2014-15 proved another disappointing season in the Champions League for Arsenal as they were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition by AS Monaco – arguably the weakest side in the second round.
It was a fifth consecutive season that Arsene Wenger’s side were eliminated at this stage of Europe’s elite club cup competition.
This despite Arsenal putting in a great string of results during the second half of the Premier League season.
Much improvement needs to be made over the summer if the Gunners are to reach the quarter-finals, let-alone be an outside shot at winning the Champions League for the first time in their history. Champions League betting with FreeBets puts them as 10th favourites at 20/1 to lift the trophy at the San Siro.
The Premier League on a whole has struggled over the past few seasons, with the exception of Roberto Di Matteo’s miraculous success in 2012. English football sides currently falling far short of the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Two of the top three finishing sides in the 2014-15 Premier League were even eliminated by French Ligue 1 opposition.
If Arsenal are to put up any challenge for next season’s Champions League, Arsene Wenger needs to spend big this summer, in these key positions:
David Ospina may have had a good record in his 17 Premier League appearances in his debut season, and wasn’t given a chance in any of the three goals he conceded versus Monaco at the Emirates. However, the Colombian doesn’t weight up with the best goalkeepers in Europe – he looks like he has a few clangers in him, and hasn’t fared too well with crosses and set pieces during his first 12 months in England. Wenger may want to go all out in trying to lure Petr Cech to the North London this summer.
Per Mertesacker’s pace was really exposed in the Champions League this season, as well as domestically. The German has a mixture of great performances and terrible mistakes – Wenger cannot afford a centre-back like this when playing against the top sides. Gabriel Paulista was brought in during the winter transfer window but many Arsenal fans still feel they need a World Class centre-back alongside Laurent Koscielny next season.
Another weakness in defence for Arsenal last season was no the left side. Arsene Wenger doesn’t appear to know who his stronger left-back is and we don’t believe he has much faith in either Kieran Gibbs or Nacho Monreal. The Gunners can be expected to invest in a new one this summer – but will Wenger land a top player in this position that will improve them in Europe next season?
Francis Coquelin was somewhat of a revelation when he came into the first team at the end of December. However, Arsenal were woefully exposed in the first leg of their Champions League tie against Monaco. The young midfielder’s inexperienced has certainly shown – whether or not he’ll improve over the first half of next season remains to be seen but Arsene Wenger can certainly upgrade on Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini there. As Jose Mourinho successfully does with his Chelsea squad, play two defensive-minded midfielders in front of the back four in the big games – Wenger can learn a thing or two from the Portuguese maestro.
Olivier Giroud missed the group stages of the Champions League through injury but when he did feature in the knock out rounds the 28-year-old was a massive part of their fall at the first hurdle. The French striker missed key opportunities in both legs versus Monaco as they went out on the away goals rule. With little competition for the striker role at the Emirates, Wenger has few other options. He needs to spend big on a striker this summer if they’re to compete in Europe in 2015-16.