Arsenal

Arsenal

Premier League • England

Four glaring areas Arsenal must upgrade to get on Real Madrid and Bayern Munich’s level

Ryan Baldi
Arsenal need to upgrade these positions

Arsenal need to upgrade these positions

Arsenal have made huge strides forward under Mikel Arteta, but there’s still some room for improvement. We’ve identified four key areas where they must improve this summer.

Despite a surprise loss to Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, Arsenal’s quest for a first Premier League title in 20 years is still alive, with the Gunners only trailing leaders Manchester City by two points with six games to play.

But their hopes of a first-ever triumph in the Champions League – or even a first semi-final appearance since 2009 in Europe’s most prestigious club competition – ended on Wednesday night with a defeat to Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage.

There’s no doubt Arsenal have made tremendous progress under Arteta and look equipped to challenge for top honours domestically for years to come. But in order to get over the hump in Europe and become genuine contenders for the Champions League, there are four key areas in which they must improve.

Striker

“We have been the team that has scored more goals in the Premier League,” Arteta said of Arsenal’s lack of a top-class No.9 after the Bayern loss. “From everywhere, because of the reality is we don’t have a striker that is going to score 35 or 40 goals.

“So we have to live with that, we have many other qualities. Today is a day to stick behind the players, because they have given us so much and have taken us on this journey.”

They might not have to live with that much longer, though. Owner Stan Kroenke was in attendance at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday to watch the Gunners fire a blank in their 1-0 second-leg defeat to the recently deposed Bundesliga champions. And subsequent reports claim the American businessman is ready to fund a search for a new striker.

Winger Bukayo Saka is Arsenal’s top scorer this season, with 14 goals in the Premier League. Versatile attacking midfielder Kai Havertz ranks second with nine strikes. Of the strikers in Arteta’s squad, Eddie Nketiah is the highest scorer with just five league goals, while Gabriel Jesus has managed only four.

By way of contrast, Manchester City’s Treble success last term was powered by 52 goals from Erling Haaland. Liverpool have Salah as their prolific goal-getter and, looking around the continent, Bayern have Harry Kane, Paris Saint-Germain have Kylian Mbappe and although Real Madrid spread the goals around their attacking players, they still have three players – Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo – who’ve outscored Arsenal’s top marksman this term.

RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko and Viktor Gyokeres of Sporting CP have been named as top Arsenal targets, along with Premier League standouts Alexander Isak and Ollie Watkins. All would represent upgrades in front of goal.

DON’T MISS: Benjamin Sesko: The Man Utd, Newcastle target who is the perfect blend of Haaland and Ibrahimovic

Midfield

Declan Rice, the club-record £105 million signing from West Ham last summer, has been outstanding at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield in his debut season at the Emirates – so much

so that the England star is likely to be among the top contenders for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award at the end of the campaign.

And captain Martin Odegaard has shone in a more advanced midfield role, acting as a reliable creator and a source of crucial goals when called upon.

But Arsenal would benefit from the addition of a midfielder who bridges the gap between the two; someone who can help dictate tempo in the middle third and play through the lines of the opposition to move the team forward and conjure openings for colleagues.

Real Sociedad’s £50 million-rated Martin Zubimendi has reportedly been identified to serve as the long-term replacement for Jorginho in just such a role.

Left-Back

Arsenal signed Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City for £35 million in the summer of 2022 and the left-back initially impressed at the Emirates for his adventurousness, quality on the ball and creativity in attack.

But more recently the Ukrainian has come in for criticism, owing mostly to his perceived defensive indiscipline and lapses in concentration when it comes to the traditional work of the full-back such as tracking runners and defending one-v-one situations.

This is another problem Arteta will reportedly take to the transfer market to resolve. Roma’s experienced left-back Leonardo Spinazzola is one option said to be under consideration, with the 30-year-old set to be a free agent at the end of the season.

READ MORE: The world-class XI Arsenal could field next season if Arteta lands top midfield, striker targets

Mentality

Beyond any moves they can make in the transfer market, one of Arsenal’s key shortcomings as they slumped out of Europe at the hands of Bayern was, as Arteta admitted, regarding their mentality.

“I think it’s mentality in those moments,” the Gunners boss said. “We saw that lack of experience in those moments and not being in that moment that many times. There needs to be that little bit more urgency in the closing exchanges.

“That is a lack of experience being in those sort of major games and knowing what to do in those critical moments.”

The hope – or, rather, what Arteta must ensure – is that Arsenal’s core of gifted young stars will learn from their defeat to Bayern and come back stronger next term, using it as fuel to fire a push for further Champions League progress.