In-depth Analysis of My Arsenal First XI (with new signings) and why…..


By Victor Stephen

Hello and big ups to all you gooners out there in the goonerverse. Firstly, I have got to admit, it’s been quite a boring few weeks without Britain’s most exciting soap opera, the English Premier League. Our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is, our beautiful round leather game is back on the 6th August, with a tricky trip for Arsenal FC  away to Crystal Palace on a Friday night at Selhurst Park. This promises to be a mouth watering, scintillating, and feisty encounter, typical of a London derby.

Arsenal FC had in my opinion, a very good season in general. The youngest squad in the EPL last season, led by the youngest manager in the league as well. A tale of two novices, one on the pitch, the other in the dugout, trying to find their bearing in, without a doubt, Europe’s most competitive leagu,e against players and mangers with greater levels of experience. Finishing fifth last season is deserving of applause for our players. We can only hope that in this new campaign, this young team, having an added year of experience, coupled with the pain they must have felt by not getting into the champions league, will motivate them to fight even harder.

The summer transfer window is still open and this is time to make the necessary additions and subtractions to your squad in order to go toe to toe with the other teams. Arsenal have taken steps to address squad depth via the arrival of new faces in key positions. Marquinhos joined from Sao Paolo as the first summer signing. Add to that the arrivals of Fabio Vieira from FC Porto, Matt Turner from New England Revolution and most recently, Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City. Also, Nketiah and Elneny extending their contracts and the return of Saliba to Arsenal, you cannot help but perceive the sweet aroma of the tasty gourmet being prepared at the Emirates stadium.

With a plethora of options available to Arteta this season, he can only select eleven outfield players each match day. So here is, in my opinion on what should be Arteta’s first eleven. This list does not include players that are being targeted but not signed yet. I may still give my views on a few of such.


  • Goalkeeper

Aaron Ramsdale: There is no reason why Rambo should not get the nod in goal. Even if his form dipped a bit as the season began to crescendo, he was massive in the first half of the season. Awesome saves, cat-like reflexes, and laser guided passes. Rambo definitely deserves to keep his place in goal as Arsenal’s number one in the new season despite the arrival of Matt Turner, the USMNTs number one. It’s good competition that will definitely keep Rambo on his toes. It’s what we want to see in a big club, the stature of Arsenal. Healthy competition for places, no one should be a guaranteed starter you should look over your shoulder and know the person behind me could take my place next game.

  • Right Back

Takehiro Tomiyasu: Super Tom as he is fondly called in the goonerverse. It’s quite herculean of a task to find the right adjectives to describe a superstar in the making in this 23 year old lad. His ambidexterity and versatility is every coaches desire as it affords him the flexibility in tactical deployments.

Arteta has the privilege of utilising Tomiyasu in three different positions. Mostly used at right back last season, he could also be deployed at centre back and left back as we saw at the tail end of the 21/22 campaign given to a wave of injuries to key players in certain positions and the squad being as thin as a hair line.

Irrespective of whoever Arteta may sign as competition for Super Tom this season, one thing for sure is when the team rolls out each match day, a fit Tomiyasu always starts in my first eleven.

21 appearances in the EPL last season. 13 wins, 6 losses, 7 clean sheets, 49% tackle success, 24 interceptions, 2 blocked shots, 55 clearances, 29 headed clearances, 89 recoveries, 104 duels won ‘and the beat goes on.’ It’s fair to say, this guy is colossus.


  • Right Centre Back

Ben White:  Trust me, it was not easy to make up my mind on this one. However, it only makes more sense to stick with Ben white. Not taking anything away from William Saliba. Yes, he had an outstanding season in the French league with Marseille, culminating in him being awarded the prize of best young player in Ligue 1 last season.

I am only trying to be realistic tactically in picking my first 11. Ben White had an impressive debut season in the red and white. A few dips in concentration but overall it’s fair to say he put in a consistent run of good games over the course of the campaign. He has built a partnership already with Gabriel and Arteta would only hope to keep the rhythm flowing. Ben looking over his shoulder in the dressing room definitely sees Saliba in the shadows lurking and is fully aware of his qualities. This position is a tricky one but I guess it will be a case of who wants it the most can have it. Though, Ben White gets the nod as the season opens.


  • Left Centre Back

Gabriel Magalhaes: I think this guy makes the first 11 on any gooners list. As long as he is fit, his selection is not debatable neither is it negotiable. He was arguably our best defender last season putting in a string of consistent performances and of course the old dip in concentration as in the case with Ben White. We have got to cut them some slack as they are still very young.

Rock solid at the back with an eye for goal as no defender in the EPL last season recorded more goals than him, raking in five goals. It’s fair to say that while our attackers did not score enough goals last season, it was our performances at the back that guaranteed us a fifth place finish, losing out on the Champions league by two points, and Gabriel is a big reason for this.

