Khedira's perfect for Gunners

Khedira's perfect for Gunners
Chile's forward Alexis Sanchez

In snatching Alexis Sanchez from the clutches of Liverpool, Arsenal have secured one of the brightest talents in world football.

Sanchez is a wonderful player, flamboyant, driven and extremely effective.

But, if Gunners' fans think that this will be the difference between another near miss and the first league title since 2004, they are mistaken. Arsenal need more.

Sanchez is a first-rate footballer.

At £30 million ($64m), he'll never be considered a bargain, but there's no question that he's absolutely worth the investment.

Coming in off the flanks, he'll be a constant menace to defenders who just won't know how to handle him.

He's so small and quick that the best option may be simply to kick him over.

Look out for a raft of free-kicks outside the penalty area all of a sudden.

The capture of Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle is also a smart move.

A fullback very much in the mould of the departed Bacary Sagna, he has the ability to overlap and support the widemen on the attack, even if he hasn't yet demonstrated the consistent composure of his predecessor.

But, until the Gunners shore up their midfield, they will continue to fall short where it counts.

They need Sami Khedira (above), or a midfielder of that quality, to dominate the central areas.

They also need a destroyer, someone to break up the play. Someone like Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin.

This is where the have been lacking for so long. This is why they always struggle against the best teams.

Khedira will not come cheap, with reported wage demands of £200,000 a week a major stumbling block, but you only need to look to his performances in the World Cup to see what he can offer.

Less of a defensive midfielder than people think, he's a more rounded player, capable of working rapidly between the boxes, creatively and intelligently.

He will also need someone alongside him to do the nasty work, the sort of player who hasn't always been on Arsene Wenger's list of priorities.

Schneiderlin, the tough-tackling Saints player who appeared for France in the World Cup, would be perfect.

He's disciplined, clever and robust, and Arsenal have been crying out for those qualities for some time.

Of the existing Arsenal midfielders, only Aaron Ramsey can be considered good enough for a team with aspirations of top-level trophies. The difference he made after returning from injury was profound.

Jack Wilshere is a huge talent, but he hasn't developed over the past two years, partly because of injuries, partly because he has simply stalled.

Mikel Arteta is a classy footballer, but lacks the mobility to provide cover at the back.

Tomas Rosicky had a fine season last year, but his appalling record of injuries means that you cannot count on his presence.

Mathieu Flamini started well, but tailed off in the second half of the campaign. These are all squad players. Arsenal need upgrades.

Sanchez is certainly an upgrade, in that he is one of the best inside forwards, but that's not really a position that demanded attention.

The return of Theo Walcott will give Arsenal pace and Mesut Oezil, having endured a difficult first season, should now be more settled and productive.

With Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and exciting youngsters Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem also in the squad, you can see why some Arsenal fans are wondering if the money shouldn't have been spent elsewhere.

And there is money to play with. With Sagna, Lukasz Fabianski and Nicklas Bendtner all leaving, there will not be a significant rise in the wage bill as a result of the arrivals of Sanchez and Debuchy.

It's time Arsenal asked themselves what they want. Top-four finishes and a run in the domestic cups or something more?

If it's the latter, they need to keep shopping.

npsports@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 19, 2014.
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