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Arsenal Squad - Keep Or Chuck? Pt 1

This summer represents a key transfer window in Unai Emery’s project as he gets to prune and shape a squad in his own image as Wenger’s side slides from view. We’ve gone through and cast our verdict on each first team player at the club – who’s an asset and who’s deadwood.

Bernd Leno – The prodigal pick of wise old scout Sven Mislintat is one of Emery’s few acquisitions so far. He’s been the best player on the pitch more times than you’d care to remember and has made the snazzy double save his trademark. When the formidable Petr Cech joined Arsenal, John Terry said the keeper was worth at least 12 points per season. Not for the first time in his life no doubt, JT was proven wrong. Luckily, Leno has been the Gunners’ saving grace. KEEP

David Opsina – NOPE. The lad is absolutely clamming for a permanent move to Napoli, so much so he even stressed how happy he’d be on the bench this week. One of late era Wenger’s great transfer duds, the club should chew the arm off any bids for him. Come on Carlo, do us a favour? CHUCK

Hector Bellerin – The Catalan Cockney endured a sluggish start to the campaign but improved noticeably as time went on. A savage knee injury came as a massive loss to the side and he’ll no doubt waltz straight back into it once recovered. That’s if he hasn’t found a new passion by then - glass blowing, taxidermy or Old Norse poetry. KEEP

Ainsley Maitland Niles – Nipping closely at the heels of the fashionista full-back is his acronym apprentice, AMN. The local lad has come on leaps and bounds this season and could give his gaffer a headache when the first choice RB is fit again. An unfettered desire to bomb on and link up down the right wing has justifiably attracted many admirers. He’s supremely athletic but, being picky, looks vulnerable to anything more than stiff breeze. Time to lift some metal and drink that yellow stuff in tins lad. KEEP

Stephan Lichtsteiner – Brought in on a free to offset the impact of Koscielny’s injury woes, he’s been a useful enough squad member, particular in Europe, given his experience and leadership qualities. Shouting and pointing is all well and good but with regards to anything actually involving his legs, however, he’s been pretty bobbins. The 35-year-old has struggled with the tempo of the Premier League, a harrowing outing at Liverpool threw his advancing years into sharp focus. As Emery now has two preferable options, shelling out £90k a week out on an old buzzard offering little more than a few ripping yarns about Gigi Buffon doesn’t seem like brilliant business. CHUCK

Callum Chambers – A strange case. Despite legs slower than Paul Merson’s plodding mind, he’s been arguably the best performer at his clubs in the last two seasons. The problem being, however, that both those sides were relegated, well relegated, and the suspicion is he’s found his level in the lower climes of the table. Still only 24 and well regarded, now might be the time to cash in on him. CHUCK

Sokratis Papastathopoulos – It’s been a mixed bag from the grouchy Grecian. His fighting-spirit and determination is an asset to any side, especially one with just a single cojone between them. He’s a big enough presence to make things tricky for opponents but certainly doesn’t spark great confidence whenever he’s on the team sheet. KEEP

Laurent Koscielny – Despite coming back from pre-season sporting a dashing hair do that would make Audrey Hepburn blush, Captain Fantastic is now sadly well over the hill. He’s just not the harrying shit-haired hero that he once was and it’s clear that it’s the new trim to blame. With a year left on his current deal, if we’re lucky we might fetch £10 million for the 33-year-old. CHUCK

Rob Holding – The best of a distinctly average bunch. Calm and composed in possession, if you could play three of him at the back you would. A knee injury sustained at Old Trafford seriously hampered the team’s chances this campaign. While it’s too late to make a comeback this term, he’s going to be bloody vital in the heart of the side next year. KEEP

Shkodran Mustafi – Can frankly get in the bin. Deserves the moniker ‘St Nicholas’ considering the sheer volume of gifts he offers opposition forwards. Compounds these frequent bullets in to the foot, with a well rehearsed routine of throwing his arms up in a desperate attempt to shift the blame. Well we know what you’re up to mate, and we don’t like it. Is it weird to celebrate the probable financial hit we’d take on a player the club spunked £35m(!) on? Probably. Will I do it anyway? Absolutely. CHUCK

Sead Kolasinac – The Bosnian bulldozer is a shoo-in at LWB. He’s obviously not going to guarantee clean sheets but he more than pulls his hefty weight at the other end. His six assists is double what Ozil has managed. The more we see of him getting to the by-line and sending pelters across goal, the more his £13.5 million price tag looks an absolute bargain. KEEP

Carl Jenkisnon Look up the word liability in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of Jenko in an Arsenal shirt waving. It’s a shame because on the universally recognised ‘putting in a shift scale’ between ‘10’ and ‘Mesut Ozil’, the 27-year-old youngster registers a solid 6. Yes, he’s prone to cataclysmic mistakes but how can you expect any different when he so seldom features? That said, everybody involved at N7 will breathe a sigh of relief when his contract finally expires this summer and he moves to pastures new, most likely League One. CHUCK

Nacho Monreal – As competent flying into tackles as he is beating his counterpart and getting to the by-line to whip crossed in. He’s undoubtedly one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers and has kept watch over 12 clean sheets this season. Emery clearly has a soft spot for his compatriot – the pair hail from the same pocket of northern Spain. The hot-blooded Basque never fails to demonstrate his passion and this was surely a reason why he deservedly earned a contract extension until next summer. KEEP

Konstantinos Mavropanos Hard to have a bad word to say about this Greek gladiator. He’s only made six appearances since arriving in Islington but at just 21 years young, he’s deserves time to prove himself. A surprisingly good dribbler on the ball, assertive off it and standing 6 ft 4 inches tall, he’s got all the tools to make a success of himself. A bit of actual game time next year, perhaps on loan, would do him no harm. KEEP

Click here to see part two of our analysis. Which forwards and midfielders deserve to stay?

Harry Corton
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All Images - PA. Stats via WhoScored.