Analysis: Full Arsenal Squad Review – And who we need to bring in….

Where Do We Go From Here? by Steve Atkinson

So, fellow Arsenal fans, with the end of the season comes the excitement and expectation of a busy time in the transfer market, with players set to be on the move in both directions.  What do you think of the squad we’ve got, where should we strengthen, what do we really need within the confines of our budget?  This is my squad review, with a focus on what I think we should do, and where we should spend.

Goalkeepers;  Ramsdale has been a fantastic addition, and I don’t see him losing his place.  Despite rumblings that Leno plans to stay, even with the Europa League next time around I think we’ll sell him, and I’m looking forward to the introduction of Matt Turner.  Runnarson will be on the move too, but I can’t imagine we’ll add anyone else.

Defence;  More of a conundrum here. Gabriel for me has been outstanding this season, very consistent and reliable.  I don’t believe the same can be said for Ben White, who arrived as a big signing with a reputation for cultured defending which would allow us to play out from the back.  I’m yet to be convinced.  Defensively, though quick, he’s often left wanting physically, and isn’t a defender who’ll win headers and battles under pressure.  Playing out, his runs often peter out around the halfway line and possession is regularly turned over.  Compare him to Newcastle United signing 30-year-old Dan Burn, a tall ball winner who changed their defence completely.  Football isn’t always technical, sometimes it’s backs-to-the-wall, doggedly defending a 1-0 lead on a wet winter night away.  White may come good, but the jury is out for me.

Tomi has really won the fans over and I rate him highly as a right back, who can cover centrally.  Soares has his ups and downs but he works hard, and I see no reason to offload him as he provides an option.  Yes, Tomi has had his injuries but of course the right back spot can also be covered by White – and Niles is heading back to the Emirates too.   Saliba – get him in and let’s see the lad play.  It’s not easy to achieve what he’s achieved already in France, I have high hopes for him.  Tierney is in my opinion our main issue, and a left back should be on our shopping list.  When Tierney is fit, I rate him as one of the top three in the Premiership.  On the downside, he’s unavailable too often (almost 50 games missed in three seasons) and this causes us serious issues when the boss doesn’t trust Tavares.  We can’t have Xhaka, Soares or Tomi deployed time and again out of their comfort zone if we have top four ambitions.

Midfield;  This is the area where I see the biggest problems.  From the day he signed, I’ve not rated Partey in any way.  He flatters to deceive and this season he gave himself four out of ten in one article, so even he recognises his performances are poor. For his size, he has no strength and he can’t dominate the midfield.  I’d have him out of the door in a shot.  Xhaka, well, he is what he is.  I love his heart and his passion, and his impressive forward passing stats, but he’s oh so slow and maybe the time has come for him to find a new challenge.  Ask yourselves, would Partey or Xhaka be on City or Liverpool’s radar? Nah.  Another who I think flatters to deceive is Odegaard.  I was unsure during his loan period, but my opinion of him improved this season with some superb performances from the lad.  Then I realised, every time we have a big game, he goes missing, every single time. We need big game players to match our ambition, he’s got time on his side and plenty of ability, let’s see how he kicks on next season, especially when the chips are down. On the other hand, for the last five games in a row I had Mo Elneny as man of the match. A guy who keeps smiling and working hard either in or out of the team is always worth having around, battling, tackling, safe in possession, I’d like to see him retained. Lokonga was a mixed bag, I rate his skills and passing range, but he definitely showed to be a lightweight when games turned physical, so he needs work and a year in the gym I’d say. A defensive midfielder is up there on the list of requirements, without a doubt.  My choice – the forgotten transfer from last year, Yves Bissouma.