He is very important for what Arteta wants to do going forward with this process. However, I would like to see competition or back up for Gabriel in this position or we risk burning him out.


  • Left Back

Kieran Tierney: Ambition, desire and passion. All these virtues are intrinsic to KT and it makes more sense that despite injuries depriving him of showcasing his qualities, there are still whispers through the grape vine, of Manchester City keeping tabs on him. He is my choice at left back but KT is going to have to stay fit or Arsenal maybe forced to start looking elsewhere. There is no point possessing all the good qualities to make you a superstar player, yet the Club that pays you to play, do not have this opportunity due to a consistent string of injuries.

KT is too important to our first team to be out almost always at the most important parts of the campaign since he signed. On his day, he is quite unplayable churning out electrifying performances down the left flank. Tierney will always be my choice at left back but I think Arteta may just have to plan for life without KT, as we are linked to Lisandro Martinez of Ajax as Nuno Tavares is still very young and raw, he could do with a season long loan.



  • Central Defensive Midfielder

Thomas Partey: Let me start by saying, this Thomas does not seem ready to Partey. Another fantastic player facing the same misfortune as Kieran Tierney with injuries. Thomas is one of the most, if not the most important cog in Arteta’s Arsenal element but his recurring hamstring injuries seems to be his achilles heel since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2020.

On his day, he is unplayable and if in doubt watch this:

If Arsenal hope to get into the Champions league next season, we are going to need a fully fit Thomas. It’s a tricky season for him because if Thomas has another injury plagued season, then I am afraid the Arsenal Board will have an important decision to make. I mean it does not take rocket science to see that the absence of Kieran and Thomas at the latter stages of last season, cost us a return to the Champions League. Arsenal can no longer afford to have our most important players taking early holidays. As much as Thomas makes my first eleven, I have to say as well that if he cannot complete another season for Arsenal, he should be sold. Thomas gets the nod in my starting eleven simply due to his experience and let’s face it, he’s a beast of tremendous proportions when fully fit, but that’s the dilemma, we need a fit Thomas that is ready to Partey.


  • Central Midfielder

Granit Xhaka: Now that we have Thomas sitting deep and operating in the six, shielding the back four, linking up defence and attack ensuring smooth transition, it’s imperative to have a master tactician, comfortable on the ball and adept in breaking the lines beside Partey operating in the box to box role in central midfield. This is a tricky one because like I said earlier, I don’t want to talk about players that are linked and have not been signed yet, but my choice ideally for this role will be Youri Tielemans but let’s stick to Xhaka for now.

Xhaka is an enigma of a player. You never just know what you get from him on match day. The good, the bad or the ugly. He’s a classic Jekyll and Hyde case.

In my opinion, we need an upgrade on him in Tielemans as we cannot afford to lose Xhaka due to suspension as a result of his poor disciplinary record. However, it’s not all doom and gloom with Xhaka. On his day, he is such a key man with an array of passes and his signature XHAKABOOM!!! when in range.

He only gets the nod in my first eleven because he’s the best of what we have for now, but I feel if Arsenal sign Tielemans then I will want to see him alongside Partey in midfield.


  • Attacking Midfielder

Martin Odegaard: Martin simply put is the conductor of Arsenal’s orchestra. Everything goes through him and when he has his off days, you see how disjointed we play lacking cohesion. In Odegaard, Arteta has at his disposal a young player with the mind of a coach on the pitch. He is every coach’s dream to have. A player who understands tactical instructions aptly and is able to transmit them to the players around him. No wonder, despite his young age, his country Norway made him captain of its national team and he looks like the front runner to be named permanent captain of the Arsenal first team.

His pressing, link up play, intricate threaded through passes to split defences and create scoring chances for his team mates is reminiscent of Mesut Ozil and Cesc Fabregas. While he may not always get the assist, it’s usually the pass before the assist that creates the opportunity for the goal and Odegaard can see such moves seconds before they happen.

He only needs to find more consistency in his performances but let’s be real, he only had his first full league season in a long time after being tossed across Europe on loan after signing for Real Madrid as a 16 year old in 2016. I believe the stability he has now will afford him the leeway to express himself more.

He gets the nod and will be deployed in the pocket behind the attackers, operating in the number 10 role as he is Arsenal’s playmaker in chief.



  • Right Wing Forward

Bukayo Saka: Arsenal’s player of the season at 20 years old. He is undoubtedly our very own star boy. He notched an impressive 11 league goals and 7 assists last season in 38 matches improving on his tally of 5 goals and 3 assists in 32 matches in the 20/21 EPL season. Saka is a player that his improved tremendously. Little wonder why he keeps Pepe on the bench.

