Too Early to Tell
The win against Huddersfield on Sunday was Arsenal’s 1000th Premier League match. More importantly it was the final game as manager of the club for Arsene Wenger, after 22 years at the club. Many feel that this season was Wenger’s worst at the club, having finished 6th and not collecting any silverware for only the second time in five years.
While the dust continues to settle from the departure of the great man, it seems early to already be looking forward to the next season. Particularly, as rumours build about potential new managers, and with a World Cup to get through first, any discussion about next season is essentially moot, with so many factors hanging in the balance.
Still, let’s get cracking.
There are a lot of things to be excited about next season, particularly the potential attacking output from the team. This season, there have been too many games this season in which Arsenal have simply not been free scoring enough, most notably against Atletico Madrid, but also in numerous away games against beatable opposition, Arsenal have lacked a cutting edge.
But, next season, Arsenal have a fearsome attacking unit, in the form of Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Ozil and Ramsey. This is particularly exciting considering the attacking output of these players this season.
Lacazette has 14 league goals this season, ranking him 8th in the league despite missing two months with injury. Even more interestingly, Aubameyang has notched ten goals since his arrival in January. This ranks him 16th in the league, despite only playing 13 league games.
Whichever new manager comes in, he will need to ensure he utilises both players, perhaps in a 4-4-2 formation. They can produce goals, particularly Aubameyang, who has 0.8 goals per game, a stat equalled only by Kane and Aguero, bettered only by Salah.
Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Ramsey have 9, 8 and 8 assists respectively. These are strong numbers, putting them in the upper reaches of the league. But we are Arsenal, and our playmakers can do better. Whoever the new manager is, he will need to integrate these five players, who could become the most potent attacking force in the league.
Continued Defensive Problems
Defensively, however, Arsenal still have problems. Undoubtedly, the best, strongest, least consistent defender for the club this season was Shkodran Mustafi. Although at fault for a goal or two in the League Cup final, and able to balls it up in defence, he is the team leader for Tackles per game and Clearances per game.
Most fans will want to see the back of him, but it is clear that, with the loss of Mertesacker and, most likely, Koscielny, Mustafi will be the focal point of a hopefully fresh-faced defence.
In goal, many fingers have been pointed at Cech this season, and while Ospina is a suitable replacement, you’re only as good as your goalkeeper. Fans will want to see a big name ‘keeper come into the team, who can reignite a slowly declining pair of goalkeeping options.
There is much to do before next season. Players that must be retained at all costs, players that must be expelled at all costs. For now, though, it is best to just remember the finest Arsenal manager of all time, and the solid foundation in which he has departed the finest club on Earth.