Attack: ESR had a fine season, he tailed off towards the end but we knew this young side had a lot on their shoulders.  Last season, I was hoping for the boss to give him a contract and the Number 10 shirt, which he did amid silly murmurs from Villa. Emile repaid the faith shown in him and I hope he can improve again.  During that saga, we were disappointed Villa beat us to Buendia last summer, however he’s been bang average at Villa all season and I suspect we dodged a bullet there.  Saka, what a player, almost everything we do involves the lad, Martinelli has been immense this season and I think he’ll just get better, and I’d like to see Eddie stay around, although not as first choice. I was delighted to see the back of Auba, he’d given up.  Laca is ready to go, we should see that as a positive, and it seems Pepe’s Gunner days are over, so who’s coming in?  For me, I’d love it to be Jesus, he’ll lose game time at City unless Haaland has a major absence and I think he’d suit our style, plus I like us to sign players who know the league we’re in.  I also think that a player like Jesus would bring goals from ESR, Martinelli, Saka and Eddie, rather than arrive as a 20 goal a season man, which he isn’t.  Will he improve us?  Of course he will.  The other player I would like to see us chase, but I don’t see it becoming a reality, is Ivan Toney.  His work rate alone would be worth the fee, he wins more corners in his own box than any of the defenders around him, and he’d give us a plan B, a target.  I’d find room for him and Jesus in the team, Europa would help us do that.  Wild card option would be Richarlison, another Brazilian who looks to be on the move – I really hate his rolling around antics, but he certainly delivers.


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  1. Sorry not feeling that excited about the window tbh.

    Wish I did but I’ve been here before.
    Let’s hope an act can be got together by those in lofty positions.

    1. I would be the opposite. Transfer windows have been a breath of fresh air for a while now compared to the absolute trash we used to get!

      Santos last minute, Cech being our ONLY summer signing, and who could forgot the legend from Championship Manager 01/02, Kim Kallstrom!! Haha!

      1. Agreed AOT
        If we look at last seasons 6 signings only one IMO as been worth the buck payed -Ramsdale
        Tomi may come good if he wasn’t injured so much .
        No different from what we have seen come through these doors in the last decade .
        Unfortunately this is where we find ourselves looking at second tier players because of the man in charge is way below Arsenal standard ,as seen by not getting top 4 .

  2. Nice additions to the team, certainly realistic. For me, my main worry is that both our primary fullbacks missed large chunks of the season due to injuries and our LB is very injury prone. Maybe selling KT and bringing someone in, or loaning Tavares and bringing in Tyrick Mitchell might be a good shout? For the Mid I agree with your choice of Bissouma, I would also like to mention the names of Phillips and Eze, both additions at maybe the 6 and 8 positions. Also, one caveat might be that all our defensive options if we pursue Bissouma would be out for the Africa cup of nations. My no.1 target was Ryan Gravenberch but it seems we would not be able to beat Bayern in that race. For forwards, while it makes sense to target Jesus, I would rather Gnabry only because Eddie and Jesus are kind of similar players(not saying anything about similar quality players) and I believe Gnabry would offer more for us. I agree with Toney and Richarlison as forward options though. Ben Brereton Diaz might also be worth a shot.
    Of course, this should also be kept in mind that our academy youngsters like Azeez, Patino, Hutchinson, Moller, Biereth, Balogun, Ballard are also pushing their claims for the first team.

  3. We had better focus on a strong CF, who can play with his back to goal very well and can make us dominant aerially in the opposition’s area. We’ll be inconsistent again without this CF type, since our system isn’t mature yet

    The new signings for the other departments might depend on our player sales

    1. I do agree with you and my preference would be a striker who already knows the league… Ivan Toney and Origi comes to mind. I really don’t rate Dominic Calvert Lewin

      1. – Toney : His contract will only expire in 2025, he is homegrown and he is just 26 years old, so he’ll be very expensive

        – Origi : Went to Milan

        – Calvert-Lewin : Seems to be injury-prone, although we could try him out if he isn’t expensive

        – Richarlison : I rarely saw him play the CF role and he tends to drift to the left wing like Aubameyang/ Nunez, instead of playing with his back to goal

        1. GAI valid points there and a pity we can’t get what we really need easily. I would also suggest Tami. A but he would be so expensive as well.

