This season started on a positive note for Arsenal with a 1-0 win over arch rivals Chelsea in the Community shield fixture which completed our pre-season treble and boosted the confidence of both the players and fans alike. The following week we started our Premier League campaign with a humiliating 0-2 loss to fellow London club West Ham. The real problem started there.
Until that time the team looked good and showed signs of Premier League winning quality. But after that match Arsenal’s lack of transfer activity in this summer transfer window was exposed. Every other Premier League team except the Gunners has brought in four or more new first team players. But the North London club have just signed one player, Petr Cech this transfer window. Most gooners around the world now wait anxiously as to whether club manager Arsene Wenger will bring in any other players before the transfer window officially slams shut in just 2 days.
The two players we need to at least field a team capable of winning the Premier League are a defensive midfielder and a striker with a new striker needed the most. But with just hours remaining to complete any transfer business and with no one closely linked with us in recent times, the fans will be happy with even one world class signing. Even if we sign a world class player, making a considerable progress in Champions League will be all the more difficult as we have been grouped with Bayern Munich in this year’s UEFA CL. Finishing second in our group might fetch us a tough opponent in the RO16 and as always we may be making an early exit from the Champion’s League this season too.
Getting in two players might win us the league but to make considerable progress in the Champions League we must alter at least five places in the current squad. Let us now analyze which players would realistically fill in those five slots
1. John Stones (CB – Everton) :
This Englishman is a target for both Manchester City and Chelsea but it is Arsenal who need him more. He is tall, physical and known for winning aerial duels and can be Mertesacker’s long term replacement. Stones has decent pace as well. Hence it is right to say that Stones is the man we need to replace BFG considering the club’s long term future. He is homegrown as well and currently we don’t have very good homegrown CBs available in the transfer market. With Everton reluctant to sell Stones this transfer window and his Everton contract running till 2019, if we make a considerable offer nMartinez may be tempted to sell him as he could invest the resulting money on other players. As they say English players are overpriced, but if you want to win the Champions League you need to take risks. Earlier in July Arsenal’s club director Lord Harris had said that Arsene Wenger could virtually sign any player he wants as the club have a transfer chest of around £200m. Hence money won’t be a problem in Stones’ case. Bringing in someone like Stones should be a priority for Wenger because at a young age he is exhibiting great talent and performing really well at the top level at a consistent basis. He will definitely work well with Koscielny and in the future the Stones-Gabriel CB combo might become one of the greatest ever. All this might feel good to hear but it is Wenger who has to make the final decision. Let us hope that he takes the right decision.
2. Ricardo Rodriguez (LB – Wolfsburg) :
This 23-year old Swiss left-back is at the top of his form right now. His performances were instrumental in Wolfsburg’s DFB Pokal triumph last season. He is fast and his crossing abilities is perfect like a world class LB. He is on his way to becoming a world class full-back indeed. Another position at AFC which would need a replacement in the near future is the left-back’s position. Nacho Monreal has made this position his very own in recent times. But he is 29 and doesn’t feature in the Spain National team anymore. He just has two more years in his Arsenal contract as well. Hence signing a replacement for him becomes a necessity. Kieran Gibbs looked sloppy in this position last season. So having an alternative is the best option. And Rodriguez fits the bill very well. If Wenger really decides to bring him in then with Bellerin on the right and Rodriguez on the left it will influence our fast flowing counter attacking style of play. Rodriguez is physical and is known for his tackling prowess. With 29 International games to his name he is known for his crossing and assisting at both club and international levels. If we do bring him in next season he would be a really valuable addition and would definitely boost our CL hopes.
3. Lars Bender (CDM – Bayer Leverkusen) :
One player who I feel should be brought in this season itself is this 26-year old German defensive midfielder Lars Bender. Francis Coquelin needs someone to fight with for the CDM position and Bender would be the right man for the job. The Bayer Leverkusen captain is a talented midfielder who is known for his defense minded play and hence he would definitely thrive at Arsenal. He has 19 International games to his name and will only get better playing in the Premier League. At least one marquee signing at the end of the transfer window has become the need of the hour for the gunners. And Bender is a player who Wenger would welcome with both hands. Bender can give what Patrick Vieira gave us during the Invincibles’ time. He is tall and physical and is a Vieira type of player. Even Coquelin will learn a lot from Bender if he joins. And I feel bringing in Bender sooner than later wold be a wise move.
4. Marco Reus (LW/RW – Borussia Dortmund) :
This 26-year old German winger joined Dortmund three seasons back and has gone on to become a world class player. He is extremely pacy and agile and is also known for his dribbling skills. He can be a nightmare to the opponent’s defense on any given day. And that is what Arsenal need to challenge top teams in the Champions League. Imagine Sanchez and Reus playing on both sides of Ozil. They would form a dream trio. Reus is also a regular player in the German National team’s playing XI. He has become Joachim Low’s go to man in recent times. He is just 26 and this is the age when attacking players generally peak. Breaking the bank for Reus won’t be a bad idea considering the transfer chest we have. Reus will bring in a new dimension to our game. Signing him will make us really strong and we can easily challenge big teams like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the Champions League in the future. But Reus seems happy at Dortmund this season, hence signing him next season would be the realistic option. If Wenger does sign Reus next season then he will become one of Wenger’s best signings ever. So let us keep our fingers crossed.
5. Harry Kane (ST – Tottenham Hotspur) :
Harry Kane might be a surprising inclusion in this list since he plays for our North London rival Tottenham Hotspur. The rivalry between the two clubs has been stretching over so many years. Hence one would doubt whether Kane will join us even if Tottenham accept a bid from us. But I would like all of you to recollect the Sol Campbell saga. Who would have thought that a possible future Tottenham legend would join us and go on to become an invincible. Hence bringing in Kane isn’t an impossibility. Harry Kane had a wonderful 2014-15 season with Spurs scoring 31 times and he even went on to make his England National team debut. This 22-year old English striker is slowly becoming a phenomenon. He single handedly won important games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool last season for Spurs. He is the type of striker Arsenal need upfront. We need someone who is an upgrade on Giroud and can destroy the defences of big teams on a given day. And Kane is the man we need. He is homegrown as well. Kane works really hard day in and day out and is fast on the field. But signing him this season won’t be possible as he is determined to do well with Tottenham this season. And above all Wenger seems happy with Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck in hand. So if things work out we should try to bring in Harry Kane next season as he is Premier League proven and still very young.
Bringing in these five players will make us a formidable force amongst bigger teams like Barca, Real and Bayern. These five players seem to be the realistic targets who could bring us glory in the Champions League in future. Making significant progress in this year’s CL won’t be easy considering our group but the Premier League is our priority this season. Let us hope that Wenger uses our £200m transfer war chest sensibly and takes us to the eluding Champions League glory in the coming years.