Arsenal’s season gets underway tomorrow at home to Liverpool as Arsene Wenger looks to win his first title since the 2003-04 Invincibles season.
To do this, the Frenchman will need to add three star quality additions to his team in many fans eyes, with Shkodran Mustafi, Riyad Mahrez and Alexandre Lacazette the preferred targets.
However, new signings alone cannot settle into a team alone with the aid of Arsenal’s current stars.
Assembled together, they may not make a title-winning outfit just yet, but the Gunners have a number of outstanding individuals on the pitch.
In what may be a controversial selection, here’s who we think Arsenal fans regard their most valued players in reverse order.
5. Hector Bellerin
The Spaniard narrowly beats Aaron Ramsey to fifth place here after enjoying a stunning 2015/16 campaign which culminated in a call-up to Spain’s European Championship squad in France. Still 21, Bellerin’s performances have impressed experts at the CIES Football Observatory to such an extent that he has been made the most valuable defender in world football at £43.1 million.
A fan favourite amongst Gunners fans, the right-back has attracted the attention of Manchester City and Barcelona this summer but has pledged his allegiance to the London club. There’s not many better players in the Premier League at the moment, and Bellerin’s stock is sure to rise even if Arsenal continue to fail in their quest for another Premier League trophy.
4. Petr Cech
Signed from Chelsea last summer, Cech went on to win the Golden Glove award for the most clean sheets throughout the top flight (16) and was invaluable after a shaky start against West Ham on the opening day. Wojciech Szczesny was far from infallible during his time with the club and David Ospina is not consistent enough to be a reliable starter, so Cech is one of Arseal’s most precious assets. His experience will be key ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
3. Laurent Koscielny
Arguably Arsenal’s only consistently reliable centre-back, Koscielny is without a doubt in my mind one of Arsene Wenger’s finest signings as Arsenal manager. The 30-year-old had to contend with a shaky partnership last season with Matthieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta sometimes forced together in midfield. Francis Coquelin’s development and the signing of Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka over the last few months have strengthened Arsenal’s options, making Koscielny’s job easier.
However, he will still be constantly looked upon this season to lead his team-mates out of trouble, and quite simply it is nonsensical that Per Mertesacker has been chosen ahead of him as the new club captain. Koscielny will have to watch on against Liverpool after being ruled out of the opening clash, but should return to solidify Arsenal’s defence before long.
2. Alexis Sanchez
We wouldn’t like to be caught in the middle of a pub brawl between Arsenal fans about who should sit upon the highest perch of this list, but the Chilean just misses out on top spot for us. Sanchez has been an incredible player for Arsene Wenger since arriving from Barcelona in 2014 for £35m in surely what was one of the best bargain deals in recent times. Sanchez adds a potent and revitalising touch to Arsenal’s attack and will be a key ingredient to the club’s title challenge.
1. Mesut Ozil
For us, the German drew some undeserved criticism towards the second half of last season due to the lack of assists he produced but it was the fault of Arsenal’s strikers, not Ozil, for this. The playmaker smashed a Premier League record by creating 146 chances – in fact, FourFourTwo point out that he had already claimed the new record for himself by April’s end.
In total, Ozil had provided nineteen goals, bridging a considerable gap between first and second place, Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen (13). Bild’s claim that Ozil would jump at the chance to return to Real Madrid is probably just scaremongering by the German news outlet, but Arsenal fans should be very aware of the mercurial genius that the 27-year-old possesses.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.