How Arsenal can improve even more next season…


When one compares Arsenal 2018/19 to the best in the EPL and that would be Liverpool and Manchester City, one would be tempted to see that there is a huge gulf between Unai Emery’s first season’s squad compared to Liverpool and Manchester City class of 2018/19 teams.

First, there is the difference of points. Whereas Liverpool are leading the log with 76 points in 31 matches and Manchester City is in 74 with 30 games played, Arsenal are at 60 points with 30 games. However, when one looks at goals scored, Manchester City have scored 79, Liverpool 70 and Arsenal at 63. No other team has scored above 60 goals after 30 games. There seems a huge ridge between Arsenal and Manchester city in terms of goals scored but one can argue that Unia Emery’s first season has been about trials and error,s and there are games that Arsenal have played without creative players involved as Unai tinkered with the squad trying to find the right balance.

It is in conceding goals that Arsenal have lost most ground this season. Arsenal would rank 6th in the goals conceded log, but it is actually a recovery from early in the season when they seemed not to be able to finish a match without conceding. So to answer the question of how Arsenal challenges for the title as early as in the next season? They can get there through two ways.

#1 – Playing Pattern 3-4-1-2
First, after so much tinkering it seem Unai Emery has finally settled for a 3-4-1-2 pattern. This is informed by the fact that this is the system that has seen Arsenal reclaim this season after coming from behind to win the Europa Cup matchup with Rennes and beating Manchester United. I call it reclaiming this season because before these matches, Arsenal were looking dead and gone in terms of their pre-season aims. Having been thrown out of the Carabao League Cup and the FA Cup, there was just finishing top four in EPL and lifting the Europa as the remaining aims for the season.

Losing to Manchester United and being knocked out by Rennes from the Europa League competition would have Arsenal falling off pace on the battle for top four as Manchester United would move ahead of them, and their form up until the matchup was looking good for the asking as united were running unbeaten in 12 EPL matches and had already inflicted a somewhat easy defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup Fourth round. To make matters worse, despite Arsenal’s good home ground form, this match was at the Emirates, and every indicator suggested Manchester United could repeat the same feat against Arsenal even if the game was a home match for Arsenal. Then there was Rennes in the Europa League.

Arsenal’s visit to The Roazhon Park, in Rennes, Brittany, France ended in a 3-1 defeat. Emery started both of his strikers Lacazette and Aubameyang in their preferred offensive roles, started Mesut Ozil in the number 10 role behind these two and even had Ramsey playing in Box to box role. Against Manchester united he had no role for Mustafi and the defense was Sokratis, Konsienly and Monreal. Arsenal won 2-0. Then he went with the same pattern for the return match against Rennes and only replaced suspended Sokratis with Mustafi and Cech came in for Leno in goal. It was a 3-0 win.

#2 – Transfers
Exchange Mustafi with either Nico Schulz or Phillip Max. These two players are from Bundesliga and are ranked some level behind Mustafi, and they have one thing in common. They can provide competition even an upgrade on Kolasinac. Perhaps in Germany, Mustafi will be a great piece of business for TSG Hoffenheim or FC Augsburg. Of the two I would go with Phillip Max of Augsburg. They are 14th on the log while Hoffenheim are 9th meaning it would be easier to deal with Augsburg. Phillip Max is the more versatile of the two and can play in all the left wing positions, the advanced right wing positions, centre forward and as second striker. We will have found someone who can bring depth to the left wing, and with Ainsley Maitland-Niles challenging in the right wing, Bellerin will be facing competition.

Replacing Koscielny and Mustafi in the centre-back roles with Daniele Rugani from Juventus and Wily Boly from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wily Boly ranks an impressive 7.12 in whoscored despite playing for Wolves, Rugani ranks 6.78 despite less appearances and should improve if he joins Arsenal.

Do not replace Ramsey – no need to replace as we have performing central midfielders in Xhaka, Torreira and Guendouzi. Bring, Alex Iwobi to deputize Mesut Ozil and he could be a revelation in that role. Sell Elneny, Koscielny, Welbeck, Lichtsteiner, Monreal to raise funds and release some tied up wages. Let the youth players like Nketiah, Smith Rowe, Saka and Reiss Nelson have their chances in the first team.

With the blunders of Mustafi, the inconsistencies of Kolasinac at the back, the poor Lichtsteiner right back plays and all round competition for places in the squad, and a dedicated play of pattern where players can improve on their specialties, Arsenal would concede less goals, score more goals, win more games and get more points.

Does that sound like a good plan?



