Arsenal Analysis – Our current squad in detail…and who we need

What Arsenal want, what Arsenal need, what’s the difference? by JA

Hey guys, great end to the season it was. I know most of you must have enjoyed it. There’s been much debate on multiple Arsenal forums around the world regarding what transfers Arsenal should make. Case in point, Just Arsenal, the arguments become pretty hot and there seems to be no argument. I’m not really writing this to settle the debate, but rather to, in detail, express my view.

Unlike many, I’m not really clamouring for the signing of every world-class player out there. My reason is simple. Players ain’t born world-class, they grow into it, and secondly, nobody becomes world-class without being given the opportunity to prove themselves.

In view of my stand, I’ll go position by position and see how many players we need to sign—

Well the last season did seem to bring a roar for the manager to sign a world-class goal keeper who never concedes goals following Szczesny messing up. David Ospina stepped in and covered well. Most fans seem to believe Ospina is greater than Szczesny and isn’t as error-prone as the Pole. Personally, I think Ospina isn’t error-prone, but he’s going to concede the same kind of goals all season and it might not change a lot. Not because he can’t learn, but at less than six feet,you are not exactly going to command the 6 yard box in the Premier League when Stoke City start whipping in 500 crosses per game. Take the Pole’s performance in the FA Cup final. Aston villa clearly had watched the previous few Arsenal games and knew that all you had to do was have a striker as big and strong as the Arsenal center backs and keep whipping the ball in at him. The GK is gonna be too small to bail them out when the striker eventually out-jumps them. Having Szczesny, though, nullified that threat as he’s tall and fast and can be really decisive when he comes out. As a result, they started playing crosses further away from the six yard box and in turn, it became easier for Mert and Kos to clear.

What does this mean? It means, with the Pole, that we might suffer less from crosses, but taking into account his poor distribution, we also lose the option of a quick counter-attack from a clearance. This is the point where we move to the Colombian keeper.

Ospina is small and vulnerable to the crossed ball. He, however, is a good shot stopper and distributor. I will not say he’s an excellent shot stopper because I’ve not seen him take the amount of fire that Szczesny has taken in his time at Arsenal. I can’t point to a game that Ospina has won us but I CAN point to games that both have lost us. Weighing up the options, I think you don’t want to be playing the Colombian against a typical route one type team.

Then comes the transfer rumours…
Petr Cech. To start with, I consider him better than both our keepers. He did share the Golden Gloves with our Pole the season before last and I think he still has the juice in him. There’s hearsay out there that we could get Cech and send Szczesny out to Southhampton next season – which I think would be an excellent idea – and i think that’s the way to go, but how long do we do this ?

At their best, I think Szczesny dwarfs Ospina in every aspect of the game but distribution. Considering he’s got pretty good footwork with the ball at his feet (and don’t say you haven’t seen him beat Valbuena and many other players on the dribble and been excited by it), he could improve this, so for me, he would be my Number One. Cech beats both at everything so, for me, that makes Ospina number three. How exactly do we strengthen but give everyone a chance to develop?

I don’t think Szczesny is 2 seasons away from his best. I think Ospina is already at his best but not good enough to be Number One all season, so… Sign Cech on a two year deal. Send Szczesny on loan where he can be Number One and get his footing back and keep Ospina as the cup keeper. Next season, Bring Szczesny back and let Cech run his contract down as we ease the Pole back in.

BTW, we can’t depend on rotation to keep everyone happy here. You don’t just rotate keepers from game to game if you plan to win the league….

Personally I think our defense is sorted for next season. We are well endowed at right and center back, quite light at left back, but good enough to get us there next season. Left back, though light, also offers tactical flexibility that directly affects Alexis Sanchez. If you notice, last season, Alexis was more dangerous with Gibbs at full-back than with Monreal. Personally,I think this was because of differences in the mentalities and physical capabilities of the two.

Gibbs tends to overlap when we have the ball continuing his run down the touchline as if to wait for a through pass that he can whip in a cross from. Despite the fact that most of his crosses are quite bogus, it helps Alexis who depends on drifting inwards onto his stronger right foot. Alexis also likes to target the space between the opposition fullback and the nearest centerback as an entry point into the opposition box, Gibbs making that run makes that space that little bit wider.

