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Arsenal 2023-24 Season Preview: Best Case, Worst Case season pt. 2

A look at possible season paths for the Arsenal midfielder and attackers.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

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.

Thomas Partey
Best Case: rediscovers the form that had him as one of the best, if not the best, CDM in the Premier League last fall; stays healthy and effective all season, especially the stretch run; improves his shooting accuracy
Worst Case: breaks down physically as the season wears on

*Partey also has the specter of other issues hanging over his season. It felt inappropriate to include those in either category, but they continue to be potentially relevant.

Declan Rice
Best Case: integrates seamlessly into the Arsenal formation; adds attacking flair to his expansive repertoire
Worst Case: has trouble adjusting to the left #8 role and / or the additional on-ball demands of players in Mikel Arteta’s system; the record price tag becomes an anchor that gets brought up every time he makes even the smallest mistake

Best Case: effective super sub / change of pace player; gives Partey and Rice rest as needed without Arsenal’s level dropping; chips in with a handful of goals and assists
Worst Case: father time remains undefeated (he turns 32 in December) and his lack of speed, limited range, and defensive weaknesses become a significant issue

Martin Ødegaard
Best Case: matches or betters his 15 goal haul and increases his assist total into the double digits; establishes himself as the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League
Worst Case: the goal total was an aberration that craters this season; has trouble playing in the somewhat deeper role from the preseason, limiting his effectiveness

Kai Havertz
Best Case: scores 5 to 10 goals and adds a similar number of assists; forms an attacking partnership with Gabriel Martinelli that rivals the Ødegaard-Saka connection on the other side; reaches the levels that people thought he might when he moved to Chelsea with significant fanfare; Mikel Arteta and Arsenal unlock his potential
Worst Case: season similar to his last one at Chelsea with low attacking output; doesn’t provide enough without the ball for Mikel Arteta to trust him consistently as a starter;

Emile Smith Rowe
Best Case: forces his way into a regular, rotational role or consistent 30-minute super sub; scores 5-10 goals
Worst Case: struggles to stay fit, can’t find his form, struggles for playing time; doesn’t really fit smoothly into any of the positions in Mikel Arteta’s system because his strengths aren’t really suited to any of them

Fabio Vieira
Best Case: similar to ESR, establishes himself as a regular in the attacking rotation / as a regular second half substitute; scores 3-5 goals and adds as many assists
Worst Case: confirms the not uncommon worry that he’s not big enough or strong enough to make it in the Premier League

Bukayo Saka
Best Case: scores 20 goals to go along with 10+ assists; leaves no doubt that he is a superstar and one of the best players in the Premier League
Worst Case: all the minutes over the last two seasons + Premier League and Champions League finally catch up with him and he slows a half-step or step because of fatigue; gets injured, either because of that fatigue or the hard challenges he suffers every match — I know that’s breaking my own rule because he’s been durable, but with how much he plays and how he gets clattered every game, injury is a real concern

Gabriel Martinelli
Best Case: same as Saka — 20 goals and 10+ assists; earns recognition as the star player he is on his own, stepping out of Saka’s shadow a bit
Worst Case: has difficulty establishing a connection with Havertz / Rice / whoever plays on the left with him, limiting his effectiveness; defending him gets “solved” — he has a tendency to use the same moves and do the same thing, he needs to add a bit of variety to his attacking repertoire

Gabriel Jesus
Best Case: procedure to clean up his knee enables him to return as the dynamic, attacking force he was pre-World Cup; scores 15+ goals and pushes towards double-digit assists
Worst Case: his surgically repaired knee continues to slow him all season; his already low chance conversion rate gets worse

Leandro Trossard
Best Case: registers double digit goals and assists; starts 10-15 Premier League matches and consistently gets 25-35 minutes in the ones he doesn’t start
Worst Case: can’t replicate his attacking output from last season; sees his minutes decrease / go to other guys

Eddie Nketiah
Best Case: scores 5-10 goals while filling in for Gabriel Jesus leading the line combined with his 15-20 minutes (or so) per appearance as a regular sub
Worst Case: drops to third on the striker depth chart behind Kai Havertz (or Leandro Trossard); production tails off, making it clear Arsenal need to look to the transfer market for another striker-type player going forward

Reiss Nelson
Best Case: shines as an energy sub, slowly earns himself longer substitute appearances as the season progresses; scores 3-5 goals
Worst Case: doesn’t show enough to establish himself as a viable backup for Bukayo Saka, even for 10-15 minute cameos; hardly plays

Thoughts, comments, suggestions? Did I miss the mark on anybody? Let me know in the comments!