Seri in Midfield – how Arsenal could line up under Unai Emery

This has been a huge week for Arsenal: after Arsene Wenger left the club on Monday, the man tasked with building on his 22-year legacy has been confirmed as Unai Emery, appointed on a three-year contract.

The club had appeared to be edging towards Mikel Arteta, but a combination of disagreements over transfer policy and perhaps fans concerns over his lack of experience swayed them away at the 11th hour.

What Emery has in his favour, as well as the experience of winning three consecutive Europa Leagues with Sevilla, is his knowledge of the squad. He presented Ivan Gazidis and the board with a detailed critique of every player, from the first team to youth team level, their strengths and how he can help improve them.

A number of new players are expected to join him in North London and if his antecedents is to be followed, he will improve the team. We take a look at his potential first 11.

Goalkeeper

Petr Cech struggled last season, conceding two or more goals in 10 of the 18 away matches he played in all competitions. The stopper certainly does not possess the same shot-stopping ability that we saw at the beginning of his Chelsea career, but was handed the number one goalkeeping jersey this term. The main reason for Arsenal to keep the 36-year-old would be his leadership qualities, which might otherwise be lacking with Laurent Koscielny out with a long-term injury.

Defence

Koscielny’s absence puts added importance on the signing of a centre-back, which is expected to be Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The Greek defender could partner his promising compatriot, Konstantinos Mavropanos, nine years his junior, or Shkodran Mustafi, who has had a poor campaign but could be refreshed after a World Cup free summer.

Right-back Hector Bellerin is only 23 and has time to rediscover his excellent 2015 form while on the opposite flank, Nacho Monreal might be perceived as the safe choice in comparison with the quicker but more erratic Sead Kolasinac. While Emery places emphasis on attack, he has already recognized the need for Arsenal’s back-line to improve drastically.

Midfield

That back-line will need protection. Jean-Michel Seri, expected to be the first signing of the Emery era, could offer power and solidity in midfield. The 26-year-old will be partnered by Granit Xhaka, whose impressive passing range could make him a key part of Emery’s plans.

Further forward, an interchanging trident of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey could torment opposition defenders with their trickery, guile and creativity.

Attack

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang impressed many after signing in January. The ex-Dortmund man not only possesses great mobility, he is also an expert finisher, evidenced by a domestic return of 10 goals in 12 starts. If he maintained that form whilst starting every game next season, he would score approximately 32 Premier League goals: the same number Mohamed Salah managed in 2017-18. The task is simple: feed Aubameyang and he will score.

Probable lineup: Cech, Bellerin, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Seri, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang.

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