Full Analysis of the Arsenal squad and where we can realistically improve during the summer

What Positions Can Arsenal Realistically Improve Next Season by Ben Dungate

Regardless of the outcome of this season, I think we can all agree that with 10 games to go the team has surpassed most of our expectations. They have achieved a level of consistency I didn’t expect, at least this soon, and played a standard of football at times that has been as good as anything we have seen from any Arsenal team. We have 3 players into double figures for league goals and still have one of the best defensive records in the league, so with such success across the board what can Arteta do next season to match or improve upon this year’s exploits?

In my opinion Arteta doesn’t have the calibre of players that Wenger had during most of his tenure, so to have this group of lads do so much so soon really speaks volumes to what is going on behind the scenes. That said, there are players out there who could elevate this team and keep us consistently challenging for the foreseeable future. The difficulty facing Arteta and Edu is identifying the right players, agreeing terms with the individual and their current club, and trying to get it all sewn up before Chelsea arrive with an extra £25M.

The other factor that I think sometimes gets overlooked is who loses their place to any new arrivals? It seems very harsh indeed to have anyone that has made a meaningful contribution to such a (so far) successful season possibly face next season sitting on the bench, but that is the sad reality. If Arsenal are to maintain this level for years to come then we are going to need more than what we presently have on our books and probably even improve the current crop of talent. So who stays and who goes?

There are a few names every Gooner will agree absolutely must remain at the club no matter what if we are to get anywhere and for me those players are: Bukayo Saka, William Saliba, Oleks Zinchenko, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Jesus. I do not include Thomas Partey in this list simply because he is 29 and normally spends a portion of each season out injured. He is a key figure in our current set-up but the team has found a way to win without him. Of course, they also found a way to win without Jesus, and whilst I think he can be adequately covered when absent, he offers so much to the team with his versatility and relentless pressing and, at 25 he has a decade ahead to cement his status as club legend should he wish to. Both players are instrumental to the way we play and it notices when they are absent.

In my opinion every other player in the First XI, subs and reserves is replaceable, besides a few caveats, and some of them should be replaced. I thought getting Jorginho from Chelsea for £12M was a brilliant move by the club but realistically he is not a player for the long-term and indeed may not even be at the club at the start of next season. Granit Xhaka has had a career year and has completely transformed his standing among Arsenal fans. He is a machine when it comes to his fitness so I expect to see him in the line-up next season, but as good as he has been this term there are better players available who might add an extra dimension to the team. The board appear to agree because all we hear in the news is Declan Rice this, Moises Caicedo that.

Ben White has demonstrated what a classy player he is. So much so I considered putting him on the list of players that absolutely must stay. He is a great athlete and as cover for RB, CB and even DM he is a key member of the squad. The unfortunate truth for Benjamin White is though, that as good as he has been, better more traditional right-backs are out there. What is a saving grace for him aside from his versatility and athleticism is that he has struck up an excellent on-field relationship with Saka, and Arsenal don’t play with a traditional full-back set-up, much to Kieran Tierney’s chagrin. Also, White occupies a hybrid RCB/RB role which is a difficult position to master. He has shown great tactical awareness of when to attack and when to stay back, and for this reason, along with Tomiyasu’s presence, I see him keeping his place in the team, not just the squad. I think this decision is easily justifiable when you consider the work he gets through during a game and the complexity of the role.

Gabriel Magalhães is like Marmite for me. I don’t like him but I accept that others do and I must respect their wrong opinion. I just. Our occasionally erratic centre half has been solid alongside Saliba all season. He is prone to mistakes, as are all players, it’s just unfortunate that when Gabriel makes one it tends to lead to us conceding a goal. I would never question his desire or effort and he has also shown an element of leadership which is vital when playing in such a pivotal position. Good, left-sided central defenders are rare and getting a better one will not only be hard but very costly. I think we can rule ourselves out for the running for the Josko Gvardiol race. He will go to Man City, Chelsea or one of the other European goliaths. Probably Bayern Munich as seems to be the case with every good player in the Bundesliga.

Gabriel Martinelli. I like him. A lot. He is fact and direct. He has increased his work for the team, his goal output and his consistency, and despite a bit of a dry spell in which time the whole team struggled to score goals, he is our leading goal scorer in the league. He is just 21 and a Brazilian international. So why then isn’t he one of the players on my list of must keeps? Because he is a left winger and we are living in the age of the left winger and the right wingback. We tried to buy Mykhailo Mudryk, a very slightly older carbon copy of Martinelli in terms of his playing style. I am glad we have Martinelli and have no desire to see him sold or dislodged but with such an abundance of wingers in the world right now he is replaceable.