Monreal, on the contrary, is more conscious in the way he moves, and tends to postion himself for the easy pass rather than get ready to switch on the after-burners. As a result, he tends to drift inward just like Sanchez thus leaving the Chilean with only the option of sneaking in with the tap in or the surprise attempt since the space he’d have operated in is already occupied by Monreal . Also Sanchez has a lesser pass completion with Monreal on the pitch. This is because, naturally, he tends to expect a fullback to overlap, so he dribbles in the knowledge that if things go south, he can reverse the ball back down the edge of the box for the fullback to cross. With Gibbs, 8/10 of these passes will be successful since he’ll be there. With Monreal, more often than not, the pass finds Ozil or Giroud who wasn’t even expecting it, so we lose the ball almost instantly .

It ain’t broken, don’t fix it. The stuff above also applies to right back with Hector and Debuchy giving you the Gibbs factor while Chambers tends to give the Monreal.

We have three dedicated centerbacks ,one young protege and two veterans who can cover if things go sour in Monreal and Debuchy. I’d say that’s enough centerbacks for a season. Don’t sign anyone Arsene.

Now this is the big one. Most talk is about the defensive mid position. To be honest, like Arsene, I had given up on Coquelin and it was sad for me, because he looked like a good player. Please anyone of you convince me you didn’t have him down in your books as deadwood at the beginning of last season. You can say he got played out of position in the Bundesliga, but couldn’t that have meant that he wasn’t good at what he said he could do? I give all props to the boy for coming back and proving himself because me, you and the manager had already put the export label on him. Fast forward today, and he’s a mainstay in the team that I would feel sad to see relegated to the bench because the Boss signed that 300 million Euro 8ft6in DM weighing 600 pounds that never gets beaten on the dribble or in the air and never fouls and is the top scorer of the league he comes from, single handedly ensuring that his team didn’t concede a goal all season! (If this guy exists, bench le Coq instantly and sign him). Anyway,my point is, I think the young man has bought his starting berth for this season and should be paid his due. I’d be ok with Arsenal signing someone else to help him, but that person is definitely not going to be the starting DM from another team. There is no team around Europe that has two players of the same level playing the same position. The reason is simple. If they are at the same level, none of the two will appreciate letting the other play while he watches from the bench. Secondly, all defensive positions are where you want to be doing the least possible rotation, so getting another DM would either mean getting one that is almost as good as le Coq,or cheating him of his hard work and signing an already made star to bench him.

The other argument is at the flanks. I remember I wrote an article around 2013 or 14 where I argued that not every player deployed on the flanks is a winger. Tactics differ. For instance at Real Madrid, they have their most dangerous striker starting out on the left flank but tucking in as play builds and being covered by a midfielder. The other flank has someone who has a limited licence to drift inwards but most of the typical winger stuff (crossing, harrying, hugging the touchline) is done by the full-backs. At Barca, one winger is actually a striker while the other is a bit of a hybrid attacking mid/center forward. This means they spend more time away from the touchline i.e one looking for a sharp run behind a fullback, the other looking to find that run. Many other top teams have people on the flanks that don’t actually play as wingers but just wide men. The point is, tactical flexibilty dictates, you can change the perception of a position to suit you. I find Aaron Ramsey pretty dangerous when he plays on the right because he can often sneak up to the opponents box unnoticed and pop a surprise. I feel Walcott could play from there as Real do with Ronaldo. With him being the main striker, but being saved the whole hustle and bustle of big CBs only to make the right run and sneak in with a goal when neccesary, only that he doesn’t offer the defensive cover Ramsey would and wouldn’t stretch the opposition anywhere near as much as the Ox would if you need him to keep a fullback busy. Gnabry could do the same. You could actually go audacious and have Rosicky, Cazorla and Ozil in a fluid midfield partnership behind a player like Giroud, which would end up with them taking turns in there to varying levels of destruction.

The same argument applies to the opposite flank so I don’t see cause for alarm there.

You need you de facto defensive mid to play at least 70% of your season and I think le Coq’s body can handle that. I’ve not known him to injure a lot more than his nose really.. The other 30% can be shared among the rest. Without the preassure of 3 games a week,I think Arteta can play a crucial part of that 30% ,especially when it’s a game where we are happy to just keep possession and starve the opposition. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of Flamini and still don’t trust, him but what the heck, you can throw him on occasionally when you are leading one nil at Chelsea and just don’t have the legs to go at them any more, just to clog up the middle. In extreme cases, we can have Chambers fill in. I watch how he plays and feel he has the intelligence to play there. Then in the worst of cases, where everybody else is maimed by a leftover landmine from World War 2, you can have Ramsey, or Wilshere or both do the job. I don’t really think we need to sign in the middle ….

