Welcome to The Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez. The club officially announced the transfer yesterday afternoon, making it the perfect start to the kit launch or your Friday morning depending on your time zone.
It’s an excellent signing, with Sanchez ticking many of the required boxes. He is a world-class player who will bring pace, power, and great finishing to our side. In addition, and arguably most importantly of all, Alexis can play in all of the front three positions, giving Arsene the option of playing him alongside Giroud or on his. The fact that he is only 25 years of age and cost less than £30m just makes it all the sweeter.
Personally I feel like Sanchez is the missing piece of our attacking puzzle. Giroud had an excellent season, but it was clear for all to see that he was asked to bear too much of the load, often looking fatigued or in desperate need of some pacey attacking support, especially after the injuries to Ramsey and Walcott. Now Giroud will have a player who can provide those qualities whilst sharing the burden.
As I say, the final piece of the attacking puzzle. Giroud up front, supported by Sanchez on the left, Özil through the middle, and Walcott on the right. Not too shabby at all. And that’s before you even consider the qualities and attributes of Cazorla, Podolski, Chamberlain, Rosicky, Gnabry, Sanogo, and of course the very forward thinking Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. It’s a mouth-watering prospect.
The defensive side of our squad, on the other hand, is a little more concerning and that’s where our focus should now be. Sagna’s departure to Man City not only leaves us with just one senior right back (who I might add is still quite raw), but also means the loss of our fourth choice centre back. Consequently, we require two defensive reinforcements; one at right back and one at centre back, and even then that shopping list may need to grow if Vermaelen was to head for the exit door.
Work also needs to be done between the sticks, with Szczesny the only senior goalkeeper at the club. I’m a big fan of Wojciech and see him as our long-term number one, so I’m not looking for a rival per se. Ideally we can find someone who will provide solid back-up, keep him on his toes, whilst at the same time also helping with the development of Damián Martínez. Who this ‘number thirteen’ might be I don’t know, but hopefully Arsene has an idea or two.
The other key area of the field that needs addressing is ‘holding midfield’. The clamour for a new defensive midfielder has been around for some time and I’ve finally joined the bandwagon. I love Mikel Arteta, and Flamini has his moments too, but I have a few concerns about them going into this new season. They’re responsible for a pivotal role in the team and neither is getting any younger or any faster.
Given Ramsey or Wilshere will accompany our deeper lying midfielder more often than not, both of whom love to attack and drive from box-to-box, it’s critical that we have a player who can provide the necessary balance. Someone who can cover the ground quickly, provide the back four with protection, and who is dominant in the tackle. Arteta is one of Wenger’s trusted lieutenants and a player I very much admire, so I hope he receives the quality support he needs in the same way Giroud has, as opposed to being hung out to dry.
So there’s lots of work still to be done. It would appear our pursuit of Debuchy is in advanced stages, so he could well be the next man through the training ground door. And then it’s onto the rumours circulating around Khedira and Bender. Either one of those players would fit the bill and alongside Sanchez and Debuchy (should that deal be finalised) would be a very welcome start to our summer business.
For now though let’s just thoroughly enjoy the acquisition of a world-class forward for the second summer transfer window running and our lovely new PUMA kits (I’m very much a fan of the classic looking home and away kits with wonderful hooped socks goodness, but could probably have done without the rather unattractive blue with lime trim ‘cup’ kit). The club has worked long and hard to reach this exciting stage of our transition from Highbury, and we as fans have (on the whole) been very patient. Piece by piece the garden is looking much rosier. Here’s hoping for a few more pieces.