contract in December but which players will prove crucial to
his vision for the club?
Mikel Arteta’s appetite for management has been clear from
the moment he was announced as Arsenal head coach back
Since then, this enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone
surrounding the club, from fans to the players. With this has
come an improvement not just in results but also how the
side go about getting those results.
A key aspect to this turnaround has been Arteta’s man
management. The way he implemented his tactics and
patterns of play were to ensure he could get the best out of
each player on the pitch, with some roles more tailor-made
for players than others.
In doing this, he has somewhat shown which players could
prove crucial for him over the next few seasons at Arsenal[he was given a three-and-a-half year contract upon
appointment]. With this in mind, football.london assess each
member of the first team and whether they could have a
short, mid or long term future under the Spaniard.
Bernd Leno: A standout performer this season, Leno has
cemented himself as the Gunners’ No.1. for years to come.
His shot-stopping has been instrumental to the side still
having a sniff of European football. In the league, his displays
have remained steady but especially leading up to this break,
he looked fearless between the sticks and was key in turning
draws into wins.
His distribution still needs work – as shown in extra time vs
Olympiacos – but he is still an incredibly solid option for
Arsenal to have as a first-choice goalkeeper. Long-term.
Emi Martinez: Despite goalkeepers often able to play into
their mid-late 30s, Martinez becoming a first-choice option
seems far from likely. In his Europa League outings this
season he has shown he is a reliable option but it’ll be tough
for him to get Leno to budge. At 27-years-old, it wouldn’t be
a surprise if he started looking for regular first team action
somewhere else in the future. short/mid-term.
Matt Macey: 25-years-old with all his appearances coming
for the Under-23s this season, Macey being shown the door
when his contract expires this summer wouldn’t be a surprise.
There was promise he could break into the side in the
2017/18 campaign but without first team football in a season[on loan at Plymouth] it’s hard to see a long-term future for
Hector Bellerin: His 2020 may not have got off to the best
start but Bellerin will remain a first team option for Arteta, it’s
just about nursing him properly back to full fitness. This being
said, the Spaniard’s understanding of the new demands of an
Arsenal right-back will need to be proven. There’s no doubt
that he’d be given that opportunity, however. long-term.
Cedric Soares: No matter what happens with Cedric if
appears to be a quick fix. In on loan and even if the Gunners
decide to make his move permanent when his Southampton
contract expires, he wouldn’t be the first choice at right-back.
There’s no harm in him being in the squad but he wouldn’t be
vital to Arteta’s plans. short-term.
Rob Holding: Similar to Bellerin, Holding’s situation must be
dealt with properly. He has already proven he can be a
quality, first choice centre-back for Arsenal but getting back
to that level after his lengthy knee injury is going to take time.
With setbacks this season he has looked rusty but once he
finds his groove, he’ll be a good option for Arteta to have,
even if he doesn’t return to a first choice standard. long-term
Calum Chambers: Another player cut down by a lengthy
injury, in the first half of the season Chambers proved he can
be relied on at centre-back. The best performing and most
consistent defender at the point of his injury, seeing how his
game would have evolved under Arteta would have been
interesting. Now, the focus must be on a proper recovery and
ensuring he isn’t rushed back. Either way, he deserves a
chance when he is back and ready. long-term.
Shkodran Mustafi: With his contract ending in 2021, Mustafi’s
time at Arsenal could soon end. Although he has grown to
become a star player under Arteta, he hasn’t been shy in
admitting the possibility of leaving north London in the past
year. As his contract runs down, he’ll become a more
attractive option for other clubs and as the Gunners will be
stacked with centre-backs, he could make way. short-term.
Sokratis: Like Mustafi, Sokratis enters his final year of
contract this summer. It may be harder to attract offers for
him as he is ageing and for that same reason, letting his
contract run out wouldn’t be a surprising move. short-term.
David Luiz: Despite his contract also ending in 2021, Luiz
may have a better chance of surviving under Arteta. He has
proven key to Arsenal’s build-up play in the way he works in
relation to Granit Xhaka to move the ball upfield. Alongside
this, his approach to defending has improved drastically and
his impact off the pitch has also been impressive. How he
has helped guide Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka in
particular have been highlights for this. At 32-years-old he
probably won’t be a long-term part of the squad but a year
contract extension wouldn’t be surprising. mid-term.
Pablo Mari: His arrival in January had a clear purpose.
Coming in as the club’s only left-footed centre-back, he was
bought to bring balance to the Arsenal defence. With the
option to buy included in his loan deal, that could well be
activated as he did impress in the games he played for both
the first team and Under-23s. As the unique player in the
defence, he could have a decent chance of standing a long-
term chance under Arteta. mid/long-term.
William Saliba: Possibly the most obvious one here, Saliba is
going to be a player for the long-term. As it stands he has a
great base to jump from when he arrives at Arsenal but will
need time before he can be relied upon. long-term.
Konstantinos Mavropanos: Now 22-years-old, Mavropanos
could soon be coming to crunch time at Arsenal. There is
clear talent there but he proved in the Europa League this
season that he needs regular football to show a proper
account of himself. He impressed for the most part at
Nuremberg but another loan is probably needed. mid/long-
Kieran Tierney: Despite his injuries this season, Tierney will
prove a great signing. In his short time on the pitch, he
displayed a fearlessness and understanding for the game that
rightfully made him the first choice option. Having this much
ability and experience at 22-years-old, he should be the
player to cement himself as Arsenal’s left-back for the
coming seasons. long-term.
Sead Kolasinac: Like many in the squad, Kolasinac improved
massively under Arteta – despite injury holding him back. He
could offer Tierney great competition at left-back but with his
deal ending in 2022, a decision may have to be made sooner
rather than later. He has proven he can be a quality option
bombing down the left so allowing him to fight for his place
would be the best decision. Should the decision to let him go
be made, with Tierney and Bukayo Saka able to take that
position, it would be understandable. mid-term.
Granit Xhaka: Seeing how Xhaka has come to play a vital role
in Arteta’s side, he will be a long-term figure of the squad.
Although he was trusted by Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery
also, neither used him as well as Arteta has done since
taking charge. Instead of staying in the middle third where his
lack of agility has seen him exposed in the past, dropping
him into the defensive third has seen Xhaka truly take on that
‘quarterback’ role between the left-back and left-sided
centre-back where he has more space to operate. long-term.
Lucas Torreira: Having just turned 24-years-old, Torreira
should remain a mainstay once fit again. Unique amongst the
current crop of midfielders, his skill set is exactly what is
needed ahead of the Arsenal defence. He did rightfully lose
his place to Dani Ceballos who excelled with and without
possession but it’s clear that the Uruguayan is the man for
the future. long-term.