Giroud and Sanchez combined for more than 30 of Arsenal’s premier league goals and that’s great. They didn’t really have a period where they both flourished which I also think is great. See, I think we can rely on the two even more next season. I think a fully fit Giroud ,can give us about 15-20 goals in the league next season. Sanchez definitely a lot more than that, maybe 23-25, Walcott, if fit for 70% of the season, could get something like 20. Not a bad return really. Goals however are a much needed commodity. This striking line could do with about 10-15 more goals (I’m not looking at you Welbeck I’m sorry). Giroud could also set up 15 or so. So we could have a forward line that can inflict about 60 in the league alone ,before we count on help from the midfielders and defenders.

I personally believe that those 15 extra goals are within this squad itself (I’m pointing at you Ramsey) but I’d be happier if we could get someone in that could just get them guaranteed. A person more to the specs of Messi/Hazard than to Giroud/Cavani/Martinez. Reason is, I think if we stopped depending on Giroud for goals, and stuck more to him being a dummy for others to run around, we’d score more goals than having an out and out striker that waits for chances, rather than makes them for others. I think Walcott will benefit a lot from Giroud’s style of play next season if Wenger goes back to deploying him as a wide forward next season. I doubt he can effectively lead the line consistently all season and would prefer Giroud. My doubt for Walcott’s fitness and consistency also leads me to want another forward in the team. I’d go with Alexander Lacazatte. I think he could bang in 10-15 in his first league season, but then I’d rather let the gaffer decide. One more striker please Arsene!

I’m one of those that has a great belief in this squad. There’s the skill, numbers, potential and competition is near the top, and I think without many injuries, they could go quite the distance. A goal keeper, Cech in particular and no one else but him, and a striker, younger and with more time to learn the ropes but with the goals already flowing, would be to my preference. Too much chopping and changing would take us back to bedding in. And don’t start convincing yourself that pre-season is enough for a player to bed in. Even Alexis only shone because of his individuality, but we can all offer witness that most of his team play still sucks. Goal keepers don’t have much bedding in to do. Strikers and midfielders, a lot!

It’s Joe from Kampala


Tags Cech Gibbs Giroud ospina Szczesny Walcott


      1. phew! That was one helluva article….i scrolled and scrolled and scrolled….got fade up halfway

  1. I liked very much this article. I would like to thumb it up. An honest analysis with some conclusions (not like I don’t agree with most of them) which can open a real debate here. Really enjoyed reading.

    1. @Joe from kampala
      Great Article. But I disagree that we are light at left back. nacho Gibbs paulista are 3 accomplished left backs and bellerin can play there.

      A new Dm will be great. Flamini is an accident waiting to happen at anytime. To hand him or Arteta 30% of our games is asking for trouble. I rather see jack at Dm than Flamini.

      Arteta has passed it for me. I can’t count the amount of times I saw people flying pass him. I wish him all the best but if we get emotional and keep him then goodluck. I don’t even see Arteta making the bench and thats a big problem. Rosisky could not even make the bench in the Fa cup final.

      1. Football tactics should not be rigid.
        Juventus has one of the best defence in CL this season and who is their pure DM – NONE
        They are playing with a deep lying playmaker (Pirlo who barely can defence) and 2 combative (Pogba and Vidal)
        Coquelin is great – but he is virtually like a passenger in games like versus Swansea and Sunderland when opponent just sit for a whole game. He is young and still have time to improve on his on the ball skill but in this kind of game Ramsey/Wilshere/Arteta playing next to Carzola would be a better fit. I agree we should not depend too much on Arteta for long term – but if we buy another midfielder we should get someone different from Coquelin with decent defence ability – an all around midfielder like Vidal who had won 20 duels in 2 copa games, more than any other players in the tournament.

        1. Good point made about Juve. Also id add that its unfair to judge Arteta from that time period alone as he was getting no help compared to now, with Coq being one of a unit who do retreat quickly keeping a shape. A little similar to how it was unfair on our GK or central defenders to take so much blame when they were being totally isolated outnumbered at times.

          Arteta, could do a very capable job against most teams so long as everyone is pitching in. I would still like another holding player though because i think we need more power and also i know that there will be times this Arsenal team pour forward still.

        2. I disagree. We should always play with a dm. They don’t just tackle strikers. They break down the oppositions play. The combination of positional play and interception means the opponent can’t attack. Without a coquelin the flow of the game changes. They launch more counter attacks and find more space between midfield and defence

  2. Good article. If we don’t sign a CDM, in the games where Coq is not playing we should use Ramsey or Wilshere as CDM instead of Arteta.

