Arsenal fans may have a new cult hero in Sead Kolasinac, the burly Bosnian left-back who netted the equaliser as the Gunners went on to win the Community Shield. In a summer that has seen full-backs become ludicrously expensive commodities, Arsene Wenger looks to have done a great piece of business by recruiting Kolasinac on a free transfer. New £52 million striker Alexandre Lacazette also displayed an exciting blend of pace, intelligence and shooting ability up front, and Arsenal should be a lot stronger with these two in the starting 11.
After watching Kolasinac’s Arsenal debut, the one word to sum him up would have to be strong. He has broad shoulders and a thick trunk and generally looks hard. He went shoulder to shoulder with Pedro at one point and sent the Spaniard flying. He also impressed the crowd with a couple of marauding runs up the pitch, leaving Chelsea defenders in his wake as he bombed forward. He capped the performance with a vital goal, a well-taken header from a set piece, allowing Arsenal to go on and win the game on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Kolasinac came off the bench to replace the injured Per Mertesacker in the first third of the game, but he absolutely deserves a starting berth when the Premiership season gets underway on Friday. He looked quick, tough in the tackle, great in the air, and of course, strong.
Lacazette meanwhile lacks the physical presence of Olivier Giroud, but he more than makes up for it with his pace, movement and anticipation. Giroud has frequently sparked frustration among Arsenal fans over the years due to his cumbersome nature. He is a good finisher and holds the ball up well, but he is just so slow. Nowadays Arsenal are a quick side with lots of rapid players and silky passers of the ball like Mesut Ozil and, increasingly, Granit Xhaka, so a plodding forward stands out like a sore thumb and is a hindrance. Danny Welbeck is quick and industrious but he is a poor finisher, while Giroud can finish but lacks pace and mobility, whereas Lacazette has shown he can blend the best attributes of both. He could well be the striker Arsenal have been crying out for since Robin van Persie left five years ago.
He is actually more of a Nicolas Anelka or even, whisper it, Thierry Henry, as he has pace to burn, a keen eye for goal and great movement and intelligence. He was Arsenal’s most dangerous attacker against Chelsea and was unlucky to be denied by the post with an Henry-esque strike in the first half. Gooners can feel a lot more optimistic with him leading the line going into next season.
Overall, you would have to give Arsenal a solid 6/10 or 7/10 for their transfer business so far this summer. They have signed two players that look very promising and will slot straight into the first team, making it stronger and more dangerous. There is still clearly work to be done, however. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are still to return, but another wide attacking player like Thomas Lemar would be a great addition as Theo Walcott looks unconvincing in his cameos. Meanwhile a top class central midfielder would be a Godsend for Arsenal, as Mohamed Elneny does not look quite up to scratch. The same can be said of Francis Coquelin. Granit Xhaka looks to be improving, and Aaron Ramsey may surprise everyone and rediscover the form of three years ago, or Jack Wilshere could discover the form of six years ago, but another option there would be good. Still Arsenal look a great bet to muscle their way back into the top four this season.
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