In 2022/23, Arsenal had their best season yet, since winning the league undefeated in 2004. However, as has been the case in the past few seasons, they couldn’t cross the finish line to achieve what looked most likely. While finishing anywhere in the top four would have been any Arsenal fan’s dream at the start of last season, there’s a feeling more could be achieved in the campaign. The Gunners led in the standings for more than 90% of the season, only to lose the plot in the final months of the campaign. A second placed finish guarantees not only Champions league football, but will stand as a stark reminder of what Mikel Arteta’s team needs going into a more difficult campaign. Arsenal needs to invest in the defence, as for the second straight season, injuries in defence cost them top targets.
Injuries in defence
It is not a secret that Arsenal’s problems in the past season are attributable to injuries in defence. At some point, the Gunners could even afford to rotate and substitute their right and left backs, and easily closed matches, posting important wins. A central defensive pairing of William Saliba and Gabriel formed a massive fortress at the back and you could confidently slot Arsenal in among your weekend direct win prediction for football matches. However, at some point they lacked that luxury and all of a sudden, they couldn’t withstand rivals they’d have easily subdued. While they retained potency in attack, their defensive performances left a lot to be desired. This explains why their final 15 matches of the season returned just three clean sheets. It further explains why the Gunners have to invest in defensive minded players ahead of their return to the Champions League, and in preparation for a more demanding season. The club is already making the right moves, with Saliba’s future almost secure while there are talks to firm up their defensive midfield options.
Apart from the final stages of last season, Thomas Partey did well, and he was further joined by an experienced head in Jorginho in the January transfer window. Things did not work entirely well for the duo in the latter stages of the season, and this could be the reason for the heightened interest in Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and West Ham United’s Declan Rice. While Jorginho and Partey remain key for Arsenal, there’s no denying the fact that they are only short-term options for the Gunners. Much younger and accomplished Caicedo and Rice hold the promise for a brighter future, if Arsenal can pull through. There is also talk of Granit Xhaka’s departure. While the Swiss is not adept at defending, his experience in marshaling the midfield was key for Arsenal in the past campaign. Arteta will definitely want to go into the market for a player who can offer similar quality or more. From last season’s lessons, Arsenal also seem to be going for more established players. After signing Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City to good effect, the Gunners are looking to invade the champions again. Arteta’s side is linked with Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Cancelo. These are two options that can seriously boost Arsenal.
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