Arsenal have been the form team in the Premier League over the past few months, but how likely are they to launch an assault on the title next year?
The answer is not at all unless they invest wisely this summer.
Recent rumours linking the Gunners to Germany and FC Köln forward Lukas Podolski may not be far off the mark, and he would certainly strengthen the Gunners’ forward line.
Pessimistic Arsenal supporters are likely to fear that Podolski’s signature may just be as a replacement for Robin van Persie, but with qualification for a 15th consecutive Champions League looking almost certain, the free-scoring Dutchman could be tempted to re-sign.
It is in defence that they must strengthen, with Johan Djourou simply not good enough to start for a team with title-winning aspirations, and Per Mertesacker slow to adapt to the pace of the English game.
Although Thomas Vermaelen and an improving Laurent Koscielny look to be a solid partnership, Arsène Wenger needs to strengthen his squad as a whole, because his first-choice XI will not be available for the whole campaign.
Wenger is known for his admirable desire to run the club at a profit, and he could still do this by offloading the over-rated pair of Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh to fund the signing of a top-class defender.
Jack Wilshere’s slow progress from an ankle injury is a bitter blow for England’s hopes at Euro 2012.
While not in the same bracket as the Spanish or Dutch midfielders, Wilshere is England’s only hope of a playmaker capable of unlocking defences at international level.
Should Wilshere fail to recover in time to prove his fitness for Euro 2012, England will be relying on the committed but desperately restricted Scott Parker and the ageing Frank Lampard in midfield.
Steven Gerrard is unlikely to be anywhere near fitness and the Liverpool skipper doesn’t warrant a place in the side while Gareth Barry and James Milner offer little at international level.
As a result England would rely on pace out wide and place too much pressure on Wayne Rooney to provide the spark.
Pace and width can work to an extent but at international level it’s very one dimensional and with no alternate plan, it can be counter-acted very quickly.
Calls for Grant Holt or Peter Crouch to make the trip are desperate.
It’s not as if England’s likely opponents have never faced a target man before and the amount of fouls given against them would make them more of a hindrance than a help.
Therefore Wilshere’s inclusion is a necessity to bring another dimension to England. Without him it could get embarrassing.
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