Saturday's dramatic FA Cup final victory over Hull City must act as a building block for a new, trophy-laden era for Arsenal and the performance was a perfect illustration of their strengths, and areas for improvement. Great technical quality from talented midfielders saved the day, in the shape of Santi Cazorla's stunning free-kick and Aaron Ramsey's superbly taken winning goal, but questions remain about Arsenal's defending and the lack of depth up front.
While the defensive record this season has been impressive – only Chelsea managed more than Arsenal's 17 Premier League clean sheets – the final started disastrously for them, with two set-piece concessions within the first eight minutes, reminiscent of the opening to the 5-1 capitulation at Anfield in February. A superior side to Hull could have punished Arsenal on the counter-attack at Wembley, as Arsène Wenger's side chased the game.
Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker's relationship is excellent but probable departures mean Arsenal need to strengthen. The future of Thomas Vermaelen, who lifted the Cup as captain, despite not being a first-choice throughout this season, is still uncertain, while the right-back Bacary Sagna and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski – chosen ahead of Wojciech Szczesny throughout the FA Cup run – are out of contract this summer and likely to move. Therefore, Arsenal could require at least three defensive reinforcements simply to stand still. As well as being Wenger's regular right-back, Sagna was also considered fourth-choice centre-back, so would be a significant loss.
Reports have strongly linked Arsenal with Serge Aurier, Toulouse's highly rated 21-year-old attacking right-back, a natural Sagna replacement. The Ivorian was named in the Ligue 1 team of the season and his potential has kept former Gunner Emmanuel Eboué out of the Ivory Coast's World Cup squad. Signing a centre-back would be more difficult – Wenger would probably be recruiting a back-up rather than a first-team regular and would therefore probably purchase another youngster.
The attacking midfield department needs no improvement. A decisive moment in Saturday's victory was when Wenger summoned Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere from the bench midway through extra time, in place of Cazorla and Mesut Özil, showing his options in that zone. With Ramsey unquestionably the club's player of the season, and more direct options like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Serge Gnabry on the flanks, this is Arsenal's position of strength.
The other major question is up front. On Saturday, Wenger's plan B was turning to Yaya Sanogo and shifting to a 4-4-2 system – Olivier Giroud appreciated the support against three centre-backs, and Arsenal were more capable of working the channels with two up front.
Nevertheless, it speaks volumes that Wenger depended upon a striker yet to register a goal in English football. There's a good footballer somewhere in Sanogo but it's difficult to imagine he will be transformed into a top-class, title-winning striker by August. Giroud was signed while Robin van Persie was still at the club and Wenger's pursuit of Luis Suárez last summer indicates he is still keen to complement the Frenchman with a pacier, more mobile and technical forward.
Loïc Remy, who spent the season on loan from QPR to Newcastle, has been heavily linked and was recently spotted at the Emirates for Arsenal's 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion – although Wenger insisted this was nothing to do with him. There have also been reports of an interest in Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. Moreover Carlos Vela, who has hit 20 goals for Real Sociedad this season and now appears a top-class, direct striker, could return as Arsenal have a buy-back clause, while Schalke's Julian Draxler remains a target, even if the German is accustomed to a deeper, attacking midfield position.
That is the mysterious thing about Wenger's transfer dealings. Few believed Arsenal primarily required another playmaker shortly before the recruitment of Özil, and Wenger has often specialised in converting players into different positions. Thirteen years ago Wenger famously recruited Francis Jeffers as a 'fox in the box' but the goalscoring solution this summer might come, quite literally, from outside the box.