Arsenal: Full Report Card for Every Position Entering Premier League Season
As we inch closer to the start of the new Premier League season, it is time to assess Arsenal's squad as it currently stands.
There might be one or two new faces added to the mix before the end of the transfer window, though the team will largely look as it does now for the rest of the season. With that in mind, let's see where the Gunners are strong and weak ahead of the new campaign.
Players: Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina, Damian Martinez
Until recently, Arsenal were unsettlingly short on goalkeepers, with Wojciech Szczesny the only senior netminder in the team. That changed, of course, when the Gunners snatched David Ospina from Nice for only a few million pounds.
Arsenal now boast two excellent goalkeepers with international experience for their respective countries, both of whom are young and hungry for appearances. If their competition is healthy, it will give Arsene Wenger an excellent selection dilemma.
Players: Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers
Arsenal have atypically engaged in a complete turnover of their right-backs this summer. Bacary Sagna left for Manchester City, while Carl Jenkinson was pushed out by the signing of Calum Chambers and loaned to West Ham.
Mathieu Debuchy, who started for France in the World Cup over Sagna, is a solid, attack-minded right back in the latter stages of his prime years, while the 19-year-old Chambers looks to be an excellent but unfinished prospect. Neither offer the rock-solid stability that Sagna provided, but Arsenal are not much worse off at right back than they were last season.
Players: Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Calum Chambers
If the grade for this position were to be assigned purely based on the quality of Arsenal's two starting center backs, Koscielny and Mertesacker would earn an A+ for their outstanding performances last season.
But Arsenal's problem here is depth. Thomas Vermaelen is the only other full-time center back in the squad, and it looks increasingly likely that he'll be sold before the transfer window shuts.
Calum Chambers can fill in in the center and Nacho Monreal has even been given time there during preseason, but a title contender must have better insurance than that during a torturously long season.
Players: Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal
There is a very simple reason why there have been no transfer rumors linking Arsenal with a left back: they're all set.
Kieran Gibbs is unquestionably Wenger's first choice now, receiving all the starts during preseason after assuming the No. 3 shirt. He is one of the best left backs in England in both defense and attack now, and Nacho Monreal has proved a very capable—and sometimes excellentdeputy.
This season's challenge for both players will be remaining fit for the entire campaign.
Players: Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini
This is the one position where Arsenal clearly need to improve. Wenger cannot afford to play Arteta and Flamini together in the back of midfield, but neither can do the job by himself.
Arteta is not defensively solid enough to single-handedly shield the defense, while Flamini does not have the technical skill to distribute the ball like Arteta can.
Arsenal really need to make a signing here, although doing so would probably mean that either Arteta or Flamini would have to be sold.
Players: Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Gedion Zelalem
As long as Aaron Ramsey stays fit, he will occupy the central pivot role between the defensive midfielder and the attacking midfielder. But Arsenal still have a ton of depth and quality here.
Jack Wilshere naturally plays in this position due to his ability to blend defensive tenacity with attacking panache. Abou Diaby is capable of doing the same—although no rational person can expect him to stay fit for any prolonged stretch—and even young prodigy Gedion Zelalem might step in at some point.
Ramsey's presence alone would probably earn Arsenal a high grade for this position, but the Gunners are stacked here.
Players: Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere
Arsene Wenger obviously puts a lot of emphasis on the attacking-midfield role, as Arsenal have several world-class players who can do the job on any given day.
Regardless, Mesut Ozil is almost always trusted with operating the attack from his slightly receded position. His task will be much easier this season, as Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez will provide oodles of pace on the wings.
Ozil is one of the best players in the world, but Arsenal do not lose much if any other player mentioned above has to step in. Each has their own style but are still capable of shredding defenses.
Players: Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez, Serge Gnabry
Arsenal will have to use their depth here early in the season, but Arsene Wenger will be spoiled for choice once Theo Walcott regains full fitness.
The Englishman had a breakout season during the 2012-13 campaign and looked to be continuing to make progress last term before an ACL injury ruled him out. His searing pace and clinical finishing ability is crucial to Arsenal's attack.
Yet Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis and Gnabry have some of the same qualities, so Arsenal will probably not have to cope with a dearth of speed in the squad like they did last year.
Players: Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry
Arsene Wenger is really spoiled for choice here. Cazorla is a favorite of his and usually started on the left wing last season, but Alexis' arrival complicates matters significantly.
Such is the Chilean's quality, that one would assume he'll be the starter on the left, where he can use his fleet feet to cut inside and take shots at goal. But as long as Mesut Ozil remains in attacking midfield, Cazorla would be without a position to play in.
Then, of course, there is the goalscoring machine that is Podolski and the do-it-all Oxlade-Chamberlain. Giving everyone game time will be a massive challenge for Wenger, but that is the best sort of challenge to have.
Players: Olivier Giroud, Yaya Sanogo, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell
Arsenal desperately needed another striker last summer; they didn't buy one. Arsenal desperately needed another striker this summer; they sort of bought one.
While Olivier Giroud will assuredly be the Gunners' regular starter, he needed backup to relieve his physical burden and provide some competition. While Alexis Sanchez can play in the middle, the weight of being Arsenal's lone striker will have to be borne by more than two players.
Smaller strikers cannot play alone up front in the Premier League due to the size and physicality of defenders. So while Giroud or Yaya Sanogo can fill the role by themselves, Alexis or Theo Walcott will need assistance.
Giroud is much better than people give him credit for and Sanogo looks like a very promising talent, but Arsene Wenger will need to be tactically creative for Alexis to be effective by himself.