Lastly, Aaron Ramsdale. I don’t have much to say when it comes to Ramsdale. He’s like milk, you never know what you’re going to get until you take the lid off. One day it can be awesome and then next day it ruins your Cornflakes. If he can stop trying to be a baller so much and just do what he does best which is make seemingly impossible saves and incite the fury of our opponents with his epic shithousery then I will be happy. He will keep his place and probably rightly so. All GKs make mistakes, it comes with the position, and he won’t realistically mature as a goalkeeper for at least another 5 years and has spoken of his desire to go down as an Arsenal legend. I think he has done enough to earn the right to build upon his popularity amongst the supporters and see if he can etch his name into the history books of this great club.

Ben Dungate

Feeling Bored during the international break?
TAKE THE ARSENAL QUIZ – Test your knowledge about Arsenal
–compiled by our friends in the Irish Supporters Club – DublinArsenal


  1. Magalhaes made mistakes, but Saliba made several fatal errors which were fortunately covered by our wins. If Saliba and Holding leave, we’d have to sign a new CB

    As for our GKs, hopefully Turner is better in penalties than Ramsdale. Otherwise we’d have to sign a new GK, to win the knockout competitions like UCL and EL

    1. please GAI
      you are a very sensible person but this has to be an all time low on a heads gone for you.
      how many times do you think we will go to penalties.
      AR has been immense for us this season and still not in the prime of his career.
      love him or hate him he has contributed to being one of the tightest defences in the league.
      pulls off some big save for us at important times of the game.
      our distribution from the back has gone up ten fold since he replaced Leno
      i grant you he has his moments like most of the GK but fewer then most this season.
      i only see him getting better for us as the season go on.
      must be ranked in the top 3 GK for the league this season and always helps when he is a true arsenal fan
      do you still think we will finish 2nd?

      1. Alan, Ramsdale is great for a long competition like EPL, but I doubt he can win us UCL or EL

        We’d likely have penalty situations in the final stages of the knockout competitions, so we might need someone very good for that purpose

        I don’t think we would’ve won FA Cup without Martinez and he showed his abilities again in World Cup

        As for my prediction for our final EPL position, I still think we’ll become the runner-up. It can only change if we get fourteen points next month

      2. Alan Re GAI , I do not know whether or not he is a “sensible person” as you say he is, but one thing is abundantly clear to me and I SUGGEST TO MANY OTHERS ON HERE TOO.
        His thoughts about OUR TEAM are those of a very muddled and bewildering person indeed!

        1. JF
          i respect GAI comments as unlike some on here, he may not agree but he is respectful to others when explaining why. That alone is worth it
          Still think though GAI it’s a head gone moment from you 😄

        2. Gotanidea’s knowledge on goalkeepers and goalkeeping is low and very limited. Gees, imagine gotanidea near my Goalkeeping Academy with my team of goalkeepers. He’d be out with his trusty tape measure measuring each goalkeeper to see how TALL they are. He’d be checking to see they are ALL LEFT FOOTED. He’d most probably have my goalkeepers playing as INVERTED goalkeepers playing in a PIVOTAL ROLE. As for Matt Turner, he’s in a difficult situation. He’s an excellent second choice goalkeeper to Ramsdale,,, but the longer he spends time on the bench,, may hamper and restrict his chances of being USA ‘s number one goalkeeper in the future. But then again, it probably depends on Turner’s aspirations when it comes playing international football. Who knows, he maybe happy with his situation at Arsenal. As for penalties, there’s a new rule coming out that will restrict goalkeepers even more. It’s a bit unfair when you consider a penalty taker is allowed to make a double movement to balk a goalkeeper

      3. Couldn’t agree more. Ramsdales made some massive saves this season and had one bad penalty shot out. Give the lad a break. He’s on for the golden gloves. If he wins it then he’s part of the best defense in the league potentially. Arteta wants to play out from the back and Ramsdale has to fit that system but there is a time to punt and a time to play his decision making will only get better and above all else. He loves the club you can see what it mean for him to be here.

        Also people who want turner in goal for the UCL, this guy wont get use through the group stages.

    2. When you have balanced team it’s better to maintain that rather then overthink, as there is chances of team dis balance with over correction. We can give example of Liverpool, in paper firmino, mane n Salah were not the best attacking individuals in Europe but their common productive was second to none. Liverpool tried to improve the team with superior and expensive talents but we can all see what happened next. It’s more about which player fit in the system rather than individual talent. Mancity tried for perfection with bringing in Haaland, but their overall performance is not even as good as last Yr. So if the system is working we should only try to replace those who is not fitting in the system and those who are aging or retiring.

