The Gunners started the 2014 year on high as they were leading the pack in the league at the beginning of the last year. But, just like in recent seasons, Arsenal slipped during the business end of last season and managed only a fourth place finish. Although they managed they end their long wait for a cup by winning the FA cup, Arsenal ended the league season in absolute disarray.
They carried that poor form into the 2014-15 season as they ended the 2014 year outside the top four places after being knocked out early in the Capital One cup. So, let us look at the three things which Arsene Wenger need to do in 2015 to improve their teams fortune.
Time to stop being a pretender and start being a contender
Ever since the ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003-04, the Gunners slowly started to fall below the pecking order in the league table. After being Sir Alex Ferguson’s main title rival for years in the league, Arsenal late dip allowed the cash rich clubs Chelsea and Manchester City to overtake in the pecking order.
From being a title contender, Arsenal are now fighting among the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Everton for the top four positions. To Wenger’s credit though, Arsenal have always managed to finish in the top four under his management. But a top four place for a club as big as Arsenal is alone sufficient for the fans and the board?
The same scenario continues in the Champions League, where the Gunners always qualify from the group stage but, fail to have an extended run in the competition. Their road comes to an end whenever they face a big European team. A top four place along with a knock out birth in the Champions league may be sufficient for a normal team, but not for a club of Arsenal’s stature. If the Gunners are to return to their previous glory, it is high time for Arsenal to stop being a pretender and start being a contender.
Defending needs to improve
Defending is something which has been Arsenal’s problem for years now. Arsenal is one of the best team to watch when they are in ball possession. But, their game when not in possession is something which is letting them down time and again.
When Arsenal don’t have the ball, they press their opponents higher up the pitch, which forces their defenders to hold a high line at the back. When playing with a high line, it is essential to have a pacy centreback. Arsenal do not have one who fulfills that category. Mertasacker may be a good header of the ball but, quick pacy players easily get past him when he had to face them in one-on-one situation. The other defenders in the team are neither quick with Koscileny being their only exception.
Hence, holding a high line with players who are not familiar with their roles is costing the club defensively. Also with Arsenal currently having just the two proper centre halves in their side after Vermaelen was sold in the summer, it is an absolute necessity for Wenger to buy a CB in this window. After seeing the way his make shift centre halves Chambers and Monreal defend so far in the season, Wenger has got to address the situation immediately.
Arsenal should establish themselves in the transfer market
Arsenal are known to be one of the best in terms of producing great young talents in the country. But, due to their wage constraint and their lack of competitive nature on the field, players leave them for other clubs in search of glory or money. The departures of Nasri, Van Persie, Song and Sagna being the best examples.
In recent seasons though, Arsenal have started to show that they can also match the big boys with the capture of Mesut Ozil in 2013 and Alexis Sanchez in 2014. But, this ain’t enough for the Gunners as they have to maintain this level of ambition to do it more often.
To Wenger’s credit though he has managed to buy two great players in the last two summers. But, he was able to do so because both where deemed as surplus to requirement by their respective clubs. However, when he goes on with a face to face battle with a top club for a player, Wenger usually ends up on the losing side.
It was evident in the case of Higuain and Gustavo, as both players ignored a club as big as Arsenal to join relatively smaller teams Napoli and Wolfsburg respectively in the 2013 summer. This shows Arsenal’s lack of ambition to get their targets. If Arsenal are to establish themselves in the transfer market, it is time for them to relax their constraint transfer policy to get their targets
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