Question Time with Chris Wheatley
Journalist and Football Writer Chris Wheatley took the time out of his busy schedule to express his thoughts and views on Arsenal and their Premier League campaign ahead. Wheatley is the creator of Gooner Talk one of the biggest Arsenal blogs on the internet.
- Arsene seems to have done majority of his shopping earlier this summer in contrast to previous seasons. Do you feel that will help integrate the new players better in the long term during the course of season?
Definitely. Due to financial constraints Arsenal have been restricted to purchasing mediocre players for low fees in recent seasons but that all changed with the signing of Mesut Özil last year and Alexis Sanchez this summer. Bringing in players earlier helps them to settle in quicker and gives the boss more time to work with them.
- What are your thoughts on the new signings coming to the club this summer?
They’re all excellent additions to the squad. I’m delighted with the signing of versatile Calum Chambers from Southampton. He’s a player who will be involved more than most people expect next season. Sanchez is an unbelievable acquisition and we’ve done superbly to bring him to the Emirates. Debuchy also is an almost like-for-like replacement for Bacary Sagna and will slot into the team with ease.
- What positions do you think we still lack in strength and depth that Arsene should consider before the close of the window?
A centre back is obviously vital after the departure of Thomas Vermaelen. Finding a similar player – agile, versatile and experienced – may prove a problem for Arsene Wenger at this time in the transfer market. A defensive midfielder is also needed. Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini won’t be able to share the burden of 40+ games next season and need a fresh combative player who can keep them on their toes.
- What player would you still like to arrive at the Emirates this season?
Sporting Lisbon’s defensive midfielder William Carvalho. He’s quick, versatile and Wenger would turn him into a world class player.
- Who would you say your favourite signing of the summer has been so far and why?
If you can count it as a ‘signing’, I’d have to say Shad Forsythe. When we exclusively revealed the news that Forsythe had agreed to join the fitness staff I was absolutely jubilant. He has a tremendous track record of getting the maximum out of players – German national team a prime example – his innovative methods make him an important addition to reduce Arsenal’s injury problems.
- Would you agree that this current Arsenal squad is the strongest it has been for some years now since “The Invincibles” of the 2003/04 season?
I’d say that’s a fair statement. The side that almost won the Premier League in 2008 certainly comes close. Before Eduardo broke his leg the squad looked together, strong and capable of running away with the league. Today’s squad has a mix of flair and power in the final third – Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott in the same team is a very exciting prospect.
- On the back of winning the FA Cup last season do you feel this Arsenal squad could be on the brink of achieving major trophies this season and following seasons to come?
I think the current Arsenal squad is capable of winning a major trophy within the next 1-2 seasons. The Christmas and New Year periods are vital and most notably where Arsenal have come unstuck in recent years. With the experience we have in the squad and talent in attacking areas I’m confident that a big trophy will be on its way soon.
- In my opinion I believe this season we’re considered as serious title contenders. Do you feel this could be the year we bring the Premier League title back to North London?
I’m confident that we’ll keep a consistent title challenge this season but there are still questions that need to be answered before the transfer window closes. The most important question is will Arsenal bring in a centre back? The club are in the market for one but finding an experienced, versatile defender who would be willing to be fourth choice is a difficult proposition at this time in August. The other question remaining for me is can the squad stay clear of injuries to key players? That’s obviously impossible to know until the season gets underway but with the addition of Shad Forsythe to the fitness team, I believe something big is possible this campaign.
You can find more of Chris’ work at Gooner Talk