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What must Arsenal change in order to win the Premier League next season?



Let’s been honest. Arsenal’s Premier League campaign this season has been an absolute car crash. If you adorn yourself in the red colours of North London, then to say the season has been filled with disappointment is an understatement.

Below par performances from big-money signings, failure to show up in the games that really mattered, and a mentality that has looked like anything but delivering a first Premier League title in 13 years, have been a common theme at the Emirates.

Where ‘#WengerOut’ has become a new trend, much like ripped jeans and skinny lattes, Arsenal’s persistent failure to challenge is anything but fashionable.

With Tottenham Hotspur now guaranteed to finish above the Gunners for the first time in over two decades, imminent change now appears to be on the horizon for the Londoners.

But what exactly can Arsenal do to dispel the frustrations of the fans and restore glory to the once ‘invincible’ club?

Arsenal must keep Alexis Sanchez – AT ALL COSTS

Sanchez is and has been for the past few seasons now, Arsenal’s best and most influential player. As he scored his 21st league goal of the season against Stoke City, many Arsenal fans will have been wondering just how many more the Chilean will score for their club.

Linked with moves to PSG and champions Chelsea, and with the Gunners potentially redundant of Champions League football next year, it is hard to see the talismanic forward staying in the red of Arsenal. Even if the Gunners sign no one in the transfer window, they must pull out all the stops to keep their leading goal scorer.

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Whether that means breaking the bank, and the tight wage structure of the club, to place him on par with the top earners in the league, it will be worth it in the long term. Alexis offers the club everything they have lacked in a barren 13 years for the club: fight, desire and passion.

Sanchez said in a recent interview with Geoff Shreeves that his future was undecided, but regardless of this, the club must do everything in their power to keep their star man. Keeping players like Sanchez would be an indicator that Arsenal are still able to attract top quality.

Wenger much change his approach or walk away

Arsène Wenger has been in the firing line a lot this season – as he has been for the past several seasons. Some will say he should walk regardless, whilst others will say his future depends on the close of the season.

Dubbed a “specialist in failure” by José Mourinho, Wenger has failed to duplicate the football that became a trademark of Arsenal since the turn of the century.

The Emirates crowd have sometimes been frustrated by Wenger’s decision to play two holding midfielders at home to seemingly ‘lesser’ sides, and the lack of motivation the team seems to sometimes have, evident in their recent lethargic 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.

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A switch to three at the back seems to have improved the team’s shape and performances in recent weeks, but the Frenchman has been berated by fans at some games for rotating the in-form players and sticking with misfiring players, such as Mesut Özil, based purely on the attraction of his name.

The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been linked with a move to Premier League rivals Liverpool, based on the lack of game time he has had this term. The affectionately named ‘Ox’ has been one of Arsenal’s stand-out players in a difficult season, but has found himself named amongst the substitutes more often than not.

In recent weeks Wenger has had found some success in tinkering with his system, but it has been a little too late for the Gunners.

If Wenger is to stay on at the Emirates, it seems that an ominous change in tactics and motivation will have to occur.

Sign a QUALITY centre-half

Please note the emphasis on top quality. Laurent Koscielny will make many fantasy managers’ teams, but he cannot carry the Arsenal defence on his own. The Frenchman’s absence in the back-line has left a gaping void, which has been exploited many times this year, most memorably in Bayern Munich’s 10-2 demolition of the Gunners.

Rob Holding may have come good of late, but he is young and still learning. He was found out against Liverpool on the opening day of the season, but he cannot be entirely blamed for that. Per Mertesacker has been restricted this season due to a serious knee injury but looks to be on the decline. Gabriel looks too reckless to be a dominant centre-back in the league. Shkodran Mustafi has not lived up to his lucrative price tag, and his errors have cost important goals.

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Spurs have managed to accrue a partnership of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, which is arguably the best pairing in the league right now. Champions Chelsea have Gary Cahill and a much improved David Luiz, working in tandem for Antonio Conte’s men.

It is a well-known fact that the best defences usually belong to teams that are there or thereabouts in the fight for the title. Arsenal’s defence has not been this, and as such, they now find themselves in a fight for fourth place.

The Gunners must identify a top player in this position and pay over the odds to sign him, even if that means facing ridicule like Manchester United faced with Paul Pogba.

