The transfer window is quickly closing, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is likely scrambling to fill the void left by two key players.
The departure of Robin van Persie and Alex Song may feel somewhat similar to the 2011 exodus of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and there may be similar action taken to replace those key players. In the final days of August 2011, Arsenal added Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta as a replacement for losing Samir Nasri to Manchester City, and the trade-off may have actually benefited the Gunners.
Whether Wenger chooses to accept it or not, Arsenal are increasingly showing signs of being a feeder club to more successful clubs with higher aspirations. "Le Professeur" can swiftly dispel that notion by bringing in quality reinforcements.
The Gunners still have an elite Premier League squad, but the consensus is that Arsenal are a notch below Manchester United, Manchester City, and even Chelsea. Losing perhaps the best striker in the league, along with a prominent defensive midfielder, will likely prompt Arsenal to make bold moves to send the message that the Gunners are still chasing silverware or at least a spot in the 2013-2014 Champions League.
This coming week is vital for Wenger to avoid the backlash of demanding supporters and an often overbearing and intrusive British press. When Arsenal got off to a slow start in 2011-2012, there were calls for Wenger to be sacked, as detractors seemed to dismiss the 15-consecutive trips to Champions League, and how the Gunners were coping with deep-pocket competition from Chelsea and the Manchester clubs.
So let's make things easy on the famed Frenchman, and offer three simple moves to bolster what should still be a very competitive 2012-2013 squad.
Add Clint Dempsey and play him as the lone striker. Dempsey has been used primarily at left midfielder at Fulham, but Juergen Klinsmann has used him at forward in international competition, and Dempsey has looked comfortable in the position.
The versatile American scored 17 goals in 37 league appearances for Fulham in 2011-2012, and has made it very clear that he wants to leave the Cottagers and feature in Champions League. Dempsey is a fierce and durable competitor and would not rest on his excellent previous season. Though the chances are quite slim that he would be as effective as Van Persie's fantastic final Arsenal season, Dempsey is a logical and cost-effective choice for Wenger, and he should transition smoothly into Wenger's system.
Replace Song with Nuri Sahin. Arsenal have a legitimate void at the base of central midfield, and Sahin would serve as an excellent loan addition until Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong develop. At age 23, Sahin is entering his prime, and the former Borussia Dortmund star should be eager to prove his worth after sitting behind Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso, and Sami Khedira in a stacked Real Madrid midfield in 2011-2012. Sahin is an excellent passer, a quality player in set pieces, and would likely defend better than Song. Arsenal face competition from Liverpool and Tottenham for the German-born Turk, but the Gunners should do whatever they can to bring Sahin to the Emirates. Like Dempsey, Sahin does not have a history of injuries, which is vital for Arsenal after being snake-bitten in recent years.
Strengthen the backline with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Bacary Sagna is injured, Kieran Gibbs is injury-prone, and Carl Jenkinson is still young and developing, so Arsenal need to pursue an additional wing back. Yang-Mbiwa is the versatile defender that Arsenal should target, as the 23-year-old has made major strides with Montpellier. Yanga-Mbiwa has a reputation for being a solid defender, and a good passer. Should Arsenal add the French star, Wenger could elect to use Thomas Vermaelen on the left a bit more, so Yanga-Mbiwa can play a more central role, but he can also play on the right side and help alleviate the depth issues. The Gunners simply need more help in the back, and can't expect players like Johan Djourou and youngster Ignasi Miguel to step in and be effective.
If Wenger makes these moves, Arsenal may still not win the Premier League, but they certainly would strengthen their chances.