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Arsenal 2023-24 Season Preview: Best Case, Worst Case seasons pt. 1

An estimation of what a good / bad season might look like for the defensive half of the Arsenal roster.

Arsenal FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Before every Premier League season, I like to run through the Arsenal roster and try to project what would happen in the best-case and worst-case season for each player. They’re not predictions per se, more what reasonably could happen if the campaign goes well or poorly. Another way to look at it is the ceiling and the floor for each guy.

Whereas the goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and attacker preview posts covered every player currently listed on the first team roster, this post allows me a bit of discretion. I don’t think it really matters what the best case and worst case seasons look like for guys like Cedric Soares. If he ends up having a role that even approaches relevance, Arsenal are in worst case scenario territory as a club.

Obviously, the one of the worst-case scenarios for any player is a serious injury / injury-plagued season, so I try to steer clear of fitness except in cases like Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey, where the player has a documented history of struggling to stay fit.

Aaron Ramsdale
Best Case: leads the Premier League in clean sheets (his 14 were tied second behind David De Gea’s 17); holds onto the starting spot in the face of a stern challenge from David Raya.
Worst Case: continues to be plagued by periodic blunders, both giveaways and conceding soft goals; loses the starting spot

David Raya
Best Case: leads the Premier League in clean sheets (less likely than Ramsdale simply because Raya won’t start the season as the #1 keeper at Arsenal); claims the starting role
Worst Case: his career best performance in shot-stopping last season was an outlier; can’t claim the starting spot; struggles when facing fewer shots and playing at a bigger club

William Saliba
Best Case: the best centerback in the Premier League; doubles his goal total from 2 to 4
Worst Case: his calm, at times casual, on-ball play leads to a few too many cheap turnovers and goals against; stagnates in his development (really don’t see him taking a step back, but not progressing his game would be pretty disappointing)

Gabriel Magalhaes
Best Case: makes a name for himself as one of the top CBs in the Premier League in his own right; scores 4 or 5 (or more) goals from set pieces
Worst Case: continues his tendency to make a big mistake every few games / increases the frequency of those mistakes; struggles with bookings from overly aggressive step-ups

Oleksandr Zinchenko
Best Case: adds another goal or two and a few more assists to his 1g, 2a haul last season; is the tempo-setter for a Premier League leading Arsenal attack
Worst Case: struggles to stay fit; loses his starting spot to an ascendant Jurrien Timber; his average defensive abilities are targeted and exposed more frequently by opponents

Ben White
Best Case: becomes the best RB in the Premier League; keeps shutting down opposing star attackers; continues to annoy the living daylights out of opposing keepers on corners
Worst Case: loses his starting spot to Jurrien Timber; takes more Arsenal goals off the board with his antics on set pieces; the misplaced passes and cheap giveaways that crept into his game down the stretch and in the preseason get worse

Jurrien Timber
Best Case: is the under-the-radar signing of the summer in the Premier League; 3-5 goals with as many assists; provides more defensive solidity than Zinchenko at LB with similar level of passing and ball retention
Worst Case: despite showing well in preseason, struggles to settle into the Premier League; has trouble displacing a healthy Zinchenko on the left and Ben White on the right; has his average-ish defensive abilities exposed

Takehiro Tomiyasu
Best Case: carves out a role in an alternate formation or as a regular sub; improves his play on the ball; regains his shutdown 1-v-1 defending that made him so good in his first season with the club
Worst Case: struggles with fitness again; doesn’t play much because he can’t force his way ahead of the other fullbacks on the depth chart

Jakub Kiwior
Best Case: impresses in whatever limited minutes he gets; role grows as the season progresses
Worst Case: doesn’t play much in a crowded, extremely skilled-on-the-ball Arsenal defensive core; fails to stand out when he does get time

Kieran Tierney
Best Case: gets meaningful playing time as a substitute, rotational option, and when Mikel Arteta wants to give opponents a different look; improves his passing / crossing accuracy
Worst Case: struggles to get time ahead of Zinchenko, Timber, Kiwior, and Tomiyasu

Rob Holding
Best Case: reprises his role as “The Closer” coming on late to help Arsenal shut things down; 20+ appearances (up from 14 and 15 in previous years) indicating the Gunners are winning more matches for him to see out
Worst Case: forced to start multiple Premier League games; is found to be lacking the requisite quality (again)

What are your thoughts? Am I too optimistic about anybody? Let me know in the comments.