Analysis of Arsenal’s signings and our chances of making the Top Four this season

My views on Arsenal’s readiness next season by Ajay

We all know we finished 5th, missing out on 4th, after we choked in the month of May and had a string of poor results. Over the last 2 months we have seen some strengthening of squad. I am putting here my views on how ready we are for the new season.

Forwards and goal scorers I felt was our biggest issue we had last year. Top teams generally get +50 goals from their top 3 contributors. And another 15 from backup 3 forwards. I.e., 6-7 central forwards and wingers should give approx 60-65 goals. It’s simple.

Chelsea with all their spend couldn’t manage it last season, but we have also been very poor. For that to happen one of our forward 3 has to score 20 goals and other two 15 each. Saka last year was top scorer with 11 goals. ESR added 10 and Martinelli added 6. CF – Auba and Laca had just 4 each in 32 appearances between them. Eddie was much better with 5 goals in 8 matches. That’s 26 goals from top three contributors. Next 4 provided 15 goals. We have significant underperformance from our top 3 by approx 25 goals. And how much have we addressed that in last 2 months?

We have added GJ to the forward line. I expect him to give double of what was there last season between Laca and Auba, at least 15 if not 20. What’s the point of having a young evolving team if they don’t improve from last year? So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that both Martinelli and Saka will improve their tally by at least 7-10 more goals this season and GJ’s presence and movement will help them. Despite all the excitement, Martinelli still needs to have a breakout season where he actually adds more goals to his performances.

Hopefully we will have 40 goals this season between our top three forwards. A big ask honestly. However, in a long season we can’t rely on them to play all season and stay injury free. We need another player who can give 15 goals a season if a player is out for 6-8 months (hope that never happens). Else what’s the point of having a 25 man squad. I don’t see another forward/wingman who can give us that. Hence, I still see our forward lineup as a weakness from this season’s point of view. A versatile forward who can play at wing & centrally, capable of scoring 15 goals, is important. Our own Jota!

Another issue with goals is that we don’t have any direct free kick specialist. We have done well in set pieces but not on direct free kicks. But it’s just an expectation being greedy.

In midfield, both attack and defence we are better than our forward lineup in my view. Our newly appointed captain scored 7 goals last year. I expect him to improve from there, or at worst maintain it. However we have 2 issues to be resolved here. Partey when injured had impact on our defensive record and we need backup there. And Xhaka (though unlike most here on JA, I like him) hasn’t given much from goals point of view. Our backup also in midfield is weak from a goalscoring point of view. Elneny and Lokonga were main backup in midfield with zero goals and 2 assists in 19 appearances. Though we had 9 odd goals from midfield players, improvement on Xhaka who must add more goals to the team and a strong backup for Partey is critical for team to improve. We have not done anything regarding it. We must add one this season and one more next season. 15 goals are what top teams should give minimum from midfield.

In defence is our strength but only when we had all 5 available. GK, 1st choice back 4 and Partey. Which has not been the case in many matches, and it’s not been given this year either. Issues are – Player’s fitness and disciplinary record leading to high goals conceded and less clean sheets.

Disciplinary record – Xhaka, Gabriel and Lokonga need to improve on their disciplinary records and cut down on yellow and especially red cards. Xhaka has to improve and possibly will be helped now as he is playing slightly more forward. Gabriel like Xhaka seems to be hot-headed, last year’s red card being a clear example. Being key to our defence, I am hoping another year of experience under his belt will improve his temperament and allow him to cut down on rash tackles.

Clean sheets – we need to add 5 to 7 more than last year. But how do we achieve that? A) Better fitness and better backup of players B). More attacking game keeping other teams on the back foot, but also fast defenders with good positioning to ensure we are better at not conceding on counter attacks.

When we had both Tomiyasu and Tierney available, we had a mean defence. Especially Tomi. Partey’s presence is also critical from a defence point of view. In pre-season MA has tried White in place of Cedric as backup. Zinchenko will also provide better cover for Tierney.

Our main issue last year was when we had players out, we didn’t have the right backup. Two players being added, Saliba and Zinchenko improve that significantly. City is also an example of how attack is best form of defence. I expect us to improve our defensive record this year and have over 15+ clean sheets instead of 12 last year. Our defenders need to contribute enough on their secondary job of scoring goals similar to City and Liverpool. I think vs last year we have improved our defence the most and it’s defence which wins league titles. MA seems to believe the same, stop goals first and then score. I also assume once our team is more confident of not conceding goals, we will see more fluid games in the opposition half, pinning them back and limiting them to counterattacks.

