“Hey farmer! When you gonna fix that leakin’ roof?
Ah stranger, when it’s a rainin’ it’s too wet to fix it and when it’s dry it’s just as good as any mans house.” Michelle Shocked
Unai Emery is a man with a plan. With Lacazette, Aubameyang and Mkhi, Arsenal had added high profile, quality players in the previous season, but this summer it has been all about purchases of less-known players. The conclusion must have been that Arsenal is a fine house with all the mod-cons but the roof is leakin’ if and when it rains, and Emery has used this wonderfully hot and dry summer to fix it before the rain and wind return.
Lichtsteiner will fix the hole in the roof over the garage on the right side. Bellerin needed back up and competition, so Emery went for an experienced Swiss ‘rock’ who will provide the perfect cover (if not more).
The back of the house has been leaking goals like no tomorrow last season, so we should not be surprised that Emery added both an experienced CB and a very keen keeper who will want to be our nr.1. Leno will provide direct competition for Cech and is likely to start more games than veteran Cech; Sokratis will add his wisdom and experienced to our porous back four and is likely to start in most of our games. These are great additions and let’s hope they will stop the goal-leaking at the back.
With Wilshere and Cazorla gone and a collective belief that we needed to strengthen the defensive side of our midfield anyway, Emery went for a defensive midfielder with discipline, great ball winning and interception skills, as to plug the holes in our DM-pivot. I am pretty sure that Torre11ra will be paired with Xhaka in a deep-DM-two-midfield in front of the defence. For Uruguay, Lucas played a very disciplined, defensive role but there is more to him: he can go forward and put in through balls and long balls ala Cazorla. I expect him and Xhaka to form a formidable partnership in which either of them can go forward or stay behind. Together they will keep it watertight in midfield.
We also bought a young and promising midfielder from Lorient, Matteo Guendouzi, who may get some PL starts this season if we are to believe Emery. So more competition and cover in midfield for the likes of Xhaka and Elneny (and of course Maitland-Niles), which is of course great news. The key to success for Arsenal is sorting the DM midfield position(s) out and it looks like Emery has just done that.
The key question for me is what is going to happen with Aaron Ramsey? Will he still be playing in the B2B role, and therefore be a competitor for the deep-DM positions, or will he be moved into the hole position? I reckon it is the latter but we need to wait and see what will happen during pre-season and beyond (when Torreira returns from his summer break).
I reckon our first team will look something like this:
In all areas we will have quality players pushing the 11/13 players above, and that is a good thing. Kola, Chambers, Holding and Koz (when fully fit again) will do that at the back; Elneny, AMN and Guendouzi in the double DM pivot; Iwobi and Guendouzi (?) for the pivotal attacking midfielder in the hole position, and; Perez, Welbeck and Eddie for the attacking positions. Add a couple of youngsters to the mix, as per Kev’s excellent post, and we are ready, baby!
Bring on the new season; the roof has been fixed!