Arsenal conceded 48 goals in the PL last season. The Chavs managed to concede only 33 goals and that is just seven more than both Pool and Citeh conceded. The season before we conceded just 39 goals so it is fair to say Arsenal have got a job to do defensively this season. In the last ten games Arsenal conceded 16 goals and we had just one clean sheet, and that is simply not good enough going forward.
Arteta chose for a new defensive set-up and of course all the players are still very young. Ramsdale, Tomiyasu and White were added to the defence and it will take time for them all to gel. We are a team in transition but there is no reason to believe Arsenal cannot make a step improvement.
Young players that are kept together are capable of making big improvements every season. I expect all the players to improve about 20-25% this season, and so this could mean that just by sheer player progress/added experience we will see an ‘automatic’ improvement: so 48 goals minus 20% = 39 ‘goals against’ by the end of the season. And then there is the addition of Zinchenko which may help us to shore up the left side significantly this season. Tavares, a raw talent if there ever was one, clearly was not ready to replace Tierney regularly and he left us exposed. Zinchenko and Tierney are a much safer bet for defensive security going forward. This should lead to a further reduction in goals conceded, say 3-4 goals less.
Our right back situation also suffered from absences by Tomiyasu, although Soares did quite a good job standing in for him imo. With Saliba back in the squad we now have the luxury of playing White at right back sometimes too, and that should give us an even better RB cover situation going forward. A back line of:
- RB: Tomi, White, Soares
- RCB: White, Saliba, Holding
- LCB: Gabriel, Mari, Xhaka
- LB: Tierney, Zinchenko
should help us make a step improvement in ‘goals conceded’. I think if Arsenal finish in the mid-30s they will have done a good job this season.
However, there is one niggle of doubt and that is the LCB position. Gabriel could get injured and he is certainly a risk for being send off. The back up, Mari, is okay but nothing more than that. Xhaka could do a job there, and maybe Arteta could do a Van Gaal-like ‘Frank Rijkaard’ on Xhaka and turn him into a very good LCB. Still, an injury to Big Gab leaves us exposed and ideally A&E will get us a nice, quality back-up for him before the TW shuts.
Greedy as I am I would also like another quality CF, but I do feel that the priority may be to get a left-footed quality LCB first….
What do you think: How can Arsenal significantly reduce the Goals Against total this season and do we need to get back up for Big Gab?