Great cup win – now for summer buys by BB
Arsenal won emphatically yesterday, playing with the same swagger and confidence which characterized the second half of our season. Moreover, top players – Sanchez, Cazorla, and most notably Ozil – played as well as we know they can in a massive match.
Since the turn of the year Arsenal have found a balance between defence and attack which works brilliantly, with Coquelin providing the back four with a shield which has seemed able to withstand all that has been hurled at it. Indeed, this side, bursting with resilience and creativity in almost equal measure, has got fantastic results – highlights must be the two away wins in Manchester – 2-0 against City in the league, and 2-1 against United in the cup. For Arsenal, I see the problem as a lack of consistency, and sometimes not performing on the biggest stages, rather than a lack of quality.
Starting at the back, I think a new goalkeeper is all but essential to challenge for the title. Szczesny yesterday played well, particularly at the start. But his horror show at Southampton, and a couple of flappy punches yesterday, suggest he shouldn’t be our number 1. Ospina has looked good, calm and collected since being given the nod in the league. Indeed, his presence has clearly had a calming influence on the back four, who have looked like a strong unit for the past six months or so. However, even Ospina is susceptible to the odd mistake, and compared to the goalkeepers at other top clubs (De Gea, Courtois and even Hart) he looks a little average. The obvious choice here is Cech. He is just 33 giving at least another 5 seasons at the top of his game, and he has premier league experience, and a winner’s mentality. Whether Chelsea will sell we don’t know, but for £10 mill Cech would be a great investment. Interestingly Lehmann was the only player Wenger brought into the squad before the Invincibles’ season.
I think the rest of the back four look good. Our first choice centre back pairing seem unfazed in all circumstances, and the pace of Koscielny is able to cover for Mertesacker. The latter’s positioning is also so good that many attacks are stifled before they really get going. The fullback positions are also well filled. I think we may want to consider keeping hold of Jenkinson. Between him and Chambers we would have enough cover at both CB and RB.
Coquelin, as I have already suggested, has been phenomenal. He manages to break up play, covers our fullbacks and can then build our attacks with Cazorla who has been electric playing as a deep-lying play maker. To really progress though I think we may want to bring in competition for Coquelin though. We have been linked a lot with Vidal, and though he would be a great signing I think he may be more attack-minded than we need. Instead I think we should pursue Kondogbia. He is in the Viera-mould and able to boss a midfield, and Monaco look as though they are ready to sell.
Further forward, I think we are set, provided Walcott signs a contract extension. If he doesn’t, use the money from his sale to bring in a replacement – Reus or Sterling would be my choice. Up top, I think we look good. Giroud is fantastic, particularly in his hold up play and off the ball running. Ozil, Sanchez and Walcott are all able to chip in. The first two’s defensive work rate this season has also been fantastic. I think if we are to bring someone in, we should go with Lacazette. He offers something really different to Giroud, with real pace. His ratio of nearly a goal-a-game in the league also suggest he is really class.
Looking at next season, I think there is good reason for optimism. The players and staff made clear yesterday that Arsenal’s aim is the league title, and I don’t think we are all that far away!