This is how Arsenal can become Premier League Champions in 2020
The last time Arsenal were crowned English Premier League (EPL) winners in 2004, it was not just another crowning moment- it was a monumental occasion as Arsenal had gone the entire season without losing a match. This is a feat that is yet to be replicated since the current version of the EPL was introduced in 1992.
It was such an enormous feat that it prompted the Premier League to commission a commemorative Gold Trophy for the 2004 Champions. The trophy was subsequently presented to the former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during his last home game for having steered the team to this unique accomplishment, as a parting gift. The only other team in England to have pulled such an exploit was Preston North End in the 1888/89 season. AC Milan, Juventus, and Celtic are the other teams that have gone unbeaten for an entire season in their respective leagues.
When Arsenal's new manager, Unai Emery, went 22 games without losing a match in all competitions, it got 'The Gunners' fans reminiscing. The fans developed a strong conviction that the core foundation for another incredible achievement of invincibility was in place. This was regardless of the poor defensive performances Arsenal have continued to display in the last few years including this season.
Arsenal can only come close to replicating such a momentous event if they can win the EPL trophy again. This calls for Emery to have an immediate plan for his crowning glory. It’s Emery’s first winter transfer window after getting the nod to manage Arsenal at beginning of the 2018/19 season. This followed the surprising end of an era of Wenger’s 22-years at the helm.
Having been in charge for six months, Emery has had enough time to monitor and evaluate the situation at The Emirates. He can now stamp his authority by getting in the playing personnel he can use to achieve a style suitable to his desired philosophy and bring Arsenal out of the trophy drought.
Going into the latest round of EPL matches, it was clear that Arsenal desperately needed a positive result against Chelsea at The Emirates. Emery’s team came out on top, scoring 2 and conceded none. It is just their 4th clean sheet in the league thus far. Yet, coming out on top against a fanciful Chelsea side that is part of the dogfight for a top-four finish only goes to show that Arsenal have a backbone they can build upon.
There are indications that Arsenal lacks the funds to recruit. How true this is cannot be established. Although, Unai has recently intimated that Arsenal can only bring in players on loan in the winter transfer. What this means is that Unai must turn magician and pull the rabbit from the hat literally in order to achieve anything. However, based on the type of transfers Unai, Arsenal head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, and director of football Raul Sanllehi masterminded during the 2018/19 summer transfer, Arsenal already have the crew they can rely upon in bringing together the winning team. They brought in Lucas Torreira and this solved one of the longtime problem areas of having a defensive minded player in the heart of the midfield. They need to go through a two-stage development beginning with this winter transfer period to foster impactful changes. If Implemented well, the plan can shepherd Arsenal from the ruins and catapult them to the top as Champions of the EPL as soon as next season.
#1 Smart Winter Shopping
Arsenal can take a leaf out of the book of their rivals and duplicate what has made them succeed while 'The Gunners' continued to fail. Liverpool are a good example of a team that has sold its world-class stars over a five year period and has recouped most of the money received to invest in a squad that is now challenging for top honours at all fronts. They reached the Champions League final last season and are currently leaders at the EPL l. The players that they sold for top dollar include Luiz Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona, and in turn, they brought in players like Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk and Allison Becker among others. Tottenham sold Luca Modric, Gareth Bale, Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane, and Michael Carrick and they have continued to enjoy a steady rise in the Champions League and the EPL. Selling Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil cannot be a bad thing if the money received is invested strategically to bring in players that can change the team and give it a chance to challenge the top four tier teams in the EPL, and also get back to the Champions League consistently. If those sales will help Arsenal in becoming an EPL title challenger and not just a participant, many fans would support the move.
