Arsenal have been scrambling to sign an exceptional striker this summer but have seemingly ignored other areas that need reinforcements. Goal's Brendon Netto discusses..
Luis Suarez is the name on every Arsenal supporter’s lips at the moment with the club in hot pursuit of the Liverpool striker. They also spent the last month mulling over a move for Wayne Rooney and chasing Gonzalo Higuain in particular only to see the latter sign for Napoli instead while another rumoured target, Stevan Jovetic joined the ranks at Manchester City.
On the bright side, targeting such illustrious names is a massive step forward for Arsenal and it’s encouraging for their fans even if they haven’t landed any of them yet. However, the players they’ve been heavily linked with have predominantly been attackers and while they could use a boost in that department, it perhaps isn’t the one that needs immediate reinforcements.
Arsenal have targeted top strikers this summer
Arsenal kept clean sheets in their opening three games last season but only scored two goals. Having lost their talisman Robin Van Persie to Manchester United in the summer, goal-scoring was an area of concern. However, as the season progressed, The Gunners found their attacking verve and scored 72 goals in the Premier League, a tally bettered only by Chelsea (75) and a Van Persie-aided United (86).
In fact, with the goal-scoring responsibilities largely divided amongst Theo Walcott (14), Santi Cazorla (12), Olivier Giroud (11) and Lukas Podolski (11), Arsenal were just two goals shy of matching their tally in the previous league campaign. Arsene Wenger didn’t sign a replacement for their inspirational Dutchman but he certainly engineered a way to keep the goals flowing.
They kept things pretty tight at the other end of the pitch as well, boasting the second best defense in the league having conceded just 37 goals while Manchester City (34) reigned supreme on that front. Despite their defense doing well overall, certain individuals were well off the pace.
Thomas Vermaelen found himself side-lined in the second half of the season after a run of poor performances in which some of his errors directly led to goals. The captain’s deterioration means Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are the only viable options available.
Vermaelen and Szczesny may need replacing
Shockingly, Arsenal haven’t pursued a centre-back as intensely as they have strikers. Ashley Williams was the defender most linked to the club but there haven’t been any developments of late. While Carl Jenkinson has impressed at right-back, he isn’t the immediate solution in central defense and neither is Ignasi Miquel.
Recruiting an established centre-back is paramount to Arsenal’s prospects next season especially if they suffer a couple of injuries in that department. Despite that fact, little has been said about bringing in a defender with the club seemingly caught up with bolstering their able attack with a high-profile coup.
Their supporters can be forgiven for being enthralled with the prospect of completing one or two rare marquee signings but anyone assessing their situation objectively will be able to identify the areas which need improvement the most and the attacking third is not one of them.
Meanwhile, in order to consolidate at the back, it’s been suggested that Wojciech Szczesny needs to be replaced as Arsenal’s number 1 and rightly so. The Polish international is still young and although his talent is undeniable, his inexperience is just as evident. He’s always been a good shot-stopper but he’s made a few costly errors in judgment and the team could do with an experienced head between the sticks.
Arsenal were reportedly interested in Pepe Reina – but the Spaniard is now on a season-long loan at Napoli. They were also linked with Michel Vorm, Simon Mignolet and Tim Krul amongst others but none of those options materialized. Julio Cesar remains a possibility for the Londoners but there’s been little activity on that front in recent times.
Interest in Fellaini has cooled
Even before the transfer window officially opened, widespread reports linked Marouane Fellaini with a move to the Emirates Stadium and it seemed to make perfect sense. With Abou Diaby’s fitness problems, Fellaini would be the ideal player to add some bite and tenacity to their midfield and heighten their threat from set-pieces.
The Belgian’s ability to play in an advanced role as well would have been a fantastic weapon for Wenger to have in his arsenal especially when a situation calls for a different approach up front. However, the trail has since gone cold and with the Everton midfielder’s £22 million buyout clause expiring at the end of the month, time is running out.
Perhaps Wenger is confident that Emmanuel Frimpong can step up to the first team or that Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere in midfield will hold their own because there’s been more talk of bringing Cesc Fabregas back this summer than acquiring a defensive midfielder.
Of course, they may be putting a few things together behind the scenes that we’re not privy to but in this day and age, any move in an advanced stage made by a club like Arsenal doesn’t stay concealed for long.
Suarez would take a big chunk out of their transfer funds
Some reports have claimed that Wenger has a £100 million war chest at his disposal this summer but it's hard to see the club blowing an amount like that at one go. Arsenal have bid £40 million plus £1 for Suarez but that only gets them in the door. Brendan Rodgers was clear about his valuation of the striker which he believes should be in the region of the £55 million Napoli received for Edinson Cavani.
It brings one to wonder just how much money can be put towards recruiting quality players in other areas of the pitch if they do spend over £50 million on the Uruguayan. In all fairness, Suarez has the ability to go on to justify his price-tag but a few fans may breathe more easily if the club were making serious in-roads in signing a top defender or keeper as well.
Their pursuit for a top class striker is understandable, in fact it’s admirable and should be encouraged. That player could be the difference between winning or losing crunch games, signing him shows ambition and they should most definitely persevere in their attempts to do so.
However, it’s only wise to plug the gaps in the foundation before building on it. At the moment though, Arsenal are arguably gunning for luxury ahead of necessity.
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