          Maybe we need to set aside a huge amount of the budget for a special CF, its of high priority in my opinion.

        2. I don’t think we have the time to try out a striker when we have academy boys to do that with. We need a “man” at the front. Hungry and happy to tussle. Richardson is has the hunger and is a pain in any defence.

          1. But Richarlison prefers to cut inside from the left wing and avoid hold-up play against the opposition’s CBs. In my opinion, he is a bigger and less skilled version of Martinelli

    2. Gai, Arteta seem not to be on the same page with you. G Jesus doesn’t fit in the type of player you expect Arsenal to sign he is just a decent CF.

      1. I think Arteta is too confident with his system last season. He should’ve remembered that even the great Wenger and Ferguson had plan-B CFs on the bench

        Let’s see if he changes his mind this summer

        1. I think he is trying so hard to emulate Pep, but that was City’s downfall in the past season as they were exposed many times for lack of a true striker.

          We can’t afford to go that route as our quality is not even close to City’s.

        2. That’s the biggest problem with Arteta. He’s so obsessed with his system that he tends to get lost and confused when he loses a player, mainly because he has no plan-B. Partly , Xhaka and even Odergaard seem to have all lost their shooting abilities since adapting to his system. In fact we don’t have a single ball shooter in the team currently and we are not going to score goals without one.

          1. We’ve got Smith-Rowe as our goal-scoring midfielder. But he’s been losing his scoring boots lately, because Martinelli has taken over the LW role

    3. The cf will be the difference in so many games especially those teams playing low block. In such boring games you get very limited chances but efficiency of your cf is what makes the difference. It happens to all big teams in epl, they hardly do well against these low block teams, they only survive because of a better efficient attacking players. Our attacking players are either not good enough or too young to carry the team in those difficult moments

      1. Yes, we’ll need an alternative on the bench who could change our attacking style. Giroud used to do it for Wenger, when Arteta was around

  4. partey is like a goldmine that has not been fully explored. What’s more our midfield comprises of soft players. For me it’s partey over xhaka.

  5. It doesn’t matter who we sign will never be in a position to challenge for prem league them days are well and truly over just happy I was around to see the success Wenger delivered a distant memory now unfortunately!

  6. To me I don’t accept your rating on partey 4 over 10, partey his the heart of our team, we lost most games bcs of his absent and won most games wen present, If partey can go a season without going injured we can push for the league I believe. Most successful teams are build on a strong n energetic midfielders such has Patrick of his days cause I see his potential in partey wen fit

    1. Agree Partey is the one who glues this team together in the middle he just needs a partner like Bissouma to step in alongside him with Øde ahead.

      Saliba coming back shores up the defence as I agree Ben White wasn’t what we needed but will come in handy for all positions across the backline. We need another wing back and looks like is your man Hickey from Bologne.

      Up top we need 2 players, a winger and striker. Eddie is staying so Balogun can go on loan for a full season, maybe at Middlesbrough again. If Jesus is coming and I’m not convinced he’s what we need but I am assuming that will be Pepes replacement and we still sign a goal scoring no9.

    2. I do rate Phillips, agreed. The youngsters do need to blend in slowly, I have to say having watched Balogun at Boro, I don’t see anything of Prem quality …… I don’t see him in the long term plan, its mostly been hype

  7. Nicely balanced article.

    I agree with most but think that Partey had a fantastic season this season when he was fit, but we definitely need an understudy in the same physical mould (I’m not sure how the writer can claim he lacks strength). Odegaard is also just behind Saka as player of the season imo. He certainly turned up for our wins against Chelsea, Utd and West Ham.