Sign a TOP QUALITY striker

Sanchez cannot carry Arsenal’s goal scoring burden on his own, and to be fair he hasn’t had too much help this season. Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Lucas Perez and the injury-stricken Danny Welbeck have all been hit and miss this season. Inconsistencies and an over-reliance on the Chile international have cost Arsenal valuable points this year.

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A constant flirtation with Karim Benzema and Alexandre Lacazette have been typical in North London, and this will only fan the flames of the Arsenal fans even further. So often the bridesmaid and never the bride, in terms of signing the big names, the Gunners may have to break the bank this summer if they are going to welcome a striker with title-winning goals.

However, should Arsenal fail to clinch Champions League football, they may find themselves out of the race for such a player, and in a situation where they are instead looking for a replacement for Alexis Sanchez.

Add more depth and quality to the squad

Although the last two points have been encouraging the spending of large amounts of cash, quality is not necessarily defined by the price tag of a player.

In recent years, Arsenal have lacked leaders and strength in depth. The Gunners have far too many squad players, and it may well be time for a few comfortable looking players to experience a real shake up.

Regardless of who is in charge at the club next year, some of the excess fat desperately needs trimming. The club needs strong characters (who are also good footballers) and have missed a ‘Viera-like’ personality in their squad.

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Teams like Chelsea have been able to bring on impact subs in the form of Willian and Cesc Fabregas throughout the season, but Arsenal’s squad is relatively thin on the ground when star players aren’t performing or are injured.

Granted, the loss of Santi Cazorla has not helped, but title-winning squads have strength and quality in depth. Arsenal may be best advised to follow a different trajectory this season than past years, and sign tried, tested and experienced players, rather than the unproven players with their potentials still unrealised.

Win the FA Cup

This may not be something for next season, but the FA Cup Final will be a pivotal moment for Arsenal. If the Gunners can beat Chelsea to win the cup then they will take a huge amount of confidence into next season.

It may not be ideal to finish outside the top four, but winning the cup would certainly soften the blow. Whether or not triumph will be enough for Wenger to stay on, only time will tell.

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But, fail to win and end the season trophy-less, and outside qualification for the Champions League and Arsenal will be at their lowest point since Wenger took charge. Should this scenario become a reality, Arsenal fans can expect a long and arduous summer, be that in losing their best talent or signing fresh blood.

Arsenal may have kept their hopes of appearing in Europe’s elite competition alive, after beating Stoke, but the future is still unsure for the club. Accomplished performances like the one we saw on Saturday and the 3-0 drubbing of Chelsea back in September have given glimpses of what might have been for the Gunners.

Regardless, the club has a huge summer ahead of them.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Genç Arsenal


Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal: Unstoppable Harry Kane the difference again for Spurs

Rob Meech brings us three talking points as Tottenham stole a march over London rivals Arsenal to further cement their hold on a top four place.

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

Harry Kane was the match-winner as Tottenham Hotspur beat fierce rivals Arsenal to tighten their grip on qualification for next season’s Champions League.

The England striker headed home Ben Davies’ cross for his 23rd Premier League goal of the campaign, just after half-time.

Spurs deserved to win the match – and Kane perhaps should have added to his tally – although substitute Alexandre Lacazette squandered two late opportunities to snatch a point for the Gunners.

Victory moved Tottenham above Chelsea and into fourth spot in the table but crucially, their advantage over sixth-placed Arsenal now stands at seven points.

Having missed out on the top four last season, the Gunners face another uphill battle following their third successive away defeat.

Here are three talking points from an enthralling north London derby…

Dominant Spurs show their mettle

During a tricky spell of results, doubts were cast over Tottenham’s top-four credentials. They have surely now been banished.

Runs of fixtures don’t come much trickier than Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Not only did Spurs come through unscathed with seven points from a possible nine, but the football they played showed they are more than a match for any Premier League team – and arguably the best suited to challenge the supremacy of Manchester City.

The margin of victory over Arsenal may have been only a single goal, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men were dominant in every department.

They peppered Petr Cech’s goal and the ingenuity and creativity of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen perfectly complemented Kane’s ruthlessness.

Defensively, they are very sound and the depth of the squad was highlighted by the options Pochettino had on his bench.

Now nine games unbeaten, Spurs are peaking at the right time.

