We now know that Arsene Wenger is going to continue as the manager of the mighty Arsenal as expected. So it is time to have a look at some of the choices Wenger must face over the transfer window. Some of the decisions seem rather straightforward while others require more contemplation.
Signing Sanchez and Ozil up to some new contracts is obvious. This can most likely be achieved by the combination of two pay rises, the promise of a third superstar forward and a genuine title challenge. A top left back was also another vital piece of business that Wenger has rightly, already wrapped up. Sead Kolasinic on a free transfer is an extremely promising signing.
Then things start to get a little more complicated. Popular opinion tells us that we need to upgrade our midfield. This consensus seemed to form after Cazorla, our most important player, was injured for the rest of the season (again). A newly adapting Xhaka was left to carry the burden with several different midfield partners. We couldn’t find the right balance, suffering at both ends. Our season was sent into rapid decline. Conclusions were reached that our midfield needs work.
Our most important moment of the season was the change to five at the back. True width and defensive stability are welcomed improvements. For me though, it is in midfield that we have seen the biggest improvement. All of a sudden the defensive burden has been lifted. There’s more room in the midfield for our box to box players to run into. Our deep lying playmaker has more passing options as he can spread it wide to the onrushing wingbacks more often.
Foreshadowed by their excellent displays at the Euros, we as Arsenal fans had a lot of hope for the Xhaka and Ramsey partnership at the beginning of the season. With the formation change, they lived up to that promise at the end of the season (just ask Kante and Matic!). We must also remember that the partnership of Cazorla and Coquelin is not to be sniffed at. They have produced some incredible performances together and foil each other perfectly in a 4 3 3. Keeping them both at the club would ensure that we have flexibility in our formation when all are fit.
Now comes the case of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Voted second best player of the season, 23 years old and home grown, he is a player that we all want to keep on. If we lose him to a rival such as Liverpool on the cheap, Wenger will be slaughtered by livid Arsenal fans. Yet we as Arsenal fans demand a new midfielder which would no doubt force him out of the club. He himself has already confirmed it, he wants to be the next Gerrard, not a player that plugs gaps or sits on the bench.
I think that the Ox will shine in a box to box role next season with the new formation. That puts him in direct competition with Ramsey, who has his fair share of injuries. He would also be our back up right wing back. This new role, along with a nice pay rise, will surely get him signed up to a long term contract.
Would you buy a shiny new midfield player? Or keep Chamberlain and use the money somewhere else? If so, would you go for a centre back to sit in the middle of the three? Or would you put it all into one of the top strikers in the world?