Arsenal’s potential starting XI next season

With the World Cup over and the transfer window in full swing, the 2014/15 Premier League campaign is nearly upon us.

In fact it’s just 25 days away, which is probably just enough time to watch all the highlights from last season to remind you how amazing it was.

Well, next term could be equally as exciting, with Arsenal finally splashing the cash, Manchester City determined to produce a much better title defence than last time, Manchester United welcoming a new manager in Louis van Gaal and Chelsea seemingly only growing ever stronger under Jose Mourinho.

Indeed, having already captured the signatures of Mathieu Debuchy and former Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal could be about to awaken from their dormant state in the Premier League title race.

And thus, as we at Football Fancast nearly explode with excitement, we take a look at what the Gunners’ starting XI might look like next season…

[ffc-gallery]CLICK ON ARSENE WENGER TO REVEAL

Arsene Wenger[/ffc-gallery]

GOALKEEPER – IKER CASILLAS


Wojciech Szczesny did little wrong to claim the joint-most clean sheets of any Premier League goalkeeper last season, also trumping his top four counterparts with a 69% distribution success rate.

But the opportunity to sign Real Madrid and Spain legend Iker Casillas will be impossible for Arsene Wenger to ignore:

‘The Saint’ suffered a poor World Cup…

…but there’s no doubting his quality, having previously won the big WC and two European Championships with Spain, as well as five La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues with Los Blancos.

Furthermore, after spending two seasons playing second fiddle to Diego Lopez, the 33 year-old apparently wants to throw his Bernabeu contract in a steel bin and set fire to it, meaning the Gunners won’t even have to pay for his services.

Here’s Casillias’s ultimate saves compilation:

RIGHT BACK – MATHIEU DEBUCHY

Debuchy1
With Bacary Sagna joining Manchester City on a bosman deal, Arsenal have decided to splash the cash on former Newcastle right-back Mathieu Debuchy.

It’s been viewed as a sideways acquisition by some, but the 28 year-old did gazump his countryman on the statistical front last season, as detailed below:

DebuchyFIXStats

Likewise, statistical porno site Whoscored.com rate the France international as the best right-back in the Premier League last season:

Debuchy tOY

Seamus Coleman and Pablo Zabaletta might disagree. This absolute belter against Australia isn’t too bad though:

CENTRE-BACK – PER MERTESACKER

After winning the World Cup with Germany, and subsequently throwing about some rather naff dance moves…

…it would be incredibly surprisingly if Per Mertesacker wasn’t a regular for Arsenal again next season.

The 6 foot 6 BFG has been an absolute rock over the last 18 months, whilst his ability on the ball often goes unaccredited:

Mertesacker passing

The 29 year-old and Laurent Koscielny have emerged as one of the Premier League’s top centre-back partnerships, which brings us nicely on to…

CENTRE-BACK – LAURENT KOSCIELNY

Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny has just entered talks over a new deal at the Emirates, suggesting he’ll be in Arsene Wenger’s first team plans for the many years to come:

The France international initially struggled in the Premier League, but since striking up a partnership with Per Mertesacker, leading to this monstrosity:

… he’s emerged as one of its top defenders, now desired by Barcelona and Bayer Munich to name a few.

Here’s the 27 year-old’s highlights from last season:

LEFT-BACK – KIERAN GIBBS


Kieran Gibbs is growing ever-stronger and ever-fitter, with last season representing his best campaign to date for Arsenal in terms of form and the number of appearances – 41 across all competitions.

The 24 year-old was consistent throughout, as detailed below:

Kerian Gibbs

And suddenly Arsene Wenger’s decision not to invest in a new left back after the sale of Gael Clichy in 2011 begins to make a lot of sense.

Hopefully these FA Cup final howlers don’t become a recurring trend though:

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – LARS BENDER

Lars Bender
Arsene Wenger is keen to beef up his midfield this summer, but it’s believed the Gunners’ move for Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira has fallen through due to wage demands:

The next-best option remains Germany team-mate Lars Bender, whom the Gunners were known be courting last summer.

As shown below, the 25 year-old is a tackle machine…

Bender tackles

And has developed an uncanny knack of scoring for his country, going on a run of three goals in six matches in 2013. Here’s one of his strikes against Ecuador…

The brother of Sven would certainly bring something different to the Arsenal midfield…

And the Express claim a £21million bid is in the offing.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – AARON RAMSEY


Arguably the first name on the Arsenal team-sheet nowadays is Welsh wizard Aaron Ramsey, following his sensational breakthrough 2013/14 campaign.

Indeed, the 23 year-old’s statistics from last season were nothing short of incredible:

Ramsey stats

Not to mention scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final – arguably the most important goal in recent Gunners history:

It makes you wonder what could have been last season if the Wales international’s campaign wasn’t cut short through injury. Then again, many of his 16 goals and nine assists were absolute beauties, which we can’t complain about. Cue highlight reel:

RIGHT WING – THEO WALCOTT


Theo Walcott is another Arsenal star who will be keen to make up for lost time next season, having missed out on the second half of the 2013/14 campaign and subsequently the World Cup with an ACL injury.

The England international has emerged as a vital part of the Gunners’ game-plan, offering intrinsic pace and penetration to contrast with Arsenal’s otherwise pass-centric midfield.

The 25 year-old was in decent form too until January, as detailed below:

Walcott stats

And even Alan Hansen has changed his opinion on Walcott!

ATTACKING MIDFIELD – MESUT OZIL


To claim Mesut Ozil’s first season at the Emirates was a disappointment seems slightly harsh. After all, he did produce decent output, as detailed below…

Ozilss

…and provide the second-most key passes per match of any Premier League player:

Key passes

But few would debate that the Germany international is yet to pay back his £42.2million price-tag from last summer.

The Emirates faithful will be hoping that moving back into his more customary central role, whilst benefiting from the North London outfit’s strengthening this summer, will bring the best out of their club-record signing.

LEFT WING – ALEXIS SANCHEZ


Has there been a better deal this summer than Arsenal’s capture of Chile international Alexis Sanchez for a more-than-reasonable £35million?

Despite Barcelona’s decision to sell, the 25 year-old was in fine form last season, as detailed below:

Sanchez

He also netted twice for his country at the World Cup, including this strike against tournament hosts Brazil:

Furthermore and most importantly, Sanchez represents exactly what Arsenal needed in the final third; a forward with tica-taca technique who can mix it up with their midfield, but also sharing the natural athleticism and pace of Theo Walcott, that the north Londoners desperately lacked at the end of last season.

Will the South American take the Premier League by storm? Let’s hope he can replicate just a few of these wonder-strikes in England:

STRIKER – MARIO BALOTELLI


It’s no secret that Arsenal lack quality up front, and speculation this summer suggests Arsene Wenger is seeking a remedy in AC Milan badboy Mario Balotelli:

Just in case you’ve forgotten how disruptive an influence the Italy striker can be, here’s a short video of the 50 craziest things he’s ever done:

But there’s no doubt Balotelli has the firepower to address Arsenal’s desperate need for a dependable goal scorer.

The 23 year-old contributed a vital twelve goals to the Citizens’ first Premier League title in 2012, and since joining AC Milan in January 2013 has netted 30 times in 54 outings.

Here’s a shot clip of the Azzurri star’s top ten goals:

But some rather audacious wage demands could still scupper Balotelli’s potential Emirates switch:

 


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