How will Arsenal line up this season?


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Arsenal's work in the transfer market this summer has been surprisingly nimble and with just three weeks remaining before the start of the Premier League season their squad is rapidly taking shape.

But there are still plenty of selection dilemmas that Arsene Wenger must resolve before the FA Cup winners begin their assault on the Premier League for another year.

Here we assess how Arsenal could be lining up in the 2014/15 season, and attempt to answer the big questions around their team selection.


The capture of a genuine World Cup star, and a player who was wonderful for Barcelona last season, for £35m has arguably been the signing of the season so far and there is no doubt whatsoever that Alexis Sanchez will be a central cog in Arsenal's team this season. However, it is unclear at present how Arsenal will use him.

The Chile star usually performed on the right of a three-man attack during his three seasons at Barcelona but was also used through the centre when Lionel Messi was out injured and plays in a more central role for his country too.

Arsene Wenger has already hinted that he views Sanchez as a "modern striker", meaning the 25-year-old could follow in the footsteps of Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie by making a decisive shift to the middle under the Frenchman.

Should he indeed displace Olivier Giroud in the centre of the Arsenal attack, then their starting XI could look something like the line up below next season.

Note: We have included fellow new signing Mathieu Debuchy, who has also joined Arsenal for £12m as a replacement for Bacary Sagna, as well as leaving out Theo Walcott, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury. David Ospina is also unlikely to displace Wojciech Szczesny.

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(All team graphics generated by our Best11 tool - create your predicted XIs now!)

With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bombing on from the right to join Sanchez in getting on the end of cute passes from Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil, it looks a team blessed with real pace and threat on the counter-attack.

However, Giroud may well start as a striker if Wenger keeps faith in his countryman. His strike rate of 27 goals in 70 Premier League games isn't exactly Thierry Henry-esque, but he performs an important role when holding the ball up and also provides aerial threat, which is rare for the Gunners.

If Giroud, retains his central striker's role, then perhaps the following is how Arsenal can expect to line up, with Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to the left to displace Santi Cazorla, with his pace and penetration proving too hard to ignore, despite the Spaniard's technical talents.

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Arsenal's pursuit of Sami Khedira appears to have ground to a halt amid reports Wenger has decided he does not need to sign a new holding midfielder as he has come to the conclusion that Wilshere, once a hugely promising No. 10 with the Arsenal youth team, fits the bill.

Sitting a talented playmaker in a deep role in the early years of their career was a tactic which paid off handsomely with Cesc Fabregas, who initially flourished alongside Gilberto Silva as he learned to develop an understanding of the space in front of him, before moving forward to pick holes in it.

However, Wilshere represents more of a risk. For one thing, a succession of injuries have stunted his progression for club and country; once a player who could get the better of Xavi and Andres Iniesta in a Champions League tie at Emirates Stadium, Wilshere was unable to win a place in England's sedentary midfield at the World Cup finals this summer.

To fit into Arsenal's existing XI, Wilshere would have to slot into the space occupied by either vice-captain Mikel Arteta or the fiercely tenacious Mathieu Flamini, both of whom are more natural holding midfielders:

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If Wenger has decided that Wilshere will be his tempo-setter from deep - the English Xavi or Pirlo - then perhaps he will need some more support alongside him, as the above formation looks rather open. Both Xavi and Pirlo usually play in three-man midfields - the former with Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, and the latter with Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba.

Perhaps Arsenal should consider a three-man midfield too, as seen below, although this would necessitate either dropping record signing Mesut Ozil, or moving him to the left of the attack, neither of which seem particularly likely.

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Paying £16m for a player with only 18 league starts is a big statement but it would be a surprise to see Chambers fast-tracked into the Arsenal XI immediately. More likely, the Southampton academy graduate will find his feet in the League Cup before making a more sustained challenge for a starting role.

Chambers, an England youth international, is primarily a right-back but Wenger says he can also perform at centre-back or even as a central midfielder, making him a very useful member of the squad.

Here's how we think Arsenal could line up in the matches they traditionally use to blood their young talents and give their squad players some minutes, should they face lower league opposition and feel like experimenting:

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A centre-back shortage - with non-playing captain Thomas Vermaelen surely leaving the club - means Chambers could be joined in the second XI by youngster Isaac Hayden, while striker Chuba Akpom, prolific at youth level, will harbour hopes of making the first-team squad on a regular basis, along with right-back Hector Bellerin and classy midfielder Gedion Zelalem.

Serge Gnabry made an impact last season from the wing and remains a good option, while Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky add huge experience as back-ups to the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla.


Moving both Sanchez and Wilshere to unfamiliar positions could be too much of a risk for Wenger and the former, certainly, would be best used from his expected position on the right if Arsenal are able to finally spend some money on a genuine striker after ignoring the position for all too long.

If Wenger's hands stay in his pockets, then Giroud is no more than a decent option and perhaps a case can be made for playing Sanchez through the centre.

Again, investing in a genuine defensive midfielder of the class of Khedira would be the preferable option to solve the midfield riddle, slotting in alongside the immaculate Ramsey, as it is doubtful whether Wilshere has the discipline to anchor a midfield of Arsenal's class at present. If one does not arrive, then a three-man midfield may be required.

It is clear Wenger has plenty of options at his disposal in midfield, even if the defence and attack need bolstering. Is it a team capable of winning the Premier League? Probably not, but a couple of canny investments between now and the end of August could change that.

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