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Arsenal must focus on defense during summer transfer window

Do we need to change everything?

Arsenal’s sixth place position in the Premier League table is unfamiliar to both club and supporters. There is an assumption that there needs to be wholesale changes at the club. This is not exactly the case.

Despite the north London club’s position in the table, the Gunners have been sufficient in attack. This is even more the case since the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang in January.

Since the Gabon international made the record £56 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund, the Gunners have averaged two goals per game during Premier League play. That sort of goal output should, theoretically, be enough to win a fair share of matches.

While Arsenal have lost four of Aubameyang’s first eight league matches, it has very little to do with the offense. During these eight Premier League games, the Gunners have allowed 11 total goals.

When looking at the season as a whole, Arsenal have given up 45 goals in 33 league games.

This is the worst defensive record of the ‘big six’ Premier League clubs. More than Burnley and Newcastle as well. The Gunners, however, have not shown to be a dominating defensive team under manager Arsene Wenger. In fact, they have only had the Premier League’s best defense (goals allowed) once in the last 19 seasons. They’ve had a top two defense only once in the last 14 campaigns.

Making a managerial change to a more defensive-minded coach could be the ticket to correcting the club’s defensive woes.

While the long-running Wenger in/out debate has been circulating for some time now, let’s assume that the Frenchman will return to the Emirates for the 2018/19 season. If this is the case, Wenger and the newly acquired Sven Mislintat (head of recruitment) and Raul Sanllehi (head of football relations) should focus on defense this summer.

Acquiring a new goalkeeper and center back is top priority

Age is certainly a concern with Arsenal’s current defense. Goalkeeper Petr Cech is 35 (36 next month), and regularly starting defenders Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are both 32. As these three prominent players exit their prime, it is time to think about bringing in reinforcements.

There has been plenty of speculation surrounding a potential bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno, but the Gunners would do better to secure either Genoa’s Mattia Perin or Roma’s Alisson instead.

Photo credit: AFP

In central defense, Arsenal do already have two young center backs in Rob Holding and Calum Chambers. While both are highly regarded at the club, it does not appear likely that Wenger is ready to hand the reins over to either of the two just yet. Atletico’s Jose Gimenez and Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos have both recently been linked with a move to the Emirates.

Although either would be a decent addition to the current mix of defenders at Arsenal, the Gunners should consider a physically dominating center back such as Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij or Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

Central midfield and the wing positions are also places of some concern when looking at the roster. These two areas are, however, no where near in need of help as the team’s defense.

Arsenal will score goals with these current players. Aubameyang along with Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Özil, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan provide more than enough firepower going forward. Wenger and the rest of the Arsenal brass did well to replace outgoing Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, and Theo Walcott this season, and it is now time to do the same with the defense.

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  1. Vicbklyn

    April 16, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    My first priority in defense is a true DM with pace/size, & the know how to use them. Bellerin is 1 of less than a handful of players@ Arsenal wanted by the big clubs & as @scottfoster said he has not even reached his prime. GK is obvious, Mustafi is 26 & just about to hit his prime, not ready to give up on him unless we get 2 top CB’s in their prime. Chambers & Holding are both turning 23 & are too similar in every aspect, they both lack pace for today’s game. Loan both out to any 1st division club in the top 5 leagues and keep the 1 that rises or sell both. Mavreponas @ 20yoa 6’4″ with pace should be the focus with Bielek.

  2. Scott Foster

    April 16, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    I agree that Cech and Mustafi should be replaced.. Cech is too old and now making too many mistakes. Mustafi is simply not good enough.. he makes too many mistakes and is already a so called experienced player that we cannot expect too much improvement from. As for Chambers, i’m on the fence as to whether he should be sold; it’s true he has shown himself not good enough yet to start many games as of yet, but he is young (for a centre back, at least) and has shown potential at times.. for sure tho, he needs to get better before becoming a regular and also should never be played at right back, as it just doesn’t suit his lack of pace and questionable one on one skills (both less important skills at centreback).. Bellerin tho, is an excellent player and nowhere near his prime for a fullback/wingback.. it’s true that he could improve on some things, such as his crossing, but he is a great talent and coveted by other big clubs for a reason. Therefor, two more experienced centre backs and a goalkeeper should definitely be acquired, allowing Chambers and Holding time to develop (as backup players).. also, with chambers unable to perform at right back, a signing there could be useful, maybe a good prospect who can play backup to Bellerin. Maitland-Niles is a good option there, but it has been suggested that he is a more natural central midfielder, and I would have to agree and would like to see him played there more, in place of Xhaka, who is a bit of a liability at times. With my last statement in mind, a better holding midfielder would help… (God, it is pretty bleak at Arsenal right now, isn’t it?!) So, in summary, I almost 100% agree with you, except for the sale of Bellerin, who I still believe can go on to become one of, if not the, best right-backs in the world.

  3. Errol Wright

    April 16, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    For Arsenal to progress they need a new manager, goalkeeper, two centre backs & a holding central midfielder.
    Cech, Mustafi, Bellerin & Chambers should all be sold as they have proved that they simply are not good enough.

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