In short, significant improvement in defence, decent in attack and none in midfield is my summary of squad improvement this transfer window.

Another view to look at it is from ‘table and points’ point of view.

For top 4 qualification we have more competition this year. We scored last year 69 points. What we need to target is 78 points or more this season.

If we cutdown on 13 losses to 8 and improve on 22 wins to 25 we have very high chance of being in the top 4, irrespective of who else is capturing the other 3 positions. Will we improve our losses by 5 games? I think no but we will probably bring it down to 9-10 which means I expect Pool, City and Spurs to have a better record than us. On the wins front will we improve from 22 wins? Last year the 3rd & 4th had 21 and 22 wins. I think we will improve on this but there’s a big if. If our 1st choice forwards remain fit for the entire season. Hence, it’s a chance and with low probability. My guess is we are still a team with 72-73 points in us and defiantly nowhere near top 2.

I am confident that over next 3 transfer windows we will have stronger team (assuming we start extending contracts of our young players during this time). Assuming this will be done by adding 2 forwards, 2 midfielders and 1 RB in my view. However critical is that we add 2 this season for us to be successful now. More critical is we add 15-goal players capable of playing 2 positions of front 3. Second a CM. Preferred is an improvement on Partey (if that possible or backup at least) or less preferred option to add goals by improving on Xhaka (less critical and perhaps next season preference).

The team will be more mature this year and will learn from last year’s mistakes. Our core 15 players of last season will still be here and have 1-year additional experience under their belt. Their understanding and reliability on each other will improve. Two players with experience of handling pressure and winning the league will help our dressing room a lot after the excitement of new additions to squad dies down after 2 months. None of us know how the winter World Cup will impact the season for us and others, but our players for now seem more confident in preseason. The insecurities of last year have gone and players seems to have realised what this team is capable of on their day.

As we enter the new season for now, I am happy that we have improved defence, most likely will improve points tally, but still feel we need to have luck on our side to achieve 3rd or 4th. Those who talk of top two positions are daydreaming in my view. With 2 additions in mentioned positions, I will really look forward to the season and will be surprised if we don’t achieve top 4. Something inside me tells me one more definitely getting added before the window closes.

Arteta and Edu can fix that in the next few weeks and may significantly improve our chances for champions league next season.

Ajay Rangi

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  1. Man City and Liverpool are way better than the other EPL teams, so there are only two places left for the other big teams

    If Jesus, Martinelli and Partey can stay fit throughout the season, we could have a good chance to finish fourth. This is highly unlikely due to their adventurous playing style, so I consider our chance to be moderate

    1. Gai,
      I kind of. think Chealse wont make top4 this season. 3&4 will be between Spuds and Arsenal. If Arsenal can add another player may be someone to compete with Saka i think the squard will be fine

      1. Yeah, I think Chelsea have some disillusioned players due to failed transfers. As for the RW role, we’ve got Pepe and Marquinhos to compete with Saka

        1. From what have seen Gai in pre-swason, Marquinhos seem not a competition with Saka he needs time; i hope Pepe step up this season.

          1. Yes Sylva, Marquinhos doesn’t seem ready for EPL yet

            I heard Newcastle are interested in signing Pepe, but we shouldn’t sell him for peanuts. If Brighton insist on 50 M for Cucurella, we’d better get the same amount for Pepe

  2. Ajay, congratualtions upon writing such a welcome in depth piece with your views backed up by details.

    I thought it overall an excellent piece. As often I do not agree 100% (though pretty near it!) but I loved the way how you explained things and would LOVE more pieces from you.

    Applause my friend!

  3. I have said from the very beginning of this Era, i dont see us getting top four with the “team” we have assembled as Arsenal football cub. Arteta has proved he isnt upto the top 4 managers, they are all far more experienced and decorated than him. Edu is so inexperienced in the job he is in and the owners know zilch about football. The way the top 4 have their teams set up and play football is way ahead of us. Our balance is all wrong and you cant work with a team that is not set up correctly to start with. My biggest worry is the teams above us have signed exactly what they need and when you see Liverpool and City the players they have are not only technical but the size and power is far above us. Chelsea and Spuds are below the top two but again, they have players that are technical and athletic. Nothing to me points to us being able to get into the top 4, if i am brutally honest. BUT LIKE I HAVE SAID AND HAVEN’T BEEN FOR THE LAST 3 SEASONS. I would love to be proved wrong. I am not an Arteta fan but i am an Arsenal, i unlike some hypocrites on this site can easily be an Arteta fan, if he actually does something to PROVE he is upto the job. The ONLY reason i am not is because he hasn’t. Please prove me wrong!!!!!!!!!

