Arsenal had quite some preseason games since their first match against Scottish side Hibernia. The team were due to participate in the Florida Cup against Inter Milan and Everton in between their encounter against Hibernia, Rangers, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur but an unfortunate Covid uproar in Arsenal’s camp changed the team’s plan from attending the Florida Cup, hence, giving a room for Millwall and Watford to have behind close door match with the Gunners.
Mikel Arteta’s team preparations towards the upcoming 2021/2022 season had really been full of dissatisfaction from the fans point of view. Considering Arsenal’s last season league position losing out from European competition, it’s expected that a team as big as Arsenal would show a lot of character, hunger, and grit in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
Looking back to last season’s experience, it is expected that the club would have strengthened some areas that are lacking the required technical ability or which doesn’t suit the manager’s style of play such as the right-back situation whereby Mikel Arteta had juggled between Hector Bellerin, Cedric Soares and Callum Chambers in the starting lineup.
Last season’s obvious issues
Tactically, it is known that Mikel Arteta likes to have his right back fitting seamlessly as an inverted right back, joining the midfielders while the team are attacking, which changes the team’s organisation. Such a player has to be a good passer of the ball, versatile, good positioning, pacey and athletic. These traits aren’t obviously suited to Bellerin and Cedric’s style of play, as both players are known to be outright right-backs. This has led to the club being linked with former Tottenham right-back Trippier and the likes.
Meanwhile, uncertainties had to be over the future of some of the midfielders like Granit Xhaka, Joe Willock, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, and with the loss of Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard who were returning to their parent club Real Madrid.
Arsenal’s forward was far from convincing in front of goals last term, with Aubameyang scored ten goals in 29 Premier League matches, which was 12 goals less than the previous two seasons. In Arsenal’s six preseason games, Aubameyang scored none and had two shots on target. Though he had featured more from the left-wing, his contributions have gone far below his standard, which begs why Arteta failed to consistently deploy in his favoured position?
Whereas, Alex Lacazette surprisingly had a better (13) goal return than the Gabonese captain. The Frenchman’s influence in games as per his work rate, pressing, linkup, and power was really instrumental in the manager’s setup and style of play.
While in terms of chance creation per minute from open play, players’ like Bukayo Saka (88), Aubameyang (106), Lacazette (88), Martin Odegaard (54), Smith Rowe (54), Willian (64), and Nicolas Pepe (202) couldn’t be more consistent due to squad rotation and injuries.
The question is, have all these issues been addressed during this summer transfer?
Considering the three signings that have been made already, none of the aforementioned issues has been resolved apart from adding the talented, young, and former Anderlecht captain to the team. The signings could in fact be considered as back-ups rather than an instant quality replacement (except Ben White, you can argue).
Several football outlets have linked some interesting players like Maddison, Martinez, Aouar, Odegaard, Onana, Ramsdale, Trippier, and the likes to the club, who undoubtedly will improve the team and as well, be able to challenge for European competition.
As the transfer window comes to end in less than a month from now, it’ll be an intriguing and tense period for both the fans and the club’s management, as there may or may not be some last-minute surprises as well as some outgoings too.
Will the club fill the required positions? Time will tell…