How will Arsenal's first XI look after deadline day?
After another summer of seemingly ponderous inactivity from Arsene Wenger and frustration from Arsenal fans, the Gunners have actually had a fairly decent transfer window, when all is said and done.
Admittedly, they have not addressed their lack of a quality centre forward, but the nucleus of the squad that finished second in the Premier League last term has remained firmly intact, with a couple of quality additions in vital areas that could make the difference.
Sadly though, much of the transfer action came too late for the start of the campaign, and Arsenal have been left a bit short in their opening games. Mesut Özil has returned to the side to great effect, pulling the strings in a win over Watford, and once Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi settle in, they will be vital members of the side.
So, how will Arsenal line up now their squad is finalised for the upcoming season?
In Petr Cech Arsenal have the Premier League’s best goalkeeper of the last decade. David de Gea may make more spectacular saves, but when it comes to consistent excellence and the ability to organise a defence, there is nobody better than the former Chelsea keeper.
Number one without a shadow of a doubt, but if needed David Ospina will deputise with merit.
Héctor Bellerin has emerged as a quality right-back over the last 18 months at Arsenal, and the 21-year-old Spaniard will continue to bomb up and down the right hand side of the vast Emirates Stadium pitch for the duration of the season.
Likewise, the solid Nacho Monreal will hold his position on the left hand side of defence. There aren’t many better defensive full-backs in the league than the Spaniard, and he also provides a threat going forward.
As for the centre of defence, it is clear that Wenger doesn’t fully trust Gabriel Paulista and his poor grasp of English yet, Per Mertesacker isn’t getting any slower but he could barely move to start with, and Rob Holding is not really ready to play week in week out in the Premier League.
However, with Shkodran Mustafi in the team, they have found a really good partner for Laurent Koscielny, in what looks like a really classy centre-back partnership in the making. Both being quick and positionally aware, it could be a very good pairing at the back.
Wenger elected to loan Jack Wilshere to Bournemouth in order for him to recover his form and fitness, but he was unlikely to get much game time anyway. Santi Cazorla has been preferred in a central role for some time, but it is likely that the dynamic Aaron Ramsey will be first pick when he recovers from injury.
He will certainly be joined by combative Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka who was excellent against Watford last week. His no-nonsense style is something Arsenal have missed for a very long time. Francis Coquelin went some way to addressing the issue, but his footballing ability is limited, whereas Xhaka has the ability to shoot, pass and tackle with far more class than Coquelin could.
With Xhaka sitting and Ramsey running from deep, Arsenal have a very strong central midfield pairing.
There are two names in attack that are a class above anything else at Arsene Wenger’s disposal and clearly pick themselves. Mesut Özil created a staggering amount of chances from the number 10 position last season, and will be indispensable for Wenger.
The same can be said of Alexis Sanchez, although from out wide and not as a centre forward. Sanchez has struggled through the middle, but is electric on either the left or right hand side, with licence to drift inside and cause mayhem.
The other positions, as always with Arsenal, will be dictated by injuries. Alex Iwobi is probably slight favourite over Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to play on the opposite wing to Sanchez, but he picked up an injury against Liverpool.
As for the central striker, Danny Welbeck is always on the treatment table, so it’s really between Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez. Not a lot is known about new signing Perez at the moment, although he does have a strong record in Spain, but it is likely Wenger will stick with the familiar figure of Olivier Giroud up top until Perez settles in.
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