Arsenal have confirmed that Unai Emery will replace Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager following the retirement of the long-serving boss.
The Spanish coach was recently dismissed at Paris Saint-Germain where he won the Ligue 1 title once in two seasons with the French giants, but was eliminated by Barcelona and Real Madrid in back-to-back underwhelming Champions League campaigns.
Emery previously won three consecutive Europa League titles with Sevilla and has also managed both Valencia and Spartak Moscow.
Arsenal fans had been calling for a new manager for a number of years following back-to-back failures to finish in the top four and not compete for the Premier League title since they last won it in 2004. They have now been granted their wish.
The new boss will have a lot of work on his hands this summer but has a number of talented players at his disposal to work with. However, here are five positions we think Emery will need to upgrade before the start of the 2018-19 Premier League season:
1. Holding Midfield
Arsene Wenger never did replace Gilberto Silva in the middle of the park and as a result Arsenal haven’t had a powerful holding midfielder for a decade now. Whilst Manchester City have Fernandinho, Manchester United have Nemanja Matic, Tottenham have Mousa Dembele and Chelsea have N’Golo Kante, Arsenal are without anyone of note in this position.
There’s no doubt this has to be a priority position for Unai Emery to fill. He’s worked with Steven Nzonzi at Sevilla previously and Thiago Motta at Paris Saint-Germain, either of those names could be available. If not, there are some good players at Premier League clubs who finished below Arsenal this past season, whilst France has been the place providing a number of stars in this role over the past couple of seasons.
Arsenal were leaking goals last season and quite frankly, Arsene Wenger left the defence in a mess. Shkodran Mustafi has turned out to be a poor buy, Per Mertesacker has now retired, and even the reliable Laurent Koscielny appears to have lost a step.
Assuming the new manager reverts back to four defenders, he’s going to need to buy at least one centre-back come in and play alongside Koscielny, and may even consider moving Mustafi on and bringing in another backup. Either way, a new centre-back and new holding midfielder would go a very long way to helping the club move forward.
3. Left wing
Emery shouldn’t have too many concerns in attack. Both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are capable of scoring goals up front, whilst Mesut Ozil in the number 10 and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the right provide the creativity. They’ve also got Aaron Ramsey to support with goals from deep.
However, they are a bit weak on the left-hand side of the attack. In his final months, Wenger was preferring Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck out wide. Neither should be regulars in a side looking to get back into the top four and compete for the Premier League title. There are plenty of left wingers around Europe and South America that the new manager could look to fill this gap with.
Petr Cech has been an excellent goalkeeper in the Premier League over the years but his time appears to be coming to an end. Since joining Arsenal from Chelsea two years ago, the 36-year-old has looked more error prone than previous. I think it’s about time the manager had a serious thought about his options. If nothing else, bringing in a younger goalkeeper for the long-term future.
Currently Arsenal have David Ospina as their backup but the Colombian is by no means good enough to be a regular starter. Whilst he is a good shot stopper, Ospina always has a clanger in him and therefore bringing a new goalkeeper to the Emirates should be on Unai Emery’s to do list.
Nacho Monreal has been a good servant to Arsenal over the years, during a time where they have not competed for the Premier League title. He’s pretty nifty in the final third and has filled in at centre-back on occasion too. However, the Spaniard is 32 now so Emery may want to consider finding a longer term option this summer.
The only alternatives the new boss currently has are youngsters, and unless he has confidence in those heading into the new season perhaps bringing in an established left-back will be one of his priorities this summer.