Tuesday, March 21, 2023
HomeChampions LeagueTransfer deadline day: Arsenal sign Jorginho from Chelsea; Do the Gunners...

Transfer deadline day: Arsenal sign Jorginho from Chelsea; Do the Gunners have the depth to win the Premier League?

Do arsenal have enough? It’s a question that has occupied fans, rivals and the club hierarchy in the final months of their remarkable season. In August no one could have seriously imagined that this team would be top of the Premier League in the second half of the race and yet they find themselves there by five points Manchester City with 19 games remaining while the reigning champions have 18.

Arsenal, who completed their incoming deal by signing Jorginho in a £12million deal on deadline day, could do everything right and fall short. They have two more games to play against City; Pep Guardiola’s side could erase that lead with the kind of commanding run they’ve delivered so often in the second half of the season. Nobody needs to remind former City assistant Mikel Arteta of that fact.

And yet this is a club that understands where it is and how difficult it might be to get back there. Even for a squad with all the growth potential of the recent Premier League, there’s no guarantee the rest of the pursuers will fall away so early in the years to come, or that City won’t raise levels beyond Arsenal in the years to come.

In early January, Arsenal were looking to secure a quality young winger and possibly a left centre-back. They knew that the price of their ultimate goal, Mikhail Mudryk, had grown to such a level that it alone would require a significant investment. Another body in central midfield would have been nice but there were many at the club expecting to keep their powder dry for the summer when they still intend to sign Declan Rice, a player who CBS Sports revealed earlier this month that he was excited at the prospect of joining Arsenal from West Ham.

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When Chelsea Mudryk was intercepted from them in the 11th hour Arsenal had more money to play with but not enough to get Moises Caicedo away from Brighton. After rejecting two offers, the Seagulls made it clear the Ecuadorian was not for sale this winter and never gave the Gunners a price that would change that stance. Sources have told CBS Sports that Arsenal have been careful not to damage ties with Brighton, who they have done a lot of business with in the past and could well be in dialogue about Caicedo over the summer, pushing the issue when theirs attitude became clear.

Instead of a youthful injection, Arsenal have focused on making the kind of moves a title contender makes. Put aside young centre-back Jacob Kiwior and the two newcomers are a 28-year-old striker Leandro Trossard and Jorginho, 31-year-old Chelsea’s Champions League winner. In either case Arsenal are extremely unlikely to get their transfer fee back and towards the end of their contracts both players may not be playing at a level to match their salary. But if Trossard delivers a handful of effective cameos and exonerates Jorginho Thomas Partey this season, then their combined £38m fees are a price worth paying.

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Neither of these two newcomers can be sure of being starters, but what they do have is Premier League experience in the club’s depth chart, which is explored in detail below. First of all, it is important to clarify exactly how Arsenal line up and where they need players. Arteta’s side formation is, to put it simply, a standard 4-3-3. On attack, this tends to morph into a 2-3-5, with full-backs switching to central midfield (although Ben White has shown overlapping tendencies, particularly when Eddie Nketiah is the main striker) and the two midfielders – often referred to as eights – in front of Partey, who is given license to attack the penalty area.

Arsenal’s average positions in Premier League games

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Earlier this season, her first XI was buzzing and had reached the level that is so often a sign of champions. From front to back you could reel off their starting line-up without much thought. Gabriel Jesus’ knee injury changed that somewhat, but Eddie Nketiah stepped into the void in extraordinary fashion, turning the absence of last summer’s most transformative signing in the Premier League into a non-event. The Brazilian is expected to return from surgery in March but Arteta can rest assured he has the quality up front to keep that load going.

Across wide areas, Trossard’s Arsenal complement offers plenty of options down the left flank, but the Belgian is so versatile that he could end up picking up minutes elsewhere. The right wing would be the obvious one. Bukayo Saka has shown remarkable consistency early in his career but the Gunners would be wise not to test that in the Europa League. Similarly, on the left side of defense, Gabriel has had some presence in all but one of Arsenal’s games this season (he has not missed a Premier League start since September 2021). Kiwior should allow him to rest at least in the Europa League.

Arsenal’s depth map

goalkeeper

Aaron Ramsdale

Matt Turner

Karl Hein

Be right back

Ben White

Takehiro Tomiyasu

Right center back

Wilhelm Saliba

Rob Holding

Ben White

Center left back

Gabriel

Jacob Kiwior

left behind

Oleksandr Zinchenko

Kieran Tierney

Takehiro Tomiyasu

Defensive Midfield

Thomas Partey

Jorginho

Right central midfield

Martin Odegaard

Fabio Viera

Left central midfield

Xhaka granite

Emile Smith Rowe

Right wing

Bukayo Saka

Leandro Trossard

Tear Nelson

Left wing

Gabriel Martinelli

Leandro Trossard

Emile Smith Rowe

centre-forward

Gabriel Jesus

Eddie Nketiah

Leandro Trossard

Meanwhile, the logic behind Arsenal’s push to sign a central midfielder became clear when Mikel Arteta confirmed Mohamed Elneny, Partey’s former backup, had suffered a serious injury. No timeline has been set for his recovery, but he is expected to miss most, if not all, of the remainder of the season. Jorginho could prove more adept at dictating play from deep than the Egyptian, lacking Partey’s tempo boost to break the pressing with ball carry so easily, but there are few more experienced at countering attacks from build up from the base of midfield.

There are areas where the drop is more pronounced. USMNT goaltender Matt Turner has shown solidity as a shot stopper and growth with the ball at his feet, but Arsenal’s fall in possession would be pronounced were he to step in for Aaron Ramsdale over a string of games. Central midfield is the most pressing, where Albert Sambi Lokonga on the deadline for leaving crystal palace on credit with no option to buy. The young Belgian, who is both deeper and an option as one of the two eights, has pretty much lost Arteta’s confidence after a brilliant start to his career when he joined from Anderlecht last season. It was perhaps little more than a reminder that depth is only useful when a manager intends to use it.

Arsenal’s two central midfielders, Xhaka and Odegaard, are iron men; They have started every Premier League game together since 10 February 2022 save for a 3–0 win Brentford. It was the only top game of the season so far in which summer signing Fabio Vieira really shone, and the 22-year-old now seems the obvious next man. There’s no apparent support behind him, although one notable thing is Arteta’s plans for Emile Smith Rowe. Before an injury interrupted his pre-season last summer, sources close to the player and Arsenal have stated he would have been bloodied eighth.

It would be far from ideal if Arteta had to retest him in that position during a title run. If Xhaka or Odegaard suffer a prolonged injury, Arsenal could lose the points that will make the difference in the race. However, the same could also apply to City if Rodri, Erling Haland or Kevin De Bruyne sank. The reality is that few teams become Premier League champions because they have managed to ride a wave of injuries effectively. With Virgil van Dijk at his side, Liverpool have historically looked like title winners. Take him and a few other cogs out of the side and the drop can be alarming. Same goes for Tottenham and Harry Kane, Chelsea and Reece James. No team is without its basic building blocks.

Arsenal then want the opportunity to turn and bat off the bench. If their key starters can weather the storm over the next four months, they may do the unimaginable.




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