    1. So you only get behind a manager when he’s already done well?

      I guess you were one of those saying “Arsene who?”.

      1. What sort of a question is that? That wasn’t the question being asked in this article. WHY DO SOME PEOPLE OBJECT AND DISRESPECT PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT OPINIONS ? All i am interested in is talking about opinions but a few on here are just ignorant and dont understand the word opinion. I have an opinion just like (believe it or not you) and when the whistle blows, i am doing no different to any other supporter and willing us to win. It doesn’t matter who is manager when i do that but when we are underachieving, i am entitled to have my say. So are you but like a few others on here, just use it to dis what people think, if it isn’t what you think. Please dont tell me i am this and that, when for one, i back up what i say and for two, i dont slag you off for being so stupidly positive. I dont like the direction our club is going in at the moment but that doesn’t mean i am right but funnily enough, it doesnt mean you are either.

        1. Plus, unlike you and others, i said i would be extremely happy to be proved wrong. Will you be happy, if YOU are proved wrong?

      2. I Don’t Know, I’m certain you were also among those saying “Arsene Who?” at that time. Possibly the only ones singing his praises were Glen Hoddle who had discovered a revelation after the dinosaurs he had to play under in English football and those of us in Japan watching J League football. Even then I was extremely surprised that Wegner could impose his footballing philosophy so easily at no nonsense Arsenal. Like all above I am more optimistic than I have been for at least six seasons about Arsenal’s prospects but have to temper it with some of Reggie’s caution that the starting 11 lacks balance. Only five more sleeps though.

      3. Your analysis is wrong on the coaching crew and the team, your statement is full of hatred. Liverpool doesn’t just start winning laurels Klopp was given time with good finances. Guardiola inherited a very good Man City team and robust funds were always made available for him every seasons, Chelsea spend very big to attain that level. We are still above Tottenham irrespective, their 4th position was helped by fa.
        If you the anti-Arteta, anti-Edu, anti-kroenkes (indirectly anti-arsenal) can’t support the present philosophy you can simply exit the club.

    2. I don’t know why am struggling to comprehend what you’re portraying.
      However, I feel this set up deserve some credit. The team has improved from how it finished off last season.
      Sometimes. The believe in oneself ability does so much. That self believe and confidence is creeping back in to the team.
      Let’s keep our fingers crossed and see how it pans out to be.
      But top 4 is definitely not so far away .

      1. Arteta has done fairly with the new signings but the midfield is a crucial part of every team and Arsenal’s midfield is very weak,

        We have Partey as the only muscle in there, Oedegaard is skillful but lacks stamina, same as xhaka, we need a loan deal for loftus-cheek,

    3. Have never been an Arteta fan either but am beginning “to want to ” put my trust in him a tinny bit , and consciously hoping between him and Edu they can add an additional striker and a one for backup for Partey.

    4. Don’t know what you are on about mate, Arteta has nothing to prove to you.
      You didn’t employ him, you ain’t his boss. You have no say in whatever goes on.
      Everything is fans discuss simply has no effect on how the team and manager will perform.
      Nobody cares if you’re proved wrong or not, certainly not Arteta. So maybe you should just support the team. You don’t believe in the manager, fine. Why do you always have to pick the team apart and talk about them like they’re not good enough? Some of you never have anything good to say about the team and manager. Must be fun as a football fan to always be pessimist about everything

    5. Nobody has the time to prove you wrong. All we ant to see is good football ,it’s a sport not our life. So if you want to be this way, all the best.Enjoy your ginger.

  4. I think we will win the league and GJ will finish top goalscorer. William Hill odds are 250-1, so I whacked £20 on it. If Leicester could win the league at odds of 5000-1, then anything is possible in football. My reasoning is GJ has gelled quickly with our squad, whereas Haaland looks like he will take some time to settle in, as does Nunez at Liverpool. Tottenham cracks will appear larger this year from their ageing squad and Chelsea look like there’s turmoil in the camp since the club’s ownership changed. Man U need at least two more transfer windows for their manager to make a difference. This year we have a chance to suprise everyone and the new additions to our squad look like the have strengthened us in key areas we where lacking last season, namely central defence, leftback/mid and striker. I am particularly excited with Saliba, I think he will be our VVD as he has great positioning, speed and strength. We finally have a rock in defence. As for GJ, he will relish being the main man in our young team and has come to us in his prime. Premier League proven and from a team which plays a similar high pressing style. He will be banging goals in for fun this season and I can’t wait to collect my £5000 winnings when we win the Premier League and G. Jesus gets awarded the Golden boot. Come on Arsenal!

