Are We Only 3 Players Away from Being Credible EPL Title Contenders?

The 3 Important Things You're Not Getting Done – Time Management Ninja
A Puzzle for the weekend…

As we were discussing the possibility of including Foden, Grealish or Mount in our squad, I reflected on our squad both in terms of starting XI and depth.

As Henry rightly mentioned after our win against the Spurs, we need to find consistency in our performances and as Arteta said, we need to improve our game management as well. But Henry also mentioned that we have a good squad overall and it is hard to argue against that. It is just we also have inconsistent players and players that can give goals aways or get red carded or commit fouls when there is no need for it…

Based on the above and looking at our squad, I think that it is fair to say that:

  1. We could use an upgrade at the Right-Back Position;
  2. We could also use a better player in midfield to play along side Partey;
  3. We could also improve on the left wing too.

There is definitely also a shout for improving our GK and CB options but I don’t think we will invest in either of these positions this summer since the club backed Leno.

RB – I think the pressure is mounting on Bellerin now as Cedric is clearly making a case to be our starter, but Cedric is by no means a great RB, he is just better than Bellerin at the moment. We need a defensively reliable RB who can also provide inputs to our attacking game, just like Tierney on the left 🙂 Easier said than done but Emerson (Sevilla, on loan from Barcelona) is really impressive in La Liga and may be persuaded to join AFC’s growing Brazilian contingent. Some have also mentionned Lamptey from Brighton and the former Chelsea player Trippier is also said to be considering a return to the EPL but do we want a former Spurs?

CM – Here we have the conundrum of how we want to use Partey. Do we want him to play as a CM or as a DM. If the former, then we need someone who could also cover the defense. If the latter, then we need someone who could drive the ball forward and pass the ball. Xhaka’s form has been rather fine since the Christmas holidays but he can still be a liability and looking into a more composed and reliable player would be of great value for the team. I didn’t see much of him but Ward-Prowse is getting a lot of positive reviews while it could be difficult to tempt Ndidi/Kante to join us. Other options include Veretout, Pellegrini and Aouar for example.

LW – Auba plays there, Willian plays there, Martinelli plays there, Saka and Pepe can play there and we also saw that ESR can play there too! It seems that it is a well covered position but in reality, we need a pendant to Saka. Someone who can really play as a LW – score and create goals while also putting in the defensive shift. In that sense, Grealish makes a lot of sense to me but it is unlikely that we could afford him. There is also Kostic from Frankfurt who has a great engine and delivery and last but not least, we have Depay who is expected to leave Lyon for free this summer. There are others like Cunha, Raphinha amongs others but if we want to really boost this position, we need someone with lots of creativity like Grealish or one that will put in a great shift for the team like Kostic IMHO.

Leno – Emerson, Holding, Gabs, Tierney – Partey, Ward-Prowse – Saka, Smithe-Rowe, Grealish – Auba

Ryan – Bellerin, Luiz, Mari, Cedric – El Neny, Xhaka – Pepe, Odegaard (?), Martinelli – Laca

+ Willian (?), Azeez, RN, Balogun.

Does that make sense to you? Do you think that with these three additions we would be credible EPL title contenders?

Do you think that we are only three players away from being title contenders? Or do you think it is five? Which positions would you target and why?

RC78

21 Responses to Are We Only 3 Players Away from Being Credible EPL Title Contenders?

  1. RockyLives says:

    Good morning AA-ers and Arsenal supporters everywhere.

    RC – thank you for a stimulating read.

    I decided to start from the other end – not with “who are we missing” but with “who among current players do I see as a definite part of a future title-contending Arsenal.”

    Leno – maybe.
    Tierney, Gabriel – definitely.
    Holding, Mari – possibly.
    Partey – definitely.
    Smith Rowe, Saka, Odegaard – definitely.
    Martinelli – definitely.
    Aubameyang – possibly.

    So if I try to fill in the gaps, I find myself mostly in need of a RB, a CM and possibly another striker.

    At RB I agree that Cedric > Bellerin but that neither is in the Tierney class. I’ll bow to your knowledge of possible alternatives.

