Team Preview: Arsenal

Which Players Should we be Considering From Arsenal for our gameweek 1 FPL Squads? 
General Overview 
  • Expected formation: 3-4-2-1
  • Expected current line up: Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny (Holding first two games due to suspension), Monreal, Bellerín, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolašinac, Özil, Sánchez, Lacazette
  • Penalties: Lacazette, Sánchez
  • Direct free kicks: Sánchez, Özil
  • Corners: Özil, Sánchez
  • Indirect free kicks: Özil, Sánchez
  • Opening fixtures: LEI (H), Sto (A), Liv (A), BOU (H), Che (A), WBA (H), BHA (H), Wat (A), Eve (A), SWA (H)

Arsenal won 9 of their last 10 games in all competitions after changing formation (Middlesborough away). They conceeded 7 goals in their final 10 games, gaining 4 clean sheets in the process. They became a different animal altogether, a more organised animal that didn’t really dent their attacking ability too much either.

ARS stats Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 18.42.26
Screenshot of Arsenal’s results 16/17 taken from Flashscores.com

This new formation and solid-look promotes new players to consider other than just Sánchez this time around. The rest of this article will explore the players we should be considering for the new season.

The Defence
Wing Backs – Monreal/Kolašinac/Bellerín

Since the switch to the wing back formation, it was evident that this position on either flank could be a plentiful source of points for FPL managers. Bellerín most likely nailed down on the right hand side and the new Kolašinac potentially on the left. Here’s what Wenger said in regard to his new signing on where he plans to use him, for those who haven’t seen already:

‘It’s very important that we have that as well, because we have Kieran Gibbs, we have Nacho Monreal and we have him. But Nacho plays a lot now in central defence and in a three-man system I see him in there.

‘So overall, I think [Kolasinac] can contribute a lot to help us to be more dangerous going forward.’

With both Kolašinac and Bellerín being nailed down in the wing back positions, it looks like Monreal (£5.5m) is set to miss out in our teams as it appears he will occupy one of the slots in the three centre back positions. Both priced at a respectable £6.0m and with decent opening fixtures, these two could be in a fair few teams at the beginning of the season. Bellerín would be my recommendation being the known quantity of the two but Kolašinac’s 3 goals and 5 assists for Schalke last season are not to be ignored – this guy even pipped David Alaba to a team of the year spot last season in the German Bundesliga!

Cheaper Way into the Defence? 

With Koscielny earning a straight red card on the last day, he’s suspended for the first two games of the premier league. This likely puts young Holding (£5.0m) in with a decent chance of starting the first two games (LEI (H), Sto (A)), although he will have to fend off interest from Mertesacker and Gabriel.

The other cheaper routes into the defence are either Cech (£5.5m) or Mustafi (£5.5m).

I would always advise against going expensive in goal, as the ceiling potential for points is lower than any of the other positions but with 1st choice keepers comes stability and for those who don’t like taking risks, it can be worth it in certain contexts, for example; Monreal (3,153) and Koscielny (2,821) picked up the most minutes of the outfield defenders and Cech (3,097) actually scored more points than both despite playing around the same amount of time as them – 19 more points than Monreal and 13 more than Koscielny.

Mustafi, the other cheaper option, interestingly fired in nearly 1 (0.9) goal attempt on average per game and scored 2 goals also managed 2 assists, where as Koscielny (£6.0m) could only manage 0.3 goal attempts on average per game but still managed 2 goals himself and an assist. Koscielny however, played roughly 600 more minutes than Mustafi and with Özil’s being delivery being as good as we know it can be, Mustafi could well be a decent way into the Arsenal defence if you don’t want to fork out top dollar.

Mustafi WhoScored Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 16.15.00
Mustafi’s stats last season – WhoScored.com
3-Pronged Attack – Lacazette, Özil and Sánchez

With speculation surrounding their talisman Alexis Sánchez about his future at the club, following statements mentioning the Champions League – the competition Arsenal aren’t in anymore – a lot comes down to whether he stays or goes. Here’s his latest statements (SkySports):

“It depends on them [Arsenal]. I have to wait to know what they want. My idea is to play and win the Champions League. It’s a dream I have had since I was little.”

Well, he definitely can’t do that with Arsenal this season and with him entering the latter stages of his career, he may not have much longer, at his peak, to win it – time is certainly running out. Arsene Wenger however, is adamant that Sánchez will stay (SkySports):

“The decision has been made and we will stick to that. The decision is not to sell.”