  3. I also enjoyed the artcle. The analysis of the GK situation is spot-on. I’d really be hesitant to deal Ospina away this year if we get Cech, especially because I have my doubts about Cech staying healthy for a full year at his age.

    DM is the one area we need to strengthen. Someone to back-up Coq. We don’t know if Arteta can come back and be healthy. Plus, let’s not kid ourselves, he never was an ideal DM. Flamini really looked like he lost a lot of his game last year. Can we count on Jack filling in for Coq if needed? Chambers may ideally be suited there, but he’s untested in that position. So we need to do something about that position.

  4. I for one am praying Wenger does not think Flamini and Arteta are enough cover in a hyper competitive league such as the PL. I really can’t concur with this make-do attitude.

    Both have been good servants but for security and greater potency in that role, out one or both and get in someone like the Kongo Kid. Rotate him and the Coq and play them together if you want to boss/nullify the midfield against the big boys who have a potent strike force (I.e Barca).

    Jack with his glass ankles should not be let anywhere near a DM role where putting your foot in is required. As he will break.

    Cech- check
    Striker – check (although I’d prefer Cavani/Benzema or dare I say Zlatan – yes I know this can’t happen)

    I also would like the end to all war, and for all main religions to be abolished and a new world religion called Arsenalism to be introduced.

    1. Fred mate that sounds decidedly dodgy I’m unsure that Id be comfortable subscribing to “Arsenalism” lol

  5. Our current first team players is a combination of average, top players and debatable 3 or 4 world class. Comparing Arsenal to other top clubs winning champion’s league and their domestic leagues they have a great balance of World class and Top class players.


    It will be so RIGHT to sell JACK WILSHERE at the RIGHT PRICE.. £30m upward is okay!

    Personally, my research came up in zilch in finding any young british top top top (world class) player at a promising age. i feel jack is best a squad player and at the very best average potential at the long haul in time. The question is how many young british players in the bracket of (23-28 years old) can rub shoulders with the young and aspiring WORLD BEST for instance the likes of the german and the Spanish players (gotze, ozil, silva, and the ever growing ALVARO MORATA) ?. Wenger should stop investing HEAVILY on british players. What have become of the over hyped Theo walcott after nurturing him for 10years in Arsenal? A player blessed with a natural ability to outrun a bullet but his accumulative inconsistent performances is so worrisome, he radiates at best a top player with too many average performances.

    I don’t need a crystal ball to acknowledge the fact that a BELLERIN is a gem who has the potential to be world class compared to a jekinson and it’s not rocket science to denote british young lads are bothering on average quality in human resources.

    I reiterate once again it will be PENNY WISE BUT POUND FOOLISH not too sell JACK WILSHERE at the RIGHT PRICE

    1. Agree with you about Walcott but NOT regarding Wilshire I think Theo has had enough time to prove his worth and as yet has not done so sufficiently whereas Wilshire needs one more season and this coming one could very well be it!!!

    2. We have homegrown rules here. Yes Wilshere and Walcott are not automatically in first team, but they are homegrown players. City and Chelsea lack homegrowns, do not sell under no circumstance to them. It would be great for City or Chelsea. Let them suffer or bleed in some of their academy youngsters.

    3. Morata scores two goals which Sanofi could have finished and suddenly he’s Roald class…..

  6. What a well researched and well written article.
    Only point I disagree on is the DM point, we cant see what will happen in the future and I for one would rather have a player at the same level in Le Coq’s position and man manage the situation than leave it open should Le Coq get clattered and be out for several months and have to rely on Arteta to fill that role for an overtly long period, yes we can use Rambo or Jack in the same role as Le Coq but does that not restrict our options in other area’s ? Id rather have the cover and cope with the problems this brings than not have the cover and have all the players happy and content after all its a team game and sometimes they have to accept they are going to have to “Take one” for that team.
    buy Kondogbia nd have done with it, Lacazetta or Benzema or at a push Martinez up top and hey presto we have a team that CAN win the EPL

      1. ha ha in the words of the immortal Finbarr Saunders (viz character) Yik Yik Hoo Hoo Fnaar Fnarr

