Sitting on the 4th spot in the Premier League table with 12 points behind league leaders Manchester City, let us just predict the predictable. Arsenal will not be winning any silver ware this season.
After last season’s finish in the 6th spot, Arsenal have yet again failed to uphold their level of former glory. For the last decade a Champions League spot along with a weak contention for the League trophy somehow kept the Gunners in the sphere of the biggest powerhouses of English football.
Failing to qualify for the Champions League have affected the mentality of the players at the club especially the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and former winger Oxalade Chamberlain. While Chamberlain opted for a move away from the club to Liverpool for 40 Million pounds on transfer deadline day, the other two were surrounded by heavy speculation all throughout summer.
Neither Alexis Sanchez nor Mesut Ozil has agreed to sign a contract extension with the club at the beginning of this season. Their contracts are set to end after the 2017-2018 season, leaving them unrestricted to sign with any club they want. The Chilean International had quite clearly expressed his dissatisfaction with the club over another year without any trophies and wished to be transferred to one with better chances of winning any.
With an unpredictable future, one can only ponder over what moves Arsenal should be making in order to persuade the two biggest stars of the club to stay. Yes, winning trophies is an obvious answer, but there are other changes Arsene Wenger can make to improve the identity and strength of the squad.
For starters Arsenal can start thinking about getting rid of Theo Walcott. The 28 year old has hit a plateau in his career over the past couple of years fighting for a spot in the first team. He has failed to put in consistent performances or improve as a winger with his game still lacking in critical areas.
With the likes Maitland-Niles and Rene-Adelaide putting up impressive performances during the pre-season tour, Walcott’s off the bench role can easily be filled up by the youngsters. This will accelerate their development process too while getting rid of a heavy contract off the books.
Arsenal can also start to think about prioritizing their investments on their defensive midfielders rather than keeping 4 of them. Arsene Wenger’s new 3-4-3 formation can only accommodate one defensive midfielder. Although Mohamed Elneny have put up decent defensive performances, his distribution has been questionable ever since he arrived at Arsenal at 2016. Failing to find consistency Elneny has mostly affected games coming off the bench, without having any real quality on the ball. Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin are well suited for the role with Wilshere rapidly finding his feet in the game and fighting for his position in the first team.
The third and final player Arsenal can get rid of to make way for a better player is, Danny Welbeck. Ever since his arrival at the club in September 2014, Danny Welbeck has struggled to find consistency or adapt to the game play set by Arsene Wenger. Getting sidelined with injuries certainly did not help the case of the 27 year old striker who has netted only 13 goals in 3 seasons for the Gunners, while appearing in only 60 games. Those are not impressive stats for a top striker who as he has fallen way below the pecking order of new signing Alexandre Lacazette and Oliver Giroud.
Arsene Wenger can look to shift these pieces around and allocate the resources towards signing a top tier winger if Sanchez does leave in the January transfer window in order to uphold the quality of squad. Otherwise the club will face even harsher times in the future, if not this very season.