Arsenal’s top-four hopes suffer hammer blow

From the positivity that emerged from Arsenal’s thumping of Everton last weekend, this was a reality check.

The big trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were in the starting XI once again, but they couldn’t have the influence that tore the Toffees to shreds seven days earlier.

With 11 games remaining, the Gunners are somewhat cut adrift in the race for the top four.

There is no denying this defeat was a hammer blow to their ambitions.

Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification last season for the first time since Arsene Wenger took the reins and revolutionised the club.

Despite the investment made during the summer and in January, it looks like the same fate will befall them this campaign.

Success in the Europa League – mirroring Manchester United last season – increasingly appears to be their most likely route back into Europe’s showpiece competition.

Unstoppable Kane is the difference once again

It feels like every time Spurs win, Kane is the man they have to thank.

The 24-year-old moved to 101 Premier League goals and decided the outcome of this derby with a towering header that gave Cech no chance.

Is there no stopping this prolific goalscorer, who continues to go from strength to strength?

In truth, Kane could have walked away with a hat-trick, but his seventh goal in as many north London derbies was sufficient to claim the three points.

Kane is not just a traditional number nine – his all-round game is mightily impressive.

This was a man-of-the-match display in which he showed off all facets to his game.

From spraying 40-yard passes, holding up the ball and pulling defenders out of position, to possessing an unerring ability to find himself in space, this was a complete performance by a remarkable player.

Keeping Kane at the club could well be the biggest challenge Tottenham face this summer, if suitors come calling.

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Which four of the ‘big-six’ clubs will qualify for next season’s Champions League?

Martyn Cooke



There are just 12 games remaining of the current Premier League season and, with Manchester City seemingly destined to secure the title, attention will now turn towards the battle to secure a place in the top-four.

There are only three places available to share between Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool and two of those clubs will be have to be content with competing in the Europa League next season.

Here, The Boot Room predicts who will finish in the top four at the end of the season…


There was once a time when the possibility of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League was unthinkable, yet the Gunners are facing the realistic possibility of missing out on playing in Europe’s elite club competition for the second consecutive season.

This campaign they have been held back by their inconsistent and unpredictable form away from home and are playing catch-up with their rivals with a five-point gap emerging between themselves and fourth place.

There is a new sense of optimism around the Emirates Stadium after Wenger added Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to his squad yet a defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday would all but end their hopes – qualifying through winning the Europa League could be a more realistic option.

Prediction: 6th

Manchester United

There is currently a slight sense of disappointment around Old Trafford this season that, despite obvious progress since the arrival of Jose Mourinho, the club have had to be content with seeing cross-city rivals Manchester City stroll their way towards the Premier League title.

It is difficult to imagine Manchester United missing out on a Champions League place as they already have a considerable buffer of seven points and undoubtedly have a squad that is full of quality and experience.

The arrival of Alexis Sanchez will provide additional impetus in the closing stages of the campaign and the only real danger is that their attention might be redirected towards challenging for the Champions League or FA Cup with the title already all but lost.

However, Mouirnho has his team ticking over nicely and it is likely that they will maintain their current league position.

Prediction: 2nd  


It has been a frustrating and increasing turbulent season at Stamford Bridge following the failure of Chelsea to build on last season’s title triumph.

Back-to-back defeats against Bournemouth and Watford have left the Blues clinging on to their place in the top four and there is now a realistic possibility that they may miss out on Champions League qualification.

Antonio Conte’s frustration with the club’s transfer policy has been clear to see since the summer and the off-pitch squabbling can only be a destabilising influence for the players.

Chelsea are certainly a team that are out of form and appear to be short of confidence and direction and it will be a true test of Conte’s managerial prowess to see if he can facilitate some sort of revival in the closing months of the season.

However, momentum is currently against them and they may well be one of the two clubs to miss out.

Prediction: 6th


You get the sense that it is always two steps forward followed by one step back at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp and you never know quite what to expect.

Liverpool continue to be consistently inconsistent as demonstrated by their recent, contrasting performances against Manchester City and Swansea City.

The arrival of Virgil van Dijk in the January transfer window is a boost, although recent games have suggested that he alone will not solve the club’s defensive frailties, whilst the sale of Phillip Coutinho is offset by the impressive array of attacking players that Klopp has collected.