    1. Good to see a positive post! 🙂 They seem rare around these parts nowadays.

      I’m not sure I can see us winning the PL but I hope you’re right.

      And I share your thoughts re Spurs – lots of people saying they look stronger than last season but I’m not seeing that (yet). Ageing squad, flaky manager.

    2. Thanks for being this.
      I share your thoughts. But I really do hope Edu and MA are able to negotiate their way into adding another fire power of a forward upfront. For me his guy from PSV, Gody Gakpo fits the bill.
      By this achieving top 2 would be closer in my thought.
      Cheers

    3. Dear I don’t see it happening, am often time concerned about Arteta team set up , and his ability to manage the individuality players without turning the them against the team goals

      1. The author is spot on,we need further renforcement in the middle,one winger,and another striker …then we shall be champions.

  5. The author has made some good points. Arsenal have clearly strengthened some key parts of the first team. We are still lacking depth in some areas so much will depend on keeping players fit.
    A lot will also depend on whether we can take our preseason form into the season. If we start well it will allow us to develop momentum.
    Ideally we would have added strength/competition in a number of areas especially in midfield and attack. However, the first team is quite strong and will be competitive if we don’t have too many injuries. I also feel that Arteta is an underrated manager, particularly amongst some Arsenal fans and sections of the media.
    We do have to agree that other teams have strengthened in some ways. However, the changes at Liverpool and Man City are more of an evolution rather than dramatic improvements. How well Spurs will gel is still uncertain. A lot of people have a great belief that Conte will turn them into some kind of juggernaut. Personally, I am not convinced but time will tell. It is also unclear how well Ten Hag’s methods will work at Man U.
    Arsenal fans should be looking forward to what should be an exciting new season. There is every chance that we will be in the hunt for fourth and be very competitive in the cup competitions.
    It should be an interesting season.

  6. I’m more optimistic about our ability to reduce games lost by more. The losses last season were often games we should have won. A couple of times it was due to a red card for example.
    My main point is that we do have a player who can play on the wing and centrally, giving us 15 goals a season and who is also a free kick specialist: Pepe. We just need to get the bloke on the pitch.

  7. GJ make me realise we’ve been missing a real no.9 striker in front. Auba only excels in Martinelli’s position & Laca is just not good enough.

  8. Haha. Another article with comparison to other team enhancements , Liverpool seems out of earth , mancity may be same level as last year , Chelsea , wait and see ! Spurs some enhancements, Man U new coach new strategies, arsenal new players , it is all about the improvement compared to others

  9. When it comes to goals,I think Nketia is very much underrated and may prove many people wrong- his target should be 20 goals in all competitions. From what I’ve seen, albeit only on YouTube, Fabio Viera seems like a very capable scorer.ESR will also score goals from his Ramsey-esque runs into the box last year. Finally, from defense, Gabriel was one of the highest scoring defenders in the Epl-at the very least he should maintain his tally

    1. Great point on Gabriel – his goals were important and their impact underrated last season. It made some tight games open up in our favour. Hope he can continue scoring.
      Eddie could get a lot of goals depending on how often he plays.

  10. The truth is, the club is in the same position it was 3 years ago when Emery was Sacked and over 4 years ago, when Wenger was sacked. So until we improve how can we be so hypocritical, after probably the same supporters were calling for Wenger and Emerys heads for FAILING to get top 4. If we are out of the top 4, we have to be failing, until we get back in it. I wont let my standards drop or be hypocritical like a few on here, i want better and DONT SETTLE for less.

    1. We backing the team and the current mgt ain’t settling for less either,we are only playing our part in ensuring we attain greater heighs so don’t claim to love the club more than we do.

      1. Oh i am sorry but i wasn’t but i have been accused of just that before. Strange that isnt it? If you cared to read it, i hold everyone to achieve the same acceptable standards and i dont see why they should be lowered. Dont put words in peoples mouths.

        1. Reggie
          I know there are a few who still don’t believe which I respect but I would have to disagree with you on where this team is
          Our defence is far more solid compared to AW days and as for UE
          I said it before
          Good manager but was never suited to us.
          Its going to be a a hard fought 38 games but I Beleive this is the season where we do finally break back in to the top 4 and in my opinion I expect 3rd

          1. But AB i would be in agreement with you if we got into the top 4. Until then its all smoke and mirrors. But when this season starts we go again and try to get in to it. If we do, then we are progressing, if we dont, we are most definitely not. Only top 4 will prove that we are better to the last years of wenger and Emery.

