With Europe secured, I provide my thoughts on the players we should sign that will allow us to play multiple in game systems and formations.
The process of moving players on who simply don’t suit the style of football Arteta is looking to implement must now begin. I’ve always reiterated the fact that we have a few sellable assets within the squad, who can help raise funds.
With regards to the centre back situation, Sokratis is the first I would look to sell. The experienced Greek international clearly doesn’t fit into the long term vision and philosophy our young Spanish coach is looking to install. At least two centre backs must be moved on since we are very heavy within this department. Holding is the second I would place on the transfer list as he can help generate funds. His performance in the final on Saturday was encouraging but I don’t believe Mikel sees him in his plans. The only minutes Rob has received in the Premier League this season has been when our first choice centre halves have suffered injuries.
Mustafi ruled out with an injury means it will be difficult to move him on. Kolasinac has a few years still left on his contract. But unfortunately, the Bosnian lacks essential attributes both offensively and defensively. Wasteful in the final third, lacks positional awareness and poor with the ball at his feet. We should sell him on and allow AMN to provide cover for Tierney.
Two other players who should be added onto the transfer list are Guendouzi and Elneny. Obviously, we must look to explore avenues which will allow us to relinquish our ties with Ozil, but we all know that this will be difficult. But if we look at the other players mentioned, the total sales should provide us with at least £55-60M in funds.
There are three essential areas within the squad that must be addressed. A commanding centre back is one. With Dayot extending his contract with RB Leipzig, we have to look at other options. Mine would be Gabriel Maghalaes. Young, left footed, composure in possession and a good reader of the game for someone still so young. £25M is all that’s needed to acquire his services. A further look into Lille’s exciting prospect can been seen here.
Next, a central midfielder is needed. Key attributes required are power, tenacity and athleticism. Thomas Partey possesses all of these traits. Atletico Madrid’s exciting midfielder can act as a destroyer out of possession as well as a line breaker with the ball at his feet. His passing range is exceptional and would slot perfectly into our side. We have to trigger his £43M release clause.
Since Emery’s departure, Dani Ceballos has been incredibly consistent and should be signed on, whether its a loan extension or a permanent deal. He provides competition for a starting spot along with giving us great depth within midfield.
For me, the next signing is the most fundamental. A creative 8/10 who drifts in between the lines, and connects our front three. We need someone who can have a similar impact to what Bruno had at United. Although he isn’t my first choice, Coutinho on loan is looking the most likely option. But it would still be an exciting signing. Vision, creativity, intelligence, decision making in the final third, weight of pass, goal threat, trickery are all traits he provides.
My ideal choice would have been Donny Van de Beek. If the opportunity arises, we have to try and get him! He is that good and so versatile. 8 goals and 5 assists in the league for the Dutch international this season. £45M is rumoured to be enough to get him at the carpet.
But whoever it is, this position must be addressed as it will enable us to have more success and consistency against teams who sit deep and look to frustrate. The key for the top four is the consistency against the teams you’re expected to beat, which we have failed to provide for the last few years.
Potential 2020/2021 Arsenal squad
Above, shows our potential 2020/21 squad. Coutinho (£15M loan fee+ wages), Partey (£43M) and Gabriel (£25M) totals to £83M The financial benefits of us winning the FA Cup and entering the Europa League provides us with an additional £30M in funds. So money coming in would total to approximately £85M (£55M in player sales which was mentioned earlier), meaning that no investment is needed to assemble this side.
Four competitions means that squad depth is vital. For the first half of the season, I would bring Emile Smith Rowe. If he excels and displays good performances then he can be a valuable player to us for the second half of the season as well. But if his development can quicken with a loan for the remainder of the campaign, then this would be the best solution. Willock is one player who must go out on loan as he needs to seek regular game time and learn his trade elsewhere.
But lets talk about this side. Balance, structure, competitiveness, flair, an exciting backline and reliable GK’s. Thats what this team brings. 4-2-3-1 in possession, can easily transition to a 4-3-3 as shown below.
The creativity Coutinho possesses will improve supply lines to our front three, creating more chances for them and hence increasing our xG. Pepe should be given roaming licence to drift between right to left. Just like he did against Chelsea in the FA Cup final and look how dangerous our Ivorian wide attacker was.
Out of possession, we can shift to a back five as this provides us with more solidity. This system has worked effectively against the elite teams, like Manchester City and Liverpool, as it has helped us nullify supply lines/threats from out wide. Granit fills in at left centre back with Tierney moving to left wing back.
We can even spring into a 4-4-2. Lacazette and Aubameyang both occupy central positions, along with Pepe and Coutinho on the wings, either stretching play or drifting infield. So much flexibility! The two centre backs in Gabriel and Saliba both provide ball progression from deep, which is a fundamental that Mikel requires from his defenders. Obviously, both should be eased slowly into the side. But an eventual partnership of the two is exciting.
We can attack in a variety of different patterns as well. 3-2-5, pre COVID-19, with an inverted full back was one we deployed. So in this case, Xhaka occupies the left back position. Bellerin will tuck in and maintain the pivot by ‘inverting’, so that overloads and easy transitions through the middle aren’t created if we lose possession. Our Gabonese star then positions himself as a left forward, occupying the oppositions right back with Tierney given license to create width and stretch play out wide on the left. The same situation and strategy can be done on the opposing flank, by creating overloads on the right instead of the left.
To summarise, Xhaka would act as the controller, providing progression from deep. Partey acts as the destroyer and also, along with Granit, possesses line breaking ability. Coutinho’s presence will help us to break teams down who play low block. Against opposition who deploy this type of system, we could even bring Ceballos in for our Swiss midfielder to support Coutinho.
There is clear improvement in our squad depth and players would be aware that if performance levels drop, their place in the starting eleven would be under serious threat.
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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.