Arsene Wenger must add talent to spine of Arsenal team, says Alan Smith
Alan Smith says Arsenal can capitalise on their rivals' managerial changes - if they spend wisely.
Last Updated: 15/07/13 9:07am
The Gunners beat North London rivals Tottenham to fourth place and a coveted Champions League qualifying berth last season, which maintained their record of grabbing a place in Europe's elite club competition every year boss Arsene Wenger has been in charge.
However, former Arsenal striker Smith believes his old side will have to strengthen their squad this summer to ensure they secure another top-four finish next term - and potentially challenge for the Premier League title.
Smith, though, has been buoyed by reports of a £30m bid for Liverpool ace Luis Suarez and says that indicates the Emirates outfit are ready to splash out on high-quality additions.
"Arsenal will be hoping to move forward and get to the front runners, in the way they haven't in recent seasons," he said.
"Obviously they have got this fantastic record of finishing in the top four under Wenger but now is the time - with the money they have to spend and they have got serious money there compared to how it has been over the last six or seven years - to be marching on.
"Spurs will be hoping to do exactly the same and there's a chance for both clubs to improve their squads and how it pans out remains to be seen.
"However, as an ex-Arsenal man I hope they can make inroads into that gap between themselves and the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea."
With David Moyes replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at champions Manchester United and Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho arriving at Manchester City and Chelsea respectively, Smith feels there could be an opportunity for an Arsenal side supplemented with several new arrivals to contest for the league crown.
"Arsenal have got money to spend and it would be silly not to spend it if they could spend it on the right people," he said. "If they kept the same squad they have now then they'd be treading water.
"Manager changes at United, City and Chelsea could be an advantage for Arsenal, who are a very stable club with one of the best managers around.
"Obviously Mourinho going back to Chelsea isn't a huge change for them because he knows the ropes there but Pellegrini, who is a very experienced manager, will need time to adjust to a new way of playing in the Premier League and the atmosphere at City, as might David Moyes, who has made a huge step up to United and you couldn't blame him for feeling daunted by that."
Smith believes Arsenal need to strengthen the spine of their team if they have ambitions to challenge for the Premier League title and reckons Wenger's bid for Suarez suggests he may be looking to add some more grit to his squad.
"Two years ago Wenger wouldn't have gone near Suarez with a barge pole," he said.
"That's nothing to do with his ability on the pitch because he's one of the best strikers around, but [the bid] marks a sea change in Arsenal's policy. The fact they are going for these types of characters - proven talent who can produce straight away but also introduce a bit more of an edge to the side.
"Arsenal have also been linked with Marouane Fellaini who can also be in your face and aggressive, so perhaps Wenger feels his team needs that character now because that kind of edge hasn't always been there in the past.
"However, as well as the striker situation, which they are trying to address, I'd like to see a different sort of midfielder in there to compliment Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, someone with a physical stature in the middle of the park.
"I'd also like to see another centre-back and, in goal, is Wojciech Szczesny ready to be keeping goal for Arsenal week-in, week-out? An experienced keeper could be needed as well."
Despite insisting Arsenal must make signings this summer, Smith is hopeful the club can end their eight-year wait for a trophy next term.
"It's always hard to make a call until we see which players are signed but I'm feeling optimistic and I'm sure the fans are, too," he said.
"A club of Arsenal's size can't allow this run to go on much longer; they get 60,000 people every week paying top dollar to go and watch their team and they deserve success.
"I'm hoping it is not too far around the corner now and hopefully a trophy will come this season."