  7. spit on mate
    My hat off to you for this article.
    I agree with your take on loaning Secz out for two years or so to go master his thing,and Cech as first choice,Ospina as second choice.
    midfield? yea i agree too,nobody wants coq on the bench but doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get another DM who can be perfect when coq is sidelined.. i say get coq a tough competitor for his spot,he was superb last season doesn’t mean we’ll treat him like a 5 star general..Atta boy!! get ready to battle cause next season we taking over.
    and attack? people fail to see this but Giroud and Walcott leadin the line can get us 40 goals next season(thats if they both don’t sit back and relax) they’ll complement each other perfectly cause of their style of play.. Giroud:slow but good in winning aerial duels,settibg passes for run ins (now he’ll lots of it for theo), you and i know his one touch is sublime and i noticed he score goals we dont think he’s capable of,He’s a green snake under the green grass in football,he can be deadly when you dont expect him.
    Walcott on the other hand is very fast and a good finisher. now if you add Alexis goals to theirs boy you’ll be getting 60+ from three of them..add the goals the rest can contribute and we’ll have lots of goals.
    I think we need lacazette or Reus,wingers similar to Sanchez in front of goal.
    getting a striker?? up to Wenger but personally i don’t want any other striker if its not Aguero or Costa,we don’t need to start putting up with other strikers coming to settle down first before picking up,we need to go hard from day 1 till ending.That’s why i Think Reus or lacazette is perfect.
    defence? good to go.


    1. The midfield needs clearing out before we can make a purchase. I would like to see Flamini, Arteta & Rosicky go and get Schneiderlin/Kondogbia. Schneiderlin is a competent tackler, interceptor with better ball handling skills than Coquelin. Kondogbia is the younger and more physical imposing one.

      Defense wise I would love to see a speedy tall defender to replace Mertesacker in the longer run. A Varane type defender.

      Cech needed.

      Striker, what is available is not really an upgrade over Giroud.

      Gnabry, Zelalem, Sanogo need to go on loan.

  8. Why is everyone so obsessed with Alexandre Lacazette?? 8 of his 27 goals are goals against top 5 sides home or away..Goal/min. ratio of one goal every 109 mins.(incl. penalties)..How exactly is he better than Giroud besides his pace??

  9. Great article Joe. When we had Coq and Ospina inserted from that point on we in my opinion (maybe even W and L’s back it up) had the best side in the league.
    I remember against really strong attacking sides AW would play 2 DM’s Flamini and Arteta together. Someone like Kondogbia with Coq would be a very good tandem.
    On the attacking side you are right there are goals to be had that we just didn’t have last year. Theo is a 20 goal scorer we really missed. I too see him on getting more goals along with Ramsey who has really been looking to score, Ozil gets in great positions to score as well not sure if he can pull the trigger to score many. Jack could have a great season scoring that we have missed as well. Danny W and a The Ox should be able to contribute more as well.
    Keepers, Very good analysis. Once again well done enjoyable article.

  10. Goalkeeper – the Cech deal looks like it’s happening. Be interesting to see what effect it has on the other keepers Ospina looks like he’s the one going.

    Defence – so long as there’s no long term injuries then I don’t really see anyone new coming in.

    Midfield – attacking midfield numbers and quality wise we are fine. Defensively maybe we need another player. For me Coquelin is as good as any pure DM his tackling interceptions defensive positioning supprisingly great in the air. But he lacks the vision and creativity of for me what the best DM’s have. players like Busquets I was watching Mascherano for Argentina and he’s on another level to Coquelin. There aren’t many of these players but I think we need someone who different to Coquelin someone disciplined but can also provide more to the team going forward and in games where just being defensive isn’t enough.
    I’d like Vidal but I think there are quite a few players who could be available this summer all offer something slightly different who could improve our team/squad.

    Forwards – I feel we need 1 more forward some one else who can provide goals not sure if that’s an out and out striker or a wide forward. A few players I like.
    Tevez at 31 a short term option but still a couple of seasons as a top player left in him premier league proven scores lots of goals I think he’d genuinely improve our team/ squad and help us push for the title next season. I think he’ll go back to South America tho.
    Aubameyang – I really like him can play across the front line. Scores lots of goals and assists. Exceptional pace & I think his pace with Theo’s ozil would have a field day. You can see when Ozil plays with Theo. he loves that direct pace in front of him. He’d give us a pretty versatile high quality attack with plenty of options.
    Salvio – highly rate him. More of a wide forward but would offer great balance on the right wing with Alexis on the left. I also say Salvio because his best position is on the right. Other top wide forwards that I like reus, Griezmann I think there best position is On the left they are versatile but to get the best out of players they need to be played in there best position and For me the left wing is Alexis’s.

    1. Agreed!

      Let’s all phone Arsene this afternoon and tell him our recommendations. That’s if he is even in the country as I’m not paying those international fees!

      Arsene: 066 6666

  11. Cech and Kongdobia are 33MM pounds together. With the sale of some players( Poldi, Ospina, Campbell, Flamini) that should give us plenty to buy a 40mm – 50mm striker.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors