Wenger left Emery with a major squad rebuild needed at Arsenal

New Arsenal manager Unai Emery has a real task on his hands to keep the Gunners competitive next season, as he’s inherited a squad with a real lack of quality in certain areas.

The former Paris Saint-Germain boss reportedly has just £50m for new signings this summer, which has forced him to be thrifty in the transfer window which could make for a season of struggle in 2018/19.

Emery will be under intense criticism for how Arsenal fare next season, but should his predecessor Arsene Wenger be under the spotlight for how poorly he’s built the latest squad?

Arsenal’s porous defence needs fixing

Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League last season, conceding 51 goals in 38 games and will be without their two senior defenders at the start of the 2018/19 campaign.

Per Mertesacker is hanging up his boots this summer to become the new Head of Academy, leaving Arsenal one centre-back short. Laurent Koscielny is currently sidelined with an achilles injury and will miss the start of next season as a result.

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny

That will leave Emery with an inexperienced backline containing Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos, none of whom would be a convincing solution over a full season. It’s why Emery is targeting Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos to bolster the backline as Arsenal are lacking in leaders.

The Gunners have a problem between the sticks too, with Petr Cech and David Ospina both out of contract in 2019 and being below-par goalkeepers for a side wanting a top-four spot and trophy next season. Cech has been guilty of making a number of errors and needs replacing, but Ospina isn’t up to the task of deputising. That could mean Arsenal have to sign two new shot-stoppers within the next year.

Mix-and-match of a midfield

While Arsenal are desperate for quality in goal and in defence, they also need some in midfield. The Gunners have Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere and Mohamed Elneny, four players with completely different skill-sets who have been shoehorned into a system that doesn’t collectively suit them.

Ramsey is a box-to-box midfielder with an eye for goal, Xhaka is a deep-lying playmaker without much tactical discipline, Wilshere is an advanced playmaker without much of an end product and Elneny is a defensive midfielder who provides little creativity on the ball. Arsenal are crying out for an identity, as their struggles over the last two seasons can be attributed to their weak midfield.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 11: Jack Wilshere of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on March 11, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Wenger has recruited poorly in such a key area and now Emery has to fix it on a budget. What’s worse is that he could lose Wilshere this summer as the English international is out of contract and has yet to sign an extension. Clubs that don’t have a recognisable centre-back and central midfielder pairing aren’t often successful.

For all the fine work Wenger has done in his 22 years in charge of Arsenal, he’s left them in bad shape this summer. Arsenal had their worst-ever season at the time of his departure and 2018/19 may not be plain sailing either.

Crippy can be found on Twitter (@CrippyCooke). He is a sports journalist who has written for the Independent, Bleacher Report, Huffington Post, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph among others. Crippy treats football gossip with a dash of cynicism and loves tearing apart outlandish rumours.


  1. chris

    May 29, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Yes … because Wenger could not even begin to accept that his squad had so many shortcomings. After all how could the great dictator be wrong ? He now has to watch as we all see how a modern club should be run and a modern team should be organised organised. It will be much like very many fans have been urging for years.

  2. Bakri

    May 29, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    That is the main failure of Arsene Wenger that led to his sacking . Wenger spent 22 years as Arsenal manager and after all this long time he failed to build a winnig squad , because fe dragged his feet in the transfer markey year after year as well he sold the best Arsenal players even to the cometing teams of the premier league. As he left ten Arsenal players to reach the last year of their cntracts among them Sanchea who almost left Arsenal free and Ozil and Arsenal was forced to pay him more than £300,000 a week so as not to let him leave free the same could be said about wilshere and ramsey. As well the weak aquad led Arsenal not made any progress in the champion league and drop to the sixth in the premiership table and still claimung that is him who made Arsenal

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