Three areas Arsenal must strengthen in the summer

Dipak Patel takes a look at what areas of the Arsenal side need to be strengthened in the summer

By Dipak Patel

Goalkeeper

Arsenal have Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina and Emiliano Martinez but none of them have done anything to suggest they are the future at Arsenal. Szczesny has the strongest claim having been the undisputed number one for the past three seasons, but some high-profile mistakes against Southampton has cost him his place in the side. There are also question marks over his attitude. While he seems confident and assured in his own abilities, there hasn’t been any significant progression, not in the way that David de Gea has improved his game for Manchester United in recent seasons. Arsene Wenger brought in Ospina from Nice following a successful World Cup in Brazil but he has so far failed to impress. There have been solid performances and in his defence he has three clean sheets in six league games. But world-class goalkeepers often come up with moments of inspiration when they keep their side in the game, or help them to secure points in unlikely circumstances. Ospina has yet to prove he is capable of anything like that, so buying Petr Cech from Chelsea would make a lot of sense. The Czech goalkeeper has been starved of first-team football this season due to form of Thibaut Courtois. Arsenal can offer him a new challenge and promise him first-team football.

Defensive midfield

Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Flamini are the only midfielders Arsenal possess who you would call a defensive midfielder. Mikel Arteta plays a deeper role when he is fit but is more similar to Santi Cazorla – they are dictators rather than destroyers. However, Flamini has shown himself to be quite inept in that position. He was a great player a few years ago but since his return to Arsenal, he has lost a yard of pace and also seems to panic when in possession of the ball. Arsenal have been heavily criticised for how open they leave themselves when they are defending a lead, or when they come up against quality opposition. Flamini was guilty in a lot of these matches for abandoning his position, or shouting instructions to others to mark players but forgetting to perform his own duties. Gary Neville said on Flamini: “I don’t think [Flamini’s] good enough to do everybody else’s job and then look after his own as well”. Coquelin has been brought in due to Flamini’s poor performances and he has been far more impressive. A late developer at 23, he is finally starting to fulfil some of the promise he demonstrated early in his career. But he still lacks experience at the highest level and whether he can be trusted in a European tie remains up for debate. He is good at tackling but doesn’t offer the physical presence of a Yaya Toure or Nemanja Matic. For that reason Wenger has to invest some money in a defensive midfielder and someone like Geoffrey Kondogbia would help Arsenal challenge for the title next season.

Striker

Essentially Arsenal need a whole new spine to their team. They could probably do with another centre-half but they have recently signed Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal. So the focus should be on a world-class striker to lead the attack for Arsenal. Danny Welbeck was purchased from Manchester United for £16m but he has played more games on the left, than through the middle, which suggests that Wenger doesn’t trust him to play as an orthodox number 9. He isn’t the only manager as Roy Hodgson and Sir Alex Ferguson have also deployed him in a wide position. The fact remains that Welbeck just isn’t a consistent goal scorer. He has managed just 44 goals in 197 games which is a poor return for a striker. He has played quite a few of those games out wide, and some off the substitutes bench, but even when he has been given a consistent run in his favoured position it has often taken him two or three clear-cut chances to get on the score sheet. Then you have Olivier Giroud whose record is actually very impressive for the Gunners. He has scored 50 goals in three seasons for the club but he is also quite one-dimensional in his style of football. He can hold the ball up, bring others into play and suits Arsenal’s system quite well. But he doesn’t run in behind defences and he still isn’t clinical enough in front of goal. Considering the chances that Arsenal create, he should score more and that is why a striker is needed. Jackson Martinez has been linked with the club and he is devastating in front of goal. He has scored 86 goals in 122 appearances for Porto and is capable of scoring 25 goals per season for Arsenal, something which the other strikers currently at the club cannot offer.

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