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Arsenal 2023-24 Premier League season preview: attackers

The Gunners return the same group of attackers from last season.

Arsenal FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal return all the key pieces of an attack that fired home the second most goals in the Premier League last season (88). The Gunners attack is trending in the right direction — 55 goals in 2020-21 and 61 in ‘21-’22 before last season’s explosion.

Bukayo Saka is the centerpiece and crown jewel, a bona fide superstar who is only going to get better this season. He was one of two players with double digits in goals (14) and assists (11) in the Premier League last year, alongside Mo Salah. Arsenal spread the scoring around, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Saka scores 20 in the league.

Gabriel Martinelli flies under the radar a bit because he plays across from Saka and alongside the rest of the Arsenal attacking talent, but he’s a star in his own right. You heard it here first — he is going to have a big season and establish himself as a household name. He tied Martin Ødegaard for the team lead in league goals last season (15) and will challenge for the top spot this season. Swapping Granit Xhaka for Kai Havertz / Declan Rice as the #8 on his side of the pitch is going to create time and space for him.

Gabriel Jesus will be the starting striker when healthy, but he’ll start the season on the shelf, recovering from a procedure to clean up his surgically repaired knee. The addition of Jesus changed the Arsenal attack. He scored 11 goals in 26 Premier League appearances last season, and if he stays healthy, should push that total markedly higher this year.

Last season, it was Eddie Nketiah who got the nod leading the line during Gabriel Jesus’ extended absence. The Hale End product did well to keep the Gunners afloat, but isn’t as complete of a player as Jesus. Nketiah was a regular sub last season, appearing in 30 of 38 Premier League matches — that will likely continue this season. Until the Community Shield, it looked as if Nketiah would get the start in Arsenal’s season opener, but Mikel Arteta picked Kai Havertz to lead the line against Manchester City and might opt for him again to kick off the Premier League season.

Leandro Trossard rounds out the returning scoring threats from last year. The January window signing exceeded expectations, finishing the season with 8 goals and 12 assists overall. And oh by the way, 12 assists was the third-most in the entire Premier League. Trossard had an excellent preseason and should pick up where he left off.

Reiss Nelson is the other attacking option off the bench, personally convinced by Mikel Arteta over the summer to remain with the club. Nelson is an interesting option — he’s struggled to stay fit, but in limited minutes and a small sample size, his underlying numbers are fantastic. His winner at the death against Bournemouth last year was one of the moments of the season for the Gunners.

Marquinhos will spend the season on loan to Nantes in France. Folarin Balogun will likely be sold before the close of the window — West Ham, Inter Milan, and Monaco are all interested in his services. Nicolas Pepe is still under contract with the club, but he’ll be loaned, sold on the cheap, or will mutually agree to terminate his contract. None of the aforementioned three players participated in Arsenal media day.