He seems to have struck an understanding with Odegaard as the two often combine effectively. Taking their game to the next level will only make them strike a telepathic connection that in turn improves our quality. It’s definitely going to be scenes you would love to see when they both unlock their inner instinct, the realm of mastery.

Saka gets the nod in my eleven.


  • Left Wing Forward

Gabriel Martinelli: Another tricky pick for me here. To have to choose between Gabi and ESR was no easy feat. ESR raked in 10 league goals and was on fire in the first half of last season and he kept Gabi quiet in this time. However, from January, the tables turned and ESR found himself having to play catch up as Gabi was the man on fire in this period.

For this reason, Gabi gets the nod for me as the season opens only because of how he ended last season. This position is for both Gabi and ESR to show Arteta who wants it more as he is the one to assess them during training, we just do the hypothetical and speculate as this is my opinion. Either of them is capable and deserving of starting but Gabi laces up for me first.

His performances last season earned him a call up to Brazil’s A Selecao and if he has a better season in 22/23, he might just have a seat reserved for him on the plane to Qatar later in the year for the FIFA World Cup.


  • Centre Forward/Striker

Gabriel Jesus: Arsenal have finally gotten their man to fill the vacant striker position in Jesus. Already signed he takes up the number 9 Jersey, a number that legend has it, seems to be cursed. Is he the man to finally break the curse of the Arsenal number 9 shirt? His scoring record in the EPL stands at 58 goals in 159 appearances, many of these games were off the bench as he has never really been the main man at the Etihad.

His most prolific season was in 19/20 campaign, scoring 14 goals as City finished runners-up to Liverpool in the title race. He has been described by Pep and Tite as the best pressing forward in the world and is suitable for the way Arteta wants to play.

If Arsenal add the right additions needed like securing Tielemans and Lisandro Martinez, added to the squad we have and Jesus spear heading our attack, then I bravely call it early and welcome Arsenal in advance, back to the Champions League for the 23/24 football season. Gabi will definitely add goals, experience, and a winning mentality to our team as he is a four time champion of English football.

He is no more playing second fiddle, he is the main man now, will he live up or give up on the expectations placed on him? The stage is set, the crowd is seated, the spotlight is on him and it’s time to perform. If this is the unlocking of Jesus, then Arsenal have got on their hands a very dangerous player.

So guys! There you have it, my starting 11 for Arsenal FC in the 22/23 EPL season. My deployment will be a 4-2-3-1 formation. I hope you enjoyed my breakdown, let me know what you think or what you would tweak. See you next time out. COYG!!!

#GOONERVERSE this a planet somewhere in the galaxy where Arsenal fans dwell and talk about their beautiful club.

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  1. Not a team to get us in to top 4 for sure and retaining top 6 would depend … like this season … on others failing to live up to their own standards … 4 positions remain a problem; attacking options … gabrielli is still learning his trade nketiah is a substandard striker .. ; any midfield which includes xhaka is weak and backward looking and given parteys injury record quality addition(s) should be a priority; Ben white continues to flatter to deceive a decent bench player but is saliba good enough to start ?; LB tiernay is quality but again injury prone … we need some big signings this season to compete at top level for me another quality striker plus a strong DM with forward instincts are essential and the basis on which window should be judged

  2. It’s decent but I think the real strength could come from having options in attack – I’m particularly keen to see MA rotate with ESR, Nketiah and Vieira; I think these players give us competition and ways to change the dynamics of the attack. I just hope he makes use of these options.
    Defence is solid enough, if a little light on fullback options, but the CM position is a real weakness still imo – our best midfielder has been injured far too often and his partner is very unreliable. We should be looking to sign a starter asap

  3. If I have my way I’ll buy an established winger and swap with Martinelli. We can’t continue to rely on kids and imo, he isn’t ready to be a starter in a club that’s hoping to win uel and be in top 4.
    As a matter of fact he wouldn’t start in any of the top 6 teams. Even Saka may not start ahead of any wingers in top 6. That’s how low the quality we have are. It’s only arsenal fans that think our players are exceptional. They are just prospect not top players yet

    1. Teenage Gnabry was clear of any of our wingers. A fit Arsenal Vermaelen walks into this team yet he was seen as good but not enough.

      1. Vermaelen? Gabriel is much better than he was. He was similar to white imo (at this point, probably TV was a bit better) – very good general footballers, not great CBs

        1. Vermaelen when fit was clear of both especially from 09-11. Better in one on ones and aerially

          1. I disagree.
            Defensively, Gabriel is better than any version of Vermaelen. Suggesting Vermaelen was better aerially is particularly stretching it.
            Vermaelen at his best was relatively good in the air given his height but Gabriel is at a different level entirely.

