Is this Arsenal's year?
In a summer of shocking moves, even with just over a month of the transfer window left, Petr Cech made the move from West Londoners Chelsea, to North London and more specifically, Arsenal. However, this isn’t Arsenal’s, and Arsene Wenger’s first big move in the market in recent times. With superstar names such as Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez both joining the Gunners in 2013 and 2014 respectively, it seems we have been witnessing the building of a team that can truly challenge for the Premier League once more. Not only is it the signings that has made fans and pundits alike feel this is a team capable of challenging Chelsea’s supremacy, Aaron Ramsey has transformed into a central midfielder that managers crave. Added in, the formidable partnership being formed at the back between the Frenchman Laurent Koscielny and commanding defender Per Mertesacker, along with three of England’s biggest stars in Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain on their books, is everything there for Arsenal to end their 11 league year title wait?
A recent quote from Cech’s former captain John Terry reads “He [Cech] will save them 12 or 15 points a season.” Which if we go by last year’s table means Arsenal would be crowned champions come May 2016. There’s no doubting that Petr Cech is one of the finest goalkeepers to have played in the modern era, and to capture his signature for £10.9m represents a real bargain. Along with the title-winning pedigree he brings to the club, something Arsenal have been crying out for in recent years. It seems Petr Cech could transform Arsenal from a top four certainty, to a team more than capable of winning the league this year, much like the £24m signing of Robin van Persie to bring the league back to the red half of Manchester in 2013. The arrival of Cech was well anticipated by Arsenal fans and there was reason to be excited, after keeping 220 clean sheets in his time at Chelsea, on top of holding the record for the fewest appearances to reach 100 clean sheets. All the statistics point towards a silverware filled season for Arsene Wenger’s outfit. However Petr Cech isn’t the only world class player to put pen to paper at The Emirates in recent times…
Alongside Cech, other world class talents have been added to their ranks in recent years. The signings of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez respectively signals a statement of intent from the Gunners. After a 16 goal season from the Chilean and Özil finally showing some of the form that justifies the £42m price tag on the German playmaker’s head. It would seem they are only a world class centre forward away from glory, as we’ve seen before; Chelsea missed out on the 2013/14 season title through a lack of affective strikers. We also saw the downfall of Liverpool this season after the sale of Luis Suarez and the injury struck season Daniel Sturridge suffered. Giroud’s 14 goals in the Premier League and 19 in all competitions, paired with Danny Welbeck’s 8 in all competitions serves as evidence to suggest a striker should now be their main priority.
But would failure to add a striker to their squad be detrimental to Arsenal’s title challenge?
Arsenal’s midfield never ceases to produce goals. In recent seasons Aaron Ramsey has become somewhat of a revelation in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield offering two consecutive 10+ goal seasons and is showing no signs of slowing down. Contributions coming on a regular basis from the little Spaniard Cazorla and a fit again Theo Walcott, how desperate is the need for a centre forward at Arsenal? Arsenal will score goals, and it’s more than likely they will be goals of a standard not many others can score, but do they score enough? Are they still guilty of the overplaying they have been criticised over? There will always be questions over any team. One question Arsene Wenger is seemingly always answering is their lack of strength in depth. There’s genuine competition in every position at the club now, four full backs who could play for most Premier League teams, Calum Chambers and Gabriel are more than decent cover for the two centre halves.
There are midfield options galore, all of which bring something else to the table, giving them the ability to adjust game to game. The addition of heavily linked Benzema could may well be the missing piece to Arsene’s puzzle. The 15-20 goals he would bring would more than make them challengers to Chelsea and Manchester City and could shape this to be the most exciting race for the title in recent years.
It cannot be denied Arsenal are in a much stronger position for the season ahead, which has been the story heading into the last two seasons, but are Arsenal ready without a 25 goal a season striker? Does Cech counteract the lack of goals at the other end of the pitch by stopping them at his end? As I said, questions will be asked of this side, much as they are of other sides. The key to Arsenal’s season is to whether they can answer them and show the title credentials they have been lacking for quite some time after not being able to replace many of the famous invincible side. It will be a disappointing season for Arsenal if they fail to win anything, even more so if they do sign a centre forward. Is this the closest Arsenal have been to a title in the last decade?
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