      1. I agree that we should only replace the players who don’t fit into our system

        I mean we can keep Ramsdale for EPL and only replace Turner if he performs badly in UCL or EL next season

  2. Providing Vista improves after a mixed 1st season, then we won’t need a back up creative midfielder. We will however need a box to box midfielder for Dhaka to rotate the to his age. Possibly Madison or McALlister or Veiga! Then we also would need to rotate our defensive midfield position with either Caicedo or Rice or both of we use one of them as a box to box player!

  3. Providing Viera improves after a mixed 1st season, then we won’t need a back up creative midfielder. We will however need a box to box midfielder for Xhaka to rotate due to his age. Possibly Madison or McALlister or Veiga! to rotate with Xhaka. Then we also would need to rotate our defensive midfield position with either Caicedo or Rice or both if we can use one of them as a box to box player!

  4. good read Ben
    i can imagine there will be lots of opinions coming in on who is good enough for us and who isn’t but the overall performance of the team this season speaks volumes for all of the squad on how they have been dropped in and out and still we manage to consistently perform and get the results.
    we have found ways of coming back from the dead and pulled out big wins. we have seen out games when in past seasons we would have buckled under pressure.
    the main factor which you missed out is how young and relatively how inexperienced they are compared to the others around us.
    i do hope we are able to see out the 10 remaining games and gain enough points to see us through to lift the league.
    would we be happy to claw our way through on 1-0 wins if it came to that. would we care at the end of the day of how we win as long as we win.
    the main factor is we have put ourselves in a position to be actually dreaming where as in past season we are already waiting for the season to end and dreaming if we have a chance for the next season. so a major credit to the whole of the Arsenal for giving us back that wonderful feeling and belief we have been lacking for years gone by.
    everyone hold there nerve and await the last 10 games for a white knuckle ride. Get behind the boys to see us over the line
    onwards and upwards

    1. Thank you. I perhaps should’ve added that I don’t think any of the starting XI NEED replacing, but I do think the squad needs more depth. Rice isn’t going to join to play a bit part he will want to play every minute of every game and that won’t happen if he plays in Partey’s position.

      You make a great point regarding the age of the team and squad in general. Partey and Xhaka are the only 30(ish) players in the first XI and I expect Jorginho to be replaced anyway, so Arteta is under no pressure to replace anyone and the more core players he keeps the smoother the transition.

    2. Thank you allan. Let’s get through this season by strongly supporting the current manager and squad, before statting to consider buyimg players.
      That is a matter for Edu. Arteta, the coaching and scouting staff to be working on in the background. Striving for success this season should be at the forefront.

  5. It’s a big claim to say the team has found a way to win without Partey, for me he’s irreplaceable, simply world class. I just don’t think Jorginho or anyone we have currently can replace Partey, let’s say in a run of 6,7,8 games adequately

    Martineli the future of the club, someone to build around, for me he’s up there with Saka, just like Saka he’d be hard to replace.

    Gabriel magalhaes has been our best centre back.

    One thing that has been proven, Ramsdale will be really hard to be replaced properly considering Turner’s latest performance with Arsenal

    1. Let’s hope the charges against Partey come to nothing, it could all hinge on what happens

    2. Obama
      I feel the same regarding the 3 players you mentioned.

      Without Partey’s cool composed presence in midfield we struggle. He does the dirty work that often goes without glamor.

      Gabriel is among the best CB’s in the PL, one could even argue world football. Very very small list to replace if he isn’t among the irreplaceable players in the squad.

      Martinelli is our leading goal scorer, continues to grow each year, and has the eye and praise of other coaches and clubs. When he is on form he’s unplayable by opponents.

      Ben I respect your opinion I just disagree about your position regarding those 3 players. How much would it cost to replace each? Without any of the 3 you mentioned I doubt we would still be top of the table.

  6. A beautiful and timely article, only has three disagreements with the writer but not enough to move the dial.

    The the three disagreements has to do with Ramsdale, Martinelli and Partey the former is instructed to play in the way in which he plays, Martinelli is maybe the most loyal Arsenal player and he sports a ceiling going through the roof, Partey is the most important player at Arsenal.

    But the writer basically gets it right from there onwards,
    Now the following players would cement our status in the league for the immediate future.

