Ten long years have passed since ‘The Invincibles’ clinched the Premier League title at Highbury. The interim years saw the gunners shift their base from Highbury to Emirates with players like Henry, Fabregas and Van Persie leaving the club. Perhaps, now it’s time for the sun to shine over the Emirates with Wenger laying his deserving hands upon the most coveted league trophy of Europe for the fourth time.
Ambitious Transfer Market Activity
With Arsenal battling its way out of financial doldrums, qualifying for Champions League was the one crucial thing which the Frenchman ensured over all of these years. This consistency partnered with monetary stability and assurance when the transfer markets saw Arsenal spend big to secure the services of players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in recent times. Now the question lies whether Arsenal can build on their FA cup victory last season to win their first Premier League title since 2004. Apparently Wenger believes so – “We have the ambition; we have the desire, we should have the confidence from last season – so we have a good basis. It’s now up to us to make sure we have the right attitude and the right hunger to go for more.”
Last season, Arsenal was left shattered by injuries to their key players and succumbed to the fourth place despite having a tremendous start in the first half of the season staying atop most of the time. The major problem that seemed to plague the team was absence of a world-class striker alongside Olivier Giroud, who, as the only promising attacking option for the gunners, improved last season to score 22 times in his 36-league appearances.
This summer, Arsenal management showed a sharp positive intent on boosting their attack upfront by bringing in the versatile Chilean Sanchez from Barcelona. Along with the new promising signings, if the gunners can capitalise onto the last season positives in the form of Aaron Ramsey’s inspirational emergence, Ozil’s cunning vision and Per-Laurent partnership at the back, they can herald a new successful era at the Emirates.
Potential weaknesses in the rival camps
Before digging much deeper into the tweaks and turns that Le Prof can employ in his strategies, let us concentrate on where their potential rivals stand at this moment as the English Premier League once again seems to be losing limelight of stardom.
With their predator striker Luis Suarez on his way out to Barcelona and dependable Steven Gerrard on the brink of his career, Liverpool will require time to settle with a handful of new signings. Only time will tell whether the Merseysiders mirror the ‘Spurs fate’ or survive well in amongst difficulties.
The defending champions Manchester City, after missing Negredo for long due to injury, will rely on injury-prone Aguero, who had a poor outing in Brazil. They will also fall back on Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic as their other two attacking options. Unhappy Yaya Toure and off-form David Silva could be a matter of concern for Pellegrini.
Chelsea may have signed some big names, but the fans are not sure how world cup flops Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa will add flexibility and dynamism to the team. But enviable goal-keeping options, a sound midfield and strong forwards make Chelsea aspire to eye their fourth-league title under the tutelage of the ‘Special One.’
A lot is expected from the new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal, who has earned a name for his tactical ploy and talent-spotting ability. With no European Football on the cards this time, the red devils can change their luck over League title by keeping them fresh and fit. They appear to be a much more balanced squad now after an intelligent summer being spent. But over-reliance on Rooney and Van Persie can hurt them again.
Spurs still have not recovered from that Bale exit. Everton and Southampton did not pose enough threat over the title with their mediocre squads.
Arsenal – Squad Analysis
The above facts hints towards Arsenal having an edge in the league race but now we will see how they can use the machineries under their belt to achieve glory.
New signing Alexis Sanchez offers flexibility and creativity in Arsenal’s lineup. And it is evident from the fact that he has netted 21 times and provided 15 assists for the Catalan side last season finishing just behind Messi in Barcelona top scorers’ list.
The Chilean, nicknamed “El nino Maravilla,” can play on both flanks, as well as he can act as a centre forward. The manager has firm belief that he has all the qualities in himself to thrive in England. If he can carry his prolific goal-scoring form in Arsenal colours, with Suarez out of Liverpool, he has the potential to become the best striker in Premier League this season.
During his successful Udinese stint, he and Antonio Di Natale tallied 39 goals between them in 2010-11 season. Here he can pair up with an improving Olivier Giroud to create a goal-scoring spree for the North London club.
The signing of the former Barcelona star can also result in a change in tactics and formation and may see the gunners return to 4-4-2 as it was before 2009. This hinted by their manager Arsene Wenger, “At the moment he might play on the flank because Walcott is injured. As well [he can play] through the middle in some games; we can play with Giroud, we can play without Giroud in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3.”
Wenger also has the Costa Rican youngster Joel Campbell, who had a phenomenal display for his country in Brazil. Campbell will act as backup for the striking force.
In the absence of Walcott, 4-4-2 formation may see Ozil pushed to a wing with elusive Chamberlain on the other. Stunning Ramsey will again orchestrate the midfield with Arteta or Wilshere in holding position and Sanchez, Giroud available upfront.
The addition of David Ospina, the Colombian goalkeeper, who had a brilliant world cup, will give stability in front of goal in the absence of Szczesny.
The joining of French national side regular Matthieu Debuchy from Newcastle United fills the void created by his french colleague Sagna and equips Wenger with a swift full back.
The much required team balance restored by Wenger’s insightful transfers and the technical flexibility available on the plate made this season the best time for Arsenal to gun for the premier league glory and maiden Champions League success if the injury woes can be set aside with a bit of tact and luck.