Despite a slow start to the season, Arsenal ended it by successfully defending their FA Cup trophy. A strong second half of the league season also meant the Gunners finished third in the Barclays Premier League, one spot higher than the season before.
On the whole, one could say it was a successful campaign, though losing out to unfancied Monaco in the Champions League Round of 16 will leave a bad taste in the mouths of most fans for a while. Opportunities to avoid big clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich at that stage of the competition don’t come along very often.
It is clear the Gunners have quite a few needs to be addressed if the club is to seriously challenge for a Premier League title or in the Champions League. Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry says the club needs to sign four players this summer to strengthen the spine of the team. Here are some thoughts on possible acquisitions:
A world-class goalkeeper: while David Ospina avoided the occasional poor decisions that marked the play of Wojciech Szczesny, he also failed to show an ability to make the outstanding save or to make a big save in important moments. Petr Cech would be a fine addition. But if he lands at Manchester United to replace David de Gea, who is expected to move to Real Madrid, then maybe the Gunners should consider Asmir Begovic, who had an outstanding season for Stoke City.
Another central defender: Laurent Koscielny has become an accomplished center-back but he is doing quite a bit of work covering for his partner Per Mertesacker, whose lack of pace often leaves holes in the back. Recent reports have linked Mertesacker’s German teammate Benedikt Howedes with a move from Schalke to the Emirates.
Another defensive midfielder: Frances Coquelin should be considered for the club’s player of the year honors. He stepped in last November and solidified a defense that was in shambles at the time. But Arsenal have no cover for him should he get hurt. Mikel Arteta is just not suited to the role, though he does work hard at it. Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton is widely reported as a Gunners’ target and would seem to be a perfect fit.
A world-class striker: Olivier Giroud is solid. But he isn’t world-class. The Gunners need someone who can score against the toughest competition. That’s why Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not a good choice. He tends to disappear in big games while scoring often against weaker sides. Ibrahimovic’s PSG teammate Edinson Cavani might be a better choice.