When Mikel Arteta was asked how close his Arsenal squad was to being ‘his’ team, the answer was definitive.
“Very far. Very, very far,” he said. “There’s still a lot to improve, a lot of quality to add.
“When you look at the league table it is not acceptable. We are Arsenal Football Club and we should be nowhere near here. If somebody is happy with that he is in the wrong place.”
Despite their mid-table position, Arteta’s team have improved since Christmas and will now be eyeing a strong end to the season.
But with just nine games remaining, thoughts are already turning to the summer and how Arsenal can continue to progress.
While there is a core of players who will play a key role, elsewhere Arteta may be forced to take some educated risks in order to improve his squad.
Mirror Sport looks at four players Arteta may be tempted to move on from, but could yet come back to bite him.
For the first time in his Arsenal career there is a thought that Bellerin is no longer the best right-back at the club.
Perennially linked with a move away, it has often felt as if the ball is firmly in the Spaniard’s court.
However, Cedric Soares has performed admirably when called upon, has shown there is a future without Bellerin.
The signing of Kieran Tierney has proven to be a masterstroke, replicating that feat on the opposite flank will be more than welcome.
David Luiz/Rob Holding/Pablo Mari
Gabriel looks a long-term option for Arteta in the heart of his defence, but alongside the Brazilian there is definite room for growth.
Luiz, Holding and Mari have all displayed their talents when trusted this season, but none look the kind of player to build a title contender around.
Reports have suggested that Luiz could be offered a new contract this summer, but there is a hope he could be more of a bit-part player in his final years at the Emirates.
Signing a right-footed central defender could help the Gunners truly kick on next term.
The emergence of Emile Smith Rowe, twinned with the arrival of Martin Odegaard mean that Arsenal have an abundance of talent in the No 10 position.
A little further back however and the picture is somewhat more muddled.
Thomas Partey has instantly put his fingerprint on this team, but major question marks remain over the player next to him.
There is no doubt that Xhaka is enjoying some of his best form under Arteta, but his propensity to make grave errors is still apparent.
The gaffe at Burnley earlier this month marked the eighth time the midfielder has made an error leading to a goal.
A steady pair of hands on his day, Arsenal still may think they can upgrade.
The Frenchman was the catalyst for their dramatic comeback against West Ham last time out, but there are whispers about his future in North London.
Lacazette is the club’s top scorer this season and should he leave Arsenal, he would be undoubtedly missed.
However, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s position on the left secure, they could look to bring in a new focal point that could fire the Gunners back into title relevance.
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