    I like the look of Hickey as backup for both full-back positions, Tavares could do with a loan in the prem, Eze isn’t a no.8 but certainly an all-round B2B midfielder would be a great addition (Tielemans is a maybe). Scamacca or someone with both height and good feet would be my preference up top alongside Jesus. Then again, City and Liverpool have survived without a big no.9 so maybe it’s not such a big deal…

    1. I am not entirely sure about this article. There were good points in it but some of the perspectives were unduly harsh.
      Parley had had an injury ravaged season and he is expected to put out world class performances all the time?. Comparing his situation at Arsenal to a team like Liverpool were they have 4 or top midfielders and others who they can rotate in when required is not balanced. I certainly do not agree that he would look out of place in a Liverpool midfield. Xhaka is completely different and his weaknesses are chronicled regularly. Odegaard certainly needs more consistency in the bigger games but overall has done well. Unfortunately, limitations elsewhere in the team mean that when Odegaard is neutralised the team struggles. Where I would agree is that we need strengthening and options.
      The biggest problem with the defence are injuries to our regular full backs and the limitations of the covering players. BW has made mistakes and needs more consistency. However, he is still quite young and so can be expected to improve. For him an issue is that he is being compared to Gabriel who is already a very good defender. BW is also being assessed based on the transfer fee which may be a tad unfair.
      The biggest concern for me is in attack. One of the reasons we have struggled at times is the lack of efficiency. An additional issue is the limited threat offered by our strike force. I’m still not entirely convinced by Nketiah and even if we add Jesus I am not sure that our attacking threat will cause many sleepless nights for top level opponents. In my view we will need at least another top level striker.

  8. Since MA arrival Xhaka has been our most reliable and consistent midfielder. Partey is too unreliable and when available he still go missing in many games.
    We really need to strengthen midfield, that’s where football is won. Real Madrid this season glory is as a result of those experienced pensioners like kross and modric

  9. My worthless 2 cent hypotheticals…

    And NO I DON’T PLAY FIFA 22…👍


    G. Jesus…..£35M
    I. Toney.…£55M
    Y. Bissouma…£25M
    C. Doucoure…£15M
    A. Hickey….£25M

    Roughly £155M spent



    Roughly £103M recouped in sales with a Net
    spending of around £52M

    FWD: Eddie/Jesus/Toney
    RW: Saka/Nelson
    LW: Martinelli/TAVARES
    CAM: Ode/ESR
    CM: Partey/Bissouma/Doucoure
    DM: Bissouma/Doucoure/El Neny
    LB: Tierney/Hickey
    CB: White/Saliba/Gabriel/Holding/Ballard
    RB: Tomi/Soares or B Norton Cuffy
    G: Ramsdale/Turner

    Loan out Lokonga, Balogun, Patino, Flores,
    Hutchinson etc to quality Championship/ EPL
    or European clubs.

  10. I would only get Bissouma as an understudy to Partey tbh. I think they are too similar. Id rather go for either an number 8 who’s got some goals in ‘m, or a defensive mid with playmaking abilities (Frenkie/Neves/Philips).

    Leftback cover Id rather go for a little more experience (Tagliafico/Zinchenko) over Hickey, who can turn out to be another Tavares if he’s not ready yet

  11. We need pace up front not some lumbering predator with a dozen goals to their name … lukaku who is the best in that mold couldn’t do much in epl as was case with giroud for us .. so a big no thanks to tony Calvert Lewis abrahams etc … all massively overpriced to boot .. need a proper replacement for Pepe who has to be moved on … also need a box to box with a nose for goal .. a guandogan type if there is one …. So 3 quality player … saliba back and a decent RB .. xhaka out if anyone will take him white as defensive back up for CBs or midfield option .. might stand a chance then of retaining 5th or even 4th if others falter .. problem is arteta is clueless when it comes to building attacking options .. big summer ahead

  12. I disagree 100% on Partey and rate him immensely No way on Earth do we want or will sign trhb lumbering and very average Richarlison. I never gave this daft rumour any credence at all.
    I do not want Soares eithr nor Elneny , Xhaka and much hope all will leave, though it seems, woefully and certainly, that neither Elneney nor Xhaka will go this summer . God knows why Elneny was offered a new contract- a huge mistake IMO..
    I also totally disagree with the writer on Odegaard and wonder what this new writer is thinking , frankly on these above matters.

