Who is the most important player Arsenal should buy this summer?
At first glance, Arsenal did exceptionally well to finish fourth in the Premier League this season, especially as they found themselves seven points adrift of the Champions League places over mid-way through the campaign.
But looking at some of their more individual stats, they should have arguably been mounting a title bid, rather than leaving it as late as possible to secure a top-for berth.
From an attacking perspective, the Gunners were the only Premier League club to have four players to reach double figures in terms of goals – Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla – while in Cazorla they had a playmaker that completed over 250 more passes in the final third than anyone else in the division.
Defensively, they were not too shabby either, with only Manchester City conceding fewer goals.
Ten years on from their memorable unbeaten league season, this begs the question of where Arsenal need to improve this season if they wish to begin on the road to becoming a formidable Premier League force again.
Wojciech Szczesny had a largely indifferent season in the last campaign and Arsenal have been linked with the likes of Julio Cesar and Simon Mignolet to replace the young goalkeeper.
This would look more important than a new central defender, especially after the partnership that Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker enjoyed in the latter part of the season.
However, Thomas Vermaelen may leave after a drop in form last season and it is only 1/1 that Swansea captain Ashley Williams has joined Arsenal before the end of the summer transfer window.
In midfield, Arsenal could really profit from a midfielder that is prepared to run beyond the striker.
Cazorla is undoubtedly valuable, but his common reaction is to drop off into space to receive possession rather than stretch defences.
Abou Diaby would be ideal for this role, but his injury troubles seem never ending. Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky both at times performed this duty well this season, but it doesn’t look the natural game of either of this pair.
Meanwhile, an enforcer figure in defensive midfield could additionally be of use, as Mikel Arteta completed more passes than any other Premier League player last season and could be of better use in a slightly more attacking position, similar to the role that Xavi plays at Barcelona.
Marouane Fellaini could potentially star in either of these roles and his workrate, versatility and physicality would certain improve the squad of Arsene Wenger. It is 5/4 that Fellaini joins Arsenal before September 1st.
Fellaini could well prove the most pivotal acquisition this summer, although a new striker that is virtually guaranteed to score 20+ goals each season would not go amiss.
Giroud can be expected to improve from a longer stint of first-team games and the fact that this will be his second Premier League season, but there must still be doubts over whether he is of the calibre to be a true replacement for the goals lost by Robin Van Persie’s departure to Manchester United.
Gonzalo Higuain could be that replacement though and suggestions that Juventus are not prepared to match Real Madrid’s demands for the Argentine could leave the door open for Arsenal.
In short, with arguably the biggest budget available since he took over at the club, Wenger has the ammunition to potentially bring in Cesar, Williams, Fellaini and Higuain, but it is the Everton midfielder that may prove the most indispensible of Arsenal are to become serious title contenders again.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.