Arsenal’s New Signings: Hit, miss or Jury’s Out?

Sead Kolasinac

Named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season last season, the left back looked at bargain when he arrived on a free transfer, Kolasinac scored on his debut against Chelsea in the 2017 FA Community Shield. He made his Premier League debut on the opening day, providing an assist in a 4–3 win over Leicester City.

With Arsenal playing 3 at the back, he made the left wing back position his own, with Nacho Monreal flourishing on the left hand side of back 3. In the early months, he gave the team the aggression it had missed for some time, living up to his “tank” nickname.

He was named Arsenal Player of the Month in both August and October, with Nacho Monreal winning the prize in September.

Towards the end of 2017, both a formation change and injury saw him fall out of the side, firstly with Aisnley-Maitland Niles playing on the left, then Nacho Monreal returning to left back when we returned to a back 4.

Questions were raised over his defensive awareness as the reasoning behind him finding himself on the bench, but it was as much to do with Nacho Monreal’s great form – the 32 year old Spaniard showing that there is life in the old dog yet.

Kolasinac returned to the first team in the later part of the season, as Wenger begun to rest players in the league for the Europa League.

Going forward he has shown his class with 5 goals and 4 assists. To bring this into perspective, this is as many goals as Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has scored for Liverpool.

Just 24, he has shown enough this season to be Monreal’s long term replacement at left back. He is certainly not as bad defensively as some critics perhaps say.

Alexandre Lacazette

Scoring after 94 seconds on his debut against Leicester City, the Frenchman’s season certainly began with a bang. He went on to score in both Arsenal’s next two home games, becoming the first Arsenal player to score in his first three home league appearances for the club since Brian Marwood in September 1988.

By the time December hit, it was 8 goals from his first 16 games. A fabulous start. And then it went down hill.

1 goal in his next 13 games had fans starting to question the record signing. What followed was 8 weeks on the sidelines following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham.

He returned in April against Stoke City, scoring the third goal of the game following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s decision to allow his fellow striker to take a penalty.

With that his confidence returned and he scored 8 goals in 9 games.

The clubs top scorer this season, it does feel one of 3 thirds. Brilliant in the first 3rd. Poor in the second 3rd. Brilliant in the final third. But if 17 goals is considered a poor return in his first season, it only bodes well for the future.

Konstantinos Mavropanos

The 20 year old Greek defender was signed in January with a view to spend the second half of the season on loan in Germany. A decision to put him on the bench in the League Cup game against Chelsea meant this was not longer possible.

This left Mavropanos playing in the U23s for the majority of the season.

He made his Premier League debut in a 2–1 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Despite the defeat, his performance was praised by fans and pundits.

Mavropanos made his home debut in the club’s next home match – the 5-0 victory over Burnley.

His red card against Leicester City shows how quickly football can change.

It is important not to go OTT with Mavropanos; and we must remember that he has only played a handful of senior games in England, but physically, he looks brilliant.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Part of the deal that took Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, he made his first start for Arsenal in a 5–1 home win over Everton, claiming three assists. That match was probably the highlight of his Arsenal career thus far.

A knee injury in April caused him to miss almost the entire month. That break seemed to have broken his rhythm and affected him settling at the club, leaving him with just 7 Premier League starts.

3 goals and 5 assists in his first 14 games is a decent return, but Jose Mourinho’s question marks over his fragility hang over his head.

If he stays fit, he will be a good foil for Mesut Ozil.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Whilst Mkhitaryan was the man who replaced Sanchez on the pitch, Aubameyang has replaced the Chilean as the figure head of the team.

He has continued his performances that he put in for Borussia Dortmund, scoring on his debut against Everton.

Aubameyang’s appearances were restricted due to be cup tied in the Europa League. You do have to wonder if he was not cup tied – due to UEFA’s odd rules – we probably would have gone on to beat Atletico Madrid in the semi-final. Him and Lacazette would have been too much to handle for 10 man Madrid.

It is not just the 8 goals in 12 games that has been impressive, but the way he lifted the entire club.

Alexis Sanchez was moody and selfish. Aubameyang plays with a smile on his face, and reminds me of Thierry Henry in that he is as delighted to see a team mate score as scoring himself.

Giving the ball to Lacazette against Stoke City showed he was a team player. Understanding a fellow striker struggling, his act led to Lacazette re-finding his form. You can not imagine Sanchez doing similar.

With new World Cup Aubameyang (and Mkhitaryan) will get a proper rest and full pre-season. He could be devastating next year.

Keenos

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