With Five Left-side Gunners Gone, Emery is revolutionising Arsenal’s Left Wing…

…. For Better or For Worse?!


GN5 posted this list of ins and outs at Arsenal this summer:

OUTS: Aaron Ramsey, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Cohen Bramall, Julio Plegezuelo, Charlie Gilmour, David Ospina, Daniel Ballard, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Ben Sheaf, Xavier Amaechi, Krystian Bielik, Takuma Asano, Carl Jenkinson, William Saliba, Danny Welbeck, Dominic Thompson, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Eddie Nketiah, Alex Iwobi, Nacho Monreal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mohamed Elneny, Kelechi Nwakali.

INS: Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos, William Saliba, Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney, David Luiz

Now I totally understand that in order to give young players a chance and to offset money spent on new players, we have to let go some players. But sending 25 players away, either for good or on loan, is quite something. If you look at this list, you will see a lot of youngsters who simply need a chance to play football which Emery just could not offer them this season. Fair enough, and hopefully a few will come back better, wiser and stronger.

However, the bloodletting of experienced Gunners on our left side worries me a lot, but also excites me a bit. Left back Nacho especially will be missed; it puts a lot of pressure on Tierney and the more-winger-than-left-back Kolasinac. It is a long season and I reckon Emery may come to regret this decision… if indeed he was involved in it.

But there is more left side player-depletion to deal with this season: Iwobi is gone, Mkhi is gone, Koscielny our LCB is gone, Welbeck is gone. You could also argue that Elneny and Ramsey played a lot on the left side of the team and they are also gone. Together these players wore the Arsenal shirt for well over a 1000 games (I would imagine), and they will be missed.

So we got new signings Tierney and Luiz to support the left side of the defence and we should be really pleased with them. In attack we added Pepe, Ceballos and Martinelli, and I reckon only Martinelli will re-strengthen the left side a bit. I say a bit because he is still young and it will take time for him to settle in and become effective. There are also high hopes for Saka and Nelson but also they are young and it will take time  before they can make us forget the goals, assists and key passes of the likes of Iwobi, Mkhi, Welbeck and Ramsey. The cup games cannot come soon enough for them.

What’s interesting, though, in the last game Emery opted for a flat-three in midfield with Guendouzi on the left, and maybe that’s a sign of what is to come. He certainly had his best game since joining Arsenal and was much more effective than when he was played on the right v Pool the weekend before. I also reckon we will see more of the PALs starting games together with Auba on the left wing. I am still not sure whether this gives us the best attacking balance – a creative midfielder who is comfortable on the left wing may still make us stronger, and I believe the letting go of both Mkhi and especially Iwobi may bite us in the backside sooner or later – but to go out All Guns Blazing is attractive and will put fear in many opponents. It also seems to totally fit Emery’s ‘5-4’ philosophy.

So thinking about this, we may well end up with a left side of Tierney(Kola), Guendouzi, Auba, and LCB Luiz this season, with cameos for Nelson, Kola (once Tierney has established himself), Martinelli, Saka, and possibly ESR and Ceballos.

That is quite some change on the left side and we will lack a lot of experience – and that includes our back-up options – but it will also bring freshness and, with a bit of luck with injuries and especially Tierney hitting the ground running rather sooner than later, it could make us stronger this season. 

By TotalArsenal.


12 thoughts on “With Five Left-side Gunners Gone, Emery is revolutionising Arsenal’s Left Wing…

  • TA, rather interesting that you picked up on this near decimation of a particular side of our play; is it a “revolution” or is the management just bumbling it’s way to the answer? I found it curious that we could let Monreal go, not so long after selling Iwobi, especially since both left backs separately admitted they enjoyed combining with Iwobi, anyway. For a long time, our left side has been the favoured point of Arsenal attacks; be it Ashley Cole, Clichy, Henry, Pires, Nasri, Podolski, Arshavin, …all the way to the current stock. Hell, even Adebayor liked to cut in from that wing to trouble defences.

    Could it be Emery sees the coming of Pepe as a signal that we can now shift emphasis to the right, especially as Bellerin gets close to a return and with Maitland-Niles getting better offensively?

    If we pull it off without incident, then it will appear to be genius.

  • Cheers Eris, decimation is a good word. A shift to the right is indeed a possibility and maybe/hopefully the left side will work out too. I would not have let go Iwobi, Mkhi and Nacho in one go, though..

  • TA interesting post.

    Our attack sides last season: 42% left — 24% center — 34% right.
    This season ——————— 46% left — 23% center — 31% right.