            1. If you only look at table position, sure you can make an argument the team is in the same place. Of course even then, that ignores the fact that on a couple of times we missed out on top 4 by the narrowest of margins.

              But I would argue to anyone who is really paying attention that Arteta and Edu are doing a pretty nice job of assembling a nice collection of young, talented, complementary players, with the right attitude, who fit the system they are putting in place.

              Given the disastrous period we endured with losing key players and poor signings it was always going to take time to rebuild, but to me the signs looks not only promising, but pretty clear that we are going in the right direction.

              Having said all that, top 4 in one of the strongest leagues in the world, if not the strongest, is no sure thing if you are not Liverpool or Man City, especially when you factor in things like injuries which certainly torpedoed our chances last year. I say, let’s get behind the team, appreciate the progress and enjoy the new season!

  11. If Arsenal can shift most of the deadwood, I hope they can get at least 2 more players.
    I would want us to get a physically imposing but intelligent ball carrying defensive midfielder who is adept in central defence and then a wily, 30+ year striker (Edison Cavsni in mind) who is willing to let GJ be the main man – for a 1 year deal. We need that old head in the dressing room.

  12. Going in into the new EPL season’s campaign this season that began yesterday at the King Power Stadium. Arsenal currently have 7 midfielders of: Xhaka, Partey, Elneny, Ordeega. ESR, Lokonga and Vieira on their books to kick of their EPL season away to Crystal Palace at Shehutst Park this week on Friday night.
    But what will Arsenal be signing a new top quality midfielder for when they already have 7 midfielders in their midfield?
    Save, if the new midfielder to be signed is a high goals scoring caliber of midfielder kind like the former Gunner Aaron Ramsey was once for Arsenal when played for them and scoring goals in their numbers for the club. So, to me there is no use if Arsenal went out this summer to sign another new midfielder except one of the7 midfielders in the team is sent out on loan. And the new midfielder to be signed us top goals scoring midfielder.
    If Arsenal will all their current 7 midfielders for this season’s summer campaign. Than, they should prioritize the signings of another new top grade tall centreforward of 6ft plus in height. And a new top quality goals scoring rightwinger. Sign the two and complete their first team strengthening this summer.

    1. Except Elneny, no one can replace Partey or even Xhaka. All the rest are attacking midfielders. For instance, ESR normally replace Martinelli. Vieira is not tested, but my understanding is that he is an attacking midfielder as well.
      We sorely miss a defending midfielder. Can Zin cover that? I doubt it.

  13. This team is far better than what we have had for the past three years or more, for us to buy more players the none performing player’s should go . The owners believe in MA and if you are a good supporter you have to trust the process, for me our first eleven can compete with any team what we need is bit of luck over injury. I can wait for the season to start because trust the process and looking forward for a better season.UP GUNNERS

  14. The writer display lots of football sense.

    Am certain as night will turn day ĺthat we will sign a midfielder before the window slam shut.

    From Mello to Savic, there is a saturation of midfielders in the market, whether it’s by a loan or one last throw of the dice to bring in a midfield general, I can smell it.
    Not so sure about the striker and the winger, wish I had seen more of this Marquinhos lad.

    But the writer is a realist and he is seeing the big picture clear as day

  15. I think Arsenal are just two signing away from a VERY strong chance to get 4th. Partey backup/RW are the two ingredients missing in this team. If Partey is out, Xhaka/Elneny become our 6. We are NOT getting 4th with those players starting in that position. That much is very obvious. It’s just not possible. Partey is essential to how our midfield operates and we don’t have a good replacement for him. Our number one signing right now should be for that position. RW, we can’t have Saka be burnt out. We were pushing it last season. Who is his backup? Marquinhos is an unknown quantity right now. Pepe is just a no-go and should be sold. Everywhere else I see great competition in this squad and it’s almost where it needs to be. We just need finishing touches and this could be a great season.

  16. Way to early to call, but unlike last season I expect to see the Arsenal off to a fast start. However, it won’t be until the end of super October that we’ll have a clear idea of where the team is at.

