THE OVERHAUL THAT CAN PLACE ARSENAL IN POSITION TO CHASE EPL TITLE AS SOON AS NEXT SEASON by Nick
Make no mistake, Arsenal has already matched or beaten almost all of last season’s performances. In the Europa League, the team has the chance to make amends at the semi-final level where they lost to Atletico Madrid the previous year. Arsenal has already taken the lead in this match-up by beating Valencia 3-1 in the first round at the Emirates Stadium. In the English Premier League (EPL) they are already past the 63 points they garnered last season, at 66 points with 2 games to play.
However, after three losses in a row in the Premier League the chances for Arsenal making it to the top four hang in the balance. The guarantee for Champions League football next season looks unlikely unless they win the Europa League.
Arsenal has been exposed a lot this season because they lack top quality players and are a side lacking in depth. Their first eleven still has very few players that can be considered to be the quality a top side needs. They also have no genuine game changers in the bench or players that can adequately fill in for a first team player. Unai Emery has had an entire season to learn about the team and the league and it is time to take some the changes that would get Arsenal challenging in the Premier League as soon as the first kick of the ball happens when the next season commences and be in a position to maintain the challenge through the season.
1 – Replace Petr Cech
He has been with Arsenal for the last 4 seasons and will be retiring at the end of this season capping an Arsenal career of 5 seasons in all.
He has appeared 443 times in the EPL, made 202 clean sheets and 280 wins with 76 losses. To replace him, my suggestion would be that Emiliano Martinez is recalled from his loan outing at Reading FC.
But just to guarantee quality goalkeeping, Arsenal should sign Sam Johnson from West Bromwich Albion. Johnson is English which would help bring back the English core. He has been in the national youth teams at the Under 21 level, has been at Manchester United and Aston Villa, and would relish his last chance to challenge for a call up to England’s National team.
He has played 42 times at the championship with West Bromwich Albion and conceded 56 times and kept 8 clean sheets. If he can lift his game, he could just challenge Leno for the rights to Arsenal first choice keeper. He can be available for 6-10M Euros.
#2 – Sell Laurent Koscielny
Koscielny will be 34 next season and has been suffering too many injuries lately. I suggest he should be sold to raise funds to be invested in other areas in the squad. He should be replaced by bringing Culum Chambers back from his loan to Fulham.
Bringing Chambers back means he can help with his versatility in other roles like right back when needed.
#3 – Replace Nacho Monreal
Monreal too has been one of the most dependable versatile player in the defensive areas and this season he played in the left full back, center back and left wing back. He will be 34 next season.
I would replace him with Philip Max from Augsburg. Philip has 4 goals and 4 assists in 27 games but his biggest two assets are that he can play all through the left wing from left back, wing back, to left forward and he is just 25.
He was involved with the German Olympic team and would be auditioning for a role in the national team. 16M Euros might be what Arsenal may need to part with to secure his services.
#4 Replace Stephan Lichtsteiner
The right back and right wing-back roles are well covered with the rise of Ainsley Maitland-Niles to cover for the still injured Hector Bellerin.
However, another young player with the potential to push these two would be useful and the young player would also be biding his time and could take over in a few years.
22-year old Benjamin Henrichs from Monaco at 18M would be the kind of player to give cover and competition. Maitland-Niles sending off against Leicester, means Arsenal are in real danger without him for a game or two. Henrichs would have had his chances to impress had he been at Arsenal.
#5 Sell Carl Jenkinson
I know he loves Arsenal. I know he would stay even under tough circumstances. However, he would also love to see Arsenal succeed. Emery can tell him by getting sold it would help Arsenal succeed, because that would raise much-needed funds and also give him a chance at first-team football lower down the EPL with some mid-table teams.
#6 Replace Shkodran Mustafi
He is not really at the level Arsenal hoped he would be for a top EPL team. He is prone to one too many blunders that end up costing unnecessary points. He was at it again giving Crystal Palace an easy second goal which may be the moment that game was lost and that complicated Arsenal’s top four chances. Arsenal can either sell him or swap him with someone like Wily who has been outstanding for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Boly could be the Virgil van Dijk yet to be identified that Unai Emery once talked about. His arrival at Emirates would herald an upgrade of the defensive armor greatly.
#7 Replace Aaron Ramsey
Ramsey has played 262 times for Arsenal in the EPL. He has scored 40 goals and made 46 assists. He has participated in 151 wins and 56 losses. He has already signed for Juventus and will be moving to Turin once the season comes to a close.
This season he had 4 goals and 6 assists for Arsenal. He suffered a muscular injury against Napoli which led him to miss the last three games against Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester which Arsenal went on to lose. it has since been confirmed that he will not able to play again this season.
