For Man City the attack didn’t need any improvement – the defence is what needs to be improved. 3/4 of these changes are to the defence starting with:
Fabinho: Linked last season to Manchester United but here moving to the other side of Manchester. Here mainly because of additional defensive solidity but also because of one other trait – his ability to play in holding midfield. Obviously this is useful for versatility but that’s not I valued it here; the more attacking player I added in the pivot (spoilers: It’s Gundogan) would leave space to be exploited; with Fabinho’s ability to protect to back 4 (or 3, I guess) centrally would help cover for this. Pep actually does something similar at Bayern – Lahm comes inside sometimes to cover for Vidal.
Kalidou Koulibaly: He has come off a great season with Napoli (like the rest of the team actually) and is now being extensively linked to various clubs (most often Arsenal – obviously). His passing is also excellent – Something Pep is known for liking – or more accurately requiring. He also has a strong physical presence – alongside Otamendi (or Kompany in the unlikely event he is fit) could be a powerful pairing at CB.
Juan Bernat: Unlikely to play that much of a role at Bayern with Alaba likely returning to LB under Ancelotti and with Badstuber and Rafinha able to play LB he is unlikely to be missed that much. For City however he would provide a powerful attacking presence on the left that could hopefully form a similar kind of chemistry that Sterling and Kolarov enjoyed at the beginning of the season.
Ilkay Gundogan: Gundogan has often been linked to city over the last year or so – but unlike most transfer rumours (like the time the Mirror linked Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett to Bayern) – this one actually makes sense. Here in a very similar role to that which he currently enjoys for Dortmund or running from deep to play in the spaces the more advanced playmaker (here Kevin De Bruyne) leaves behind (for an EPL focussed example watch Cazorla play for Arsenal – similar concept). Gundogan has shown this season why he had been linked to places like Barca in the past – one to watch in Euro 2016.
After all those changes the result is this:
Virgil Van Dijk: He was linked extensively to arsenal over the course of last year – this was met with middling reception due to him playing in the SPL – a significant quality drop from the EPL. He then moved to Southampton and emphatically proved the doubters wrong having a phenomenal season replacing Toby Alderwiereld. In this Arsenal side he would be asked to play sweeper behind Koscielny’s aggressor – something he is more than capable of. His aerial ability would help in replacing Mertesacker as well.
Lassana Diara: I know what your thinking: Chelsea. Well so what? He’s a serial winner having the won the EPL, FA cup (twice), league cup, La Liga, the Copa del rey and finished runners up in the Coupe de France (which as PSG are streets ahead of everyone else is functionally equivalent to winning). Also he fits well – excellent passer and tackler plus can dribble as well (making him more than capable as a number 8). And no complaining he isn’t good enough – most Arsenal fans have been complaining they didn’t get Morgan Schneiderlin, well guess which one is in the Euro 2016 squad (hint: its not Schneiderlin).
Iker Muniain, I have to say I have been disappointed at his progression – 3 years ago when he was 19 or 20 he was brilliant and last season he had regressed. This season however (though injury hit) he has been back to his best – Dribbling and attracting defenders (leading to him earning lots of free kicks in areas Cazorla will relish), releasing the ball at excellent times (good passer as well) before darting back into space. His love of layoffs will also be loved by a lot of Arsenal’s players – especially who I’m suggesting should play up front…
Kevin Gameiro – loves short passes, running the channels, is lightning quick, brilliant at latching onto through balls and a wonderful finisher – not only do these characteristics suit arsenal very well, but can you imagine a player Ozil would enjoy playing with more? It would suit him perfectly. Honestly I’m surprised Gameiro hasn’t been linked to Arsenal – but he absolutely should.
With these four changes Arsenal end up lining up like this:
This team is not what I expect to happen, this is what I think would make and excellent XI that is both approaching a dream scenario but still well within the realms of possibility. New addition are written in all capital in the formation along with possible squad numbers.
First I shall explain my additions.
Kieren Trippier: He is second choice at Spurs currently but is by no means a bad player – swap him and Walker around and the difference in quality is tiny – hence Pochenttino doing so so often. However If Leicester did come for him the allure of playing every week as a guaranteed starter for the champions in the UCL would undoubtedly be alluring. For Spurs it wouldn’t be that big of an issue as they have DeAndre Yedlin returning from loan who has improved since going to Sunderland. Overall Trippier’s balance of impactful crossing and attacking ability along with the defensive nous he needed during Burnley’s (unsuccessful) relegation fight would make him an excellent choice.
Angel Correa: Probably the least likely to happen but would fit in very well. Atleti are often (somewhat inaccurately) referred to as Spain’s Leicester and though I don’t agree with the comparison in most cases I understand why it is being made. Both teams require defensive work rate and prefer to let the other team have the ball before hitting them on the counter (though for Atleti this is really just restricted to Real Madrid, Barca and Bayern). Tactically though he would slot in behind Vardy as a creative second striker/number 10 hybrid – dropping into midfield to clog central areas but also pressing high up the pitch when needed – essentially the role Okazaki plays right now; but with all respect to him, Correa is simply a better player.
Jese Rodriguez: The real wildcard here. Never before played in a team that requires defensive work from his wingers like Leicester do – and though his defensive work is fine – he will have to adapt. But if he did settle it would be a real boon for him – Vazquez is favourite of Zidane (and also from La Fabrica) and other competitors like Isco and James demanding games for political reasons plus the BBC being immovable objects game time will be small for Jese. At Leicester however he will be playing in the UCL as a vital part of the attack, using his searing pace and dribbling to lead counters alongside players like Vardy and Mahrez – improving with regular game time and likely threatening the national setup. Slotting in on the left and cutting inside (despite my personal opinion that being on the right suits him better and allows him to use his pace more effectively) the Leicester attack could be a force to be reckoned with.
With these three additions the result is this: