With the signings of Mathieu Debuchy, Alexis Sanchez, and the reportedly agreed (but, not yet official) signing of David Ospina, Arsenal have made a statement of strong intent going into the next iteration of the Premier League. On top of that, all indications are that Manager Arsene Wenger is not quite done shopping during the Summer transfer window, much to the delight of the Arsenal faithful.
With that said, what can we expect for the 2014-2015 edition of the Premier League?
Well, one thing is most definitely certain, Arsene Wenger will more than likely line his squad up in his trusty 4-2-3-1/ (and in the transition phase) 4-3-3. Expect to see it look something like this:
Since Theo Walcott is still out injured, expect to see Alexis Sanchez lineup in the right attacking midfielder position. He played a similar role on the right flank with Barcelona, so it shouldn’t be much of a transition for him coming into Arsenal. I think he’ll be able to utilize his direct dribbling, excellent vision, and penchant for goalscoring to great effect at Arsenal this season, due to the sheer quality of passers and off-the-ball movement that the Gunner’s squad possesses.
While he isn’t a like-for-like replacement of Walcott, he does like to play direct and with pace, which are traits Walcott is quite well-known for. They can be dangerous attributes to have when the majority of the team like to play the ball short; it is also so unpredictable for opposing teams to deal with.
Debuchy was no doubt signed to be a starter on this Arsenal team to replace Bakary Sagna, and rightfully so, as he (along with Sanchez), are already accustomed to playing the brand of football Arsenal is known for. Having many of his French National Teammates on board will surely ease his transition as well. He is a near direct replacement for Sagna, but more offensive-minded and most certainly willing to get involved in the attack. Defensively, he can be a little suspect, but I’m sure under Wenger’s guidance he can sort out that occasional issue in his game.
The rest of the positions are relatively easy to predict who will be starting, however, considering Wenger has made it clear he is still on the hunt for new players to acquire, it is fun to speculate who will be signed and in what position they will play.
For example, because of Mikel Arteta’s increasing age, it is no doubt guaranteed that Wenger is looking to bolster his midfield corps and Mathieu Flamini, while a decent rotational option, does not have the star power or presence to be the starting holding midfielder for Arsenal despite his decent ability.
As for who to first speculate (based on footballing ability and on ability to sign), Sami Khedira would fit the bill nicely, and while it is only still a rumor, an Arsenal fan can certainly dream of the influence he will have on the field for the Gunners. He’s very versatile and surprisingly technical despite his strength and size. He can just as easily play box-to-box, as he could be a defensive midfielder, or even a deep-lying playmaker. Defensively, he’d be a huge upgrade over Arteta while still retaining the clean passing game the former is capable of displaying. Time well tell whether Wenger is able to sign the German International, nobody doubts his ability, but whether the Gunners can sign him will likely come down to his wages.
Arsenal are also in need of a new Striker to compete with Olivier Giroud. Assuming Wenger really is adamant on making his club Premier League title challengers, who better than Karim Benzema?
Reportedly available for around 20 Million Pounds (a steal), many clubs are eyeing the Frenchmen with curious eyes and are ready to offer monetary compensation to entice him.
Benzema though, would be the perfect fit for a striker in the Arsenal system. Between his technical ability, strength, creative vision, and ability to score goals, he is no doubt a prize possession Wenger would be daft not to seek. He would also fit in well, along with Debuchy and the rest of French contingent on Arsenal. On top of that, Mesut Oezil, his former Real Madrid teammate, would also be available to welcome him with open arms (and many assists!).
While Benzema’s ability is not in question, the ability to sign him is another matter. As mentioned before, many clubs are competing to sign him, on top of that, there is the matter of his (understandably) steep wage demands. To make matters more difficult for those trying to sign the talented target striker, there is also the possibility that he could simply just resign with Real Madrid, which happens to (unfortunately for Arsenal fans) be the most likely scenario.
Besides these two key positions needing a signing, Arsenal are otherwise looking like a very strong club going into the new season. If the rumors are true that Thomas Vermaelen is on his way out, then a new defensive replacement will also need to be in order to ensure that the Gunners stay competitive.
I don’t think Arsenal fans have much to fear though these days following the FA Cup victory of a few months ago that was long coming. For once, Arsenal fans can get on with their day without having to hear another jibe about another trophy-less season, and while being safe in the knowledge that club legend Arsene Wenger isn’t past it after all.
Regardless, you can be sure ‘Le Professeur’ will instill in his charges to play the familiar brand of attractive, attacking football that has garnered many an appraisal from all around the world (irrespective if it wins any trophies). Perhaps with these signings, we’ll see a new Premier League trophy to add to the not-so-dusty (anymore!) trophy cabinet that resides within the Emirates.