How far are we away from being a top-six side?

No deal for Junior

Would Hoilett help us become an established top-six side?
Now before you go all crazy and tell me that we’re in the top six currently I’d like to clarify two things.

1 – I’m aware of our league position.

2 – I want to discuss how far you think we are away from being a regular top-six side.

Should we finish in the top-six this season, it doesn’t automatically make us a top-six in the long term. For that to be the case we need to finish there for a few seasons so we can be considered a consolidated top-six team in the sense that we are tipped to finish up there at the start of the season. Essentially there is nothing to say that this season is just a flash in the oan, but I guess we’ll only find out next season…

It was a question raised by Pootle in a comment the other day. Basically he asked how many players everyone thought we were away from being in a position to regularly finish in the top-six, and it was a bloody good question to be fair so I thought I’d make an article out if it.

Pretty much everyone knows that our squad has limitations. Even Alan Pardew said as much the other day. To boost our ability our squad as whole still needs a lot of work done to it and it is very much still a project in working with the next stage set to be competed in the summer.

So where would you go? What positions would you sign? How much do we need strengthening? By splitting it up and drilling down into different positions I hope to come up with my own answer in this article and leave you to come up with your own afterwards.

For arguments sake I’m going to assume that none of our first team players leave or, if they do, I’m going to assume that they are replaced like for like so if well sell a midfielder I expect to see him replaced with….. a midfielder. Basically think of the first XI as it is now, and then work the squad out from that.


I actually think this is one position where we are fine. Tim Krul is proving to be one of the best on the league and isn’t exactly a sicknote so we should be fine between the sticks. Should Timmy pick up an injury I’ll be concerned as we will likely only have Rob Elliot as backup come the summer with Fraser Forster and Steve Harper heading out of the club, but I don’t think it is a priority.


Where do we start with this? I believe we need to do some major defensive work in the summer to give us much needed depth and quality. Naturally we’ll have Steven Taylor back, but his injury history isn’t good and he tends to have one long term injury each season. With that in mind we need one centre-back that can challenge the starting line up, unlike an Adrian Mariappa for example. That would give us four central defenders, or five if we sign another one as backup.

In terms of the right/left back, I think Davide Santon is learning quickly and will become a cracking player for us, but I’d like to see him on the right. With that in mind we’ll need a dedicated left-back signed in the summer. Ideally we’d keep Danny Simpson around as he could provide cover and competition for those in the first team, and with Santon and Ryan Taylor able to play on the right or left it gives us some flexibility and depth to the squad.


I actually think we’re about fine in midfield. Centrally we have Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote as starters, with Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid and James Perch able to give us cover. If Guthrie goes we’ll need someone to slot into his place of course.

On the left wing I don’t think we’re too bad in truth. Jonas Gutierrez has been poor of late, but it has to be noted that he hasn’t got any competition currently and he tends to up his game suddenly when he has someone snapping at his heels wanting to get into the team. With Sylvain Marveaux and Hatem Ben Arfa able to play on the left we have that competition so the performances and squad depth should see a marked improvement on the left.

On the right we have Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa and Ryan Taylor to ponder. All of them have their merits and pitfalls and as yet I’m unconvinced as to who is our best option the right. Obertan’s pace is deadly, but a lack of killer instinct holds him back. Hatem Ben Arfa can produce moments of magic in attack, but he’ll also leave the right-back hopelessly exposed and Ryan Taylor gives us a threat from set pieces and crosses but doesn’t have much pace. If you could combine all three you’d have the perfect winger but right now we have to do with horse for courses.

Personally this is somewhere where I’d like to see us improve by signing someone like Junior Hoilett who can do pretty much everything a winger needs to do and has pace to burn. That one signing would give us so much depth on both wings and would pretty much sort us.


In attack we are still lightweight. Beyond Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse we don’t have an awful lot to think about, which is worrying when you consider we’ll more than likely be losing both of them to the African Cup of Nations again next year.

Once again it’s an area that needs strengthening, but it will require careful strengthening. For instance I really can’t see many strikers getting ahead of those two, so we need to have a look at strikers who will happily play backup and wait for a chance. The problem is that any striker who has a reputation for scoring goals will more than likely warrant a starting place elsewhere.

So what are we looking for? I make it, as a minimum, one right or left back, one centre back, one right winger and another striker, and remember, that is without losing any of our first teamers or assuming that we replace them with like for like replacements.

What do you think we need though?

169 thoughts on “How far are we away from being a top-six side?

  1. Sorry – this is off topic and intended for Troy.

    Troy remember when you said you didn’t think ashley bought the club just as a rich man’s vanity?

    I just remembered this interview with SJH on

    ” Why Mike Ashley?