If Liverpool can put together a good run of results then they will be able to capitalise on Antonio Conte’s woes as Chelsea and finish in the top four.

Prediction: 4th

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur supporters will now have a taste for Champions League football after the success of their team in this year’s competition and they are hitting form at just the right moment in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are unbeaten since mid-December and have plenty of momentum with the inspirational figure of Harry Kane continuing to his remarkable, prolific run of form in front of goal.

Much will depend on whether the England striker can stay fit until the end of the season whilst they also need Dele Alli to rediscover the sparkle that he has lost in recent months.

Tottenham face a season-defining fixture on Saturday when they face Arsenal in the North London derby but they should have enough quality to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Prediction: 3rd

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan now requires consistency to live up to his reputation at Arsenal

After an impressive cameo in Arsenal’s 5-1 victory over Everton on Sunday, Henrikh Mkhitaryan now needs to maintain his level of performance if he is to fulfill his potential in the Premier League, writers Jake Jackman.

Jake Jackman



Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Photo: Reuters

Arsenal were one of the more active sides during the January transfer window and the addition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be looked back on as one of the signings of the season.

The Armenian international joined in part-exchange for the unpopular Alexis Sanchez and the Gunners side that played against Everton this past weekend looked to be much freer on the pitch.

It would be simplistic to suggest it was entirely down to Mkhitaryan and fellow new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but they clearly had a positive impact on the squad.

This level of performance will have to be displayed on a more consistent basis before supporters get too excited about this representing a new dawn for the club, but the first signs were encouraging.

Arsenal played Everton off the pitch and were out of sight by half-time. The match finished in a comfortable 5-1 win for the home side.

Although it was a disappointment not to keep a clean sheet, the side were near perfect throughout and that gives them something to build on heading into the closing months of the season.

It was a surprise when the rumoured swap deal involving Sanchez and Mkhitaryan eventually went through.

In the modern game, it is rare for straight swap deals to happen and it is even less common for it to involve two clubs that have been fierce rivals in the recent past.

The majority of the coverage suggested that it was a far better deal for Manchester United and it was seen as a sign of weakness from Arsenal.

Considering the form of the two players since arriving in England, that is a difficult viewpoint to argue against.

However, the Gunners will have seen the appeal of signing an experienced international and his first start indicated that he could be a huge success in North London.

The former Borussia Dortmund player made an immediate impact and contributed three assists during the match.

Manchester United had signed him in 2016 to add creativity to their ranks and although he threatened to do that at times, he never found his stride at Old Trafford.

It can be argued that his performance against Everton on his Arsenal home debut was the best of his Premier League career to date.

Given it came just weeks into his career in North London, there is reason to be genuinely excited about what he can achieve in a Gunners’ shirt.

Mkhitaryan was most dangerous down the right-wing, as he twice got free and supplied good balls in for two of Aaron Ramsey’s goals.

However, one advantage of playing him in a front three with Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Aubameyang was that he could interchange positions as the game progressed.

His second assist came when he moved into a central area and played a nice through ball to the striker he regularly supplied at Borussia Dortmund.

Their previous relationship has allowed both to settle quickly into the Arsenal team and the benefits were there to be seen on the weekend.

The Armenian played only three key passes, which is a surprise considering his influence on the game, but those that witnessed the whole match will attest to his quality.

He looked a completely different player to the one that was devoid of confidence at Manchester United.

In addition to creating several chances and making three goals, Mkhitaryan came close to scoring himself.

He popped up on the right wing in the first half and cut inside before producing a powerful effort that went just wide of the post.

Jose Mourinho was reluctant to give a prominent role to the attacker at Old Trafford as he had doubts about Mkhitaryan’s defensive work.

However, that part of his game was very impressive against Everton, as he won four aerial duels and completed seven ball recoveries.

He attempted 10 tackles in all and was successful in less than half of them (four), but he showed a willingness to work hard and that will have pleased Arsene Wenger.

The next challenge for Mkhitaryan will be to find the consistency that alluded him during his time in England so far.

He has shown flashes of his ability, but he hasn’t lived up to his reputation and his confidence levels dropped as a result.

His home debut should have provided him with plenty of that and it is crucial that he uses that to motivate him over the rest of the season.

If he can maintain this high level, Arsenal will have the player that Manchester United had hoped they were getting when they signed the Armenian.

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