            1. Vermaelen in his first season was clear of any version of Gabriel especially when fit. His best form was better.

    2. You are having a laugh Adajim. Ask Klopp if he would play him? Klopp said: “Martinelli’s pretty much the same age but he’s a talent of the century, he’s an incredible striker, so it’s really difficult.”

      Ask the Brazil manager who has just called him up to the senior teeam despite his youth…

      It’s not “only arsenal fans that think our players are exceptional.” It’s only you that thinks they are not!

      1. Admin, let’s not be emotional. He has high ceilings but he is not good enough to be starter yet .
        He isn’t on Saka level and in all big six teams he pale compared to other players. So he needs to sit and learn more from veterans

        1. What veterans? We are being told that Mikel has the youngest squad in the league and we have to be patient.
          At this rate, we’ll be fielding a team with nappy rash and use it as an excuse 🤾‍♂️🤾‍♂️🤾‍♂️🤾‍♂️🤾‍♂️🤾‍♂️!!!!!!

        2. I’m sure you joking, give Martinelli and saka more versatile midfielders and see them shine,

          I’m hoping with the addition of a skillful Vieira and a stronger CM, our forwards will improve,

  4. GK-Ramsdale, Turner, Heinz
    RB-Tomiyasu, Cedric, Norton-Cuffy
    LB-Tierney, Grimaldo
    CB-Gabriel, White, Saliba, Holding
    DM-Partey, Elneny, Onana
    CM-Milinkovic-Savic, Xhaka, Lokonga
    AM-Odegaard, Viera
    RW- Saka, Sarr
    LW-Martinelli, ESR
    ST- Jesus, Nketiah, Weghorst

      1. Yes, can you think of a better quality striker who would be willing to come in as third choice option?

  5. That overrated winger, centre back and midfielder is in your first team?? The way we overrate some of our players is laughable.

    1. The way some Arsenal fans denigrate some Arsenal first team players is even more laughable. Doesn’t anyone believe in “supporting” our team any more?

      1. I’m only being honest to what I’ve seen on the pitch. I didn’t attack their person so I’m cooI with what anyone thinks.

  6. Thank you so much. I feel so honoured to have my article posted on this platform. This article is actually my debut and I thank the editors for, I’m so grateful.
    The interactions in the goonerverse is what makes supporting Arsenal FC so enjoyable. COYG!!!

  7. Well written article Victor.Every Arsenal fan will have his idea of his first eleven, but in the modern day game with the huge demands on players in the EPL, both physically and mentally, the strength of a team’s squad is more important than a top eleven which can of course be influenced by the strength of the opposition and their tactical approach.For example, I would never play a 4-3-3 system against the current Spurs team under their current Manager who is a master of the counter attack.Match up with their set up and you have a real chance of winning.Their are of course a number of players who are it appears automatic choices, and as far as Xhaka is concerned Victor, we will have to agree to differ.

    1. Yes Grandad! I totally agree with you. You know, I felt last season away to Spurs, Arteta could have used 5 at the back, to nullify the obvious counter attacking threat they possess.
      I clearly stated that, I’d only consider players that are currently in the squad. There’s no need listing players that haven’t been signed yet.
      So looking at our current squad as it is, is there a better midfield pairing than Partey and Xhaka?

  8. Arteta wants a cover for Tierney, a cover or starting for Xhaka and a starting for Martinelli

  9. I will say this for you Victor; unlike Jonbo who claimed to give his “nailed on start eleven” which turned out to be no more than a mere six names amd a list of positions to make up his “missing five nailed on starters”, YOU HAVE given us eleven actual names.

    I credit you for giving individual reasons for why you selected each player.

    But I need to add that simply choosing a best eleven, when we need a deep and quality SQUAD, is merely an academic exercise for fun and not much actual use in how a club needs to be run.
    But worth a go, if you want fun, I suppose!

    1. Thank you Jon Fox and your point is noted. However, I was told to write on ‘Arsenal’s starting 11 in my opinion.’ I wasn’t told to address squad depth in my article.
      So that was me sticking to the script I hope you understand but your point is duly noted and will keep in mind for another article.

  10. I’m terms of strength in depth. We have elneny, veira, esr, lokonga, turner, Eddie and saliba as credible back up, so the spine of the team is fairly protected. We are short of decent cover on the flanks and maybe light up top although the squad needs some space for the likes of patino to develop as well. I havent posted in a long while but it’s good to see the admin are positive in the comments again. It’s a good opinion piece and I’m looking forward to what the season brings along with the final push to clear out the unwanted players and seeing maybe one or two more new faces join.

    1. I really like your point on the squad needing space for the development of Patino. I’ll add to that Omari Hutchinson and Marcelo Flores. I think these are the next three players to break out of Hale End. Would have added Miguel Azeez but it seems he may be loaned out to La Liga. Spot on though Dan the cannon.

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