Arsenal can also offload Koscienly, Kolasinac, Welbeck, Elneny, and Xhaka. Kolasinac has been inconsistent and is injury prone but can still fetch a good amount in the market. Koscielny is ageing and this has resulted in him having to face many interruptive injuries that do not help Arsenal's cause right now. Elneny looks unable to make it to the first XI or even the bench and Xhaka is on a good run right now but has never really impressed and seems like a wasted opportunity in his role. Smart recruitment can bring someone better to the squad from the market in the mould of former Arsenal man Santi Carzola with the capability to start off playmaking in that role. Arsenal should bring in Alex Telles from FC Porto for the left back position, Willy Boly from Wolverhampton Wanderers for the centre back role to shore up the defence. The midfield can get an upgrade if one of James Rodriguez (Real & Bayern), Denis Suarez (Barcelona) and Robert Stov (FC Copenhagen) are purchased. Arsenal will also need a striker who can also work in the wings to shore up their attacking options. Inaki Williams is a player that comes to mind because he can play at the left, the right and centrally. He will be 25 in June 2019 and still has time to work on his game. His stats are not bad either because he has 2 goals in 3 in the Copa Del Rey and 7 goals in 19 with 3 assists in the La Liga. Goncalo Guedes could also be a good option for these positions.
Arsenal’s transfer team should also take lessons from their rivals in player negotiations and purchases. Chelsea bought Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund and loaned him right away to Dortmund until the end of the season. Arsenal should loan back some of these players to the teams they buy them from to allow the players to finish the season with their immediate former clubs as it is midway through the season and teams are reluctant to let their stars leave. Except for Denis Suarez and James Rodriguez, the rest of the players may need to be loaned back to their current clubs.
#2. Create the new first team XI for the 2019/20 season
In the defence, Alex Telles can operate through all manner of positions and on the left wing and will be useful in a variety of formations especially when there are injuries to key players. Telles would also bring consistency in the left wing back and left back positions. In the centre-back position, Willy Boly would represent a coup and should slot straight into the first XI and potentially form part of the powerful defensive partnership that Arsenal have been lacking over the years. The right-back area is perhaps an area Arsenal have their best cover in the squad as Bellerin can be easily replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lichtsteiner and even Jenkinson if need be.
Rodriguez has made a career in the central midfield area where he has been the most fruitful and would make a mouthwatering central midfield partnership with Torreira. Arsenal negotiators should work overtime to convince Rodriguez about their project at Emirates. Suarez would take over the left wing where he has been the most fruitful. Stov would pick the right wing where his best outings are recorded thus far. Alex Iwobi would then take over the attacking midfield position. He would be assisted by Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson. Reiss Nelson is setting the Bundesliga ablaze and should be restored back to Arsenal and promoted to the first team. Willock's performance against Blackpool during the 5th round of the FA Cup is a big enough reason to integrate him into the first team. If this attacking midfield trio does not work out Unai will have Rodriguez and Suarez already in the squad to help out in these areas.
Danny Welbeck could be replaced by Inaki Williams or Goncalo Guedes. They can also look at Mbwana Ally Samatta. The Tanzanian international is playing for Genk and the team currently leads the Belgian first division. He has scored 15 goals with an assist in 20 matches. Samatta's transfer could also help Arsenal shift the Tanzanian fan base to Arsenal and ensure that the commercial interests of the Gunners as the African continent improves economically. He would be a great option for the Lacazette-Aubameyang partnership and could be schooled to take over in about two seasons as Aubameyang will soon be getting to the bad side of the 30s. Samatta will come in a form of cheap but effective business. In the summer, priority would be the recruitment of a goalkeeper to replace Petr Cech and challenge Bernd Leno for the first XI goalkeeper slot. Arsenal would then have a full preseason to ensure that Unai Emery will preside over the entire squad and monitor the players as they bed in.
The best playing pattern that would suit the new squad in 2019/20 season, despite many variations that Emery likes to deploy would be 126.96.36.199. The first XI 2019/20 season would be as below:
The bench power of Inaki Williams, Goncalo Guedes or Samatta, as well as Guendouzi, the new Keeper, Sokratis, Holding, Mavropanos, Nelson, Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Monreal represents an aray of effective reinforcements in any match that Unai would rely on to change or kill off games in the 2019/20 season. With the winter transfer window 2019 open, Arsenal can make the moves that will help them become contenders for the EPL during the next season.
Statistics Source: Transfermarkt