    I decided to sell my shares because of Abramovich. It took me just over two years. I was in negotiations with some Malaysians when I got a call from another group. They wanted to meet me in London prior to my meeting with the Malaysians. I agreed. I was met at Kings Cross and taken by Rolls Royce to Freshfields and into a packed meeting room where this unnamed parties financial representatives began to make me an offer. I told them that I would honour my meeting with the Malaysians so could not give them an answer. They tried their best to persuade me otherwise but I’m a man of my word. The meeting with the Malaysians went well but they wanted 6 weeks to do due diligence. The offer from the other party at Freshfields waived that right and was a better deal. I was told that the man behind the deal was Mike Ashley and I sat with his representatives over 3 days thrashing out a deal. I was keen to know why they wanted the club and they were quite honest. They wanted to market their sports goods in the Far East and would use the Club to help do this. To me it made sense to market the Club globally. It was a win win situation for Mike and the Club. We hadn’t done that.”

    It seems it was always the intention to use us as a marketing tool then.
    Just thought you might be interested.


  2. DAVE aye mate age comes up on you fast.
    one of the great things though haveing a son to have kick-about ect,by the way i told him to easy on his old man 😀 😀


  3. @alex

    I will be gutted if the scum win. . . The longer Arsenal remain in the competition the better as it could affect their league form if they take their eye off it.

    It would be unbearable if the scum got to wembley and the unthinkable if they won the cup.

    Have you seen the empty stadium! It’s a disgrace really for a 5th round game v Arsenal who have 4k fans there.


  4. Sorry – this is off topic and just intended for Troy.

    Remember the other day you were saying you didn’t think Ashley bought the club as a rich man’s vanity?

    It made me remember an interview given by SJH last year (I think).
    This is an excerpt of it, with a link to the full interview.

    It seems he intended to use the club as a form of marketing tool from the start.
    He seems to have given up on the idea of the Far East.


  5. @pootle

    Just read it fella. To those who can’t see his motives you only have to look at the ground as it now stands.

    It’s a SD warehouse and I believe the name change will be kept as SDA unless some crazy offer comes in. However I believe that to be unlikely due to companies knowing how unpopular it is with the fans.

    There’s no doubt about it, it’s great advertising as its plastered across our TV screens worldwide almost every week.

    I find it deplorable that SD don’t pay for the privilege. 😈


  6. Maybe Shepherd should have sold the stadium name and advertising rights back in the day. He could then have used it to pay of the ridiculous amount of debt he built up. 😆


  7. Al reet man (and ladies)

    Toonsy – good article mate and a good question.

    Truth is I don’t think we will truly know until the summer. If we end up allowing the likes of Krul, Colo, Tiote and Ba leave in the summer then I think were miles off being a top 6 team. Id be p*ssed right off if that was the case like.
    Hopefully it won’t be, but if it’s not we will still need to strengthen substantially as you can guarantee the teams around us will – including the scum. I do see big changes at Arsenal and Chelski.
    I said in the wielding the axe article yesterday that I see in the region of 10 players leaving and 8-9 quality players come in – 4 or 5 of which could be picked up on free transfers.

    Troy – a fit Colo v a fit Woody = Woody for me mate. He was everything Colo is but with pace.
    Tell ya what though, dream team CB partnership


  8. Ice well he never listehed to yeah cause he never took it easy ?? come to think of it he told me that you told him if you lose the ball get in hard 🙄

    Pootle I have been stateing that for yonks I read that at the time but no one seemed to take it onboard 😕 when I asked why would he let someone else have the previlege of global marketing when that was the reason he bought us 😯


  9. imo
    prem top 6 1st team quality:-
    krul saylor colo santon cabaye tiote ba cisse barfa (9)

    prem top 6 backup/squad quality
    forster simpson guthrie gosling marveux ameobi (4th choice) jonas obertan (7)

    ferguson abeid vukic tavernier (4)

    not goodenuf/deadwood
    smith xisco ranger perch raylor lovenkrands elliot best harper kadar (10)

    so I think we need another 5 at least 1st team prem top 6 quality players, mostly in defence, as defenders attract most yellow/red cards obviously,with maybe 1 or 2 squad defenders also. The deadwood need to be cleared out to make room for these, which is just as much a problem at a prudent club like ours.

    Have I missed anyone ??


  10. Forster?? 😕

    Is he even our player anymore I thought he was signing for Celtic. And he’s not prem quality, nevermind backup top 6 quality.


  11. Nice that Ryan Taylor is considered deadwood after he has had his first good season at the club, done a job wherever he is asked against all but the top 4 and slayed the mackems. We could do with him back from injury for some service for the dembas.


  12. Great article Toonsy and I know this is a late response, but my 2 cents worth?

    We need a Defensive and Central mid. We need a strong, no-nonsense Bundesliga-style sweeper (think of the vintage Matthias Sammer). Tiote is fine currently but another strong Defensive Mid would be lovely.

    A Midfield general would also be great (think Zidane) for the obvious reasons of linking up the Defence to the Forwards.

    Watching the Spurs game over and over again, I can’t help but feel we needed a midfield that could have shut-down the Spurs attacks. Blame the defence all you want, but the way we were penetrated from the Spurs Mid to the Attackers left me feeling violated, to say the least. 😯


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