An unprecedented eight match unbeaten run has understandably brought about optimism at the Emirates, but ignoring age old problems at the club could result in Arsenal once again being nearly men.
The run has perhaps come about too late to be taken seriously in terms of a title challenge, but to be prepared for the long haul next season Arsenal must make major changes within their striking department. Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez have both weighed in with 14 goals apiece in the Premier League, a decent total by all means and it keeps both men in the hunt for the Golden Boot award at the end of the campaign.
The Gunners need more however, should their creative weaponry reap full rewards. This was highlighted none more so than when Arsene Wenger’s men crashed out of this year’s edition of the Champions League.
Giroud showcased all the qualities of a striker unable to get amongst the elite level, and while Alexis Sanchez’s debut season has been encouraging he’s clearly feeling the effects of a long campaign in which he carried the team before the New Year. The rest of the make-up in Arsenal’s striking options are limited to say the least.
Danny Welbeck aside from fleeting moments has shown not to be a goalscorer, and will merely be a mule in the defensive side to Wenger’s setup, providing energy and physical thrust from the front. Other options consist of Yaya Sanogo, quite evidently another player who will provide more frustration than function and an admittedly promising younger in Chuba Akpom. Both will likely be sent out on loan again, though don’t put it past Wenger to keep hold of one with the belief they can offer something in the short term.
Wenger, for all his positives, is the very man that held onto Nicklas Bentnder until the running joke that was his career in England ran out of steam. Arsenal, as much as it has already been said, need to buy proven quality at the highest level. The reason it’s a line often trotted out is because it’s rarely taken heed of. Wenger dances around the market when it comes to making a decisive signing, and although that theory is tested with the signings of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, both players arrived with more creative backgrounds than those of the finishing variety.
This summer too, could well be the time to clinch the type of deal that has eluded Wenger. Gonzalo Higuain is one option. A player who got away from Arsenal in the past, but may realise now that life in Napoli has little in the way of a sustainable future. He’s had a successful period there but must recognise if he is to make a more serious impact on his CV, the Premier League and a potential title challenge is a no brainer.
Higuain too is an excellent finisher with proven pedigree. However, he’s more often than not been used to run down defences and facilitate others – see Real Madrid. Used as a pure striker though, a goalscorer, he is a lethal threat. Edison Cavani too, who has clearly fell foul of Laurent Blanc at PSG, is certain to be on the market. PSG’s run-in with Financial Fair Play means several players could leave as they restructure their squad, and the Uruguayan is set to be first out of the door. Again, he’s another extremely hard worker but also can apply a finishing touch.
The best option for Arsenal could well be Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette however. 24 goals in Ligue 1 this season has seen him leave the likes of Cavani and his teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his wake. The striker is still young, and has much to improve on, but has the makings of a classic Wenger long-term project. The plus being, Lacazette can provide impetus in attack now. He’s quick, skilful, explosive up against defenders and yes, can finish with aplomb. It could well take over €20m to prize him away but Lyon aren’t exactly financially fruitful currently.
The criteria are there and Arsenal must adhere to them. With major clubs likely to be out of the market such as Real Madrid – with Karim Benzema in his very best shape, Barcelona – a transfer ban hangs over them and they are well stocked anyway, Bayern Munich – Roberto Lewandowski was signed last summer, it makes sense to act this summer. Wenger cannot do as before, and make the same mistakes.
Arsenal are close to the top, but by no means there yet.