  17. I expect more contribution from Saka, Martinelli and ESR in the goal scoring department as they will be more experienced now and hope ESR stays injury free. The presence of Jesus will be critical because not only can he consistently score but also can draw defenders leaving space for the other attackers and he automatically raises the level of other players around him. As for the midfield, we should sign another central midfielder and more is expected from Xhaka to score and Partey should be hopefully less injury prone. The defence is strengthened surely by Saliba and Zinchenko and the best thing about Zinchenko is that along with being a good defender he also has got fantastic crosses in his armoury and is very versatile. All in all looking forward to the upcoming season.

  18. Top 4 … I would say 50-50 … we have better squad than last year but don’t yet have a top 4 midfield … also depends on other teams … spurs look stronger … while Chelsea are at this moment looking more fragile .. but could change .. while man utd have a better manager but not sure that’s enough … I cannot for the life of me understand why we haven’t already brought in a dominant midfielder .. whether classic DM or B2B .. arteta is now resorting to using Xhaka as a more attacking Left midfielder … where as with LB LM he is a championship level player .. possible that when tiernay returns he will push zinchenko in to that role .. clearly superior … but there’s a real Weakness there esp if Chelsea and man utd get there act together … and I expect hammers with an improved strike force keeping their best players and with fewer games than last season to push again this year

  19. Good analysis Ajay,great to see you have taken many metrics into consideration. This is the least I think we need to get before the window closes, one DM,one striker(seems like we may play Jesus and Nkeitah in the same team) as we have no backup. Wingers,CM secondary for me(just my opinion). From what we have seen so far, backup keeper doesn’t look convincing.

  20. To me it looks like we have not added enough players if we factor in Europa league. We need 1 more top striker with physical power + couple more fringe players at the back & middle who can play in other competitions. We have 4 defenders but need 5 to play across all competitions. No cover for RB & LB considering physical fitness of main players in those positions is in doubt. No need to buy 25M + players but some young players with potential could do.

  21. My big worry is we have made good signings, but won’t complete the job. I have seen this time and time again. It is the Arsenal disease. We need two players to make it work. A midfielder, to cover for Partey, a forward for if Gabriel Jesus gets injured. I’ve for many years resigned myself to never having a fully complete transfer window…. PLEASE…..this year finish the job, or the Imposters from N17 will be smiling.

    1. Well Sean, you are absolutely right.

      Surely every coach in the Prem has seen what Jesus has done in the preseason.

      So I expect him to get a lot of “attention” this season, starting with Palace.

      If Jesus gets injured, then as well as Eddie N played last year, I think he will find it a lot harder score this season.

      So another goal scorer is essential!!!

      The same applies to Thomas Partey. As we saw last season, when he got injured, we tanked.
      I like Lakonga, but I think he is still a couple of years away from taking that role in a team that aspires to Champions League football!!

      As a last comment.

      I have read that Arsenal are after Cody Gakpo. He is a very good left winger, currently with PSV.

      If we bring him in, I will reiterate what I have said so many times, that ESR and his dad get themselves a copy of the old Animals song, and play it incessantly…

      “We’ve gotta get out of this place”

  22. We are top 4. The amount of spelling errors and “wtf” comments is mind blowing. Check yourself before you complain about a great squad,manager and club! Come on you GUNNERS!!!!!!!

  23. As usual the arsenal team is unbalanced and the areas of importance are not been sorted out. Case in point the holding midfield role, where we have Partey and Xhaka. I can almost guarantee that Partey will not play as the season progress, leaving the team short and having no other experienced player in that position. The team need another defensive midfield and it is clearly obvious. The team also need another forward, unless arteta is going to convert Pepe and use him centrally when needed. On paper the team looks good, but can these fragile players deliver week in, week out. They haven’t so far but just hoping that they can gel and play with real confidence this season.

  24. I am sure there is a deal to be done here?

    We fancy Tielemans in the last year of his contract?

    Rodgers fancies Maitland-Niles in the last year of his contract.

  25. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    If we could play the first choice 11 and formation(s) all the time (without them tiring) then I’d look forward to 3rd and winning the EPL with some confidence.

    But that almost certainly won’t happen.

    Pre-season was an eye opener in more ways than one. We demolished some good sides playing the main men, but did badly when other guys stepped in.

    The first half vs the Germans was lost, second half with the main team, won comfortably and in style.

    The bigger concerns are when you look at a second-string 11 losing 1-2 to Brentford at home, albeit behind closed doors.

    There’s work to be done on squad depth – or, to be precise, on having quality in depth.

    So much will depend on injuries, number of games played etc. Having the academy guys win the early rounds of the league cup and even the FA cup would help in many ways.

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