25 days until the start of The Premier League season, and I cannot wait. Some of us are in the process of overhyping new signings. Others are busy claiming “I didn’t want him anyway” about players who don’t sign, or there are the rest of us who have become experts on spending 100m on players via Fantasy Football apps (yes, the game has reopened). All the while our favourite teams are attempting to make the signings that can change the outlook of a season.
I will be posting a series of articles, one a day, in the build up to the big kick off. These will be based on each Premier League club looking at their potential starting 11, new signings, where I think they may want to/could improve and so on. Today I will be starting with Arsenal, so I hope you enjoy.
It can’t be disguised that last season for Arsenal was shocking. After going 14 games unbeaten between August-December, everything became a mess. Embarrassing defeats from February onwards in the league and Europe contributed to Arsenal finishing outside of the top four for the first time under Arsene Wenger.
Pauses for Europa League jokes.
Ending the season, Arsenal looked at their best like this:
A change in formation and a FA Cup trophy brought a glimmer of success, but the fact they didn’t qualify for the Champions League indicated huge changes should be made.
One of these changes should not be the formation, as the three at the back worked well. Playing this way gives the option of switching to a 4231 or a more fluid 433 formation during the game dependent on the scoreline and would make Arsenal less predictable, while masking defensive frailties.
Although Wenger has said this is how Arsenal will start the season, I can’t help but feel it was a short-term fix. It gave the defence some much needed stability but I am not sure they will stick with it. I could be wrong, but Wenger has proved to be stubborn in the past leading me to think he won’t persist with the 343 for the course of a season.
Considering Arsenal’s strong start to the summer transfer window though, management are showing positive signs of necessary change. One being the decisive nature of transfers. They’ve broken their club record by signing striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon, moved swiftly to secure Sead Kolasinac, the Bundesliga team of the season left back, on a free transfer from Schalke. Arsenal are also very strongly linked to Monaco starlet Thomas Lemar, and Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.
Taking into consideration who Arsenal may sign, I feel their best line up would be:
Keep Alexis Sanchez, and Arsenal are genuine title challengers regardless of formation. It is also imperative they keep Olivier Giroud as he is a key plan B and extremely under-appreciated by many Arsenal fans. The attacking options Arsenal could choose from would be limitless, and with a Europa League campaign looming, a big squad is necessary. It could be argued that Arsenal would have the best attack in England from top to bottom.
My view on Alexis’ contract situation is that he will stay for the 17/18 season, but is currently unlikely to sign a new deal. I hope I am wrong though, as he is a credit to the club.
Nevertheless, Arsenal fans have many reasons for optimism. Mesut Özil has made it clear he wants to stay, and signing Lacazette has given Arsenal the world-class goalscorer they’ve lacked since Henry. The relationship between those two could cause damage. Credible and non-reactive transfer moves show the club have noted mistakes from previous years and aren’t dithering in the hope of something happening.
The coming weeks will be massive. Sign Lemar or Mahrez, secure Özil, Ox and, if possible Alexis, while clearing players who won’t be involved in the first team set up such as Perez, Szczesny, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Debuchy, Akpom, Ospina and Joel Campbell (who is now injured for 4-6 months making that a bit tricky), and possibly bring in another defender because it isn’t wise to depend on the achilles of Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal fans would have no legitimate reason to complain about the summer. That would make a change.
Lose their star men or fail to further recruit, and it would be groundhog summer for Arsenal.