As the 2020/21 season draws towards its denouement, it’s a familiar story for Arsenal fans. What started out as a campaign full of promise and exciting signings – including the impressive capture of midfield general Thomas Partey for £45 million – has fizzled out into disappointment and dashed dreams.
So what can they do to turn things around? Is the top four a realistic ambition for next season, given how the teams around them have improved in the interim? And if so, who should Arsenal sign to ensure they taste Champions League football once again in 2022? Here are a handful of suggestions for which players could transform their team’s fortunes.
While there may be some who would argue that the best form of defence is attack, title-winning sides are invariably built on a strong defensive foundation and no one will back the Gunners at sites like Sportsbet.io without a solid base to build from. Bernd Leno has looked like a decent option between the sticks for Arsenal of late, but he’s all too often been let down by individual mistakes and generally poor performances from those in front of him.
To rectify that problem, Arsenal need an upgrade on David Luiz, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding, who have been partnering Gabriel with varying degrees of success so far this season. While the latter has acquitted himself fairly well, he could benefit from lining up alongside a strong and experienced centre back in the mould of Jerome Boateng, Sergio Ramos or David Alaba, all three of whom will be available on a free transfer at the end of the season. As such, they could represent a cut-price but potentially invaluable addition to the squad.
One of the few bright spots of Arsenal’s season has been the development and form of their Scottish left-back, Kieran Tierney. Not only has Tierney’s enterprising displays from deep won him plaudits at the Emirates, but also in a Scotland strip, for whom he has looked to be the most impressive player on several occasions.
Matching Tierney’s ability on the opposite flank would do wonders for the balance of Arsenal’s shape, especially given the indifferent form of Héctor Bellerín. With that in mind, Arsenal could do much worse than pluck Ricardo Pereira from Leicester City. Although the Foxes might be wary of letting one of their prized assets depart the King Power Stadium, they do have ready-made replacements in James Justin and Timothy Castagne. Another strong candidate for the role could be Tariq Lamptey at Brighton, who has been the standout performer at the Amex this season.
The signing of Partey was meant to solve Arsenal’s problems in the centre of the park, and although the Ghanian’s season has been blighted by injuries, he’s shown glimpses of his class when fit. What Arsenal really need is a ball-playing midfielder to partner him and spread passes out to their wide and forward players. This ability to unpick defences currently eludes them.
Having said that, Martin Ødegaard’s loan from Real Madrid has bore fruit at times this season, so securing him on a permanent deal could help to boost Arsenal’s long-term creativity. Other potential options include Emilio Buendía of Norwich, who currently leads the Championship for assists, and Piotr Zielinski of Napoli, who has demonstrated his dynamism and versatility time and time again in Serie A.
Though Arsenal are some way off the pace at the moment, a few crucial signings in key areas could transform them into the Champions League team they deserve to be next season.