Solving a Crisis: Players that Could Make Arsenal Great Again

After losing the North London derby at the weekend and as a result slipping seven points behind bitter rivals Tottenham and five behind Chelsea in the race for Champions League football may see this summer as a turning point for Arsenal Football Club.

The third most successful club in English footballing history, this club steeped in so much tradition has now failed to win a major trophy for eight seasons, barring an inspirational comeback in their Champions League campaign.

It is time for the manager to leave, as he has been unable to take the club to the titles and trophies he won in his early days, or are the board to blame? Whatever the outcome, one thing is for certain, this summer, whether the team finishes in the Champions League or not, new signings are imperative.

The Arsenal back four has long been a topic of conversation going back to the days of George Graham in the 1980s, but nowadays the defence is spoken on a whole new level, one Graham’s side would have never stooped so low as.

Defensive infrailties have cost Arsenal dearly under the stewardship of Wenger, especially in the aftermath of the retirements of Dixon, Adams, Bould and Keown but also since the departure of Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure.

What’s missing?

A natural born leader.

In the current side there is no one to marsh the defence. But where should Arsenal turn to they have bought from foreign leagues and individually qualities players like Thomas Vermaelen, he just does not cut it as a leader, which is bad as he is meant to be club captain too.

They have also bought experienced international players like Per Mertesacker and Squillaci who have been found out by the pace of the Premier League.

An answer to this could be signing a Premier League based player who is ready for the step up.

Enter Phil Jagielka. The Everton centre half, who signed from Sheffield United in 2008 for £4m upon their relegation has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Now with 16 England caps to his name, he is becoming one of if not the most important centre half for the national side at the moment as they go under transition with the two long term Ferdinand and Terry defenders no longer the first choice.

Jagielka has played over 200 times in the Premier League and has been one of the main reasons for Everton re-emerging as a Champions League contender when many believed they would not have the financial muscle, but like many in that side, who have grown together, he has just continued to get better and now may be ready for the step up.

Jagielka would be a solid first choice but if that weren’t to happen would Wenger be tempted to look at Ashley Williams.

The Swansea captain, himself has been in fine form and has dealt with the club’s rise to the Premier League as easily as the club itself. He has been prone to make a few mistakes in the early part of the season but has now regained full form and led the team to their first ever piece of silverware.

With a calm touch on the ball Williams is the modern day centre half with the element of old-school brute just for good measure. A player who been all but an ever present for Swansea, he is now also captain of the Welsh national side, having proved his leadership qualities with Swansea.

Defensive midfield has also been a worry for many Arsenal fans for many seasons, since the departure of players like, Gilberto, Petit, Flamini, Vieira and of course back in the summer Alex Song. Song was not the conventional defensive midfielder and was more of a playmaker but when he left Arsenal lost the presence in the midfield.

Since Mikel Arteta has played this position. A position that allows him time and freedom to pass, but one he is not suited to in terms of the physical demands.

Arteta is not renowned for his tackling and sheilding, something Arsenal need, they have players who can pass the ball in Cazorla and Wilshere, Arteta is not needed in this role.

The man to end the way for a presence and a steely edge in Arsenal’s midfield could be Victor Wanyama from Celtic.

At only 21 years old he has already proven his potential with a man of the match performance at home to Barcelona in their crucial Champions League game.

He has a great presence on the field and is exactly what is needed by Wenger. He favours the simple pass after having broken the play down, meaning he could free up space for the likes of Wilshere and Cazorla to roam the midfield as he’d be the enforcer, marshalling the midfield, like perhaps Jagielka or Williams would the defence.

Alternatively to Wanyama Arsenal could look to Toulouse defensive midfielder Etienne Capoue.

Capoue is a player who’s reputation on the continent has risen rapidly and looks set to leave Toulouse in the summer, like former team mates Moussa Sissoko did in January.

If Capoue could have a similar impact on the Arsenal midfield defensively that his former team mate Sissoko has had going forward for Newcastle then he’d be ideal.

Capoue is showing has shown his ability on a consistent basis with Toulouse making the Ligue 1 team of the year last season and breaking into the France since the Euro 2012 finals ended playing five times and scoring a single goal.

The third and final position many would argue Arsenal need to strengthen is up front.

Since the departure of Robin van Persie it is one of the main topic areas for why Arsenal look set to miss out on the Champions League this season.

During the course of the season Wenger has given a number of players the chance to pick up the gauntlet laid down by the talismanic Dutchman, of which none have looked entirely convincing.

Olivier Giroud, has looked awkward at times in a free-flowing Arsenal attack, but has had purple patches of form, but has been very frustrating for many Arsenal fans to watch.

Theo Walcott has looked the most natural, but doesn’t quite look as though he’s suited to playing the lone role just yet. Then Podolski and Gervinho come into the equation, who have not had a great deal of time to show what they can do playing through the centre positions, with the latter looking out of place in every position.

The answer:  a man who is use to the burden and pressures of carrying a side and scoring goals.

Step forward David Villa.

Villa carried Valencia during his five years at the Mestalla scoring 107 goals in 166 league appearances. He has also been prolific for the Spanish national side scoring 53 goals in 86 matches, becoming their record goal scorer, during a time the Spanish national side have been at their highest, in terms of talent and expectancy.

He also has the experience of replacing a talisman and someone idolised by the fans when he took on the number 7 shirt for Spain, with which he has made his own.

Since breaking his tibia in the World Club Championships in 2011 Villa has struggled a lot with injuries and form, especially as he’s been played out wide at Barcelona as Messi is preferred in the central role meaning a move to the Emirates in summer could be quite likely.

If the Villa deal is not to be then Arsenal could perhaps look to the man who has replaced him at Valencia, Roberto Soldado.

Soldado, like the previous Valencia talisman is exactly that.

Having come through at Real Madrid Soldado was never really given a chance under the galaticos regime, but has a proven record everywhere he has played. With 47 goals in 88 games for Valencia he has not only taken on the goalscoring responsibilities but is also club captain.

However he has never had much international experience due to the likes of Torres and Villa ahead of him in the pecking order, although in recent times he has been favoured ahead of Torres, and when given a chance has delivered with 4 goals from 6 games including a hat trick.

These targets are all players that would strengthen Wenger’s side again giving a solid core. Current players could add depth to a squad which is current susceptible to injuries and suspensions.

There are three captains of different sides that now need replacing this summer if Arsenal are to get back to the top. Adams as a leader at the back, Vieira as a midfield enforcer and van Persie as the talismanic striker, not to forget Theirry Henry of course.


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