Of course it’s going to take more than a few new players to change a team that conceded more goals from errors than any other Premier League team last season. We need a new mindset and determination from the players and that’s something the new manager has to get through to them from day one. We need the players to defend better as individuals and as a team too and that’s something that has to come from tactical nous and hard work on the training ground.
So far we have seen the arrivals of a goalkeeper, a right back, a central defender and two defensive midfielders. All of those arrivals are very promising, but I’m still not sure we have the actual quality needed in defence. It’s going to take an awful lot of work on the training ground to turn those players into a well marshalled unit, but it can be done.
The arrival of Bernd Leno must mean either Petr Cech or David Ospina will be on their way and there are rumours of Cech even heading back to Chelsea. Personally I think we can do better than both of them and I wasn’t impressed with either of them last season although it can’t be easy to play behind that Arsenal defence. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leno claim the goalkeeper’s shirt for himself and maybe we might even sign another keeper if both Cech and Ospina decide to go elsewhere.
With Laurent Koscielny more than likely going to miss most of the season and Shkodran Mustafi possibly on his way out after some dreadful performances last season it’s the centre of our defence which needs the most work done on it. Neither Calum Chambers or Rob Holding are proven at the top level yet while both Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Konstantinos Mavropanos have little more than one Premier League game between them, but Sokratis is an experienced player at least.
Stephan Lichsteiner has been signed as cover for Hector Bellerin and he’s a defender with a great pedigree and he’s most definitely a winner. He’s exactly the sort of player we could do with in the squad and I’m looking forward to seeing him join up with the rest of the squad once he gets his much needed rest after his World Cup exploits with Switzerland. I can’t admit to having followed his career too closely, but I wonder if there’s any chance he might just be able to play as a central defender.
The right hand side of the defence looks strong with Lichsteiner and Bellerin to call on while the left hand side doesn’t look too weak either with both Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac vying for a place. There has been some talk of Monreal going back to play in Spain, but Emery appears unwilling to let our best defender from last season go.
The most impressive work in the transfer window so far seems to have been in the defensive role in midfield with both Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi added to the squad. Torreira looks like he’ll step straight into the team and he looks like a very good addition while Guendouzi looks like he’s one for the future, but he will get to show us what he can do on occasions this season.
We might not have added any attacking players to the squad yet and we might not add any at all, but the work we did in January will be very hard to beat. I can’t wait to see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing from day one and I think he’s going to score an awful lot of goals for us. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is another player who really excites me and I think he gives us options in midfield and attack which we didn’t have before his arrival.
The most important business for us this summer could be tying Aaron Ramsey down to a new contract and Emery seems confident he can do so. A fully fit Ramsey is a very important player for Arsenal and I hope he can be persuaded to extend his contract as soon as possible. If not I can only imagine he will have to be sold this summer and we will have to look to spend big to replace him.
I still think we will add another attacking player and I hope it’s a wide player because we are lacking some genuine width in the squad. Reiss Nelson might get the chance on occasions to show what he can do, but he still has a lot to learn and we need someone who can give us that something we are currently missing on a regular basis.
Pre season started off encouragingly with an 8-0 win against Boreham Wood last Saturday and it will continue over the next week or so in Singapore with games against Atletico Madrid and PSG before we play Chelsea in Dublin on the first of August. It’s a game I’m lucky enough to be going to as it’s only about 12 stops away from me on the train. I haven’t seen Arsenal play in Ireland since the early days of George Graham’s reign in the 80s and I’m really looking forward to seeing them play and I’m hoping for a very strong team with the season starting only nine days later.
That’s it for today.
See you tomorrow.