Arsenal have built an identity this season with high pressing and swift transitions in attack; a feature which seems the most important weapon of the team, going into next season.
However, hassling teams and winning back possession hasn’t always produced the desired objective, which is to become ruthless in the final third. I also don’t believe we did enough to win some games, (despite getting on the front foot a couple of times), and this is largely down to the limited chances we created.
The team’s free flowing pressing and counter attacking football has been undone a lot by poor final balls, despite having two of the club’s best experts of the final pass in Ozil and Olivier Giroud.
Perhaps a reason for this shortcoming stems from the fact that most of our transitions lie on the technical accuracy of Alexis Sanchez, who in my opinion, is not a final ball specialist, and the brief barren spell towards the end of the season showed just that.
Therefore, I firmly believe the club could do with another technically astute attacking player who can share the individual creativity with Alexis Sanchez, as well as the team’s technical efficiency with Mesut Ozil.
One name comes to mind – Julian Draxler. At 20 and full of the modern day drive, the German attacker is still very much a work in progress; a factor which affords Arsene the luxury of easing him into the side, while moving Alexis more centrally.
With a potential move up top, Alexis would enhance his understanding with Ozil, which would in turn highlight the intelligent movement the Chilean is capable of making up top.
Furthermore, the ability to twist and turn your opponent in and around the box (especially when playing back to goal) is a crucial feature of a modern day striker. This brilliant piece of individual skill, in addition to the orthodox centre forward qualities of power and pace that the former Barcelona man possesses, makes him the most qualified for the central role at the club.
“Can he play in that role for three or four months? He can play his whole life at centre-forward. I bought him to play as a striker, not to play only on the flanks.” – Arsene on Alexis
A move of this nature also allows Arsene the time to work on Draxler’s CF qualities, which could be brought to the fore in future, especially after the youngster will have gained a wealth of knowledge learning from the trio of Alexis (aggression), Theo (movement) and Oli (hold-up ability).
This is down to the natural CF qualities the German International also possesses, such as height, balance, pace and skill/technical ability.
Highly rated as one of the hottest properties in the Bundesliga, the German wouldn’t come cheap. However, considering the long lay-off he had through injury, (no he isn’t the crocked type), Schalke would have lost some degree of bargaining power, and could be more tempted to cash in on their most prized asset.
This could also be aided by the fact that other hugely talented Royal blue youngsters like Max Mayer and Leroy Sane (both 19) have risen to prominence, in Draxler’s absence.
Like we’ve seen this season, Arsene seems to prefer Alexis on the left side of attack, where he’s able to cut in and find a man or go for goal. This move however, is beginning to look too predictable for a club which believes in the dynamism of it’s attacking resources.
That surely wouldn’t be the case if a player like Julian Draxler occupies the left side of attack. This is largely due to his tendency to also drift to the left side of attack to create space; a move which would see Sanchez concentrate on what he does best – beating players and scoring goals.
This also gives the Chilean a little bit more freedom to roam and less pressure to hang on his burdened shoulders.
Furthermore, Arsene’s construction of another star-studded team wouldn’t be complete until Sanchez gets to understand the rhythm of his teammates. Bringing in a player with similar qualities such as Draxler would enhance his dynamism and productivity.
The three-year curse
After a third year as Arsenal’s focal point, the enigmatic Olivier Giroud still divides opinion among the gooner fan base, despite his massive strides last season and steady improvement since his arrival from Montpellier.
However, unlike his predecessors (Adebayor and RVP, who were both sold after three years leading the team’s attack), the signs are that Arsene is focused on building an attack that prodigiously surpasses the attacking threat that the trio of Fabregas, Nasri and RVP posed in their Arsenal days.
He has broken the bank for Ozil and Alexis, but might need to invest in another big-money acquisition in the final third, if his dream of emulating his best side yet will ever come into fruition.
In an attack full of diverse qualities, Ozil possesses the best technical ability in the side. The 25-year old now looks more comfortable in England after a challenging start to life in the EPL, and entering his peak years, it is imperative to make the one in front of (as well as those around) him suited to the style of Arsenal’s record signing.
It has taken Arsene and his team quite some time to arrive at this pinnacle of expectation. Perhaps it is only natural to hope the long years of disguised stagnation, and the recent world class additions will now serve as an armory to ensure the Frenchman possesses enough firepower in the final third, to take on the rest of Europe.