Premier League preview: Arsenal locked and loaded to fire

Arsenal has plugged areas with problems by splurging the cash in the transfer market and is keen to get back into the Champions League.

Premier League preview: Arsenal locked and loaded to fire

Attack wins you games but defence wins you championships. This saying is best suited for Arsenal FC. Ever since the club signed Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in back-to-back transfer windows during the 2017-18 season much was expected from the Gunners. But the fans have been only left with disappointment since then.

What went wrong last season?

In the 2018-19 season, Arsene Wenger departed the club after 23 years giving way to the Spaniard Unai Emery. One thing was sure back then, the power-packed forwards were not enough to beat teams as the defenders were shipping in tons and tons of goals at the other end. The problem with the Arsenal defenders is that they either lose concentration or give away possession very easily.

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Injuries to Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding did no good to the already shattered defence. Shkodran Mustafi committed close to ten direct mistakes leading to goals last season.

One of the highest paid players in league, Mesut Ozil, is often heavily criticised for underperforming. The Gunners' disappointing season resulted in a third consecutive season in the Europa League.

Despite the new signings, much is expected of the seniors in the side. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

An exciting transfer window gives hope

Even the strikers Aubameyang and Lacazette, in spite of scoring a number of goals had a very poor conversion rate last season. That was evident during the Europa League (EL) final against Chelsea and in the final few PL games.

The central midfielders are very important in Emery's system, but players like Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, faltered after promising starts to the season. Youngster Matteo Gendouzi did show signs of improvement in his first season at the club.

Arsenal had to invest on quality recruits in order to come out of the absolute mess it was in.

Defence and midfield should have been the club's primary areas of concern after what happened the previous season. But the club signed young Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli to complete its first piece of business in the transfer window in July.

This was followed by the arrivals of Dani Ceballos and William Saliba on the same day. Ceballos joined on a season-long loan from Real Madrid and Saliba will join on a permanent deal from St. Etienne, but will head back to the Ligue 1 side for the upcoming season and return next year.

To the surprise of many the Gunners broke their club transfer record to sign Ligue 1 sensation Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

Arsenal broke its club-record to bring in Nicolas Pepe from Lille. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

On PL deadline day, the club completed the much-awaited deal for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and also bought experienced Brazil centre-back David Luiz from London-rival Chelsea, thereby ending up as one of the most active sides in the transfer window.

What to expect from Arsenal in the upcoming season?

Ahead of its opening match against Newcastle United on Sunday, the North London side looks pretty good to challenge for Champions League places once again. A title fight might be a little far fetched but Arsenal has clearly improved from last season with its business in the transfer window.

Sead Kolasinac has Tierney to challenge him for a starting spot, Ceballos' entry will definitely push the misfiring central midfielders to perform better, Pepe will provide a new dimension to the already well-equipped attack and last but not the least Luiz, alongside Sokratis Papastathopoulos, might act as a commander in Arsenal's shambolic backline as the side has been lacking a proper leader for a long time.

The club would be hoping that both Bellerin and Holding return soon from injuries in order to mount a challenge in every competition. But its primary concern would be to finish in the top four or win the Europa League in order to get back to Europe's top tier competition.

Once again, much will be expected from the senior players this time. Emery's side can do better if star players like Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette step up and lead from the front without committing silly mistakes but if they misfire yet again it might be curtains for the men in red and white sooner than later.

Arsenal's transfer activity

IN: Gabriel Martinelli (£6m, Ituano), Dani Ceballos (loan, Real Madrid), William Saliba (£27m, St Etienne), Nicolas Pepe (£72m, Lille), Kieran Tierney (£25m, Celtic), David Luiz (£8m, Chelsea)
OUT: Laurent Koscielny (£5.4m, Bordeaux), Alex Iwobi, (£35m, Everton), Aaron Ramsey (free, Juventus), David Ospina (£3.15m, Napoli), Carl Jenkinson (£2m, Nottingham Forest), Takumo Asano (£900,000, Partizan Belgrade), Julio Pleguezuelo (free, Twente), Charlie Gilmour (free, Norwich City), Krystian Bielik (£9.5m, Derby), Carl Jenkinson (£2m, Nottingham Forest), Daniel Ballard (loan, Swindon), Ben Sheaf (loan, Doncaster), William Saliba (loan, St Etienne), Dean Iliev (loan, Sered), Jordi Osei-Tutu (loan, Vfl Bochum), Laurent Koscielny (£4.6m, Bordeaux), Danny Welbeck (free, Watford), Stephan Lichtsteiner, Cohen Bramall (all released), Petr Cech (retired).

 

Premier League fixtures

August

11 - Newcastle United vs Arsenal

17 - Arsenal v Burnley

24 - Liverpool v Arsenal

31 - Arsenal v Tottenham

September

14 - Watford v Arsenal

21 - Arsenal v Aston Villa

28 - Manchester United v Arsenal

October

5 - Arsenal v Bournemouth

21 - Sheffield United v Arsenal

26 - Arsenal v Crystal Palace

November

2 - Arsenal v Wolves

9 - Leicester City v Arsenal

23 - Arsenal v Southampton

30 - Norwich City v Arsenal

December

3 - Arsenal v Brighton

7 - West Ham v Arsenal

14 - Arsenal v Manchester City

21 - Everton v Arsenal

26 - Bournemouth v Arsenal

28 - Arsenal v Chelsea

January

1 - Arsenal v Manchester United

11 - Crystal Palace v Arsenal

18 - Arsenal v Sheffield United

22 - Chelsea v Arsenal

February

1 - Burnley v Arsenal

8 - Arsenal v Newcastle

22 - Arsenal v Everton

29 - Manchester City v Arsenal

March

7 - Arsenal v West Ham

14 - Brighton v Arsenal

21 - Southampton v Arsenal

April

4 - Arsenal v Norwich City

11 - Wolves v Arsenal

18 - Arsenal v Leicester City

25 - Tottenham v Arsenal

May

2 - Arsenal v Liverpool

9 - Aston Villa v Arsenal

17 - Arsenal v Watford