Arsenal's squad review: Who stays or goes in attack
Score one more goal than your opponent and you win a football match. Since it’s set in stone that scoring is necessary for victory, every team strives to be sharper in attack than the rest, Arsenal included. Last season, the Gunners plundered 74 goals in the League, joint-third in the division, 36 short of free-scoring Manchester City. Given they conceded two goals for every three scored, sixth place was a deserved finish. A new season beckons; Arsenal must both fortify and reload.
In this part of our series on the North Londoners, it's all about the munitions. Who stays, who goes and who comes into the forward ranks? We’ll answer those questions now.
An attack bereft a quick-thinking midfield mastermind cannot do much. Uli Hoeness can shoot his mouth off as much as he likes; Arsenal can consider themselves blessed to have Mesut Ozil pulling the strings. The ex-German international takes stick for his commitment but that takes nothing away from the superb midfielder he is.
Ozil’s pedigree is unquestionable. Already with half a century in Premier League assists over 142 outings, the former Real Madrid man is a master creator. If Unai Emery knows his business, his no.10 must be first on the team sheet.
Judging from his preseason spirit, the maligned midfielder is out to prove a point. If that continues, Arsenal will be deadly this campaign.
Ozil needs help in attacking midfield. That can come from Arsenal's midfield Armenian. With his horrid time at Manchester United now a faded memory, Mkhitaryan can complete his career renaissance in London.
Only Ozil wields the level of panache the former Dortmund star does in Arsenal’s midfield. Beyond Ozil, Emery knows his team needs creativity. With Aaron Ramsey rumoured to be considering a colour change, Mkhi can pick up the slack.
There's no doubt the 29-year-old can deliver. In a mere 11 Premier League appearance, his hand was visible in six goals for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Auba is a big threat for every Premier League defender. The man knows how to get goals. Limited to 13 Premier League appearances following his move from Borussia Dortmund last season, he still reached double digits.
To succeed at his new job, Unai Emery must find a way to bring out the best from Arsenal’s record signing. Ostensibly, the Gabonese forward would be integral to everything Arsenal does in attack with a monumental impact inevitable. Fans who watched Auba in training could only think the player was a well-polished weapon of mass destruction ready to be unleashed on England's top tier.
The Frenchman adds depth to the Arsenal attack. He guarantees goals in abundance. Three shy of hitting 20 in his debut season, bagging 25 this season isn't beyond him.
No manager needs pills for the headache Unai Emery 'suffers' when choosing his attacking players. The Spaniard can choose between Lacazette or Aubameyang to spearhead his attack without going wrong. Lacazette can make that choice more difficult by outperforming his strike-partner.
The simple solution is a system that accommodates both. Whatever the case, Arsenal’s season hinges on the form and fitness of influential players like Lacazette.
The young Nigerian signed a contract extension keeping him at the club for the next five years. It signals Arsenal's commitment. Wenger is gone but faith in youth lives on. It may be cold comfort considering Iwobi isn't guaranteed a place in Unai Emery’s first team.
The forward still has plenty to prove and must do so quickly. Youth, speed and skill are in his corner. The 22-year-old can also play anywhere in attack or from midfield. Versatility is often an indispensable tool. Barring injury, Iwobi can be counted to make meaningful contributions when called upon during the season. Maybe pitch in a few goals, too.
The former Manchester United starlet's status at Arsenal has reached Defcon 1. Lacazette and Aubameyang's arrivals pushed him further down the pecking order. With a new manager dishing orders, Welbeck is fighting a lost battle for regular playing time. If the player chooses to remain with Arsenal, he'll play out of position or not at all.
In the end, the wise decision for Arsenal would be to keep Welbeck for at least this season. At 27, he's at a point where experience should be showing more in his play. He understands English football better than the strikers ahead of him and still hungers to impress. He could be invaluable in the season's latter stages or when an Arsenal star inevitably goes down with an injury.
Lucas Perez stands at the back of a long line of strikers who buckled under the lights and pressure at the Emirates. The Spaniard’s time at North London might already be over, although his career may continue in London with West Ham.
Perez scored seven goals in his 21 appearances for the Gunners. He didn’t feature for the club last season. He was on loan at Deportivo. In seven more games, he could only match his Arsenal total in Spain.
There isn’t a place for Lucas Perez in the present Arsenal setup. The smart choice is to hit the road.
Arsenal could sign another attacking player before the transfer window closes. Any major signing at this stage would make sense. With four trophies on offer, there's a long road ahead for new manager Unai Emery. Help must come from all quarters.
The former Borussia Dortmund standout draws the most attention. Arsenal can dangle the regular playing time carrot. It just might work.
Dembele would add further pace, finesse and flair to Arsenal’s attack. He’ll walk straight into the Gunners first-team, playing on the wings at Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck's expense.
That said, Dembele’s move to Arsenal remains a rumour.
Don’t be too surprised if Arsenal scoops up the Bayern Leverkusen prodigy. Already proven in the Bundesliga, the Jamaican is just 20. He banged in 12 goals and laid on six assists last term. The rumour mill says he wants to move abroad.
Rated at £40 million, he’s a cheaper option than Dembele with little difference in talent. This could be another deadline day masterstroke.
An alternative to the speedsters would be Eintracht Frankfurt’s Croatian finisher. You saw his ability at the World Cup. Other English clubs are gunning for him, too. Regardless, a move to Arsenal would be a step up for the 24-year-old.
Like most good wingers, Rebic won’t come at a cut price. He’s valued at £50 million. That shouldn’t be a problem for Arsenal. The player is worth it and would be a great addition to the squad.