Following on a few articles and posts on UA, I decided to put together a sort of crystal ball, forecast for the short and medium term future of the team. The idea is to see who is getting on in years and will need to be replaced sooner or later and who can replace them, from the bench and reserves. I have put a plus beside the player(s) who I believe could be an improvement when replacing the incumbents, a question mark beside the players who are still in doubt and a minus by those players who, imho, are not an improvement, and I have placed loanees in italics and English players in bold italics, so here goes:
|1st team starter||positions||age||Potential replacements|
|Petr Cech||keeper||33||David Ospina (?) 27||Woijech Szcesny (?) 25|
|Hector Bellerin||fullback||20||Mathieu Debuchy (-) 30|
|Laurent Koscielny||CB||30||Gabriel Paulista (+) 24|
|Per Mertesacker||CB||31||Calum Chambers (?) 20|
|Nacho Monreal||fullback||29||Kieran Gibbs (-)26|
|Francis Coquelin||DM||24||Mathieu Flamini (-) 31|
|Santi Cazorla||Midfielder||30||Mikel Arteta (-) 33|
|Mesut Ozil||Midfielder||26||Jack Wilshere (?)23|
|Aaron Ramsey||Midfielder||24||Alex Oxlade-C (+)22||Tomas Rosicky (?) 35|
|Alexis Sanchez||Attacker||26||Olivier Giroud (-) 29||Danny Wellbeck (?)24|
|Theo Walcott||Attacker||26||Joel Campbell (?) 23|
Now let me explain my ratings. Ospina and Szcesny (, while 27 & 25) both younger than Cech (33), do not display his coolness and maturity under intense pressure, so far but both have great talent and proven skill sets so they have a great deal of time to prove themselves….therefore out of 10, I would rate our goalkeeping future an 8.
Hector Bellerin is currently irreplaceable and with a 10 year age difference and incredible pace, he is going to be hard to displace. Debuchy, while a talented fullback cannot currently hope to replace Hector. Therefore out of 10, I would rate our left back situation as a 7.
Laurent Koscielny is still our no.1 go to guy as a CB and his pairing with Per has been superb. That said, Gabriel has shown that he can easily cover for Kos and even seems to be improving on Laurent’s already excellent CB play. I rate our CB future as an 8.
Per Mertesacker, while much slower than Kos or Gabriel, still towers above them both in terms of his excellent skills at anticipating play and calming down the defense. Chambers has a lot of potential but lacks maturity and experience and is not an automatic choice to substitute for Per.
I rate our other CB duo as a 6 because of a lack of equivalent replacement for Per. However the variety of options for CB is still excellent and can only get better as Chambers matures.
We now start with the defensive midfield and of course our No.1 go-to-guy, Francis Coquelin. I need say no more about him. As backup we have Mathieu Flamini or Mikel Arteta, both over 30 and imho, nowhere near Francis for defensive abilities and mastery of the Black Arts of defending. I would give this a 5 or maybe 6 but we will need to be ready very soon to bring in someone who can meet Francis’ challenge.
Santi Cazorla is another diamond and after Saturday’s masterful show, absolutely important to find someone who can back him up eventually. As stated before Flamini or Arteta are adequate short-term backup but by next season (or sooner) we will need a more viable alternative, and younger one as well. I would give this a 6.
Mesut Ozil is apparently our most prolific assist creator ever and a one-of-a-kind player. We have Jack coming back soon, and I firmly believe he could eventually match Ozil in many areas, but NOT completely surpass him, even if he stays perfectly healthy….always a doubt. I would give this a 7.
Aaron Ramsey is , like Sanchez and Cazorla, the workhorse and a very important part of the Arsenal engine. With Tomas Rosicky nearing the end of his career, we do have AOC in the background and again, I feel he will be superb backup for Aaron. I give this an 8.
Our own personal Everyready bunny Alexis needs no introduction. Backing him up is our chic and debonair French goalscorer Olivier Giroud. He is one of our most under-rated players and is in the prime of his career so while Alexis is impossible to replace, I feel Giroud is more than adequate cover, and we have Danny Welbeck, whose potential is yet to be adequately felt BUT who, imho, will prove one of Wenger’s best under-the-radar purchases, so a 7 for this one.
Theo is our own personal frustration, and can run hot or cold, depending on the day but he is still one of the deadliest snipers in the EPL. As a substitute we have Joel Campbell, who like Welbeck has loads of promise BUT needs games and opportunities to showcase what he can do. For this situation I give us a 6, but perhaps I am being a bit harsh?
I have not mentioned the youth or loanees, other than Szcesny because the current squad is just too strong to see any of them dropping right in like Coquelin and Bellerin did last year and having a significant impact….I would LOVE to be proven wrong.
So overall, I have come to the conclusion that we are looking very good for the short and medium term(2-4 years), the long-term being too far away to predict anything.