The 2017/2018 Premier League season marked the end of an era for Arsenal.
After 20 years in charge, Arsène Wenger decided to step down as manager – a move that may have been a surprise to most, though one that will definitely have been welcomed after a poor final campaign under the Frenchman.
A sixth-place finish outside Champions League qualification, defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup final and a disappointing exit from the Europa League to Atletico Madrid meant the pressure was well and truly building on Wenger, not to mention their torrid away record in the 2018 calendar year.
Arsenal are at their lowest point in years, and Unai Emery takes over with big shoes to fill and huge expectations going forward. With a fiercely competitive top-six, Emery and Arsenal have their work cut out for them as they look to get back into the top-four and bring trophies back to the Emirates.
With the World Cup in full flow, Arsenal have confirmed two new signings. Firstly 34-year-old Swiss international Stephan Lichsteiner, who joins the Gunners on a free transfer after Italian Champions Juventus opted against a new contract – a stellar professional with vast experience, Lichsteiner offers reinforcements at right back to a shoddy defence and will be a mentor for blossoming youngsters like Hector Bellerin.
Secondly Arsenal have confirmed the signing of 26-year-old German keeper Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen. There is no doubt Petr Cech’s better days behind him and David Ospina has been unable to really find his footing in the Premier League. A clear strategy from Unai Emery as he tries to bolster his defence and balance his squad.
Arsenal beefed up their attack in the January window with the superb signings of Henrik Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to play alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, and Alexandre Lacazette. With that in mind, it’s clear that Arsenal need to improve their defence and Unai Emery is working to do just that.
The deal for 30-year-old Greek centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos is all but done, with the announcement pushed to July as Dortmund would like the deal in their next financial year. 22-year-old Uruguayan Lucas Torreira who plays defensive midfield for Sampdoria is rumoured to be on his way to Arsenal to provide much needed steel in the centre of the pitch.
With the new regime, competition will be fierce as players try to solidify their place in the new manager’s squad. With multiple defensive reinforcements rumoured to be on their way, numerous Arsenal defenders will surely be on their way out. It was recently announced that Jack Wilshere will leave at the end of his contract, with West Ham, Crystal Palace and AC Milan rumoured to be frontrunners in securing his signature.
Several players futures at the club are alleged to be up in the air, including Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez who were supposedly told that they could find a new club. When the World Cup ends and players begin to arrive home, Unai Emery will have a clearer idea as to who remains in his plans going forward.
Written by Ammar Nazarali.