    We’ve been attacking predominantly from the left. Most of our midfield players naturally drift to the left even when positioned centrally: Xhaka, Douzi, Ceballos and Ozil. Mkhi who used to be deployed mostly on the right wing always drifted towards the centre discouraging attacks from that side. Torreira drifts right. Looks like Willock is balanced (?).

    Now that we have a winger on the right (Pepe) plus Bels (soon to be back), I expect our attack on either side to become more balanced. That would make check mating us a little bit more difficult.

  • The presence of Pepe would enhance the game of both Xhaka and Douzi. They are both equipped with the cross field long passes, which virtually vanished from their game because we played without wide men

  • O/T but good stuff:

    Recently working on BeIN sports, AW stated:
    ““It will be interesting to see how they (Qatar who had just won the Asian Cup) develop, but overall I must say I always wanted to go to the World Cup (finals) because I felt it is the job of a manager to be where the best football players in the world play football.

    “Hopefully, you will see me, touch wood, in Qatar in three years’ time.”

    Hope so too.


    More here:

  • So many young names. I was for the clear out of salary, which brings a dependence on youth. I think we can make it work in an attacking sense, though I thought your point the other day was excellent about the midfield seeming disjointed from the front three. That’s for the manager to figure out.
    I’m excited to see the young guys play a lot, but I worry about the defence mostly. Ironically, those are our most experienced players, and maybe the least disciplined. I really hope to see Holding back, because our defensive record with him was much better last year.

  • Yes, I can’t wait for Holding’s return. Very composed passer of the ball and good positioning. Might lack a bit of pace. Sokratis is becoming too animated for my liking. Always grappling, seemingly ready for fisticuffs.

  • Chambers is a player that I feel is widely underrated. I wish Emery would give him the opportunity at holding midfield role. He is good with the ball at his feet and he is better at disrupting attackers than the CMFders we currently have.

  • A nice, thought-provoking article again, TA.
    Some of my ideas:

    1. I fully agree that Nacho will be missed. I think he had a (good) year in him. But he was mostly needed in a more likely ‘mentor’ capacity for Tierney, as the minutes would have been allocated (my guess: equally) among them. And I appreciate him preferring to play more minutes even for less money, so thanks for him for his uniquely consistent contribution, and kudos to the club being generous enough to let him go.

    2. While I’m still a huge fan of Wenger (he was a mediocre tactician and a poor contract manager, but he was excellent in practically everything else), I always felt that the first squad is more about quantity than quality. Which is not bad if we are cursed with injuries and suspensions, but counter-intuitive when we have to distribute the playing minutes among too many players. It halts/slows their progress, reduces the morale in the dressing room, etc. In some extent the same applies to the U23 team (but I wouldn’t blame Arsene for that) the talent is undeniable, but without having the opportunity to play regularly – especially against tough opponents – the edge they have on other academies quickly vanishes. So theoretically I’m all for trimming the squads, and hope for avoiding frequent and/or serious injuries.

    3. Out of the 25 player you listed above not every departure was Emery’s or the club’s decision. The most painful leaves (in my opinion) are Ramsey (of course), and Gilmour, Amaechi, Thompson and Daley-Campbell, as well as Musah from the U18. Unfortunately it happens time-to-time, that hot prospects are too impatient to wait for “the protocol”, and leave the team even if they are highly valued. That happened to Virginia, Dragomir, McGuane, Malen, Gnabry and Chris Willock in the past. And most of them didn’t prove to be the right decision – Gnabry and Malen are notable exceptions.

    4. What I clearly don’t understand when young players on the brink of first team football don’t play either the U23 or the senior team. For example I find hard to wrap my head around that Martinelli played 6 minutes this season, Saka played 0, while they could practice, stay sharp and even improve by playing in the U23 league and especially in the Leasing.com trophy against “grown-up” opposition. I’m afraid that faith awaits for ESR too, as he mainly plays in the U23 squad to regain match fitness, but after that he will be training with the senior squad, but with not too many minutes in sight, even in cup ties…

  • Hi pbarany

    All good points, and thanks for adding these to the post. I like the idea of quantity rather than quality in the squad and I also believe that it is about ‘system of football’ as well as tactical adjustments. Perhaps the best example was Ajax in the mid-nineties. Van Gaal had eleven roles in the team and he had at least two players per role who were more or less equally good. This was achieved through training and explaining the tactical approach to all constantly. It made some average footballers very effective and it won Ajax every single price available. Wenger and Emery are not like that, but they are/were up against managers who are very systemic in approach and can also get the best out of relatively basic players. I would like a similar manager at Arsenal and then the squad can be used much more effectively.

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