    I DO AGREE WITH HIM ON JESUS, AND ON Auba , Laca and Pepe all going or already gone, but another dIfference on the overhyped Toney.

    All in all, not much credit from me for how this writer thinks.

    1. I don’t know who you’re watching. Partey is the over hyped player that lets us down on a regular basis. He shows nothing, and certainly doesn’t lead or boss the centre, and to me anyway, he looks like he never will.
      He’s had two half decent games, I’d take 15m for him today if anyone was daft enough to offer it. Elneny is twice the player Partey is, just minus the preamble hype, and worth keeping for the cover he offers. But that’s football, all about opinions and we’re miles apart on Partey. It does seem that he’s Marmite, I do think if we get the pivot right, the results will come.

      1. We all have opinions. However, the idea that Elneny is better or indeed anywhere near Partey’s level is not credible.

  13. I don’t know who you’re watching. Partey is the over hyped player that lets us down on a regular basis. He shows nothing, and certainly doesn’t lead or boss the centre, and he looks like he never will.
    He’s had two half decent games, I’d take 15m for him today if anyone was daft enough to offer it. Elneny is twice the player Partey is. But that’s football, all about opinions and we’re miles apart …

    1. All I can say is that I’m glad Edu and MA are in charge of squad building and not any of us. Some of what I’ve read here is nuts. Partey has been very good and what we need from him is to stay as fit as he was at Atleti. Odegaard was solid and will get better. We’re not going to win the league until three years after Stan sells to a national wealth fund like the one that bought Newcastle. Arsenal plays good football and this is a manager and squad I love to watch. We’re in Europe again; enjoy it! COYG!!!

    1. Defence and gk are OK but we must integrate saliba this year or we will regret it, badly. Not quite so desperate for new fullbacks as most – 3rd priority
      Midfield is weak, only partey is at the level we need for a starter, but we need another so we can start to dominate that area of the pitch more often. Xhaka is too inconsistent and I’m sure he will make a mess again, it’s what he does. 2nd priority
      CF is crucial! Who we get up front will define our season – we have “ground out” too many results, often against poor sides, which puts strain on the squad mentally and physically, whereas a really good CF would make some of those games a breeze. It would also give us a chance against some of the top sides in the division, when we’ve rarely posed any threat for them recently. Top priority.
      Anything else is a bonus, but we should always be looking for hidden gems

      1. We need fullbacks because while we have two really strong players, they will miss half the year, so really strong cover in that spot is critical. I will be thrilled if both somehow manage to heal over the summer.

        We need a CM – I am more neutral on Partey than a lot (I don’t love him but I don’t hate him either) but he can add to the team, and he had a good steady run before injury. Problem is that he has shown standard Arsenal durability so we need an extra.

        Granit is Granit and he was generally good, especially in the second half of season but he will go off at some point and cost us. Elneny seems to really divide but he is a good pro and excellent cover.

        If AMN would be willing to be the swiss army knife I would keep him around but he has to be willing to play in FB spots and be a squad player.

        Saliba needs to be integrated into the squad as White and Gabriel need competition – plus it could allow White to cover for the glass full backs. I would keep Holding as well – he is a pro and does his job.

        If Eddie can keep playing well that is great but we need help. Jesus can score in EPL and he won’t be terribly expensive, I would bring him in. Some type of a Giroud would be good for me too so we had a completely different option, but not quite sure who that is.

        I don’t think that we can do all of that so my wish would be one FB, Saliba, a CM and a Striker.

        Jesus is my first choice. If more people can be sold early, then bring in extras but we have to have the striker. Even 10 goals from a new CF gets us top four despite everything else. I think Jesus can get us 10+ and he will mesh in well with our other attackers.

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