No matter if Robin van Persie stays with Arsenal or pulls another club’s shirt over his head this season, the London club looks to be a pretty strong side. The team will eventually have last year’s long-term injured players back, such as Jack Wilshere and the new signings are all pretty much world-class players.
I’m not convinced that 27-year-old Spanish international Santi Cazorla is worth a club record £16.7 million transfer fee, but hopefully he’ll prove that he is. He’s not exactly one of the Spanish national team’s go-to players, but just making that squad says enough in itself. Olivier Giroud also comes with a lot of fanfare, but to be honest I haven’t really seen him play a great deal.
The first signing manager Arsene Wenger made, Lukas Podolski, could end up being his best. With the Polish-born Podolski being one of Germany’s top players over the last several years, fans have had numerous opportunities to appreciate his skills and goal scoring abilities. These three players on their own, along with Theo Walcott, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, and Alex Song, definitely make up a formidable offensive unit.
If Van Persie is added into the mix, then the core of the team becomes even stronger. The squad offers an ideal combination of youth, experience, speed, and skill. There are even several other players who could end up contributing a great deal to the squad, depending on what is eventually done with them, including Gervinho, Andrey Arshavin, and Ryo Miyaichi.
While the attacking side of the club looks to be as good as any in the league, the defensive unit is a bit questionable, starting in goal with Wojciech Szczesny. While the Gunners may have the firepower to score a few goals every game, it’s simply not going to happen. They don’t want to get into toe-to-toe slugfests with the likes Chelsea and Manchester City and United unless they can improve defensively.
For some reason, Wenger’s finally got off of the club’s fat wallet and is throwing money around like Charlie Sheen in a brothel. It appears that somebody’s been turning the screws and putting the pressure on him or he simply figured he’d better sign some quality players in case his Dutch captain flees the coop. And then again, the signings may have actually been the result of the manager trying to convince Van Persie that he’s serious about winning some silverware this season.
Whatever the reason is, Wenger’s done a pretty good job of strengthening the attacking side of the squad. He still has to transfer this success from paper to the pitch though. This means he’s going to have to find the best combination of players to do the job and settle on a specific core instead of experimenting from game to game. Many fans still don’t agree with a one-striker attack when a team has several good ones to choose from.
When utilizing a lone marksman up front a team needs to have several other attacking-minded players on the pitch for support and in Cazorla, Walcott, Oxlade Chamberlain, and Podolski, that necessity seems to be well taken care of. All of these players possess play making skills and especially in Podolski’s case, should be able to score their share of goals. Cazorla may also surprise a few fans too with his scoring ability. He put nine behind the keepers last year with eight of them coming from outside of the 18-yard box.
Arsenal too often tries to pass or walk the ball into the net and shooting from a distance would add a new wrinkle to their attack and is often hard to defend against. There needs to be a strong link between the midfield and forwards and Cazorla and Arteta will be depended on to do this at least until Wilshere returns. It looks like there will be stiff competition at all positions this year, perhaps other than in goal, and Wenger should be able to have 10 elite outfield players on the pitch at all times.
Bacary Sagna will probably be out of action until about October and he could return around the same time as Wilshere. Rosicky’s status is still unclear at the moment and there are still so many player moves that could take place before the season opener kicks off next weekend. This uncertainty makes predictions quite difficult. However, even to neutral supporters, Arsenal should be seen as a team with a good chance at breaking their drought this season. Man for man, they have a squad that should be capable of competing with the best in Europe...with or without Van Persie.