It may seem premature, especially with roughly 10 games remaining, but with the title wrapped up bar a PSG like collapse and the relegation battle ending sooner rather than later as teams like Palace and Leicester begin to pull away I thought I’d take an early look at the three best ways to improve the current 20 teams in England’s premier football decision. I will break it down into 20 separate articles as a series of sorts in order to keep it shorter and more manageable to read so keep an eye out!
Replace Arsene Wenger – I have long been an advocate for Wenger to remain at the club mostly due to what he has done for Arsenal and because of the impact to a club when a long serving manager leaves; you need only look at how bad the last few seasons at Manchester United have been since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down. I also think, to an extent, successful managers should be able to dictate the terms on which they leave but with the ruthless, results driven, business of football sometimes the bullet needs to be bitten. Leicester, the miracle workers of last season, were cynical enough to get rid of their most successful manager in history faster than United pulled the plug on Louis Van Gaal; and as bad as it looked they have suddenly transformed into the team of last year.
If Wenger was going to win the league ever again, it would have happened last year when all of the league’s giants [Man Utd, City, Chelsea, Liverpool etc] fell off but instead he only scraped a finish above Tottenham due to a capitulation of historic proportions. It’s time to breathe fresh life into the team with a fiery youthful manager like Allegri/Emery/Sampaoli who win in ways suitable to the Premier league and give Wenger the option to move upstairs gracefully. I know Simeone is a popular choice but I think for the amount Arsenal fans are paying for tickets they want to be entertained as well as compete so I think his style of play is just not compatible.
Add a Steel Backbone – The successful teams of Arsenals golden years all had those steel leaders that are so important to succeed in the slug-fest that is the premier league. The Tony Adams and Patrick Vieiras who were always willing to physically compete and carry their teams over the line; so vital in order for a team to last the entire season without the now infamous collapse of Arsenal teams of late. The only person who even looks like he cares [Wilshere] was sent out on loan, whilst Sanchez appears to have one foot set at pastures new and he’s not the only one.
Some of this motivation will change with a passionate new manager but they need a field general as well which is why it was so strange they declined a return for Cesc Fabregas two years ago. He’s not the physically assertive player that Adams or Vieira was, but he demonstrated a passionate affinity for the club and certainly appeared to have good leadership qualities during his spell as club captain.
My best suggestions at this point for this style of player is a difficult one. I think at centre back the ideal players probably aren’t necessarily available but with Bayern Munich signing Niklas Sule in the summer I’d begin to offer a blank cheque book for Jerome Boateng. Similarly, I think Virgil Van Dijk would be a quality signing. A similar player for these requirements in midfield in my opinion would be a combination of Tiemoue Bakayoko who was dominant against Manchester City and stepped up to score the decisive goal in the tie; and Idrissa Gana Gueye who is a player similar to N’golo Kante accumulating a very high number of tackles but drifts under the radar due to being at Everton.
Sign a Primary Striker – I’d argue extending Alexis Sanchez is the single most important thing Arsenal can do (selling Ozil not a huge loss based on his absence in big games) but seeing as he’s already at the club it doesn’t IMPROVE them per say. As a result, it’s clear Arsenal need a perennial 25-30 goal a season striker. All their rivals do; Costa, Kane, Aguero and Ibrahimovic. Sanchez can do this as well but he shouldn’t be carrying that load as a creative player. Olivier Giroud is a good player, I think he’s an ideal secondary striker for a title challenger because he’ll give you 15-20 in all competitions even off the bench but he’s not the man to lead the front for a season.
For whatever reason Lucas Perez isn’t considered to be good enough even from the bench so Arsenal need to finally break the bank on a striker and I think the man for them should be Lukaku. He’d be expensive but a guarantee; he’s broken scoring records in the Premier League regardless of the team [WBA and Everton] reaching double digits every season.
He’d also be much better value for money than Lacazette (unproven and projected at £50m) or Aubameyang/Griezemann who are looking like record breaking attempts and we both know that is unrealistic with Kroenke’s track record.
Lukaku could be the Drogba of Arsenal and who knows how many trophies they’d have won with him at their helm, instead of scoring hundreds of goals for their rivals across the city.