I believe it was old Red Nose himself, Sir Alex Ferguson, the infamous ruler of MU from sunny Govan, who once said that a successful team has a base of six or seven top quality players, surrounded by a number of good players both within the first team and the wider squad. If we look back at his as well as Arsene’s most successful teams, this statement seems to make sense. For example, The Invincibles were not all equal in my opinion: Lehman, Campbell, Vieira, Gilberto, Bergkamp, Thierry and Pires were the super quality players and the rest was good to very good. It makes perfect sense that not all eleven are super quality as they are hard/expensive to get, and good, hardworking players are needed to provide the right platform for the super players to shine (and yet, especially over time, all players from the Invincibles team have rightly achieved mythical status anyway).
I have been thinking about our current squad in terms of those all-important six or seven top quality players, and I reckon we are close. Certainly, the right buy can make a difference this season, but I am less sure whether it is absolutely crucial. Regular readers know that I like Arsene to find the balance between buying and growing from within; and the squad is pretty strong as it is. And recently, Arsene has been finding the balance very well indeed.
So for me, the top quality players are: Cech, Koz, Ozil, Alexis and Giroud. Some will exclude Ollie from this, but, as I have explained many times, there is no better holding striker around other than possibly Lewandowski. Let me add another one: Santi. He deserves it after proving me wrong last season.
This leaves us one maybe two TQ players short, and we can either buy or further develop what we have. Next season, there is a real opportunity to turn two out of Le Coq, Rambo and Wilshere into these two missing TQ players. They all have the potential but they will have to achieve consistently high level performances to really get there. Le Coq, alongside the amazing Bellerin, was the surprise of the season and has made a huge step forward. But we need to see this again and again next season and this will be a very big one for him. Rambo needs to gain momentum, and once he is in the zone he gets better and better. He is probably closest of all three talents to make it through to the TQ players, but…. He will need to stay fit and focussed throughout a whole season to really get there. Jack is the most talented of them all but also the most vulnerable to injuries, which he will have to overcome to start establishing himself properly. The thought of two, or ideally all three, of them making the big step up next season is simply mouth-watering. Fitting them all in is of course a challenge, but it is possible; and I agree with 17HT that 4-5-1 is the most likely formation for next season.
I feel we do not score enough goals, though; we are too over-reliant on Alexis and Giroud to produce the goods. So the easy answer is to buy a 15-20 PL goals a season winger with ability to play through the middle as well. For example, let’s throw all our money at Bale and get the Gunners-loving ex-Spud to wear the mighty red and white. Or maybe Gotze or Isco are the answer…..
But another part of me says let us get those goals from within the team. More goals are required from the midfielders and Arsene will be keen to achieve it. This must be Arsene’s biggest dilemma. The team is very good both in terms of quality and depth, and there is great growth potential from within; but we need more goal threat. Will it come from Rambo, Ozil and Jack, or is Theo, or even the Ox or Danny-boy, ready to blow us all away? Or does Wenger need to buy a carbon copy of Alexis for the other wing to get us our seventh (or, dream, dream, eighth) super quality player, which should really give us a chance to go all the way?
Over to you fine, fellow Gooners.