  1. I dunno why it is always difficult for me to propose new players but I wish to have David Brooks in Arsenal.
    We need to replace Ramsey as even though he maybe inconsistent (fitness and performance) he possesses a unique skill set in the entire team.

    We all think we need a little something in attack but for me, I still think the defence is the issue and then we just need to improve our away form, even with these group of players we can challenge

    1. Given the unexpected way Kos has been playing, surprisingly well, I see little point in letting him go; all it would save is his wage and we would get no fee for him. When MAVRO comes through as I believe he will and Holding is back, things can quickly look more solid at the back. I also recognise a fast rising talent in David Brooks but doubt we will get him. With Kos and Sokratis in reserve as CB we will not be short. The abysmal Mustafi must be moved on and any fee spent on a wide player/ true winger. I think Sako will be pushing for regular inclusion this time next year or sooner and NELSON SURELY WILL BE FIRMLY IN THE ELEVEN.

      1. Evening Jon, agree on the centre back front. Think mavro will make the grade and holding was growing into the ball playing centre half the modern game needs. Kos for another season would be good, his performances have been good recently. I have always rated him as a defender, but never a leader in my opinion. Kos record with the bfg (a couple of away maulings aside was decent). Under emery also our defence is offered more protection. The defenders took the brunt of the goals we conceded, but wenger never replaced Gilberto and had faith we would outplay and outscore the opposition! I feel our priority in the summer needs to be a proper quick, out and out winger who can beat a man. Have a good evening sir

      1. Evening sue, hope you enjoyed your break? Yes I like him also, but also would like to see Smith Rowe once returned from his loan spell given a shot pre season.

  2. Why Kolasinac is viewed as a player we need to let go I fail completely to understand.
    He has played brilliantly with the role UE has given him and his commitment is 100% in every game.

    The same goes for The Boss…wriitten off before he had even kicked a ball after coming back from that horrenndous injury and yet playing some of his best football in the famous red and white shirt.

    I really try not to criticise individuals, but one player that does frustrate me is Mustafi and I wouldn’t shed a tear if he went in the summer.

    We have to remain realisitic and bandering names of players who, at this moment in time, are out of reach is irresponsible.

    If the fanbase is already baulking over reported players salaries, how are we going to persuade better players to come, whilst insisting that we pay less than the going rate?
    Can’t have it both ways in my opinion.

    UE has worked so well with every individual and I cannot see any of the first team squad going except the following:

    Mustafi – Lichsteiner – Welbeck – Elneny – plus the ones we already know…Ramsey and Cech.

    The way forward for next season is to trust inUE and his current style of play, using our excellent younger players and bring in one (two if we qualify for CL) marquee player, WITHOUT BITCHING about what his salary will be reported to be.

    1. Sir Ken,

      Great post!

      Am afraid we are already negotiating with Lichsteiner as revealed by the player himself today.
      I will be so disappointed if that were to be the case.
      Elneny must be the first out IMO, what a waste of the number 4 Jersey.
      If Mkhitaryan maintains his form, Nelson can be his understudy on that wing, while we look for another winger for the left wing.

      I want a robust midfielder like Doucoure to replace Elneny, with Sokratis, Kosielcny, Holding, Mavropanos and Mustafi’s replacement, CB is sorted.

      We have a good team, the greatest accomplishment will be for the lads to soak in and digest Emery’s philosophy even more… Nobody can stop us!!!

      1. when did Nelson became a winger?

        hes better off going on loan, play regular top competitive games than sit on the bench for long periods

        1. Goonerboy, when one reads the defensive players as you have listed them, we should have a really good CB defence, but with one thing missing: An out and out leader such as Adams.
          It could be that, in today’s faster, more “slick” football, that type of player is not needed so much, I’m not so sure.

          We certainly need a Adams/Vieria type somewhere in the team, that’s for sure!!

          The midfield from the last few games, seems to have added to their defensive duties as well.
          I know Xhaka is a player that divides opinion, but I see a much better player under UE than he ever was under AW.
          The problem is, in my opinion, that he is still being viewed as the AW player and not the UE edition. His value has risen to the level that we would make a decent profit if he were to be sold today…unlike the hapless Mustafi unfortunately.

          As for future signings, I have always relied on the manager to know who/what he wants. I am really happy with the way UE is bringing out the very best from each individual player right now and I cannot believe that any one single fan believed we would be where we are at this precise moment when he took over.

          John Ibrahims, when did Henry become a centre forward?
          Nelson is still learning his craft and how do we know his best position?
          His favoured position is a differen thing, but that’s not the same as his best position is it? That’s surely what UE is learning about the player?

