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

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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.

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Arsenal

Despite Celtic success, Arsenal should avoid Brendan Rodgers

Arsenal will be faced with looking for a new manager this summer.

Jake Jackman

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The end had been coming for a long time, but it was a surprise on Friday when Arsene Wenger announced he would be standing down as Arsenal manager.

The tributes quickly followed and a manager that had cut a sorry figure for the past few seasons was forgotten. Instead, his successes and impact on English football became the focus.

It is too soon to tell who the club’s priority target is to replace their legendary manager, but the early favourite with the bookies is Brendan Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman is arguably the best British coach in football at the moment and his experience at two big clubs, Liverpool and Celtic, puts him in contention for the Arsenal job.

The Celtic majority shareholder has already commented on the rumours and told Sky Sports that the club wouldn’t stand in Rodgers’ way if he wanted to move back to the Premier League with Arsenal:

“I’m glad he’s the favourite. He’s an outstanding person. We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. Hopefully, his love for the club and the setup here will enduce him to stay at the club.”

Although they provide a good starting point, the odds from various bookmakers aren’t reliable at this stage of the recruitment process. It would be expected that Arsenal have a number of managers in mind, but there is a long way to go before an appointment is made.

A number of the media have already talked up Rodgers as the best candidate for the role, due to his style of football and experience at two big British clubs. At Liverpool, he came close to winning the club’s first Premier League title during the 2013-14 season and got the team playing some excellent football.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The 45-year-old has continued to impress with Celtic as he guided the club to an unbeaten domestic season during his first year in charge. There are question marks over the quality of the Scottish League, but Rodgers has stood out as the best manager the club have had in a number of years.

In addition to the domestic success, he has overseen some good performances in Europe, albeit their overall achievements on the continent have been modest.

By being the best British candidate, there will be a lot of people pushing for Rodgers to get the job, but it would be a poor appointment by Arsenal.

Despite his Liverpool teams playing some exciting football, he failed to win a single trophy during his time at Anfield. He came close to lifting the Premier League title, but in hindsight, the reason for that was the genius of Luis Suarez and goal-scoring form of Daniel Sturridge rather than the influence of Rodgers.

The best managers deliver results on a regular basis and can establish their team as regular contenders. The 2013-14 season will be remembered fondly by Liverpool fans, but their failure to build on it didn’t reflect well on Rodgers. They were quickly knocked out of both the Champions League and the Europa League before limping along to a 6th place finish.

During his time at Anfield, Rodgers did okay without ever looking like he belonged at one of England’s biggest clubs. His success at Celtic has seen him repair his reputation, but it is a huge change to go from being the dominant team in Scotland to rebuilding Arsenal.

The Gunners need to bring in a proven winner to instantly win over the players and have the authority to rebuild the club from top to bottom. Rodgers isn’t that man. He needs to show he can win major honours outside of Scotland before being considered for a top Premier League job again.

This summer is too soon for him and Arsenal would be foolish to consider him as an option.

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Who is best-placed to challenge Manchester City next season?

Pep Guardiola’s side will be looking to defend their title during the 2018/19 campaign.

Martyn Cooke

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Manchester City were crowned as Premier League champions on Sunday afternoon after Manchester United suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of struggling West Bromwich Albion.

Pep Guardiola’s team have ripped apart the top-flight of English football this season with a devastatingly effective style of play that has left their rivals struggling to hold on to their coattails.

City are currently 16 points clear of second place with five games still to play and now have the opportunity to break the 100-point barrier as the season comes to a conclusion.

Here, The Boot Room evaluate which top-six team is best placed to challenge Manchester City’s dominance next year.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Manchester United

There are currently mixed feelings around Old Trafford regarding how Manchester United have performed this season and the long-term direction of the club under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho.

A failure to maintain the astonishing pace set by Manchester City has left supporters having to be content with a top-four finish and FA Cup semi-final whilst there has been a deluge of criticism aimed at the pragmatic style of play utilised.

Mourinho remains one of the best managers in world football and he is still in the process of moulding a team in his own image.

The Portuguese maestro has already spent big in the transfer market, as demonstrated by the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku over the past two years, and the club are expected to make further significant investments in the summer.

He needs to find the missing piece to the Manchester United jigsaw and that will mean addressing the lop-sided defence, demonstrated by Ashley Young’s emergence as first-choice left-back.

Mourinho has overcome Guardiola in the past but there will be no room for excuses next season if, after two years of building a team, Manchester United are unable to challenge their cross-city rivals.

(Photo by Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur have continuously improved year-on-year under the stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino but you still feel that the club is some way behind their rivals in terms of winning the Premier League.

Spurs have a young, dynamic squad of players that play fast, attacking football and, in Harry Kane, they possess one of the best strikers in the world right now. However, something is still missing and it is hard to put your finger on exactly what it is.

Perhaps it is simply a mental issue? Tottenham have not won a league title since 1960 and last secured silverware of any kind almost a decade ago – do the current group of players have the right mentality or experience to enable them to maintain performances over the course of a full campaign? Their upcoming FA Cup semi-final may provide an insight later this month.

