The one position Sven Mislintat and co must reinforce this summer is the centre-back spot.
Other positions such as winger, right-back and possibly a new goalkeeper and centre-midfielder are pressing too, however, none as important as a new number one centre-back.
Arsenal has conceded 41 goals so far this Premier League season which is only three goals from last year’s outcome of 44, with seven games left to play. It’s almost twice as many as City and United this year. Arsenal has conceded more goals than any other top six team in two consecutive years (including this season as it is highly likely).
This is mostly a consequence of an ageing defence and mediocre back-ups. Mertesacker is retiring after the season at 33 years of age and Koscielny, who’s 32, has stagnated physically this season, mostly because of his persistent Achilles problem.
Chambers and Holding, 23 and 22 years respectively, have both had a very inconsistent season. They could be stars of the future, but that time is certainly not now and probably won’t be in the next year or two.
(Who would you choose if you had to? – photo by Stuart McFarlane)
Mustafi is interesting. He is guilty of inconsistency as well, however, I think with proper guidance he could be a great centre-back. He seems to need more instructions to his game, especially as to when he should push up for a tackle and when to stay back. A defensive midfielder in front of him to make that decision less frequent would help too.
And that’s really it for reliable options at the back. Monreal and Kolasinac have done alright at centre-back before, but they both play better out on the left over longer exposure.
I can’t envisage how Mavropanos will be a big part of Arsenal’s first team next season unless Wenger really tests him and he gets a lot of playing time through the rest of the season.
What is comforting is that Arsenal made substantial moves in the same predicament with our strikers a year ago. Currently, only Chelsea are scoring less than us in the Premier League and last year only United scored less than us. Since then Arsenal bought Lacazette and Aubameyang in the space of six months. Two expensive players with amazing scoring records. This is exactly what we have to do with the centre-back puzzle.
Splash the cash on a proven and experienced centre-back, yet not older than 27, to accompany Mustafi and/or Koscielny. And keep Chambers and Holding as backup, while loaning out Mavropanos.
None of our centre-backs has expiring contracts untill 2020 (Holding and Koscielny). Buying a number one centre-back this summer would relieve the pressure that is too demanding on our current players, and we wouldn’t need to buy another one untill 2020 unless Chambers and/or Holding improve into top players.
Although most important, Arsenal can’t stop at centre-back. A dribbling winger is a must as well this summer. Then a secondary right-back behind Bellerin. And if I’m greedy, a new first goalie.
Mislintat has to diverge from Arsenal’s usual policy of buying one star player each year and one or two mediocre ones. This is an awfully ineffective way to build a team (see what happened when Alexis didn’t renew). Up it to two star players and one mediocre player a year, please.