How Can the Gunners Improve Their Arsenal Post-Wenger?

Where do you even begin with the direction Arsenal should take moving forward in this transfer window?

It hasn’t been long since Arsene Wenger, the Gunners’ long-time manager, stepped down and ended a long, successful era of Arsenal football. However, every Arsenal supporter knows that the Frenchman hasn’t succeeded in the latter years of his reign.

Those days are long behind them, however, as they look forward to a new future. Fans are looking for the latest bit of Arsenal news over the summer window as they anticipate Unai Emery’s maiden voyage in the Premier League.

The club has already seen a bit of a roster shuffle ever since the summer took over. There were some interesting additions and losses that have made the current look of the squad an interesting one indeed.

However, the window is still far from over and there is over a month left of football before Emery can finalise the composition of his squad. Making key acquisitions can immediately transform his squad into instant title contenders, and he must make his moves here.

However, we must look at what Arsenal lost this summer in order to understand which players the Gunners should get in the window.

Key losses and possible departures

There haven’t been many losses among the Arsenal ranks. However, Arsenal are currently experiencing a drain of midfield talent.

They lost both Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, important players in Arsene Wenger’s teams during the early half of the 2010s, have left the Emirates for Villareal and West Ham, specifically.

Arsenal News: Last June 19, 2018.  Midfielder Jack Wilshere announced his departure from Arsenal due to his contract expiring at the end of June

Jack Wilshere controls the ball during a Europa League match between Arsenal and AC Milan

While it’s very understandable that Cazorla was let go of the club for a free, it is a huge miss that they weren’t able to tie Wilshere down to a new contract before selling him off to the Hammers. They could have made a killing with the man who was left out of a very successful England squad in Russia given his performances for Arsenal when healthy.

While they have lost Per Mertesacker to retirement, they still have enough talent to supplement their back line. However, it seems like their keeper pool will take a hit: Petr Cech is linked to a return to Stamford Bridge while David Ospina is linked to a Mexican club.

Of course, rumours about Aaron Ramsey’s possible departure from the club will also leave the club with too many defenders and too few men to operate in the midfield. Moreover, Wenger had a lot of problems finding the perfect defensive line:  the Gunners allowed the most amount of goals in the Top Six of last season’s Premier League with 51 conceded goals.

With that being said, these key signings could alter their future football results for the better.

Benjamin Pavard, VfB Stuttgart

Many of France’s faithful supporters had no idea who this young defender from a mediocre Bundesliga side is when players such as Dimitri Payet and Moussa Sissoko are not named to the World Cup squad.

However, he made sure that everyone knew who he is after that brilliant strike against Argentina. He quickly made himself a darling among French fans and Arsenal fans after his superb defending helped Les Bleus lift the World Cup trophy a second time.

Of course, Emery must make a compelling offer quick: almost every big club will be after the young Stuttgart star. He must make his decision quick or he will see the 22-year-old defender sold as quickly as the many Juventus shirts donning Cristiano Ronaldo’s name.

If they want to get a keeper, however, Danijel Subasic is a worthy pick-up. The Monaco keeper played a sublime tournament in Russia, making many key saves.

Andre Gomes, Barcelona

Andre Gomes had a great debut season with Barcelona in 2016/17 but quickly found himself out of a regular spot in the Barcelona rotation over the past twelve months. It’s likely that he will have to leave Camp Nou if he wants to play more regular team football. He will have no shortage of suitors after a quality showing for Portugal during the World Cup.

Football Results: Andre Gomes struggled in Camp Nou, scoring only 3 goals in his 78 appearances

Andre Gomes fights for the ball against Saul Niguez

He will fill up the gaping hole left behind by Cazorla and Wilshere in the creative role. Without the pressure of playing behind Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, Gomes will likely thrive in the central role, supplying through passes and lobs to either Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Given the midfield shortage the Gunners are experiencing, signing Gomes would be a masterstroke of an acquisition. While the man struggled to find a home in Barca, he should be able to flourish again under the less glaring lights of the Emirates.

Bernard, Without Club

Bernard is currently without a place to call home, but the Brazil international has proven his worth with the quality of play he showed for Shakhtar Donetsk. In his 95 league appearances for the Ukranian club, he has scored 14 goals and netted 24 assists.