I’m convinced he would have helped Arsenal get better results in the last three matches he has so far missed. Until his latest injury, Ramsey was easily the most in-form Arsenal player over the last month. Many Arsenal fans feel cheated that he walks for free, especially after word leaked about the enormous terms he is getting to move to Turin and join Juventus.
I would sign Kerem Demirbay to replace him. Demirbay would cost around 22M Euros and he is versatile enough to play defensive midfield, central midfield and attacking midfield. He has good goal participation having scored 4 goals and made 7 assists in 23 appearances this season with TSG Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.
#8 Replace Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka
Franck Kessie from AC Milan would be a ready-made candidate to replace Xhaka and Elneny especially with the arrival of Karem Demirbay, who would slot in seamlessly alongside Torreira.
Kessie would come as a stable alternative when either Torreira or Demirbay are out and a reliable partner to Guendouzi should these two be missing at the same time or where pattern change requires more of players at the center of the park.
He is versatile and could even slot in as center back if needed. Signing him alongside Demirbay would help younger players like Guendouzi, and other academy players like Charlie Gilmour and Ben Sheaf to assimilate themselves into the first team without unnecessary pressures over their shoulders.
His statistics show he would come in as an upgrade on both Guendouzi and Elneny and at an equal level with Xhaka with a slight advantage of being a cleaner player. Selling Elneny and Xhaka and getting Kessie could bring a surplus of over 20Million to help in other areas of the squad.
#9 – Replace Mesut Ozil
Ozil is the highest paid of Arsenal players.He is a sleek player who on his day is a wonder to watch and can leave you swearing you will never miss a match of football.
But these accolades are getting rare to come by with every season that passes and it is time to release him for the mutual benefit of all parties. At 350,000 a week, his release could cover salaries for three pre-world class players. His goal participation is too low for a player of his caliber and for the position plays in. He is simply not getting any better.
It would be hard to replace Ozil’s skill sets but Arsenal can get players with better output in games by making a well thought out signing.
One such signing would be Bruno Fernandes at Sporting Club de Portugal or Sporting Lisbon. Bruno, Sporting’s captain, has been scoring and assisting in double figures for the last two seasons. He would keep both Aubameyang and Lacazette busy with loads of assists and supplement in scoring goals.
We could just swap him directly and convince Sporting of Ozil’s commercial pedigree as one of the reason’s they should swap.
Bruno can also help in the central midfield areas. He also comes with a leadership pedigree that Arsenal has lacked in recent times especially when the games start with opponents scoring first.
#10 Replace either Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Alex Iwobi
These are Arsenal’s out and out wingers and often played together by Emery. They have been inconsistent and largely ineffective when called upon. One of them must be sold so that something can change.
I would go with selling Mkhitaryan and keeping the younger Iwobi, maybe he could learn a thing or two as he becomes older. I would go for Hakim Ziyech, a player with 193 appearances in the Eredivisie with 73 goals and 82 assists.
He would be an added goal threat from the right side and can even play in the attacking midfielder role as well as central midfield. He may even perform better than Iwobi on the left wing if played there.
Ziyech would also help keep Arsenal’s North African ties intact after the sale of Elneny.
#11 Replace Danny Welbeck
Welbeck participation in Arsenal has been hampered by injuries and he may never leave to see if he can get less injured in a less pressured environment away from Emirates.
My choice for his replacement would be Galatasaray’s Mbaye Diagne. Diagne has 28 goals in 25 games and 3 assists.
The only problem is that Diagne just joined Galatasaray in the winter. They would want to make a tidy profit from selling him if they have to. They bought him for 10 million which means anything about 15 million would be considered reasonable.
He could push Lacazette and Aubameyang for the starting role and at 27, he is in a perfect age to take over from Aubameyang in a few years. Diagne is also a left winger and could settle for a role in the left where Iwobi continues with his inconsistent performances and could help with Iwobi’s development too.
#12 – Assimilate Arsenals Academy
We have already seen what academy player like Matteo Guendouzi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles can do for Arsenal.
We have also seen Reiss Nelsons exploits at the Bundesliga with TSG Hoffenheim.
It would help the case of strengthening the bench with the likes of Julio Pleguezuelo, Zech Medley, Charlie Gilmour, Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock actually got game time with the first team every once in a while and those showing promises remain in the first team.
With this overhaul and if Arsenal makes it to the Champions League through one of two remaining routes of winning the Europa League of getting to top four it would mean more cash for transfers and with the sales suggested above this type of overhaul may be achieved.
If this overhaul is carried out here are two line-ups Emery can field: –
In the 3-2-3-2 setup…
In the 3-4-1-2 set-up…
Would that be enough for Arsenal to challenge for the title?