Based on all that, I’d say that he is staying at Arsenal.

Even if that’s enough to convince you of him staying, his price of £12.0m and involvement with Chile in the Confederations Cup, resulting in extra time off over the summer, makes it very difficult to put him in our teams from the off. With us being spoilt in the premium striker department too, Sánchez looks likely to miss out on a fair few FPL manager’s teams, but he was after all the best player by a country mile last year and if anyone can play through the pain or fatigue and still score a brace and 3 bonus, it’s him – ignore him at your peril.

Sanchez Injured (!)
Sánchez seems to defy the odds when it comes to fatigue/injury and playing

New boy Lacazette comes in at £10.5m to provide us with another tasty option going forward. Perhaps the 20+ goal a season striker Arsenal have been after? His stats coming across from the French league are certainly impressive and his game seems to suit Arsenal’s style of play, but will the step up in quality be too much for him? A wait and see approach might be best here in typical contexts, but with the problems mentioned above regarding Sánchez, it forces our hand somewhat if we want Arsenal cover.

The other main option here is Özil. Coming in at a somewhat confusing £9.5m price considering he did considerably worse last season than the season before, he provides the cheapest of the 3-pronged attack. Whilst he is the most creative asset of the 3 taking the majority of the set-pieces, he represents a certain lack in goal threat down to his role as the ‘creator’, although last season was his best scoring return in the Premier League to date (8 goals). We know what ‘on form’ Özil can do, his 15/16 return of 200 points consisting of 6 goals and 19 assists was proof that he can be the real deal, and maybe with Lacazette and Sánchez finishing the chances, he could get back to his best.

Analysis – 3-Pronged Attack

If all that hasn’t helped you, then here’s a little comparative spreadsheet I put together on Lacazette, Sánchez and Özil highlighting the better stats for each player including my new ‘Player Value’ figure.

ARS 3-Pronged Analysis Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 12.39.07

One Final Suggestion

Another player I’m backing to do well this year, provided he steers clear of injuries, which of course has been a big issue for him during his career, is Aaron Ramsey. Priced beautifully at £7.0m, he could be a perfect way to provide cover for Arsenal at a bargain price. He looked good at the end of last season in Arsenal’s new system making those Lampard-esque late runs into the box. He scored 2 goals and notched 3 assists in the last 6 games for Arsenal including netting the winner in the FA cup final reminiscent of the same Ramsey that bagged 10 goals and 9 assists before getting injured in the first half of the 2013/14 season.

With the seemingly cursed Santi Cazorla suffering even more bad luck with his injury, Ramsey looks nailed on for the central midfield role alongside Xhaka barring Arsenal don’t make anymore signings in this position. Thomas Lemar of course has been speculated as a replacement for Santi Cazorla and if realised, could negatively impact Ramsey’s chances for a starting place but, until that comes to fruition, Ramsey shouldn’t be discounted by fantasy managers.

Ramsey-Getty
Ramsey (Getty images)
My Advice

For me right now, Lacazette seems like the best way into the Arsenal points from the off. Whilst I’m normally an advocate of the wait and see approach when it comes to new signings, Özil just doesn’t do it for me as an FPL asset. At that price I want regular goals and assists and if I have to choose between goals and assists, then it’s goals every day of the week and Özil is the creator, meaning he’s more assist-focused than goal-focused.

Whilst I know that even an unfit Sánchez could well bite me in the behind, if he forces Wenger into playing him from the off, I think we’re unlikely to see the best of him and for the lofty price of £12.0m, I want Sánchez at his very best and I honestly don’t think we’re going to get that and that subsequently doesn’t make him worth it. Building team value and bringing him in at a later stage seems like the way to go.

Ramsey is a punt at best, but if he can keep himself fit, he can be a great source of points at a lovely price – a keen eye needs to be kept on how Lemar would fit in however, if you’re going down the Ramsey route and Lemar does sign for Arsenal.

Lastly, in terms of the defence, I would probably wait until after GW5 where they play Chelsea away and their fixtures turn very good to bring an Arsenal defender in, although even through tough fixtures wing backs have that bonus of the attacking threat to play through even when clean sheets are few and far between.

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2 thoughts on “Team Preview: Arsenal

Add yours

    1. Thank you Shaun and yes, we’ll be doing them all. If you have twitter, click the twitter link below the brand image and give us a follow – We update when articles are likely to come out on there. Bournemouth will be next, probably tomorrow now.

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