          We can’t keep sending young players out on loan, as chelsea do, that’s when we lose the image of a club that gives younger players an opportunity.
          AW had the right idea when he used the cup games to give these players their opportunities and that’s what I would like to see UE continue to do.
          It also gives us fans the opportunity to see the talent we have coming through the ranks.

  3. I’m going to be a bit off topic but Griezmann is an absolute idiot lol. What did he expect to win with Atletico when Diego Costa has declined rapidly and he has to be shouldering all the responsibility in attack. His documentary rejecting Barca last year was so unnecessary and over the top and now he’s regretting ever signed an extension. Thomas Lemar is crap, Martins never fit their style of play and basically, Atletico are at the same spot as last year before Costa arrived.

      1. Speaking of stupid, why do players think that when they’re on international duty, the fans of the clubs they play for on a weekly basis go deaf, blind and turn into non fans for that period.

        There have been numerous occasions when players have said something regarding their home clubs while away, the latest from Granit Xhaka, “I’m very ambitious,” Xhaka told Tagblatt. “I want to take the next step, Arsenal does not have to be the last stop.”

        This coming from a player who is only just winning over some fans, and also signed a new long term contract last year.

        Stupid is, as stupid does.

        1. I wouldn’t read too much into it Stubill. You really don’t know what the future holds so don’t think every player is going to be like Bergkamp and dedicate the rest of their career to us when they join. I read the whole interview and basically, Xhaka was saying he loves it at Arsenal but anything can happen in football because things change so quickly – what footballers say all the time with the media trying to twist it. It’s neither here nor there and if a team comes with 60m, I’d shove Xhaka through the door myself.

          1. Yes, Sue, we won’t get to see that ridiculous Fortnite dance anytime soon and I hope Laca has stopped trying to convince him to join us, we don’t need any primadonnas here. He’s nowhere near Messi and Ronaldo’s level but his ego is so inflated it is ridiculous!

  4. OT…Just read an article from the”You are my Arsenal” blog, regarding Dennis Bergkamp and Mesut Ozil.

    Some really interesting comparisons that Admin might offer up for discussion?

    I’m sure it would create some interesting debating on here!!!

  5. I guess the aim is to evolve the squad to being a step closer to the league challenge but definitely having a squad that is a sure top four.

    At the moment we must consider what next season holds for RoweSmith and Nelson. Then consider the sales, mustafi eleny in particular. And then the purchases, I would like to sure up for injuries and so i want young talent to cover. Any experience should be to replace current leaving experience – Cech, Ramsay..

    1. Good question, I was only reading this morning that Fortune left us and Mert tried to get him to stay. He came in with Adelaide and big things were made out of them, future French internationals, BS. I feel that if Beilik is going to make it at Arsenal then surely he would’ve gotten some minutes by now, it doesn’t bode well, but for some reason I am still expecting a big player to emerge. Vlad too, watch this space ..etc etc!

  6. You need to be real!,if only transfers were that easy sadly they,re not,do you think clubs want to sell their best players?do the players want to join us?very naive!

  7. I read a good article yesterday about Iwobi, it was on ESPN website. It mentions how Emery asked both Monreal, and Kolasinac, the same question – Who in this team makes you feel like a better player when you’re partnered with him? They both answered- Iwobi. ESPN then try to define Iwobi’s best qualities, they also say “how allot of the good work that he does for the team can go largely unnoticed by our fans, and pointing out how it might look like small details, but he’s been a very important player to our set-up, none the less. The also thought it was interesting that Emery asks his players these type of questions, I thought myself, that actually makes allot of sense.

  8. Basically improvement can be achieved by a) bringing in better quality players where we are weak and b) by the development of our talented youngsters including those currently out on loan.I am confident Emery will succeed in bringing through a number of our young players but his main problem will be unloading certain poor performers to clear the decks for 2/3 meaningful acquisitions.Until the likes of Mustafi, and dare I say it, Ozil are unloaded he will be strapped for cash as our owner is unlikely to put his hands in his own pockets to enable us to improve quickly .Cheque book Management will not be applied at Arsenal so fans will have to be patient and give Emery time before we can really challenge the top two in the Premier League.In terms of numbers we have plenty centre backs, but in terms of top quality we are lacking.We need a quality central defender, a left back who can function effectively in a back four or as a wing back and a natural winger .Kolasinac is a good wing back but a mediocre left back .Montreal is a decent left back but is now lacking as a wingback. One of these two will be moved on at the end of the season.

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