Unai Emery has started life in the Premier League by guiding Arsenal to two victories and two defeats in the Gunners’ first four matches of the campaign. But having conceding an average of two goals per game, something needs to change in their backline.
With front men Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette starting to show their worth, attention turns to the heart of the Gunners’ defence.
Arsenal have conceded eight goals from their opening four league matches, by far the largest tally in the top half of the Premier League table.
Whilst Unai Emery have not had an easy start to their season, with fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea in the opening two matches, question marks have begun to arise over the centre-back partnership of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
With only Fulham, Huddersfield, Burnley and West Ham United leaking more goals so far this campaign, perhaps Arsenal need a new leader to command their backline.
Despite Newcastle United’s poor start to the 2018/19 Premier League campaign, which has seen the Rafa Benitez’s side pick up just one point, captain and centre back Jamaal Lascelles has been an important figure even if he did miss the game against Chelsea following a disagreement over which formation was best to use.
The 24-year-old centre half, who took over as skipper at St James’ Park in 2016, has made over a century of appearances for Newcastle United since joined the club from Nottingham Forest in 2014.
The dominant defender has gone from a first team outsider to one of England’s top flight centre halves in a matter of years, with many calling for Gareth Southgate to call Lascelles up to the national team.
Having faced the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City already this season, perhaps the lack of points can be somewhat excused for Benitez’s team, but the Spanish head coach will have to be wary of potential suitors come the January transfer window.
Lascelles is under contract at Newcastle until 2023, but the likely hefty transfer fee will be nothing compared to the success the natural born leader could bring to the current lacklustre Arsenal side.