Whilst you feel that Tottenham will always be in and around the top spots next season, it is difficult to see them overcoming Manchester City without significant investment or Pochettino uncovering the magic formula.

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Chelsea

Chelsea have offered a feeble and limp defence of their title this year and still face a scramble to secure a place in the top-four.

Things have clearly not been right behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge and Antonio Conte is expected to depart the club in the summer after spending much of the season snipping at the Chelsea hierarchy.

Regardless of who the Italian’s successor is, it is widely expected that the club will bounce back.

Under the ownership of Roman Abramovich, the Blues have continuously maintained their standing as one of the leading side’s in the country and you would imagine that the Russian oligarch will be keen to reclaim their crown next season.

Chelsea will spend big in the summer to ensure that they build a squad capable of challenging Manchester City and a striker will be top of the new manager’s wish list. Alvaro Morata made a positive start to the campaign but has struggled for form and fitness in the second half of the season.

If the Blues can make the right appointment in the dugout and strengthen significantly on the pitch then history suggests they will be in and around the top spots.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Liverpool

Since arriving at Anfield in October 2015 Jurgen Klopp thrown himself into the task of restoring Liverpool’s status as one of the leading club’s in Europe.

Each transfer window has seen the squad steadily improve and you now feel that the German has built a team that is capable of challenging for both domestic and European silverware.

Liverpool have a reputation for producing attacking, dynamic and exciting football and the attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino possess an abundance of pace, power and creativity.

Under the stewardship of Klopp, the team have always looked capable of scoring goals but have regularly been criticised for being undermined by defensive fragile and frail.

However, the signing of Virgil Van Dijk in January, the emergence of John Robertson and the new-found confidence of Loris Karius appears to have put some of those concerns to bed – Liverpool have kept eight clean sheets in their last 12 matches in all competitions.

Klopp will continue to develop the squad during the summer and, as proven by their historic victory over Manchester City, the Reds are certainly heading in the right direction.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Arsenal

There has continued to be a degree of frustration and dissatisfaction around the Emirates Stadium this season as Arsenal have continued to fall behind their rivals on the pitch.

The Gunners are currently 33 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League are relying on winning the Europa League in order to qualify for the Champions League next year.

The club under-performed last season, failing to qualify for Europe’s premier competition, and the decline has continued over the following twelve months with supporters becoming increasingly frustrated with Arsene Wenger’s failure to consistently secure positive results.

The same old problems persist – there is a lack of leaders, a lack of quality in central defence and no commanding midfield player.

Wenger has brought together an exciting forward line that possesses pace, power and experience with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan arriving in January to complement the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and a fit-again Danny Welbeck.

However, Arsenal continue to be undermined by prevalent weaknesses throughout the remainder of the team and there are currently a world away from competing with Manchester City.

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Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere should consider success of former team-mate and leave North-London

The England international looks set to leave the Emirates outfit this summer.

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Jack Wilshere
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If anyone this season can speak of a season defined by their rejuvenated form then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would take the gold as the once rejected. The once-out-of-favour winger at Arsenal has now transformed himself into one of the key additions to Liverpool‘s settled central midfield three.

Jürgen Klopp has well and truly got the best out of the 24-year-old this term and this marked improvement could inspire the Ox’s former team-mate, Jack Wilshere, who may considering that a move away from North London is now necessary to reignite his career.

Wilshere was hauled off in embarrassing fashion on Thursday night during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with CSKA Moscow, with the Russians leading 2-0, and the player’s reaction to being axed early highlights just how unsettled at his boyhood club he  has become.

Reports in the Telegraph claim that, despite enjoying a rare, relatively injury-free campaign for the Gunners this season, Wilshere chose to turn down a new deal at the Emirates after refusing to take a pay-cut. Arsenal are keen for the England international to stay but won’t increase their original offer.

With the World Cup coming up and the 26-year-old still yet to establish himself as a regular England starter it remains to be seen whether Arsene Wenger can get the best out of the man that was once hailed the ‘future of the Three Lions’, even by the likes of footballing legends such as Barcelona’s Xavi.

This season Wilshere has featured in 33 matches for the London outfit and has made a personal record number of appearances since the 2013/2014 campaign.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images,)

However, since the offer of a new deal was made to Wilshere earlier this year, Mesut Ozil has signed a new contract that almost trebled his salary to £350,000-a-week.

In that time, Arsenal have also agreed to pay £200,000-a-week to Henrikh Mkhitaryan and £180,000-a-week to club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Thus highlighting just how far Wilshere has fallen down the financial pecking order at the Emirates.

Currently, the Englishman is set to become a free-agent in June.

After watching former Emirates team-mate Chamberlain firing Liverpool to the Champions League quarter-finals, with his sensational strike against Premier League champions Manchester City, should Wilshere look to the Klopp effect to get his fading career back on track?

It would definitely prove a risky move for both parties, if the Merseysiders were to pursue the signing.

However, flying high in Europe with once-written-off forward and PFA Player of the year favourite Mohamed Salah, who is already on 40 goals for the season, Liverpool are beginning to represent the perfect club for players to reignite their careers.

Wilshere should take comfort in the knowledge that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is the perfect manager to revive some of football’s fallen giants.

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