As FA Cup celebrations wind down and World Cup fever heats up, the focus of debate among football fans is moving away from the pitch and into the boardroom.
The summer transfer season is upon us. It's a time where anything is possible, everyone is an expert, and words like "gazump" and "swoop" make their semi-annual re-entry into the mainstream vernacular.
Fans of every stripe share the excitement over the potential of a superstar signing, rue the possibility of favourite players moving on to pastures anew, and cringe at the on-again-off-again rumours that cover virtually every footballer in the known world.
Just about every football news outlet, blog and even official club and league websites mention transfer rumours this time of year. Of course, about 99 per cent of those rumours never come to fruition, but that doesn’t stop us from speculating, strategising and hoping.
So what moves do fans think Arsenal should make in the transfer window? We turned to our panel of supporters in the USA and Canada to find out what they think.
First, let me caution you. I’m not a rumour monger, I’m a pragmatist. I believe that small changes and strong, cohesive teams are the best. Arsenal and Liverpool did not change their teams much over the last year and both earned more points than the previous season.
Arsenal, apart from a dip in form in late January through mid-March, scared the other teams in the Premier League. It was slightly unexpected as many teams, managers, players, pundits and fans had written us off after that 3-1 opening home loss to Villa. They seemed to think that because Arsenal barely dipped their toes in the transfer market -- prior to the big move for Ozil, of course - they were doomed to failure. But what they did not realise was that the team Arsène Wenger put together was gelling. It was evidenced by the best defence in the league in the first half of the season. In fact, outside of four disappointing away matches, you could argue that the Arsenal defence was the finest in the league. Arsenal also have one of the strongest midfields in England.
I would love to see people be less focused on wanting the Club to buy player X or player Y, but rather think about buying from a tactics perspective.
So where could Arsenal use some improvement? Putting the ball in the back of the net. The solution may seem obvious to most people, but it’s not just about buying one striker to replace another one. The Premier League has roughly four distinctly different formations played across the 20 teams. Some formations fare well against one team, but not so well against another team.
Different formations require different players. I think this transfer window needs to be about finding a player who can do a job in a slightly different formation. If Arsenal are playing a team that likes to pass the ball, then we can play an open style of game with a 4-3-3. If Arsenal play a team that is heavily defensive with a holding 4-5-1, then we need players who can dribble past the first man or swing in a pinpoint cross.
I would love to see people be less focused on wanting the Club to buy player X or player Y, but rather think about buying from a tactics perspective. If Arsenal play the 4-3-3, then we must be strong at crossing the ball. If Arsenal want to play something more akin to the 4-4-2, we need pace with the holding midfielder.
Here are the types of players - and some examples - that I think Arsenal should consider:
• a right-back with good pace and a great cross (Micah Richards, Serge Aurier)
– key for the 4-3-3 when Giroud needs service
• a left-sided winger (preferably left footed) with great pace and a good cross (Lorenzo Insigne)
– key for the 4-3-3 and to provide cover
• a defending midfielder who has pace to recover from attack to get back into position (Luiz Gustavo, Morgan Schneiderlein)
– crucial when playing teams that are quick on the counter attack like Chelsea, Man City and Everton
• a run-and-gun striker (Insigne, Stevan Jovetic, Luis Suarez, Jay Rodriguez, Carlos Vela)
– key for breaking down more agile and quick defences such as Chelsea or Southampton
With these types of roles filled and the current squad staying mostly in place, I think that Arsenal would be best positioned to do well in the league and make a deeper run in the Champions League.
Hopefully, any deals will be done before Arsenal start traveling for the pre-season campaign. Any new players need to learn a new system and new training methods. They also need to create a rapport with their new teammates. That takes time, practice and pre-season matches.
But you cannot expect immediate results. It’s just like starting at a new job, you cannot be expected to know everything and everyone on your first day, so let’s all set reasonable expectations on the players and urgent transfer expectations on the manager and board.
The transfer window is the most unpredictable ride of the season. Morgan has laid out a well reasoned, intelligent, logical argument for many different good options. And we all know that during the transfer window, logic almost never prevails.
Arsenal signed Mesut Özil in the midnight hour last season and despite Arsène Wenger's winsome grin and proclamation that "we might have something for you" a few days prior, no one saw that coming.
So, who is leaving, who is coming, and what big names are we going to get? I have no idea.
With that in mind, let me make a crazy guess, because it's about as good as logic, and say Javi Martinez from Bayern Munich. I've also heard rumblings that the Serge Aurier deal is all but done and I think Arsenal could use a backup keeper. Anyone else after that is just icing on the cake.
In the end analysis, I'm sure Wenger has his targets but I'd also like to point out that Arsenal showed signs of improvement this season over last despite losing Walcott, Ramsey, Ozil and others to injury. Ozil now has a season in the Premier League and I expect him to be better next season. And Walcott's great runs in behind the opposition defenders are going to give teams fits next year.
I'm not saying that I don't want to see new faces or that Wenger won't sign anyone, rather just pointing out that no matter what happens this summer, Arsenal should be better next year. So, try to enjoy the ride!
I also think that we need to add quality and variety to our strike force. The press links us strongly with a move for Loic Remy, currently under contract to QPR, and if that ends up being the case, I would be okay with it. Remy is a good finisher but also a very different striker from Giroud, quick and pacey and a good dribbler. Additionally, he can be successfully deployed on the wing, particularly from the left, he is available, and he would likely cost far less in transfer fees. Remy has also had success in the Premier Leagu,e unlike Vela and Insigne, and he has a better strike rate than Rodriguez, who is also coming off a serious injury. The recent chatter about Balotelli has me interested.
I do think we could use some help in midfield, particularly someone to start grooming to take over for Arteta protecting the back four and linking the defense and midfield. Schneiderlin seems to be the name one hears most, but I would fancy another try at signing Lars Bender from Bayer Leverkusen, as I think he incorporates the best elements needed in that role: endurance, decent pace, tackling, and distribution. My dream signing here would be Paul Pogba.
At the back, I like the idea of Serge Aurier, as he can play centre-back as well as right-back, but I'm wary of the jump in quality from Ligue 1 to England. But even if we weren't to sign anyone, I wouldn't be too fearful of letting Jenkinson have a crack at the job. He's already the best crosser of the ball on the team, and you know he'll run through walls for the Arsenal. Sure, he has some areas where he needs to improve, but he won't do that sitting on the bench. Bellerin could be blooded in as his understudy as well.
We could also use some depth in goal and at centre-back. David Ospina's name has been out there, and although I haven't seen much of him personally, he has a reputation of being a solid shot-stopper for Colombia and Nice. If Swansea will let their captain leave, I think Ashley Williams would be a suitable signing in central defense. If not, making a move for Southampton's Dejan Lovren could be inspired, in my opinion.
We'll probably have to wait until after the World Cup to find out who are the hot new names to have inflated their profiles with good showings in Brazil. But as with all transfer windows, Arsenal fans, keep your expectations reined in until midnight on September 1, after which we can hopefully celebrate.
The views expressed above are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Media Group.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 6 Jun 2014