    In CM, my feeling on Partey is that he could be a cross between Gilberto and Vieira (in style of play) and that probably gives us room to have a more forward minded midfielder in the mix. Again, I don’t know who that could be but that Aouar chap seemed pretty good. However, it could be Odegaard/Smith Rowe.

    In attack I think we’ll need a new striker but I could also see Aubameyang being a 30-goal attacker if the rest of the team was gelling well.

    Eventually the striker probably should be Martinelli, but he may be a year or two off being his best.

    So my team is:

    (Leno)

    (TBD) – (Holding) – Gabriel – Tierney
    Partey
    Saka – Smith Rowe – Odegaard – Martinelli
    (Aubameyang)

  2. VP says:

    I really want to buy Odegaard. I think he will have a cracker 2nd season.

    My starting 11 would be –
    Leno
    (Emerson) – (Saliba return) – Gabriel – Tierney
    Partey
    Saka – Smith Rowe – Odegaard – (Oršić)
    Martinelli

    I’d keep the current squad but sell Luiz, Willian, Chambers, and release Cebellos to fund Odegaard, Emerson and Oršić

  3. LBG says:

    Bertha Berlin describing Guendouzi as conspicuous for his theatrical performances, moodiness, arrogance and inability to listen to advice.
    So nothing changed there then. Will be back next season to ” knock heads” with Mikel. Sell him Edu, with a sell on clause in case he ever gets control of his head.

  4. LBG says:

    Hertha, even.
    Bertha, another of RA’s friendly girls?

  5. Maxwell says:

    RC, thank you for your effort and stimulating read. You always show a broad knowledge of footballers and clubs, particularly across mainland Europe.

    However, and please forgive me if this sounds hurtful, whenever I read your suggestions, I always feel as if I’ve dipped into a Fantasy Football blog. “How many players can we buy to contend for the league?” It raises so many negative thoughts in my addled and senile brain. To wit:-

    – who’s paying for incomers? The Kroenkes? (Although to be fair, they have funded several expensive imports)
    – home grown. The word is that the FA in their ‘wisdom’ (sic? Sick!), are proposing to increase the ratio of home grown players on the back of Brexshit. They have already started to change the rules regarding young non-English players and Academies.
    – Brexshit: the free movement of footballers from Europe ended on January 31st this year, and the government has to grant entry if a club wants a player.
    – the old chestnut. It doesn’t matter how many shiny new toys you buy, it guarantees you diddly squat.

    Having said all of which, to return to your question, I would posit “As few as possible”. It’s an old drum that I return to beat from time to time outside Arsenalarsenal’s bedroom window, but I would try to promote as many young players from within the club as are ready.

    Some months ago, I suggested tanking this season and manning the team with callow upstarts. I was, of course, poo-pooed, since when everyone has waxed lyrical about the blandishments of ESR and Bukayo Saka. I talked up Emmy Martinez, but oh no, too inexperienced – now a cult figure at Villa. Well, we tanked instead with Auba, Pepe, Willian, Luiz.

    You want a good left wing? Look no further than Omari Hutchinson.
    Midfielder alongside Partey? Miguel Azeez followed by Charlie Patino.

    I agree that inconsistency has been our nemesis this season, and specifically the ability of certain otherwise splendid players to shoot themselves and the rest of us in the foot, turning dominant displays into nightmare implosions. Moreover, I believe the biggest gaffes have not, as is commonly touted, been the odd errors at the back. Of course they don’t help with morale, but we still have the third best defensive record in the PL. Rather, it is the failure to score gold-plated chances that has been our constant downfall.

    Next season, with or without additions, with or without promoted youth, is going to be a belter!

  6. RC78 says:

    Hi Maxwell – I tend to agree about the Fantasy football feel of some of my posts so no hurt taken 😛

    I also agree that it would be good to bring in more of our youth players to the first squad – Azeez and Balogun would be a good start.

