Is it time to bring Szczesny and Chambers back into the fold?
The superb FA Cup win aside, the 2016/17 season has to go down as a largely underwhelming campaign for Arsenal.
The uncertainty over the futures of Arsene Wenger and Alexis Sanchez, among others, should become clearer over the coming days and weeks, but few would dispute that changes need to be made to a squad that has often looked fragile and lacking in overall quality.
Much can happen over the summer of course but, as things stand, the Gunners are not among the frontrunners when it comes to betting offers for domestic honours next season. Were Alexis to make it known he intends to leave, the Gunners are going to be friendless in the betting markets, at least until a suitable replacement is found.
As it stands Arsenal are a fairly general 12/1 (bet365, Betfred, Betway and others) for the Premier League title next season (sixth favourites) and a best price of 11/10 with William Hill for a top four finish.
For the pessimists, the Gunners are odds on at 8/11 with Skybet not to secure a top four Premier League finish.
The Europa League has a reputation for being less than conducive to domestic form, so the need for a squad with genuine depth that can be rotated as and when required is probably going to be greater than ever.
Naturally most of the emphasis will be on new signings and some significant recruitment is unquestionably required.
However, as is now the norm among the Premier League leading lights, a whole host of players were sent out on loan this season. Could any of those be ready for first-team action at the Emirates next term?
The most obvious candidate is Wojciech Szczesny, whose two-year loan stint at Roma is being seen as a success for all concerned. Wenger himself described Szczesny’s second season at Roma as being “exceptional”.
With David Ospina set to depart and Petr Cech showing signs of wear and tear at the age of 35, a revitalized Szczesny could be ready to reclaim the gloves, or at least to compete with Cech for the privilege.
At the back, with Per Mertesacker, Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson all likely to depart over the summer, there’s a case to be made for Calum Chambers and Krystian Bielik returning to provide defensive cover.
In Chambers’ case, he would really be looking at pushing for a starting role now and he probably did enough in a largely woeful Middlesbrough team to suggest that he is at least worthy of being in the frame, particularly if Arsene (or any potential successor) persists with a back three.
In all probability, Bielik will be sent out on another loan, but he’s assured on the ball and it might just be worth having him involved throughout the season.
Jack Wilshere had a mixed campaign at Bournemouth, culminating in yet another injury (a hairline crack of the left fibula). With a year left on his existing contract, it’s surely now or never for Jack and sending him out on another loan would seem to serve little purpose.
The squad unquestionably needs an injection of quality over the coming months, but there are least a few positions that can be filled from within the ranks.
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