|Arsenal were left short of options after Ramsey's injury last season|
Arsenal were top of the Premier League from September through to January. They held pole position at Christmas and it looked as if Arsene Wenger would put an end to a title-winning drought that dates back to 2004.
Then the wheels came off. Injuries began to hinder the squad which struggled to keep pace with the demanding rigours of two cup runs and a gruelling domestic campaign.
Theo Walcott could only muster nine league starts all season due to injury, whilst the same misfortune sadly curtailed a near flawless season for Aaron Ramsey. The fact of the matter was that these two players could not be replaced. Arsenal proved last season that they do not yet have a squad that can challenge for the league and the big competitions over the course of a 10 month season.
When Jack Wilshere was also side-lined for an extended period of time, towards the latter part of the season, it was blaringly obvious that there was a huge hole in the centre of midfield. Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky are both good players, but the latter is getting on and the former arguably no longer deserves a starting place in a side that wants to win the Premier League.
Wenger, we have been told, will have the money to spend this summer. Just as he had the money to spend last summer and yet waited until the very end of August to land his marquee signing.
If Arsenal truly want to capitalise upon a promising first half of last season then three key signings need to be made over the summer. This time, preferably by July, so that the new signings can settle in before the campaign starts.
Who should those new signings be you wonder? Here are three that would do nicely indeed:
Serge Aurier – He’s young and he speaks French. What’s not to like. Aurier made 34 league appearances for Toulouse last season, a stalwart in the side who popped up with six goals and 6 assists from right back. A vast gap is being left by the outgoing Bacary Sagna and that hole needs to be filled fast. Carl Jenkinson has yet to prove himself worthy of a starting position in the Arsenal XI.
Aurier is a top quality defender who could slip into the Arsenal back four with ease. Proven by the fact that he made more assists, keypasses, created chances, tackles and interceptions than Sagna did all of last
season. In a side that only finished 9th in Ligue 1.
The Ivorian is heading off to the World Cup this summer and it’s a shame Arsenal did not try to get a deal done for him sooner. Player valuations go through extreme levels of inflation during international tournaments and Arsenal won’t want to cough up more than is necessary.
Fredy Guarin – Guarin will also be featuring at the World Cup this summer, with South American hopefuls Colombia. The midfielder has just completed his second season in Italy with Inter and it is somewhat surprising that his profile continues to slip under the radar of many European clubs.
Guarin is 27 now and so arguably will be entering the best years of his career soon and how Arsenal would love it if those years were with them. He netted himself four goals last season and picked up six assists in what was a very disappointing campaign for the Nerazzurri. Guarin could be facing a third successive season of no Champions League football if he doesn’t force himself a move this summer, something of course Arsenal can offer him.
|Guarin: The missing piece to Arsenal's jigsaw|
The midfielder has a superb engine, he just runs and runs and runs. He is also incredibly adept going forward, registering the second highest amount of shots per game out of any Inter player last season. And when I say shots, I mean shots. This guy can really hit the ball.
Karim Benzema – The Frenchman has been heavily linked with Arsenal for two seasons now and this summer might just be the one when finally a deal gets done. For a striker who scores goals, 111 since being at Real Madrid, he suffers quite a lot of stick from the Madrid faithful.
A move to Arsenal would be beneficial. Benzema likes the limelight and arguably he no longer gets that in Spain, pushed to one side by the newfound bromance between Ronaldo and Bale. At Arsenal Benzema would be the centre of attention, he would start games and he would be loved by the fans.
Arsenal have the money for someone as good as Benzema, they just need to spend it. This position is the most important for them next season and with the departure of Bendtner (at last!) they need plenty more options available up top. Plus, proper competition for Giroud, who at the moment is guaranteed a starting spot week in week out, is currently very thin on the ground.