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Wenger must be forward thinking

Arsenal FanZoner JC offers some advice to Arsene Wenger on what areas he should prioritise in the transfer market this summer.

Last Updated: 26/06/13 at 14:57 Post Comment

Arsene Wenger: Has a busy summer ahead

Arsene Wenger: Has a busy summer ahead

With transfer silly season in full swing and many Arsenal fans desperate for Wenger to loosen the pursestrings, it is important that the manager focus on the areas that need strengthening the most.

The first priority must be a striker.

I think you would struggle to find a single person who thinks Arsenal don't need to sign a forward this summer.

Many blame Olivier Giroud for simply not being good enough, but to do so is completely missing the point in my opinion. He had a decent enough first season, his goals and assists make for fairly impressive statistics and his effort was never in question, albeit an unremarkable one. Those whom blame him for not getting 20-30 goals are essentially lambasting him for not being one of the very best strikers in the world; for not being Robin van Persie.

The fact is that Arsenal's struggles in the striker department came, not from any fault of Giroud but from a serious lack of depth.

Despite some early encouragement, the Gervinho experiment was always going to fail. Theo Walcott is still most effective when running inside from out wide, and Lukas Podolski seems to be more of a supporting striker than a line-leader. When Giroud's form slumped, Wenger had no one else to turn to.

If the rumours of negotiations with Madrid over Gonzalo Higuain are true, it would be a very welcome boost. And I don't know about the Giroud-haters, but I for one would much rather have him in reserve than Nicklas Bendtner or Morouane Chamakh.

When a forward is recruited, Wenger should immediately re-focus on a defensive midfielder.

Somebody is bound to mention it in the comments, so I'll just contradict them now and say that we did not miss Alex Song this year.

If anything, we missed some of his creativity. For all his lob-passing excellence, Song had the positional sense and discipline of a drunken platypus.

Mikel Arteta fills the role much better. He also has much better hair.

Again, though, there is no other option at the moment - as could be seen by Arteta starting the final game of the season despite being injured.

I know many people are crying out for some big, lumbering beast that charges around the pitch as if on a murderous rampage. I, for one, would rather not. The trend in Europe has shifted away from such enforcers (perhaps best epitomised by Gennaro Gattuso), and to the creative deep-lying playmaker. Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquests, Javi Martinez and Michael Carrick have all excelled in the role in recent times, not only being the quarterback of the team's attack but also providing extra protection for the back four. It is less a case of flying slide tackles, and more of good positioning and reading of the game.

Some will no doubt say that size and power is needed for Premier League games, such as trips to Stoke, but Bayern Munich have proved that the creative do not have to be small, weak, and easily brushed aside.

Indeed, Arsenal fans should not be alien to the concept as Gilberto Silva was somewhat in that mould, even if he wasn't as creative as Europe's current crop of defensive maestros.

In addition to some deeper industry and guile, Wenger should also be looking for a creative player who can operate further up the field.

It seems a strange thing to say of Arsenal, but we struggled to break down opposing defences at times last season. Too much of the creative burden was placed on Santi Cazorla, who at points seemed overworked, and the returning Jack Wilshere.

Indeed, much of the signing of a creative player depends on where Wenger intends to play Cazorla. If he sees it best to play the Spaniard wide on the left (as he did for much of the run-in), then an attacking midfielder should be signed. Expecting Tomas Rosicky to be fit for a whole season seems a touch naive, while Wilshere seems at his best when playing between the attacking and defensive midfielders.

However, if he intends to play Cazorla through the middle, some creativity from out wide would not go amiss. Such a move would also help provide some genuine competition for Podolski, and rid the Arsenal fans of the anguish that derives from watching Gervinho.

You're probably screaming "What about the Ox?" at this point, but I see him currently as more of competition for Walcott and Wenger also seems to have plans to adapt him into the central midfield role.

With the forward line sorted, the last line then requires attention.

If Lukasz Fabianski leaves, we definitely need to buy a goalkeeper. Maybe we should even if he stays.

The main question here is whether we buy a back-up for Wojciech Szczesny, or someone to displace the Pole in goal.

I'd go for an experienced keeper to provide competition and help mentor Szczesny - his quality and potential is hard to argue with. Rumours linking us with Julio Caesar seem like a good idea.

Ahead of whichever goalkeeper starts the season, the signing of an additional centre-back would be a wise move.

This is a tricky one because in all likelihood anyone who comes in is going to be our fourth-choice defender. Of course that would change should Thomas Vermaelan leave, but such rumours seem to be more the product of wishes from misled fans more than anything. Johan Djourou is likely to seal a move to the Bundesliga, and so the options are to promote Miquel or recruit from elsewhere.

Personally I think the money we have can be spent in more pressing areas of the squad, but should Arsene's army of scouts find a gem I won't be complaining.

Lastly, a right-back may be required, but only if Bacary Sagna leaves. Despite his dip in form this season, I'm firmly of the opinion that we shouldn't sell Sagna. For all his improvements, Jenkinson is not ready to be first choice week in, week out, and he can learn a lot from Sagna's professionalism.

The value of the Frenchman's experience should not be understated either. Also, will other areas of the squad in more urgent need of investment, why create a problem for ourselves by selling him on?

Tell JC your thoughts on his suggestions and offer your own ideas on where Wenger needs to focus on in the story comments below September 1.

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