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It's despairing times indeed if you're an Arsenal fan having to see your team's talisman depart for Manchester United. Add to that the disappointing 6th place in the league table and the Gunners are once again facing the prospect of no Champions League football. Arsene Wenger's side have looked deflated this season, lacking the grit required to mount a challenge for the league title and the impending departure of Alexis Sanchez could further downplay any hopes of a top-4 finish.
The once 'Invincible' side assembled by Arsene Wenger looks frail on the pitch devoid of confidence and while supporters have been quick to point out the flaws in Wenger's acumen, Arsenal look like a club in need of a much bigger change.
Transfers of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott means the Gunners are light on wingers adept of running at players and hurting them on the counter. The loss of Alexis Sanchez could mean that Arsene Wenger might be forced to re-think has tactics. Having persisted with the 4-2-3-1 formation, the veteran has tinkered about with a 3-4-2-1, however he no longer has the services of quick players capable of taking on their man.
Assuming that Arsenal make no transfers in January and Henrikh Mkhitaryan somehow fails to land at the Emirates, Arsenal would have to build their side around the brilliance of Mesut Ozil. Funnily enough the invincibles side featured the duo of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp in their forward line, yet Arsene Wenger has persisted with playing a lone forward.
Alexandre Lacazette has shown at times the potential of becoming the world class number 9 every gooner hoped he will become, however the state of players around him has been the cause of worry. At Lyon he had Nabil Fekir as a partner and the partnership yielded devastating results on the pitch with Lacazette notching 28 goals in Ligue 1. His hold-up play was never really his strength and the link-up with Giroud will allow him to express himself much more freely infront of goal.
The diamond in midfield is more to cover up the lack of spine and pace in the center of the park with Ozil repeatedly failing to track back and Xhaka resembling lego pieces on the counter. A similar setup saw Liverpool finish runner-ups in the league with the midfield of Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard with neither of the three being recognized defensive midfielders or possesing lightening pace. Arsene Wenger will have to rely on the legs of Alex Iwobi, who looks wasted out wide and Jack Wilshere, who is slowly coming into his own as the only player with some semblance of others around him. Granit Xhaka can't handle the box to box role on his own and is suited to the deep lying playmaker position he made his own at Gladbach.
The return of Sead Kolasinac will further strengthen the defense with Maitland Niles proving more than enough at deputising for the Bosnian. Their 0-0 draw against Chelsea was a highlight of what Gunners need to be on the pitch.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks to be the eventual addition to Arsenal squad after a swap deal with the Red Devil will see the Armenian switch sides with Alexis Sanchez. Gunners have been increasingly linked with a move for Dortmund forward Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, tabling a bid of £44 million. Another player linked with them has been Brazilian hotshot Malcolm, who has lit up the Ligue 1 and is eager to make the move from Bordeaux.
While Mkhitaryan looks to be straight replacement for Sanchez, it would be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger would use the pairing of Aubameyang and Lacazette if the Gabon international ends up at the Emirates. The french number 9 has been previously shifted out wide but his preference could see Arsenal ultimately lining up with two strikers upfront.
The lack of any able defensive midfielder could be a worry for Arsene Wenger and he might be in for one rather than pursuing Malcolm. Elneny has looked out of his depth and the loan of Francis Coquelin has put a lot of onus on the legs of Granit Xhaka to be the complete package in midfield.
More than anything Arsenal need a dynamic midfielder to fill in behind the likes of Ramsey, Wilshere and Ozil. A player similar to what Fernandinho is for Manchester City. Fabinho, William Carvalho and Steven N'Zonzi have previously been linked with Arsenal and could be the proposition on the cards come this summer.
It would be safe to assume the impending arrivals of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, leading to a 4-1-2-1-2 formation. However it could just easily morph into a 4-2-2-2 to accommodate the Armenian and Ozil. Knowing Arsene Wenger, he could just as easy revert back to the favoured 4-2-3-1 with Lacazette shifted out wide. However that leaves his team susceptible on the counter. Perhaps attack is the best form of defence in 2018 for Arsenal.