Wednesday, December 12

Premier League


How Arsenal could line up in 2018-19

Ahead of their Premier League opener against champions Manchester City, Sports Mole looks at how Arsenal could line up during the 2018-19 season.
By , Assistant Editor | 4mo

It has been a summer of seismic change for Arsenal, with decreasing levels of performances - and perhaps just as importantly decreasing crowd sizes - spelling the end of Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign in North London.

Unai Emery is the new man in the Emirates Stadium dugout, and his trophy-laden track record suggests that brighter times could be ahead for the Gunners following their lowest league finish since 1994-95.

However, it is always difficult to follow a long-serving boss and there are plenty of things that need to be sorted if Emery is to have an early impact - from the leaky defence to the perceived lack of steel throughout the team.

Emery moved quickly and operated well on a tight budget in the transfer window, but he must now look to reverse the rot that set in during Wenger's final years at the helm.

The fixture list has certainly not helped the Spaniard either, pitting him against Manchester City and Chelsea in his first two competitive matches.

Here, Sports Mole looks at how Arsenal could line up in 2018-19.

Transfers in: Stephan Lichtsteiner (free, Juventus), Bernd Leno (£22.5m, Bayer Leverkusen), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (undisclosed, Borussia Dortmund), Lucas Torreira (undisclosed, Sampdoria), Matteo Guendouzi (undisclosed, Lorient)

Transfers out: Per Mertesacker (retired), Santi Cazorla (free, Villarreal), Takuma Asano (loan, Hannover), Jack Wilshere (free, West Ham United), Marc Bola (free, Blackpool), Matt Macey (loan, Plymouth Argyle), Chuba Akpom (undisclosed, PAOK), Calum Chambers (loan, Fulham), Lucas Perez (£4m, West Ham United)

The goalkeeper position is one of intrigue at the Emirates this season, with record Premier League clean sheet holder Petr Cech refusing to give up his place without a fight - despite an error-strewn 2017-18 campaign. Summer signing Bernd Leno is expected to be the club's number one, though.

Arsenal's tally of 51 goals conceded last term was their highest since the 1983-84 season, so it is no surprise that Emery has aimed to bolster his backline with the arrival of veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Lichtsteiner will likely need to settle for a backup role behind Hector Bellerin, but with Laurent Koscielny injured for the opening months of the campaign, Sokratis should have the chance to feature alongside Shkodran Mustafi at the heart of the defence.

Nacho Monreal impressed in a back three on numerous occasions for Arsenal last season but should revert to the left side with Emery's new formation, although he could find himself behind Sead Kolasinac in the left-back pecking order.

One of the big questions heading into the campaign will be whether Emery sticks with the 4-3-3 formation he deployed at Paris Saint-Germain, or reverts to his favoured 4-2-3-1 system which brought him such success at Sevilla. With the players at Arsenal's disposal, the latter appears to be a better fit.

The Gunners may have lost stalwarts Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, but the signing which has excited Arsenal fans most this summer has been the arrival of Uruguay international Lucas Torreira, who should add some grit and steel to the midfield. Torreira is likely to eventually be preferred to Granit Xhaka as the midfield destroyer alongside Aaron Ramsey, who remains a key part of the team despite entering the final year of his contract.

Mesut Ozil will hope to put his summer of disappointment and controversy behind him from his favoured number 10 role, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set for his first full season with the club having shown glimpses of his quality following his January move from Manchester United.

Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck provide further attacking options for Emery, but his biggest decision up front will be how to get the best out of both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Aubameyang scored 10 goals in just 13 Premier League appearances during the second half of last season but is more likely to be played from the left, with Lacazette leading the line.

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Premier League Table
2Manchester CityMan City1613214593641
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs16120430161436
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd167542826226
9Leicester CityLeicester166462120122
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves166461719-222
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham166372325-221
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton166371922-321
14Cardiff CityCardiff1642101530-1514
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle163491322-913
16Crystal Palace1633101323-1012
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield1624101027-1710
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Ligue 1 Table
1Paris Saint-GermainPSG16142049103944
3Montpellier HSCMontpellier1685324121229
6Saint-EtienneSt Etienne167542421326
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