Townsend: Improving Arsenal closer to Chelsea than the rest

Emirates Stadium 2

Former Aston Villa star Andy Townsend feels Arsenal have made big strides this season.

Former Aston Villa favourite and renowned TV commentator Andy Townsend feels Arsenal have improved this season and are closer to challenging for the title than their nearest rivals, the Daily Mail report.

The Gunners pulled the curtain on their 2014/15 season in some style as they crushed a disappointing Villa side 4-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Arsene Wenger’s selection on the day was perfect, and the Frenchman had every right to revel in his side’s success as a result of the early-season flak he took from a certain section of supporters.

Earlier in the campaign, the North Londoners found themselves some way off Premier League champions Chelsea and saw their League Cup aspirations disappear at home to Southampton.

However, Wenger’s side have arguably been the best team in the league in 2015 and Townsend feels they are already a step ahead of their rivals when it comes to challenging Chelsea for the title next year.

“If you assess them from last season, they’ve improved. They’ve got better. Players have come in and have done very well. Sanchez has been brilliant and Danny Welbeck has potential to do more,” he said.

“Walcott could explode into next season if he commits his future to the club. I think out of all the teams that are threatening the establishment, Arsenal are closer than the rest.”

Where do Arsenal need to strengthen this summer?

Arsenal’s first-team XI is arguably as strong as Chelsea’s when comparing player-to-player, but the Blues have that strength in depth to cover key areas when injuries and suspensions kick in.

Francis Coquelin has been a massive player for the Gunners in 2015, but should he pick up an injury there isn’t that back-up available who is capable of performing to such levels.

Olivier Giroud is another player who isn’t really pushed, especially considering Theo Walcott is evidently a bigger threat out wide despite his wishes to be played down the middle.

The goalkeeper positions are also debatable, as are the centre-backs with Per Mertesacker not getting any younger and Gabriel Paulista still inexperienced at the very top level.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch