Following a fifth place finish in the English Premier League last season, as well as a loss in the Europa League final to Chelsea, Unai Emery’s Arsenal will be on a redemption tour this year. With Raul Sanllehi taking the helm as Head of Football, Arsenal have had an outstanding transfer window.
The Ivorian winger from Lille is Arsenal’s most expensive signing to date, brought in for £72 million. The exciting right sided attacker bagged 22 goals and 11 assists in 38 appearances in the Ligue 1 last season, leading his side to a surprising second place finish. Pepe’s pace and ability on the ball adds to the lethal strike force of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Ivorian’s strongest place in the game is in the counter-attack, where he can link up masterfully with the attackers around him. It will an incredible season watching his blistering speed alongside Aubameyang, bagging goal after goal.
The 23-year-old Spaniard joined Arsenal this year on a season-long loan from Real Madrid. Ceballos featured for Spain’s Under-21 side that won the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship this summer. Ceballos naturally plays central midfield, getting the ball deep and driving forward to create the attack. Though he prominently played in the No. 10 role for Spain, dominating the tournament as an attacking playmaker. Ceballos mainly fills in a role that Aaron Ramsey left, as the Welshman left for Juventus this summer on a free.
The former Celtic captain came to Arsenal on deadline day for a fee of £25 million, a record amount for the Scottish league and for a Scottish player. Tierney is one of the most highly touted left backs for his age, drawing interest from top English clubs for several years. The Scotland international is the perfect example of a modern fullback, with the ability to push forward as well as get back and defend, he will fit perfectly into Emery’s system at Arsenal
Another deadline signing for Arsenal was the Brazilian international Luiz, who formerly played under Emery at Paris Saint-Germain. Luiz joins from London rival Chelsea for £8 million, and brings experience and quality to a weak Arsenal backline. Emery will likely employ him beside Sokratis or a healthy Rob Holding, while Shrokdan Mustafi is likely to depart the club. The 32-year-old’s past experience under Emery will certainly make the move easier as he fits into the club’s tactics and style of play.
What is Arsenal without the favored 4-2-3-1. The tactic employed by former manager Arsene Wenger, and a favorite of current manager Emery will likely be making it’s return this year. With the right signings and players that fill the needed roles perfectly, reverting back to this system will see Arsenal play their wonderful style of play this year.
Starting from the back, Bernd Leno is undoubtedly the starting keeper for this year, with Petr Cech’s retirement and Emiliano Martinez filling in the number two role behind him.
Tierney will be the main left back, but with rotation necessary it is likely that Sead Kolasinac will have a place in Emery’s system this year. At the other fullback position, Ainsley Maitland-Niles will have a starting spot until Hector Bellerin returns from injury in September.
The centerback position will have plenty of rotation, with the beginning of the season likely to feature Sokratis, Luiz, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers. Once Rob Holding is healthy, he will get right back into the rotation of the centerback position.
The midfield two featuring Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka was the go-to for Arsenal last season, but will be shaken up with the addition of Ceballos on loan. Matteo Guendouzi will also be played in rotation, as well as Joe Willock who shined in preseason, but expect the main three to carry most of the load this year.
The front four will be Aubameyang, Mesut Özil, Pepe, and Lacazette. Aubameyang will take over the role on the left side of the field that he has played very well in this preseason, with Özil getting back into his playmaking No. 10 role. Pepe instantly will go into the right side of the field, with rotation from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Lacazette will carry most of the load up front, with Aubameyang potentially getting rotated up to give the Frenchman rest this year.
With the additions made in the transfer window, Arsenal have made a statement. Sanllehi and Emery want Champions League qualification this season, and Arsenal will have the quality to make the push. With Manchester City and Liverpool the favorites this season, and North London rival Tottenham Hotspur full of talent, Arsenal will not have any leeway with points this season.
Prediction: 3rd Place
Arsenal’s additions, as well as reverting back to the 4-3-2-1 system, will see them in a third place spot this season. The attacking quality of the front four will bring in loads of goals in the counter-attack, and will see them break down sides that park the bus. There will be a gap between them and first and second-placed Liverpool and Manchester City, who will battle for the title. But dominating performances from the front four, as well as the new life in the back-line, will see Emery’s side qualify for the Champions League and potentially push for a cup win this season.