Typically, Arsene Wenger tends to leave the bulk of Arsenal‘s transfer business until final days of the window, and it certainly looks as though that may well be what happens once again this summer. Alexis Sanchez has already arrived from Barcelona in one of the biggest name signings of the window so far, but more signings must surely be on the way to the Emirates Stadium before the window officially closes.
With Bacary Sagna leaving to join Premier League champions Manchester City, Arsenal have a gap to fill at right-back and it looks as though Newcastle defender, Mathieu Debuchy, will be the man to fill that particular void. Debuchy is an able right-back, and although it gives no decisive step forward for Arsenal from last season, it does fill the necessary void adequately.
The headline signing so far, however, is the £35m man Sanchez. The Chilean was extremely impressive at the World Cup with his outstanding speed and ability to both create and score goals. He will undoubtedly add even more firepower to the Arsenal attack and some much-needed pace, which was evidently lacking after Theo Walcott suffered a season-ending injury back in January. As good as Sanchez is, though, he will not be the most important signing Arsenal can make during this window. He may well be the best, absolutely, but not the most important.
For years now, the Arsenal attack is not what has let the team down in their pursuit of trophies, and more specifically, the Premier League title — it has been their defense. Not just the guys in the back four are the issue, but the team as a whole and its defensive structure as a unit has been troublesome. You defend as a team — or you’re supposed to — to be most effective, and Arsenal simply do not work as a team defensively. There is no defensive structure, balance or even any leaders to organize everybody at the necessary time.
Arsenal have failed miserably against the better teams in the Premier League for the past few seasons now, and it’s not because they are particularly inferior to them. It’s because their rivals know how to beat them, and those exact weaknesses are never adequately fixed.
The most glaring weakness is Arsenal’s inability to defend a counter-attack. Year after year, the top Premier League teams shred the Gunners on the break, yet, as things stand right now, that is exactly what will happen again next year. Wenger must add a defensive midfielder who can control the midfield, give the back four some protection and be alert to and suppress danger whenever necessary.
Arsenal have a plethora of talented attacking midfielders — possibly too many — but the team needs to be more balanced than it has been in recent seasons. Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has been heavily linked with a move recently, and the German World Cup winner is a player who could undoubtedly help in this regard. Although, even Khedira is not necessarily the exact type of player Arsenal need.
Fernando Reges, who has just signed for Manchester City, is the perfect type of player for what Arsenal need, and as exciting as the constant influx of attacking talent is, until that area is adequately filled, Arsenal will continue to fall short in the Premier League title race. Wenger made an excellent signing with Sanchez, a player who will be exciting for fans of all clubs to watch next season, but there are more pressing areas of concern in need of addressing.
There is still plenty of time for Wenger to get what his team requires for next season, of course, but a deep sitting defensive midfielder must surely be atop of his list. It may not be the glossiest or most exciting position, but for Arsenal, it is the most necessary to be filled in the summer transfer window.