Arsene Wenger has been reluctant in the past to spend big money on new signings, choosing instead to stick with the players already at the club. But long-term injuries to Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker could force Wenger’s hand in this transfer window, which would be a positive for the club in the long run.
Before this transfer window opened, if Arsenal supporters were asked where the team needed to strengthen, the majority would have agreed and said the spine of the side needs improving – centre-back, central midfield, and striker. Arsene Wenger has signed highly rated Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach this summer, so the central midfield area has already been addressed, but two new additions are still needed before the transfer window closes on August 31st.
Arsenal received a devastating blow when Danny Welbeck was ruled out of action for nine months towards the end of last season. Per Mertesacker has also picked up a knee injury recently, which will see him sidelined for several months. These injuries have left the club short in key areas of the pitch and Arsene Wenger has to sign reinforcements if Arsenal is to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
Arsenal had four first-team centre-backs last season: Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, and Calum Chambers. Koscielny is the club’s standout defender, he will play a huge role this season, but he needs a regular partner at the back, and currently, Arsenal don’t have one that stands out.
Gabriel is a good player, he impressed at times last season, but he isn’t ready to make the step-up to the first team. Chambers is still young; however, he hasn’t yet developed in the way Wenger would have hoped. Mertesacker’s injury has left the club short in central defence; a new centre-back has to arrive at the club before the start of the new season, if not, Arsenal’s title challenge could diminish before it even begins.
Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi is reportedly on Wenger’s radar, he would improve Arsenal’s defence if he arrives, and help to give the side a realistic chance of challenging for the title this season. However, if Mustafi doesn’t arrive at the Emirates, Wenger must turn his attention to other defensive targets.
Arsenal relied heavily on Olivier Giroud last season as the lone striker – he scored 16 times in 38 Premier League appearances, and he will play an influential role once again this season. Welbeck’s been out for some time with injuries over the past 12 months, but when he’s fit to play, he provides Giroud with competition up front.
Theo Walcott has failed to impress recently for Arsenal, he’s out of form, and he doesn’t warrant a starting place in the side until he starts to reproduce what he’s capable of. With Welbeck out of action for the foreseeable future; Olivier Giroud faces no competition for the striker’s role going into the new campaign, so the club are in desperate need of a new frontman before the transfer window closes.
Alexandre Lacazette could be the man to provide competition to Giroud this season in attack; the French striker is a long-term target of the clubs and his undoubted ability could make him a big hit at Arsenal. Another striker linked with Arsenal is Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi, he has a record of scoring a goal every two games for Inter over the past three seasons, and his arrival would improve Arsenal’s attack.
It’s been a similar story for Arsenal over recent seasons; one that seems to repeat itself every year. The side starts the new campaign with a talented squad, capable of achieving big things, but for one reason or another, they fail to live up to expectations. Arsenal have seen their title challenge derailed by injuries several times in recent years, and because of the timing of these injuries, it wasn’t possible to buy a suitable replacement. However, there are no excuses this time, as Wenger has until the end of the month to bring in new players.
Mertesacker and Welbeck face a lengthy spell on the sidelines, both players would have had a big part to play at the beginning of the season if they were fit. Arsenal are renowned for giving young players first team opportunities, Wenger should continue to do this, but for the start of this season, Arsenal need to sign proven players to replace their injured duo. But will Wenger abandon his cautious approach in the transfer market? If he does, we could look back at the injuries to Welbeck and Mertesacker as a turning point for the club.