Due to the size of the document we thought that it might too much to swallow in one go. So it will be posted in two parts so that it can become more palatable! This is the first part.
There are quite a lot of weaknesses that Arsene Wenger needs to address and rectify if Arsenal are to challenge seriously for honours next season.
Fortunately they are all correctible as a lot of the changes needed involve a change of attitude or better coaching and organisation on the pitch rather than radical surgery in the personnel.
These arise from the fact that it is a young team and is only now beginning to gel together. But the manager, the coaching staff and above all the players have to work very hard to get it right. And the Board have a role to play too!
These are the following in order of importance:
- Tighten up the defence.
- Buy two experienced players
- Adopt the 4 5 1 formation
- Learn how to break up packed defences
- kill teams off when on top
- Learn how to win ugly
- Hit the ground running
Lastly the Board need to manage the impending takeover bid correctly
Let’s take each in turn.
Tighten up the defence
This a must. If this is not done then forget it; for some narrow wins will turn into draws. And as we have seen this season the difference between failure and
success is indeed very narrow.
You would expect Clichy and Ebuoe to have improved enough for their experience gained this season. And Gallas will play better next season as he has been hampered by his injuries. So there is room for improvement certainly.
But in our opinion what is needed is more organisation than new players. And this is relatively easier to achieve than buying new defenders and trying to integrate them into a cohesive unit.
What we mean is better organisation and marking at dead ball situations, abandonment of the zonal marking which is inappropriate for a young and inexperienced team (where concentration often wavers) and an integrated approach to defending; where all 11 players also perform their defensive duties when the team loses the ball.
Let’s hope they get more defensive coaching next season!
Buy two experienced players
As analysed in our posting Arsenal's transfer targets another forward is needed and a wide midfielder. Both have to be quality experienced players who will not need permission from their parents to appear in evening kick off games!
There is Henry of course and Adebayor and Van Persie. But as it has proved this season it was not enough.
Aliadiere and Baptista need to go as they have not really been up to standard but more importantly in order to release space for Bentdner who should be recalled back to the squad. He is big and strong and has that directness and determined streak which could be what Arsenal are looking for to compliment their pretty knit work.
However Arsenal need to recruit another proven goal scorer to create enough of a cover and competition between players. We have advocated that Nicolas Anelka would be ideal and is now available Anelka for Arsenal
There is also a shortfall in the wide midfield position. The absence of Reyes, Hleb’s known deficiencies, Walcott’s inexperience and Ljumberg’s ageing mean that Arsenal have to recruit. AW needs to buy a pacy winger to compliment Walcott's inexperience. Whether it will be Ribery or even Reyes himself we do not mind as long as the player recruited is top quality and is committed to the cause. This also related to the next point.
Adopt the 4 5 1 formation
There are three very important reasons we consider this the more appropriate formation for Arsenal.
Firstly it is needed in order to protect a young defence as the five man midfield contains three central midfielders two of which may sit in front of the defence when needed (the 4 3 3 formation is similar to the 4 5 1 as the two wide midfielders can tuck in when needed).
This is the formation that took Arsenal to the CL final and created the record of most games without conceding in the competition. It is also increasingly used by teams in Europe and Arsenal may need to play them like for like for tactical reasons.
Secondly it can be a flexible formation when players have the mobility and the nous to interchange places and transform it into a more creative system.
Thirdly it will allow Wenger to accommodate Silva, Fabregas and Diaby in the same eleven which, judging by the latter’s wonderful performances this season, will be a fearsome trio for years to come! And this is why Arsene needs to get another wide midfield player as explained above.
The remainder of this article will appear in a later posting. It will cover the rest of the things Arsenal need to do to challenge for next season!