The Arsenal re-build: Backline recruitment

We’ve talked some tactics in my last post, and now it’s time to make some tough executive decisions – what positions need strengthening and who needs replacing?

Unai Emery has been appointed as Arsenal’s new manager since my latest post, which has somewhat changed the way that I’ve approached this article. Still, the fundamental changes that need to be made remain.

For example, Petr Cech and David Ospina aren’t going to cut any sort of mustard if Arsenal want to make a push for Champions League contention or more. Ospina is a good line keeper, but he won’t win you any matches, he’s just not of that calibre.

As for Cech, he’s simply past it. He’s making too many mistakes that have cost Arsenal valuable points, and his goalkeeping ability across the board really has dropped too since he signed from Chelsea.

BPL xG prevented
The expected goals prevented for all ‘Big Six’ goalkeepers. Petr Cech ranks among the worst. Picture per MailOnline

As a replacement, Arsenal should be able to get a good deal on Timo Horn. The German international is a proven but still young goalkeeper who was just relegated with his side 1. FC Köln from the Bundesliga. Although Horn has declared that he’d like to stay with the Billy Goats, I’m sure that an opportunity this big will be tempting, to say the least.

Anchoring defence

The one thing Arsenal’s defence lacks right now is a leader. Per Mertesacker was that man a few years ago and he did a good job of it. Laurent Koscielny, not so much.

Frankly, I think Koscielny needs to be replaced. He’s lost some of the pace he used to lean on so much, as Arsenal tend to play a high line, and he’s become very error-prone as well. A lot of people are talking about Shkodran Mustafi needing to be replaced, but I think it’s his partner in central defence that is the real problem.

That new anchor could be a host of people like Sokratis Papastathopoulos, but as Arsenal apparently have a tight budget this summer, I’ll go with a cheaper option; Jonny Evans.

Another relegated player, yes, but Evans ticks all of the boxes for me. He’s a leader in defence as he’s the West Bromwich Albion captain, and is good with the ball at his feet and is comfortable with playing the ball out from the back. He’s not Raphael Varane-quick but he can hold his own and most importantly, he’s a good defender. Not a world beater, but given Arsenal’s budget and all the other gaps that need to be plugged, Evans is as good as it will get.
Embed from Getty Images

In my next post, I’ll be discussing the midfield and attacking talent that needs change, so stay tuned for that!

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