It’s been an interesting Arsenal off-season, following a difficult end to the 2018/19 season. The club’s summer got moving when Gabriel Martinelli was officially announced as the first signing of the transfer window. Then came the #WeCareDoYou petition.
Arsenal kicked off preseason with a friendly against the Colorado Rapids, there was the Josh Kroenke interview, and then a trio of entertaining ICC matches that saw several youth players shine. The summer went into over-drive as the club who reportedly had a limited budget, signed William Saliba, secured a loan for Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos and then surprising deal for Nicolas Pépé.
The preseason ended on Sunday with a 2-1 loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou, but there is still a lot of potential business ahead. Arsenal hope to sign Celtic’s Kieran Tierney and secure a new center back. While Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi could both be sold by the end of August.
The Starting Depth Chart
A few considerations on this two-deep depth chart:
- This is based on players currently available right now, not an ‘if-everyone-was-fit’ XI. Thus future starters Héctor Bellerín and Rob Holding are excluded.
- I am going with the 4-2-3-1, because it feels like the safest formation for Unai Emery at the start of the year. Not everyone is match fit yet, several players are new to the Premier League, and there is not enough depth at defense to consider a back three formation.
Even though Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked lively up top against Barcelona, if Alexandre Lacazette is fit, both will start. Arsenal don’t have better options for a midfield formation while trying to start two up top, thus Aubameyang gets pushed wide left.
Bernd Leno, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mesut Ozil, Aubameyang, and Lacazette are all locks to start when fit. Yes, the joke has been Ozil doesn’t play away matches. But he’s had a good preseason and looks ready for a fresh start. Chambers has to be favored over Mustafi, while Emery will likely still prefer Kolasinac’s attacking aspects over Monreal, who is a safe defensive option on the bench.
The midfield two has a lot of options. Xhaka often wears the captains armband, Torreira should be better in year two, but is he fit enough for a starting role week one? We know Emery favors Guendouzi, but we don’t know how ready he’ll see Ceballos for a Premier League start on the opening weekend and away from home. Truthfully any combination of those four and Willock could start at Newcastle.
Which leaves the right attacking spot. Will Emery roll out the big new signing, Pepe? Does Reiss Nelson or Alex Iwobi get the nod, or will he opt for more experience in Mkhitaryan?
Pepe and Torreira are hopeful selections heading into opening weekend, but should slot into those roles in the coming weeks. The front six has plenty of options, a good problem for Arsenal to have starting the season. Just a few days to see if the defense can be addressed...