    As for Emi, I was also very disappointed that we let him ago after he showed that he reached a very good level (at last!)…I do not know what the coaches are seeing in Leno to be honest…

    Now, I think that next year could be better than this year indeed but I am also sure that teams above us and behind us will strengthen and improve and that to contend for trophies, there is no other way than to upgrade some positions. I have put in three that appear as priority ones but if you asked me to choose one, I would pick the right back position – I don’t think Chambers can cut it there as a starter. If you want to go English, then go for Lamptey but there is a risk with his harmstring or Walker-Peters or…Trippier but he is a former Spurs…

    Now, I agree that we have been decent at the back but I believe that the defensive lapses rather than attacking clumsiness since Christmas cost us (too) many points. So, in general, we are much improved defensively and we can improve with our attacking effiency for sure but the defensive lapses have been too frequent in games we dominated and this is where the frustration lies…If we ended drawing even games, we could say that our attack did not unlock the game but in our case, we gave away leads and games cheaply so all and all, we re still a work in progress and there is definitely a need for 1 RB and maybe 1 FW that can play on the left or as a Giroud style player. If we go for the latter, we ll have to sell Laca…

    So here it is with one position and don’t hate me for choosing a former Spurs and for asking too much from Odegaard and for going back to a 433…

    Leno – Tripper, Holding, Gabs, Tierney – Odegaard, Partey, ESR – Saka, (Auba/Laca), Martinelli

  7. RC78 says:

    Azeez deserves to be seen this season in the first team…Imagine fielding the following team at the end of the season in the EPL:

    Leno – Cedric, Holding, Gabs, Tierney – Azeez, Partey, ESR – Saka, Balo, Martinelli

  8. RC78 says:

    I tell you who is having another sensational season…Karim Benzema…another double and an assist. The guy has been on fire since Christmas too. 17 goals and 6 assists in the league and 5 goals in the CL. A real class act. How France’s coach leaves him out of the squad beats me but we went to Euro final without him and then won a WC without him so who am I to say anything on Deschamp’s squad selection? But still…

  9. Sue says:

    That certainly is a mouth-watering line up, RC!!

    Yes, Benzema really is rolling back the years.. just as we’ve stopped being linked with him 😄

    Rumour has it we’re up for selling Lacazette and Nketiah to fund a move for Toney….

  10. RC78 says:

    Toney?

  11. RC78 says:

    The guy from the Championship…He looks like a good striker indeed but it s going to be a step up in the EPL…Rather go for Milik (now Marseille)

  12. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the post RC and all your previous quality input on AA.

    I am broadly in agreement with you as regards our areas of weakness. Leno is the one who I am most disappointed in, no top side can have a keeper who is prone to errors of judgement, it unsettles the whole defence.

    I was about to put up a clip of my man Azeez but I see Sue beat me to it. We have to find a way of integrating him into the first team squad. He is already a better footballer than Xhaka and Elneny purely in terms of technique and awareness and from the little I’ve seen of him, he seems to have the temperament to perform at the highest level … I’d like to see that theory tested.

    I am fast reaching the conclusion that Auba (who is undoubtedly a great player) does not fit with the style of play we are developing. I can’t see him being a benchwarmer so that may leave us with no choice but to let him go. Do we need another striker if Martinelli is available? It’s a shame we can’t keep hold of Balogun.

    I do expect more goals to come from our attacking midfielders next season so maybe we will play with a false number (.

  13. Pete the Thirst says:

    That Azeez shot was sharp. Need to see a bit more…

    Toney is 25 in the Championship – doubt it.

    Benzema – lucky not to be doing time for the Valbuena sex tapes bribery. No thanks

    Man Utd in the final, no?

  14. RockyLives says:

    New Post

  15. fred1266 says:

    Who is to toney

  16. fred1266 says:

    What u mean release ceballos

  17. RockyLives says:

    Just saw the “penalty” foul on Harry Kane in the Spuds v Villa game.

    Dear God!

    Kane missed the ball and jumped into the Villa player. It should have been a foul in Villa’s favour and a booking for Kane. Instead Spuds get a pen.

    I think the Referees Assoc should just issue a statement saying that their rules guarantee minimum one penalty per game for Kane and no cards against him even when he commits brutal, premeditated and dangerous fouls like the one committed against Gabriel in the NLD.

    I hate the way the English game protects the England captain.

  18. fred1266 says:

    I actually think it was a penalty, yes can lose the ball but cash did fool him

  19. RockyLives says:

    Look at the angle from behind Fred.

    The Villa player is just trying to see the ball out and Kane jumps into him.

  20. fred1266 says:

    Nah I don’t see it that way clear pen for me

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