How Arsenal will line up in the 2018-19 season
Special Arsenal correspondent for the Goal, Chris Wheatley predicts the Gunners' starting XI for the upcoming season
"There was a clear need for Arsenal to bolster their goalkeeping department this summer with Petr Cech making a number of high-profile mistakes in the 2017-18 campaign.
"At 26 years old, the signing of Leno provides top quality competition for the ageing Cech in goal, while Emiliano Martinez’s return from a loan spell with Getafe means that he’ll almost certainly be the third choice. David Ospina’s imminent move to Turkey will give hope to Martinez that he can eventually get promoted to the backup shot stopper, but it looks likely that Cech and Leno will fight it out for the starting berth this season."
"Arsenal’s away form equalled relegated West Brom last season and they failed to pick up a win on the road in 2018 until the last game of the season. Defensive errors will need to be cut out if they want to challenge at the top this season, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos being brought in to solidify a leaky back four.
"Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding make up the reserve centre backs while Laurent Koscielny is still on the road to recovery from his Achilles injury. The decision to send Calum Chambers on loan to Fulham for the rest of the season surprised many Arsenal supporters following the England man’s impressive pre-season form, and it is crucial that the Gunners do not suffer injuries at the back if they are to avoid being caught short."
"The addition of Lucas Torreira in defensive midfield is exactly what the doctor ordered for Arsenal, while youngster Matteo Guendouzi looks equally at home spraying passes around and making runs from central positions.
"Aaron Ramsey will be a vital figure, even if he’s yet to sign a contract extension with the club, and Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will act as ideal reserve midfielders for when Emery needs to rotate his players. Emery’s side looks short of wingers, although Joel Campbell could be a surprise player to feature despite being linked with a move away from north London throughout the summer."
"Arguably Arsenal’s strongest position on the pitch. Mesut Ozil now has the No.10 shirt and will look to deliver his best season as a Gunner, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi making up the exciting options behind the forward players.
"Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will be the first choice strikers, while Danny Welbeck, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson are potential reserve options and will look to impress when called upon."
"Emery's first season in English football will be a huge test. He has had a successful pre-season, with the Arsenal squad enjoying the intensity of his training sessions and enthusiasm of the new Spanish coaching staff.
"The precision and detail behind Emery’s match preparation will be seen as a breath of fresh air by many at the club, but it remains to be seen whether Arsenal have a squad with enough depth to challenge the likes of Manchester City at the top. Opening games against City and Chelsea will provide a perfect test for Emery and his team who will be desperate to improve on last season’s sixth-place finish."
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