So Arsenal have now broken their tradition of finishing fourth every year by finishing third last season. With the new season just weeks away (CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT!), how much work is needed on this side that finished third, for Arsene Wenger to mount a serious title challenge?
Where will the Gunners need that extra spark, the extra block or even the extra goal? After finding out who Ed Woodward needs to sign for Manchester United, the Paddy Power Blog now looks at where Arsenal need to strengthen to finally regain the Premier League title.
Karim Benzema £35.5m
If you go by goals scored, Arsenal were deservedly in third. Last season’s Premier League didn’t have the free flowing goals of the previous season when both City and Liverpool scored more than 100. After finishing third in 2014, Jose Mourinho said his team didn’t score enough goals so they went out and bought Diego Costa, and won the league.
They did only score an extra two goals last season though. But still.
Arsenal need to bring in another top quality striker. Danny Welbeck didn’t do it for them last season, Olivier Giroud can’t seem to reach another gear, and Alexis Sanchez, whom Arsenal depended on so much last season, isn’t an out and out striker.
It’s time for Wenger to splash the cash again this season on another big name, and Karim Benzema has been talked about so much they might as well just go out and do it at this stage.
Generally speaking, you need a 20-goal per season striker to win the league, and Benzema is that guy. He scored 22 in 38 games last season for Real Madrid. If he goes to Arsenal, he would easily be the main striker, and you could expect him to at the very least, match last season’s figures.
Nabil Fekir £8-15m
At 21, Nabil Fekir was Lyon’s second-best player last season after star striker Alexandre Lacazette. The good news is that the player has already stated his interest in playing under Arsene Wenger. What better way for Wenger to win back the Premier League than to do it with a few Frenchmen at the core of the team. Just like the good old days.
He had a 79% pass accuracy last season and made 39 key passes, the second highest for Lyon after Lacazette. In Premier League terms, that’s a better accuracy than Sanchez and Wilshere, and in key passes he’s not far behind Ozil, Cazorla and Ramsey.
Some 34 games last season yielded 16 goals and nine assists. If Lacazette is to leave this summer, it may mean that more pressure will be put on Fekir to perform. If his performance and importance for Lyons goes up, you can be sure that his price will as well. This summer is definitely the time to snap him up.
Arturo Vidal £20-30m
Maybe Alexis Sanchez has been having a little word in Arturo Vidal’s ear. But the news about a possible transfer for the Chilean is gathering pace.
Last season, Arsenal had the eighth highest defensive error total at 25. That’s one less than Crystal Palace, but more than Swansea, Leicester and Burnley. For all the talk of how great Franky Coquelin was last season, he was still brought back from a loan spell at Charlton just to help out, and you can’t help but think that Arturo Vidal would just be a ridiculous improvement.
At 28, Vidal is the perfect age to come into this Arsenal side to make a difference. He had seven goals and four assists in 23 league appearances for Juventus, but scoring goals isn’t his game. Last season he made 47 crucial interceptions in 28 games all season.
He had 33 key passes, a passing accuracy of 85%… That’s more than Paul Pogba and up there with Andrea Pirlo. Basically, Wenger… Get him involved.
Youri Tielemans £7.5m
Okay, so he’s 18 and has been given the dreaded title of ‘Wunderkid’. Oh and he also plays for Anderlecht. BUT he’s actually pretty damn good.
Tielemans plays as a central or defensive midfielder. He even played against Arsenal before Christmas in the Champions League group stages. You may recall two close games, one of which finished 3-3? Yeah, this is the guy that’s responsible for that.
He played 51 games last season scoring eight goals and assisting six times, which is pretty good for an 18 year old who plays as a defensive midfielder. Add to that the fact that in 51 games, he was only subbed off eight times, you know he’s well suited to pressure.
If signed, he may not start every game, but to have such quality in depth would allow Arsenal to compete on all fronts, and might mean a third FA Cup in a row?
Petr Cech £11m
What have Chelsea done! Do they not realise how good Cech is? Courtois is grand and all, but Cech isn’t an old fogey and he will definitely change this Arsenal side.
Out of 25 defensive errors last season, eight turned into a goal. Over in the red half of Manchester, United had 29 defensive errors and only 3 turned into a goal. Having someone you can trust between the posts is vital. This new fella will instil a lot of confidence into the Arsenal back line and give them a great base to work with.
Last season, Cech only played in seven games, conceded two but he had five clean sheets. Courtois had 12 clean sheets from 32 games.
Arsenal are very nearly there. Goal difference – wise, they were only six behind Chelsea and 10 behind Manchester City. Whether or not they end up signing more than just Cech this summer, they are going to go very close in 2016… and it will all be down to what could quite possibly be the transfer of the summer.