An In-depth Analysis of the Arsenal Squad
PART ONE – THE DEFENSE
Two positive results against Sheffield United and Southampton hopefully provide us momentum to finish the season strongly. But we must not forget that a huge squad rebuild must begin this coming window. It’s the perfect opportunity for Stan Kroenke to win over the fans by providing sufficient funds to allow Arteta to succeed. I look at each player who I believe should move on as well as potential replacements that will provide us a foundation on which we can build in the future.
Part One looks at how minimal investment is needed to improve us defensively for next season.
Defensively, as a collective unit, we haven’t been good enough for many years. We have to ask ourselves the question, ‘How many of the current CB’s are good enough?’ I would move on Sokratis, Mustafi, Holding and Mavropanos to generate funds.
It’s been confirmed now that David Luiz has extended his contract. He’s clearly taking the experienced role within the squad. Despite many of us, including myself, wanting to move him on, Arteta clearly likes his calmness in possession and ability to break the lines regularly. The lack of concentration levels throughout the full 90 minutes is my worry as shown from his numerous errors this season. The positive is that although the owner and recruitment team were in favour of moving him on, they’ve backed Arteta’s decision to keep him on for another year. Hopefully this is a sign that he will be backed with significant funds that will allow him to start building his philosophy. Lewis Dunk was, however, my preference to fulfil this role. He’s physical, a leader and the way he’s adjusted quickly to Graham Porters style of football, shows he could have adapted to the way Arteta wanted to play.
Lets take a look at why I would move many of the CB’s on. Sokratis has been on the downward slope this season, making too many errors. It frustrates me that we opted to move for Sokratis ahead of Soyuncu, who would have only cost a couple more million. You can see how instrumental he’s been for Leicester, forming a strong relationship with Jonny Evans.
Mustafi has surprised many since Arteta was appointed with his consistent performances, arguably being our best CB since the Spaniard took over. However, we should use this period, where Mustafi has shown good form, as a chance to sell him on to generate funds.
Holding is another player that I would also move on along with , despite impressing of late. Fans may argue that Holding deserves another year to rediscover his form under Emery. But I’ve not been convinced since he’s came back from his ACL injury. His positional awareness has been poor and, although he’s never been the quickest, he seems to have lost an extra yard of pace. One of his best traits was his composure on the ball and passing range which has also been lacking. I’d sell both to provide funds and bring in an upgrade.
Selling these four would generate at least £35-40 million in player sales. Callum Chambers is a CB I would keep. He’s showed maturity, good composure on the ball, and capable of being a sufficient squad player. The four games in the league he’s played at CB, we’ve won two, drawn one and lost one, conceding four goals with three coming against Manchester City. With Saliba, Chambers, Luiz and Mari here next season, one more quality addition is needed. Dayot Upamecano (above) is my choice. An exciting prospect, possessing all the attributes required to be a world class French international CB. Pace, good positional discipline, composure on the ball, excellent passing range (7 accurate long passes per 90), strong aerially etc.
Dayot has received a lot of criticism since football resumed with his performance level dropping by his high standards. But he’s only 21, playing regular first team football under a strong RB Leipzig side, still raw and with such a high ceiling. He’s an absolute must for me! I would consider Edmond Tapsoba from Leverkusen and Axel Disasi from Reims if we are going along the cheaper avenue. Both are modern day CB’s, with exciting potential, and would suit the style of football Arteta wants to implement. Bringing in one of these talents on top of the four mentioned provides an upgrade of our current options in my opinion.
I would move Bellerin on. He’s clearly lost a yard of pace, which was his biggest asset both offensively and defensively. He relied heavily on his recovery pace to bail himself out from initial poor positioning and I fear he won’t be able to regain that raw pace. I would choose Ainsley Maitland-Niles over Hector. He’s shown better composure on the ball, defensively capable (notable display was his performance in nullifying Zaha’s effect at Selhurst Park) and provides an overlapping option for Pepe which gives him more freedom rather than isolation. I just hope Ainsley realises that he’s in the fortunate position to play for Arsenal FC and makes this position his own, since he’s not in Arteta’s plans as a CM!
I would look to sell Hector for £15-20 million and have Ainsley and Cedric Soares compete for RB. My ideal preference was Max Aarons (above) from Norwich but with Cedric signing a permanent deal, Arteta clearly isn’t looking to strengthen within this area.
Kolasinac’s Arsenal career has been hampered by injuries. His performance levels have lacked consistency both offensively and defensively. I’d move him on and recoup £10 million minimum. Saka’s future is at LW but he’s shown us that with the right system implemented, which allows him to provide us an outlet on the left hand side, he’s a capable second choice LB behind Tierney.
We must shift players out who can’t take us to the level required and only bring in players who can adapt to Arteta’s style of football. The sales of Kolasinac, Bellerin, Mavropanos, Mustafi, Holding, Sokratis should total to minimum of £60 million. These funds can be used to sign Dayot or sign both Disasi and Tapsoba without any investment! With actual funds injected we could bring in another CB or bring in Max Aarons to add stronger depth at RB. But I’ve shown here how assets we have can be used to improve this area of the squad.
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23 years of age, 23 years as a Gooner. Arsenal runs through my veins and it pains me to see the current position and state of the club. Reading many football articles over the years has inspired me to write blogs containing Arsenal analysis. I’ve always wanted my fellow Gooners to be aware of my thoughts and opinions of ‘The Arsenal’ and thanks to Dave and Paul, I now have a platform which makes this possible.