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Arsenal's season is over, so now is the time to start building for next year

The record books will show that Arsenal finished the 2007-08 season without a trophy, but anyone who has followed the twists and turns of this campaign would have to admit that the Gunners have still outperformed expectations.

Arsenal started the season without our talismanic skipper Thierry Henry, who after pledging he would remain at the club for the rest of his career, promptly upped sticks and moved to Barcelona, where he has struggled to settle.

The loss of Henry, according to most pundits, would mean the end of Champions League qualification for Arsene Wenger's team, as the Frenchman's first team squad was the youngest the Premier League had ever seen, while the choice of William Gallas as the new club captain had many people scratching their heads.

Cue the best start the club has ever had to a league campaign, with a young team playing scintillating football and setting the pace for the title race. After yesterday's defeat at Old Trafford, Wenger said he was proud of his players and despite the frustration of losing our way at the 11th hour, us Gooners should be proud of them too...

Having instilled the belief in his young team, Le Gaffer will no doubt ensure they are even stronger next year and his revelation that he is looking to add "one experienced player" may be disappointing for some of us fans, but he has not ruled out bringing in fresh talent elsewhere, just that we won't be signing a whole host of recognised names.

Arsene's priority between now and the end of the season will be to ensure that the club can persuade Mathieu Flamini to sign a new contract, but also to talk to his other players to make sure he can keep his young team together.

I'm still of the opinion that Wenger needs to sign a recognised goal scorer, an attacking midfielder and an imposing full back, but Le Boss may well be thinking that he has those positions covered.

In defence I reckon next season could see the emergence of Havard Nordveit, who although he is just 17 has been described by Wenger as one of the most mature players he has ever worked with.

In midfield, loanees Carlos Vela and Fran Merida could both return from Spain, with the former hopefully stepping straight into the first team, while Merida could be used as cover for either Flamini or Fabregas, given that most people think Gilberto is on his way out.

And up front, Theo Walcott will probably start more games next season, while Robin van Persie will be hoping he can avoid the injuries that have plagued him this year and Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor will be looking to build on what they have achieved since Henry's departure.

But it is up front where I think Arsenal need to introduce an experienced head. As much as our football has been very pretty this season, we have lacked a clinical finisher and with Eduardo likely to be absent for most of 2007, a proven goalscorer is, I believe, a must.

If it was down to me, I'd go for Karim Benzema. The Lyon striker reminds me of a young Henry and I've no doubt that Wenger could help the 20-year-old become a truly great player. However, It appears that Arsene might instead go for the cut-price option of Benzema's team mate Hatem Ben Arfa who appears to be out of favour at the Ligue 1 leaders.

Who do you reckon Arsenal should be targetting? Do you think one experienced player will be enough to help us compete next season? Share your thoughts on potential signings here.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on April 14, 2008 10:12 AM in Debate of the Day| News| Players| Transfers
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pikey scum lost 2-1, no you've won feck all again. Bwahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh bwaahhhhhh, invest in the kids says the dirty old man, I bet he does the dirty old man.

Posted by: A Typical Goo'er | April 14, 2008 12:56 PM

Pikey Scum????

I was under the impression we were French scum. A typical Manure fan. Gracious in Victory and defeat, with insightful and well thought out comment.

I'm sure your parents are very proud (providing of course they can find your father to ask him - what with all the milk rounds that he does).


Posted by: McG | April 14, 2008 1:36 PM

We need more back up. Arsenal is in too many competitions not to have more players. Fabregas needs a rest throughout the season. I think he has been worn out the past few months.

Posted by: john | April 14, 2008 3:10 PM

I think someone like Klose or Podolski should be upfront, rest of the squads fine the way it is.

Posted by: Wurn | April 14, 2008 3:29 PM

Well contrary to the stereotypical arrogant Arsenal fan not all Man U supporters are ignorant morons. However what you should accept is that despite your "young team and the scintillating football they played" you still failed miserably on all fronts and fully deserved to. You'll never buy a quality player like Benzema because you're a bunch of cheap unrealistically arrogant losers.

Posted by: Gary | April 14, 2008 5:23 PM of the best teams in England, Europe and the world...Its a wonder why they lost to Man U who lost to the pitiful Bolton and the other teams...Its sad but the classic "there will be next year" will still come to pass.

Posted by: Hiruy "Swift" Ephrem (the next Henry) | April 14, 2008 7:12 PM

We started the season beautifully, but it looks like we just ran out of gas near the finish line. man u and chelski have deeper squads and more older heads, so they went the distance better than us.

if we can keep the squad together, next year it'll be ours.

Posted by: gonzo mike | April 14, 2008 10:50 PM

I'm fed up with people who blame the team for losing matches. This is a fantastic squad of players which rank alongside the greatest teams of the British game. When the team's been beaten its been by less talented teams - using tactics that work. These teams have basically worked out the way to win is to use geometry. That is, they weather the pressure for the first ten minutes;work out the angles used in the Gooners passing game, shut those angles down and hit on the counter attack. Arsenal needs to be consistent, but not consistently predictible.
This truth seems to be too hard to swallow for the "Save Wenger" brigade and even today Adebayor goes public, defending the tactics of Le Boss.
There is a solution.The solution is on a little piece of paper - you know, the little piece of paper with Jose Mourinho's contact details on it.

Posted by: gregory | April 15, 2008 3:08 AM

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