The months following the January window showed just how much they missed the attacking talent of Alexis Sanchez on the wings. For Emery and Arsenal, finding a player of equal quality and gravitas as the Chile international would help them return to the lofty spots of the Champions League.

Sure, it would be nice to get a more famous name with the numerous Marco Reus and Ousmane Dembele highlights circulating the internet. However, both would probably too expensive for the North London club to acquire with the number of key players they also have to acquire.

Arsenal might be big favourites to snag Bernard, but they have huge rivals for his signature in Liverpool. It will be interesting who will get him in the end. Nevertheless, the Premier League will be blessed with the presence of another top football talent.

 

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Torreira’s arrival pleases Emery

Arsenal manager Unai Emery believes he has made a quality signing after a deal to snap up Uruguay international Lucas Torreira was agreed.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who represented his country at World Cup 2018, moves to the Gunners on a five-year deal from Sampdoria for £26million.

Emery said: "In Lucas Torreira we have signed a young player who is a very bright talent in the game. A midfielder with great quality.

"He is a young player already with good experience, but who wants to keep on growing."

Since replacing Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager, Emery has also signed goalkeeper Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen, defender Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus and Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Torreira made his Serie A debut for Sampdoria in August 2016 and made 71 appearances for the club.

Since the end of  last season, Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla have left the Gunners while Jack Wilshere completed his transfer to West Ham United on Monday.

Arsenal are 2/1 to clinch a top-four finish in the Premier League in the 2018/19 season while they are 5/2 to beat Manchester City in their first game of the campaign on 12th August.

Wilshere confirms Arsenal exit

Jack Wilshere has announced he will leave Arsenal when his contract expires in July after being informed he does not feature in Unai Emery's plans.

The 26-year-old has spent 17 years on the books of the north Londoners, making his debut aged 16 as he became the club's youngest-ever player.

Wilshere has since gone on to make 197 appearances for the Gunners, winning two FA Cups, but has had to constantly battle injuries since breaking into the first-team.

The England midfielder had been offered a new deal to remain at the Emirates Stadium but on reduced terms due to his injury history.

Having not signed the extension in the hope of Arsenal improving their offer, Wilshere met with Arsene Wenger's successor Emery last week to discuss his future.

The Spanish coach informed Wilshere he could offer him no guarantees over his playing time and, as a result, the central midfielder has taken the decision to leave when his deal runs out next month.

On Instagram, Wilshere said: "Following a number of extensive conversations with those at the club, and in particular a recent meeting with the new manager Unai Emery, I felt that I was ultimately left with little choice but to make the decision that I have due to purely footballing reasons.

"As has widely been reported I, along with my representative, have been in talks with the club for a number of months with the view to signing a new contract to extend my stay at the Emirates.

"My intention throughout these discussions has always been to remain an Arsenal player. I have been on the books at Arsenal for 17 years and have always felt part of the fabric of the club. Such was my desire to stay that I had in fact recently agreed to sign a financially reduced contract in order to commit my future to the club.

"However, following my meeting with the new manager, I was made aware that although the reduced contract offer remained, it was made clear to me that my playing time would be significantly reduced should I decide to stay.

"I am sure everyone can understand that, at this point in my life and career, I need to be playing regular first-team football and following my meeting with Mr Emery I came away with the feeling that it would be very difficult for me to do so at Arsenal."

Wilshere's departure is just one of a number of major changes the club has undergone this summer as they move on from the Wenger era.

Arsenal are 28/1 to win the Premier League title in Emery's first season in charge, while they are 2/1 to finish in the top four.

Xhaka inks new Gunners deal

Switzerland international Granit Xhaka has committed his future to Arsenal by signing a new long-term contract with the club.

The 25-year-old midfielder, who featured in all 38 Premier League matches for the Gunners last season, moved to north London from Borussia Monchengladbach just over two years ago.

He has represented his country on 61 occasions and has made 94 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal, 5/2 to beat Manchester City in their first game of the 2018/19 season on 11th August.

Head coach Unai Emery said: "I'm delighted that Granit has extended his contract with us.

"He’s an important member of the squad and is still young so will be able to develop even more. I hope he has a successful summer with Switzerland and comes back fit and ready for the new season."

Arsenal are 2/1 to finish in the top four of the Premier League in 2018/19 while Switzerland can be backed at 8/1 to win their first match at World Cup 2018 against Brazil.

Xhaka will be joined at Arsenal next season by his compatriot Stephan Lichtsteiner who has agreed a free transfer switch to Emirates Stadium.

The 34-year-old's contract at Juventus expired this summer and he is looking forward to playing in the same club side as Xhaka.

He said: "I have known Granit now for more than six or seven years – he's just an amazing player.

"He's very good and he's still young. It's not easy for him to be the direct leader at 23 or 24 years old, so I hope I can help him to become bigger and bigger.

"He had a very good season and I hope next year he will do even better. Off the pitch he is just a great person, a great character, very calm, he knows when he can joke and he knows when to concentrate. A top professional player on the pitch, great passing and just a great player."

Maitland-Niles ready to work with Emery

Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he is raring to go under Unai Emery after signing a new Arsenal contract.

The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season, making 28 appearances as he demonstrated his versatility by featuring at wing-back or full-back and in midfield.

Having originally joined the Gunners as a nine-year-old, he has now signed a new long-term extension to his previous deal.

It is all change at the Emirates this summer, with Emery taking over from Arsene Wenger and the Spaniard has shown throughout his career that he is not afraid to put his faith in youth.

Despite plenty of new arrivals being on the agenda, Maitland-Niles says the boss has already discussed his role in the side for next term.

After two seasons out of the top four, Arsenal will be chasing a return to the Champions League and are 2/1 to achieve their goal, while they can be backed at 28/1 to win the Premier League.

The versatile younger admits he is excited about working with the new coach and is confident he can slip right into his system.

"You don't really hear a lot of young players being shouted out by their managers, especially a new manager who hasn't really seen them play too much," Maitland-Niles told Arsenal Player. "I think it's brilliant to hear from him and it gives me a load of confidence.
 
"It feels fantastic knowing that I'm going to be a part of the squad, and a big part of the squad. It means a lot with the new head coach coming in and Arsenal tying me down [with a new contract]. I'm very pleased.
 
"We had a little meeting. He said that he wants all of his players to work hard and I'm no stranger to doing that. It will be second nature to me."

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Adams worried by Arsenal approach

Arsenal legend Tony Adams fears Unai Emery could have his hopes of rebuilding the team compromised by the club's recruitment strategy.

The Gunners are in the midst of beginning a new era as after 22 years under Arsene Wenger, Emery has been installed as their new head coach, in charge of restoring on-field glory after stagnating during the latter stages of the Frenchman's reign.

A top four finish at 2/1 is thought to be seen as a minimum requirement for the Basque, while he has made no secret of his desire to win the Premier League at 28/1.

However, much will depend on how recruitment guru Sven Mislintat fares, while head of football relations Raul Sanllehi is also expected to be involved in transfers.

Adams remains an icon at the Gunners, captaining the club for much of his 19-year playing career with the club and has since had experience around Europe in both the dugout and in the boardroom.

The 51-year-old says the new set-up means it could be tough to judge Emery's success, especially if Mislintat and Sanllehi fail to acquire their prefered targets on what is seen as a relativly limited budget.

He told the Daily Star: "Your head coach is irrelevant.  You are only as good as your recruitment. It's all about getting the right players in this game.

"We're going to have to see if the guys Ivan Gazidis has brought in are good in that market.

"It's a market that's very overcrowded and we're probably down the pecking order in terms of finances.

"It'll be difficult if they're looking for European players – it'll be quite tricky."

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Gunners snap up Lichtsteiner

Arsenal are to sign former Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner on free-transfer.

The 34-year-old was out of contract at the Serie A champions at the end of the season and has signed a deal to move to England ahead of captaining Switzerland at the World Cup in Russia.

He becomes the first signing since Unai Emery's appointment as Arsene Wenger's replacement at the Emirates.

Lichtsteiner moved to Juventus in 2011 and won seven successive league titles at the Turin club.

He says is excited to be joining Arsenal and has immediately set the target of getting the Gunners back into the Champions League, the stage on which he suggests they belong.

Lichtsteiner told his new club's official website: "It is a great moment for me, after Juventus, to come to Arsenal.

"It is a project to come back into the Champions League, it is hard not to see a club like Arsenal that is not playing in the Champions League if you see the players, the club, the stadium.

"The big objective is to come back on the highest level."

Switzerland face Brazil in their World Cup opener on 17th June. They'll also tackle Serbia and Costa Rica in Group E.

Brazil are 2/7 to be group winners, with the Swiss 6/1 and Costa Rica priced at 18/1 to repeat their feat of topping the group four years ago ahead of Uruguay, Italy and England.

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Emery has his eyes on prizes

New Arsenal head coach Unai Emery is determined to mould his side into serious challengers both domestically and in Europe as quickly as possible.

The Spaniard has the unenviable task of succeeding Arsene Wenger as the man at the helm of the Gunners and Emery is eager to make his mark as soon as he can, with a return to the Champions League one of his top priorities.

He told reporters at his first press conference after being confirmed as the new man in charge of the Londoners: "I believe we can grow with the players we have. The objective is to work hard together and with these talented players.

"Success next season would be developing, but how? By battling for every title – that's in Arsenal's and my history.

"All the titles that will be in the next season and the future – (the aim is) to be a candidate and challenge for all the titles. That is very important for the club after two years outside the Champions League.

"We need to arrive and be with the best clubs in the Premier League and the best clubs in the world."

Under Emery Arsenal are 28/1 to win the Premier League title next season, while they are 2/1 to finish in the top four and 4/11 to finish in fifth place or lower.

Meanwhile, former Valencia, Sevilla and PSG coach Emery also paid tribute to the man he has replaced at the Emirates Stadium, adding: "I want to say thank you Arsene Wenger for your legacy.

"For all the coaches in the world, he is a reference. We learned, I learned from him all the things in football.

"It's a big challenge for me, but I have worked also in other projects, big projects. For me, I am proud to be here and to work after Arsene Wenger."

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Emery chosen to succeed Wenger

Unai Emery is honoured to have been given the chance to write the next chapter in Arsenal's history after being confirmed as the club's new head coach.

The 46-year-old succeeds Arsene Wenger, who had been in charge of the Gunners since 1996.

Earlier in his coaching career Emery spent four years with Valencia before, after a brief spell with Spartak Moscow, being named as Sevilla boss in January 2013.

He led the club to three Europa League triumphs, most recently in 2016 when they came from behind to beat Liverpool 3-1 in the final.

Emery has spent the last two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain. He guided the French side to the domestic treble of Ligue 1, Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue this term but the club's lack of success in Europe cost the Spaniard his job.

They were knocked out of the Champions League this season by Real Madrid in the round of 16 while in 2016/17 they contrived to be beaten by Barcelona at the same stage despite winning the first leg 4-0. PSG lost the second match 6-1 at the Nou Camp.

Emery said: "I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game.

"I'm very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal's history. I look forward to giving everyone who loves Arsenal some special moments and memories."

Arsenal can be backed at 28/1 to win the Premier League title in 2018/19 and at 2/1 to finish in the top four. Meanwhile, they are 4/11 to finish fifth or lower next term.

Cazorla confirms Arsenal exit

Former Malaga midfielder Santi Cazorla has expressed his sadness after ending his six-year association with Arsenal.

The 33-year-old Spaniard, who has not played since October 2016 after being forced to endure several operations on his injured right ankle, has been linked with a summer switch to Villarreal.

Cazorla, whose Gunners contract expires this summer, made 180 appearances for the club and scored 29 goals after moving to north London from Malaga in 2012. He won two FA Cups during his time with the club.

"I'm very sad to be leaving after so many great times. I have loved my time with the club and I will always remember the special moments we had together," Cazorla said.

Meanwhile, chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: "Santi is always one of my favourite players to watch. His natural ability with both feet, his speed of thought and movement were central to our best performances in recent years."

Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League in 2017/18 and will be playing in the Europa League for the second campaign in a row next season.

They are expected to name Unai Emery as their new manager this week following the end of Arsene Wenger's 22-year spell in charge of the club.

Arsenal are 2/1 to finish in the top four of the Premier League next season and 4/11 to finish fifth or lower.