What a hotly contested top four this Premier League season is going to see.
If a photographer were to take an image of the Arsenal starting 11, it would resemble a Ferrari up front, a Holden in the middle, and my uncle’s rusty tractor in defence.
Arsenal fans such as myself have been screaming for seasons that the club needs a complete overhaul in the backline. Remove the deadwood and bring in some young, talented defenders. What is Unai Emery’s solution, might you ask? To buy a player only to loan him back for the entirety of the 2019-20 season.
This is all well and good, but after the recent actions Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny, it certainty wouldn’t be a farfetched suggestion that Emery might bid the Frenchman a vexed farewell.
The highly probable departure of Koscielny in the near future would leave the club with a severe shortage in defenders. Hector Bellerín, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Carl Jenkinson, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Sead Kolašinac and the infamous Shkodran Mustafi are the only players under the age of 30, which leaves the ageing Nacho Monreal (33) and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (31) to undoubtedly lead the already frail defensive unit.
Unai Emery’s men maintained the 12th-worst defensive record during the 2018-19 season, and even with the potential inclusion of promising left-back Kieran Tierney I foresee a similar if not worse showing for the upcoming season.
The most frustrating aspect of Arsenal is their almost indignant stance towards the fan-base, who are practically begging the higher-ups for a defensive revamp. The statistics are there. Why can they not see the defence is a shambles?
On a positive note, Arsenal finally broke the bank and sealed the deal for Frenchman Nicolas Pepe. The unanimous sigh of relief among Arsenal fans was so prevalent that we almost forgot we had the worst defence of the big four.
I for one am itching to see Pepe complimenting Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front for the upcoming season. The attack will be purring.
But for all the grandeur of his signing, it’s merely a papering over of the cracks.