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Arsenal crying out for Alexis return as experimenting costs Gunners again

19:42 BST 19/08/2017
Wenger Lacazette Jese Berahino Stoke Arsenal
Arsene Wenger is clearly unsure of his best team and he saw his side come unstuck against Stoke as his star man waits to make his comeback


“We were quite good last year on corners and I believe overall that, with a bit of work, we can get that out of our system,” admitted Arsene Wenger after Arsenal’s opening day Premier League victory over Leicester.

The 4-3 comeback provided a glimpse of what most Gooners have become accustomed to over the years; excitement in attack, fear in defence and a continuous sense that their team are about to concede when the opposition are in Arsenal's half.

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Saturday evening's game against Stoke conjured up more of the same as far as Arsenal were concerned, with Wenger’s side dominant in possession yet unable to finish the chances they created before being caught out defensively.

Danny Welbeck was wasteful in front of goal and Alexandre Lacazette was unlucky to have a second-half goal ruled out for offside, but it is Stoke’s Jese Rodriguez who comes away with the headlines after finishing neatly past Petr Cech shortly after the break to hand Stoke a 1-0 win.

The questionable decision to play Hector Bellerin at left wing-back almost paid off as his deft touches and superb link-up play contributed to a swarm of first-half attacks.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put in an equally good shift at right wing-back, but it is evident that Wenger still doesn’t know what his best starting XI is.

But, whether it’s Nacho Monreal alongside Rob Holding or Per Mertesacker, and indecision over who should start at wing-back, these are the issues which should have been resolved in pre-season.

Arsenal have had ample time to bring in top-quality additions this summer and the arrivals of Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac have certainly made a difference – but they need more.

The pursuit of Thomas Lemar has died down due to Monaco’s reluctance to sell yet there is belief that Wenger will make a final attempt to land his man before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

"We have 33 players at the moment and that's too many. I'm not thinking about buying players tonight," said Wenger after the game. His comments suggest Arsenal are now finished in the window which will almost certainly ignite the fury of fans who believe they are still one or two players short from competing. 

There can be no question what Arsenal need right now more than any new signing, and that is their Chilean talisman Alexis Sanchez.

He’s expected to be fully fit for the Gunners’ trip to Liverpool next week and the infectious work ethic and ability to create something out of nothing makes him the ideal man to fire up Arsenal’s attack when the going gets tough away from home.

They had no trouble in scoring four against a shoddy Leicester defence, but when faced with the man mountains of Kurt Zouma and Ryan Shawcross, it was another story completely.

New signings and the return of Alexis are imperative if Arsenal don't want a repeat of last season's fifth-placed finish.