was having the season of his life, scoring for fun and stunning fans with his skill and work off the ball as well as on it. The Central Midfield of Arsenal is arguably the most talented in the division (provided they are kept fit) and if Ramsey can consistently perform from start to finish Arsenal will have a more then complete midfield.
How many times last seasons did Arsenal fans say last season: We could have done with Theo Walcott that match? His pace down the wings and his contributions in front goal makes the English International a valuable member of Wenger’s squad. Once Walcott is fully fit from the injury he sustained he will be able to torment full backs and excite fans with his majestic movement.
Laurent Koscielny is arguable one of the most underrated players at Arsenal these last few years, but it has been his stoic defending alongside Mertesacker which has been a revelation and key to clean sheets. With the prospect of the team scoring more goals upfront this season it is vastly important that Koscielny and co make sure that goals are kept out at the other end. But the reason I am pointing out Koscielny in particular is because he has the capabilities of leading the team in Thomas Varmaelen’s potential absence. Arsenal need to make sure they have a strong leader this season as does every other team and Koscielny might just be the answer.
Can Arsenal win the Premier League?
The main question is: Do Arsenal ‘believe’ they can win the Premier League? It has been no secret that where Arsenal faltered last season was against the other top teams in the division especially away from home. Until last year it was seemingly the problem of beating the smaller teams in the division which was the Gunners downfall. Now they need to pick up those vital points against teams such as Manchester City and believe that if they go a goal behind they have the capability of getting themselves back into the game, instead of crumbling and conceding 4 goals before half time. If they can overcome that fear when playing big teams then I’m sure that they will be in with a shout.
The players themselves are vastly talented and can really show off their skills when they want to, we all know what players such as Ozil, Sanchez and Ramsey are capable of and to put them into the category of ‘World Class’ would not be unjust. However, despite this, the only thing that may be a concern is that Arsenal are so keen to keep hold of the ball that the football seemed to be far too sideways and didn’t always seem to look ‘positive’. Obviously the objective is to demoralise the opposition, but the ‘sexy’ one touch football is starting to be easily sussed out by other teams, just look at Barcelona and Spain last season. They should not be afraid to mix it up if necessary and not be afraid to go for goal instead of passing, once this can be overcome then goals will not be an issue. If they can overcome all these issues from last season then there is no reason why Arsenal cannot win the title.