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Arsenal 2022-23 PL Season Preview – Can The Gunners Join The Big Boys?

Arsenal players warming up before the match
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It’s been a summer of optimism in North London as Arsenal strengthened significantly in the transfer window while also winning all five pre-season games, including victories over Chelsea and Sevilla by a combined margin of 10-0 in their final two fixtures.

Where we left off

2021/22 season: 5th position| 6th most goals scored | 8th fewest goals conceded

While Arsenal took a step in the right direction under Mikel Arteta last term, the Gunners ultimately fell short of a top-four finish. The North London club narrowly missed out on a Champions League place to their local rivals Tottenham as they showed their inexperience in pressure situations in the run-in, slipping up against lower-league teams such as Newcastle, Brighton, Southampton, and Crystal Palace.

Off-season moves 

Incomings

1. Gabriel Jesus – £45 million (Manchester City)
2. Oleksandr Zinchenko – £32 million (Manchester City)
3. Fabio Vieira – £32 million (Porto)
4. Marquinhos – £3 million (Sao Paulo)

Outgoings

1. Bernd Leno – £8 million (Fulham)
2. Matteo Guendouzi – £9 million (Marseille)
3. Konstantinos Mavropanos – £3 million (Stuttgart)

It’s been another busy window at the Emirates as Arsenal’s squad revolution under Mikel Arteta continues. After focusing on the promise of youth last summer, Arsenal added some real quality to their side this window while also addressing some pivotal positional needs. The Gunners’ long-standing search for a striker ended with the addition of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City and Ukrainian left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko also followed the Brazilian to London from the Etihad in the quest for more first-team action.

Mikel Arteta’s side also added the exciting Portuguese playmaker Fabio Vieira from Porto, along with a couple of low-profile signings in goalkeeper Matt Turner and winger Marquinhos to fill out the squad depth. In terms of the outgoings, Arsenal bid goodbye to Bernd Leno, Matteo Guendouzi, and Konstantinos Mavropanos for a combined fee of £20 million, and the likes of Lucas Torreira, Pablo Mari, Hector Bellerin and Nicholas Pepe could join them on their way out before the window closes.

Probable Starting XI and Squad Depth

Arsenal squad depth

Staring XI – BOLD

Players in red are likely to leave this summer

The Squad (in 12 words or less)

Aaron Ramsdale – Erratic shot-stopper who relies on confidence, but distribution and box presence are elite

Takehiro Tomiyasu – Injured too often in 2022 but always gives you a 7/10

Cedric – One of the rare pre-pandemic Kia Joorabchian Arsenal signings that offered some value

Ben White – Bentley centre-back (Not as physically imposing as a Royce but still premium quality)

William Saliba – The heir to Virgil van Dijk’s throne isn’t hyperbole for his talent and ability

Gabriel – Emotional defender that can get caught out of position but is athletic and a beast aerially

Rob Holding – Let’s defend this lead with five at the back!

Kieran Tierney – Injuries derailed his career, but Arsenal’s season no longer hinges on his knees or ankles

Oleksandr Zinchenko – Top 10 passers in the league, can invert or stretch the pitch from left-back, not great defensively 

Thomas Partey – Effectiveness of Mikel Arteta’s 4-3-3 hinges on his availability 

Mohamed Elneny – Model professional, doesn’t lose the ball but can’t pass it forward

Granit Xhaka – Great leader and deep-lying playmaker, but Arsenal are slowly outgrowing their dependence on the midfielder 

Albert Sambi Lokonga – Oozes quality on the ball but doesn’t yet have maturity or awareness to be a number six

Martin Odegaard – Arteta’s voice on the pitch, excellent presser, slightly too one-footed though

Fabio Vieira – Ceiling raiser, devastating ball-striker, final-third monster

Emile Smith Rowe – Modern day Kaka, freaky ball carrier and running power

Gabriel Martinelli – Injuries and coaching has stalled his development but slowly developing creative instincts to go along with his freaky goal-scoring

Nicholas Pepe – Needs open space to thrive, which he does not get in England

Bukayo Saka – 18 goal contributions in the league in his age 19 season? Not bad.

Eddie Nketiah – The most improved player at Arsenal in the last 12 months

Gabriel Jesus – Not a clinical finisher but can link play, offers incredible movement in the box and is hungry to score goals

Burning Question: Can the Gunners finally join the big boys?

Mikel Arteta has now enjoyed 2.5 years at Arsenal along with two summers with over £100 million poured into the playing squad. The owners have heavily backed the manager and following all the investments made, the seeds that were sown need to start bearing fruit this season.

Fortunately for the Spaniard, the results on the pitch have been trending in the right direction in recent years, with Arsenal gradually improving with every season under Arteta. After years of mediocrity under Wenger and Emery, Arsenal finally have an identity and a squad capable of fighting with the country’s elite for silverware. Last season, Arsenal suffered due to a lack of squad depth, injuries, and poor quality in certain areas – striker, left-back and central midfield. 

Those three positions were significantly upgraded this summer, with Arsenal poaching Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City to raise the floor and ceiling of the team. On paper, there are very few holes in the Arsenal squad anymore, and an additional left-central midfielder and right-winger to backup Bukayo Saka could be the final ingredient the Gunners need to break into the top four and, potentially, challenge for the title.

Predicted finish: 4th

 

[Featured Image Credit: Arsenal]

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