    1) Top striker Oshien’s
    2) B2B Midfielder Caicedo, (opt) Ilkay Gundogan
    3)Powerful Defensive midfielder Rice

    1. Thank you. I agree with your assessment of Partey’s importance. His range of passing and defensive capabilities are vital to our team but at 29 and with his persistent injuries he cannot be considered in a 5 year plan. Rice absolutely could be but isn’t going to wait 2 years to take over from Thomas. I’d like us to bring Marcus Thurman onboard. He started as a LW so can interchange with any of the front players. I think Gundogan is a glorious player but with his age it’s just another stop gap. Milinkovic-Savic would be my go-to.

  7. A very interesting article Ben which pulls no punches with regard to who is indispensable and who is not in your estimation.With the utmost respect, Partey, Martinelli and White have been pivotal to our success this season and have contributed much more than the likes of Jesus and Saliba who like Gabriel is prone to dropping clangers from time to time..In any event it is all somewhat irrelevant as our Manager will have his own views and will be tasked with improving our squad whether we win the EPL or not.Tierney is the interesting conundrum to me as he is one of our most saleable assets yet cannot get regular playing time, purely because of the tactics deployed only by Arsenal and Man City.Could we strengthen our first eleven by playing KT as a conventional attacking left back ? He would certainly be in my first eleven, but to be fair to our Manager we have done very well so far this season without him.

    1. He would be in my First XI too, Grandad. I’d have Zinchenko in Xhaka’s place. I think it gives the team a lovely balance. But then it’s hard to argue against the current set-up when it has got us to within 10 games of winning the league. KT could play left side of a back 3 so would be cover for Gabriel potentially.

      1. You make an interesting point Ben. Perhaps Arteta has the same idea going forward🤷🏻‍♀️

    2. Grandad, you only had to watch Keiran Tierney for Scotland against Spain to see what he offers. People want him sold, yet what happens should Kinchenko suffer injury, loss of form or be required to play in midfield? A major headache results with no Tierney.

  8. We improved to such levels this season that right now there is no weakness in our 1st team even our bench players are good. Better still most of them are versatile hence they cover multiple positions
    We only need to buy top versatile talents capable of displacing the ones in the starting 11 and also providing great depth. Just like trossard signing, he can replace martinelli and jesus with little to no drop in quality.

    A player who can play CM and DM would be a priority to cover both xhaka and partey,

  9. Thanks for the article and I am sure there will be many different takes on this.

    For me Ramsdale makes me a bit nervous (but he also has fantastic games). Turner wasn’t great but he has played well for US team. Something to watch but not immediate worry.

    I do worry about our centre backs a bit (but they are young). Considering the young age and decent back up I wouldn’t say this is priority one. Holding is good cover and perhaps Kiwior grows into the role. Maybe this is a place to find a grizzled veteran like Jorginho.

    We need some cover at fullback, especially as Tierney doesn’t seem to fit in the system. I think he is good but Arteta does not see the fit and I can’t see him wanting to stay. Tomi is injury prone and Zinny is not as young as some.

    Midfield is the key – as Ben said Partey cannot play a full season and Granit is aging. We need a starter and I know there is debate on who that might be – I like Rice as he is English and a good player in EPL and for England. I know not everyone shares that.
    That area is priorty one for me. I think if we get one high-end player we have enough cover.

    Odegard is our creative engine and I worry about cover here. Maybe ESR and Viera can fill in but I am not sure that they can pull the load for an extended period.

    I don’t think we need to do anything up front except figure out how to manage what we have – where does Balogun fit? The one thing I might like is a Giroud, somebody completely different who can come in to change things.

    Fit will be as important as skill for additions – we are first in EPL after all and have managed some injuries.

    For me, for the first time in a long time I really do have faith that the management team has a plan and is actioning that plan. I was not an Arteta fan (as old posts would show) but I am one now, regardless of what happens over the next couple of months – COYG!!!

    Thanks again for starting this thread.

    1. I was also not a fan of Arteta but you have to tip your cap to what he has achieved so far. I agree with your assertions about defence and midfield. I think Milinkovic-Savic would be perfect. Mid 20s, huge, skillful, engine, international quality and experience. Rice is out of the question for me. Wrong player and wrong fit. I like Marcus Thurman up front. Started as a LW like Henry, also massive and mid 20s. Defensive cover is a harder but to crack.

  10. Arteta likes the balance of having a left footed player in the center of the park aka Xhaka hence also trying Vieira there, Xhaka will often drift out wide to provide a crossing opertunity when Zinchenko comes inside. With that being the case I can’t see both Caicedo and Rice coming in as they would both be fighting for Partey’s position. Osimhen is no doubt an exceptional finisher but I don’t think he fit’s Arteta’s style of a striker and would also demand a hige fee. We have Balagon coming back at the end of the season and it will be interesting to see where (if at all) he fits in.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors