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Projected Arsenal depth chart

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The roster has been set, so it’s time to guess who the manager will play and where he will play them.

Watford v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Now that the transfer window has slammed shut, we know Arsenal’s squad, at least for the first half of the season. The available pieces are in place, but it remains to be seen who Arsène Wenger will play. There are a number of areas on the pitch where Wenger has some serious selection decisions to make. Here’s my attempt to create a depth chart for Arsenal, with some explanations on the debatable decisions.

Goalkeeper:

  1. Petr Čech
  2. David Ospina
  3. Damian Martinez

Right Back:

  1. Hector Bellerin
  2. Mathieu Debuchy
  3. Carl Jenkinson*
  4. Rob Holding
  5. Francis Coquelin

*Back in training sometime this month, maybe

Right Centerback:

  1. Shkodran Mustafi
  2. Gabriel** OR Per Mertesacker***
  3. Rob Holding
  4. Krystian Bielik

**Out until mid-September, at least

***Out until December, at least

Left Centerback:

  1. Laurent Koscielny
  2. Gabriel or Per Mertesacker
  3. Krystian Bielik
  4. Nacho Monreal

Left Back:

  1. Nacho Monreal
  2. Kieran Gibbs
  3. ????
  4. Profit

Defense is by far the most set-in-stone facet of Arsenal’s XI. The fullbacks are set. Mustafi will get every opportunity to partner with Koscielny in the center of defense. Gabriel is more suited for a backup role and Holding will be eased into action throughout the year.

Midfield (deep-lying playmaker (DLP) or defensive midfield (DM)):

  1. Granit Xhaka
  2. Francis Coquelin
  3. Mohamed Elneny

Midfield (box to box (B2B)):

  1. Aaron Ramsey****
  2. Santi Cazorla
  3. Mohamed Elneny
  4. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
  5. JEFF (Reine-Adelaide)

****Should be back in training in a week or two

This will likely be the portion of this projected depth chart that will cause the most debate. Xhaka’s inclusion, sans Coquelin, and performance against Watford seemingly indicates that Wenger is ready to ride his big money, summer signing. It remains to be seen if there will be a favored partner with the Swiss midfielder or if Wenger will adopt a more fluid selection system, dependent on the opposition.

My suspicion is that Wenger will give the Xhaka-Ramsey axis the chance to establish itself as Arsenal’s midfield two. Ramsey gives the most from that position; his constant motor and all-around ability to pass, shoot, tackle, press, and make himself available for passes make him, on paper, a near perfect match with Xhaka. If that partnership doesn’t bear the fruit we all hope it does, then Wenger will likely switch things up with Coquelin and Xhaka pairing up in matches against top sides, with Cazorla sprinkled in against weaker sides where we have more of the ball.

Right Forward:

  1. Theo Walcott
  2. Lucas Pérez
  3. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
  4. Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Central Attacking Midfielder:

  1. Mesut Özil
  2. Alex Iwobi
  3. Santi Cazorla
  4. Aaron Ramsey
  5. JEFF (Reine-Adelaide)
  6. Gedion Zelalem

Left Forward:

  1. Alexis Sánchez
  2. Alex Iwobi
  3. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
  4. JEFF (Reine-Adelaide)
  5. Chris Willock

Center Forward:

  1. Olivier Giroud
  2. Lucas Pérez
  3. Danny Welbeck*****
  4. Alexis Sánchez
  5. Chuba Akpom

*****Might be back in training by December

It’s hard to hammer out a depth chart for the attacking positions due to the positional fluidity of many of Arsenal’s attackers. What we do know is that, when fit, Mesut and Alexis will be the first two names on the team sheet. Alexis will likely revert back to the left wing soon, as Giroud regains his fitness and Lucas becomes integrated into the side.

Theo has been quite good thus far this season, and will likely retain a significant amount of playing time if he keeps up his intensity. Injuries will, of course, be a thing, and everyone on this list, including the youngsters, will get playing time this season in one of Arsenal’s four competitions. If there’s any area on the pitch Wenger will rotate based on the opposition, it seems like it will be in the striker position. My prediction is that Giroud and Lucas have a similar number of appearances at center forward at the end of the season with Lucas starting bigger matches and Giroud leading the line against lesser opposition.

Those are my thoughts. What say you? Who do you think Wenger will prefer and why?

Note: A previous iteration of this post forgot that Danny Welbeck is, in fact, alive. I’m so sorry, Welbz. How could I forget you?