Arsenal continue to struggle
Mikel Arteta’s stint in the Arsenal dugout has been something of a mixed bag to date.
An FA Cup and Community Shield triumph has been followed up by a fairly poor 2020/21 campaign that looks set to see the Gunners finish outside the top-six for a second consecutive season, with no silverware forthcoming unless they can turn around their semi-final meeting vs Villareal and then beat Manchester United in the final – a task which seems unlikely given their current form.
Of course, Arteta should take some flack for the north Londoners’ recent struggles, with poor decision making in terms of team selection quite clear costing Arsenal against Villarreal recently.
And though some blame should be put on the player, Arteta must also be held accountable for his inability to get Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal’s top scorer in recent seasons and by far and away their highest earner -playing anywhere close to his scintillating best.
Outside of Arteta’s shortcomings, though, it remains clear that the Gunners squad still needs a fair bit of improvement in a number of areas.
But given KSE are not exactly known for pumping huge sums of money into the club, if Arsenal wish to continue their rebuild and bring in players to suit Arteta’s style, they will probably need to raise a fair amount of the money through player sales.
And, at 101, we have picked out a number of players whom Arsenal could sell on this summer to provide some funds for a much-needed squad overhaul.
The first of these players is Eddie Nketiah, who actually featured fairly regularly during the beginning of Arteta’s stint in the Emirates dugout.
However, this season – especially in the last few months – Nketiah has been very much a bit-part player.
In fact, across all of 2021 so far, Nketiah has been limited to 104 minutes of action in the Premier League.
And given Nketiah does look to be a striker suited to doing his best work in the six-yard box, it is quite easy to see why Arteta, who uses his centre-forwards to drop deeper to link up play and press opposition when out of possession, isn’t overly keen on the 21-year-old.
Also, given Folarin Balogun has now signed a new contract recently, Nketiah has all of Balogun, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabriel Martinelli to compete with for the centre-forward spot.
Even if Lacazette – who has just over a year left on hid contract – is sold in the summer, it would still probably make more sense for Arsenal to bring in a proven goalscorer instead of handing that responsibility to Nketiah, who quite clearly isn’t the type of striker Arteta wants.
Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal during the Carabao Cup match between Leicester City and Arsenal at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, England on 23rd September 2020. (Photo by Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The second player Arsenal should look to part ways with in the summer is Joe Willock.
Willock is currently on loan at Newcastle United were his super-sub exploits have earned the Magpies some huge points in their fight for survival.
In his last three league outings, Willock has scored three goals and earned Newcastle five points.
Joe Willock: Liverpool heartbreaker 💔pic.twitter.com/FVBmEH8rv6
— Goal (@goal) April 25, 2021
So, Arsenal fans may question why Willock should be sold this summer, instead of him being handed a chance to impress for Arsenal.
But, in Arteta’s system Joe Willock’s best position would probably be in behind the striker, where he could make those bursting runs into the box like he has been doing for Arsenal.
And though Willock did have some success in that role earlier in the season for Arsenal against some poor Europa League sides, it is hard to argue that the midfielder is a better option than either of Emile Smith Rowe or Martin Odegaard.
Granted, Odegaard may not be at the Emirates next season, but would Arsenal fans not rather see Willock sold and someone with the quality of Emi Buendia brought in instead?
Like Willock, our next player is also currently out on loan from Arsenal.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has spent the second half of the season on loan at West Brom, where he has showcased glimpses of promise.
However, it is hard to imagine that AMN would be afforded regular football if he returns to the Emirates.
Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny are quite clearly ahead of him in Arteta’s midfield pecking order.
And though he has been used at left-back previously, he only really looked semi-comfortable when playing as a wing-back in a back-five, a formation Arsenal have now moved away from.
So, though he is unlikely to see regular action in north London, Maitland-Niles is still a young, English versatile player who a lower-table Premier League outfit would likely be interested in.
The final player Arsenal should look to move on in the summer is Calum Chambers.
Recent weeks have seen the Englishman afforded more chances in Mikel Arteta’s set-up.
However, the Spaniard has largely opted to play Chambers at right-back, a position he is quite clearly too slow to play in.
And though the 26-year-old is a decent central defender, Arteta evidently already sees Gabriel, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari as better options in that spot, with William Saliba’s return in the summer only likely to push Chambers down the centre-back pecking order.
Therefore, it would probably be in Arsenal’s best interests to sell Chambers to help fund a move for a new right-back – especially given he will have just a year left on his contract in the summer.