The FIFA World Cup is drawing to a close as we are now down to just four teams. Subsequently, the second half of the 2022-23 club campaign approaches near and the question on many people’s minds is – Can Arsenal REALLY win the Premier League title this season?
Arsenal’s sublime start to the ongoing campaign was only halted by the FIFA World Cup in the middle of the season. Having lost just once and drawn once, the Gunners currently stand at the top of the table on 37 points from 14 games, with Premier League tipster offering best odds for them to win the title. They have scored 33 goals and conceded just 11 so far.
Mikel Arteta’s men have also progressed to the round of 16 in the Europa League, comfortably finishing top of their group. However, a 1-3 loss against Brighton & Hove Albion saw the North London side crash out of the Carabao Cup.
The Gunners began the season with 5 straight wins. Matchday 6 saw Arsenal lose their only Premier League game of the 2022-23 season so far, against Manchester United. Mikel Arteta’s young brigade did well to bounce back, winning 8 straight games across all competitions. This included victories against tough opponents like Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in convincing fashion. They also won 4 out of 4 games in the Europa League in this period.
After a draw against Southampton and a defeat to PSV Eindhoven, Arsenal responded strongly again. They thrashed Nottingham Forest 5-0, and also overcame Chelsea 1-0 in a dominant display. A win away from home at Wolves marked Arsenal’s last game before the World Cup.
Arsenal Players In The World Cup
The North London side have a healthy representation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 10 players from the squad have participated in the sport’s most coveted tournament to varying extents with varying success.
1. Thomas Partey (Ghana)
Thomas Partey played all three games in the group stages for Ghana. However, the Black Stars finished last in a competitive group that also had South Korea, Portugal and Uruguay.
2. Takehiro Tomiyasu (Japan)
Tomiyasu played a limited, albeit crucial role in Japan’s progression to the round of 16. The 24-year-old had only one start, in the loss to Croatia. He was impressive as a substitute in two huge wins against Germany and Spain. Arteta will look to count on the former Bologna defender more regularly after the season restarts.
3. Matt Turner (United States of America)
Turner was America’s first-choice keeper for the World Cup. In 4 games, the 28-year-old managed to keep 2 clean sheets and forced 8 saves. He conceded only one goal in 3 group-stage games – against Wales, Iran and England.
4. Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)
Granit Xhaka was also a pivotal part of Switzerland’s progress to the round of 16, playing in all the games. However, the 30-year-old was a mere bystander as his team was completely blown apart by Portugal.
Arsenal fans will feel a slight sense of happiness that Xhaka can finally afford some rest after playing non-stop this season. However, the former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder is already joining the rest of his team in Dubai, without taking a holiday, as per reports.
🗣️ “The Premier League is waiting.”
Granit Xhaka tells @sr_collings that he is flying straight to Arsenal’s mid-season training camp to Dubai following Switzerland’s exit from the World Cup. 💪 pic.twitter.com/9Z5b7iLUsT
— Connor Humm (@TikiTakaConnor) December 7, 2022
5. William Saliba (France)
Saliba has seen very little action in his first international tournament. He has been used only as a substitute in the 1-0 loss to Tunisia. However, the 21-year-old is likely to be one of the last players to leave Qatar, as France are looking more and more convincing in the defence of their title.
6. Aaron Ramsdale (England)
Aaron Ramsdale has warmed the bench as Gareth Southgate opted for Jordan Pickford between the posts in all 5 games. England lost 2-1 to France in a tantalising clash in the quarterfinals.
7. Ben White (England)
Ben White left the England team without playing a minute, and has also not travelled with Arsenal to Dubai, citing personal reasons. The team requested for White’s privacy to be requested, and we’re all with the former Brighton man.
8. Bukayo Saka (England)
Saka has virtually become the guaranteed starting right-winger for the National Team. The 21-year-old has 3 goals from 4 games, being rested against Wales. Saka has become a very important part of Southgate’s system, be it in a back-3 or back-4.
Bukayo Saka's game by numbers vs France:
8 duels won (most)
4 ball recoveries
4 touches in opp. box
4 fouls won (most)
3 tackles won
2 chances created
1 take on completed
Was England's live wire. ⚡️#FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/HjVkn9nGW9
— Squawka (@Squawka) December 10, 2022
9. Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Martinelli started only one game, as Brazil lost 1-0 to Cameroon after their qualification was guaranteed. He also has 2 games off the bench. The winger looked bright, and has no doubt convinced the Brazil manager of his quality as an impact substitute. However, for the moment, Martinelli sits behind Vinicius Jr. in the pecking order.
10. Gabriel Jesus
Certainly the biggest disappointment for all Arsenal fans. Tite, who recently resigned from the post of the Brazil coach after they were eliminated by Croatia, opted for Richarlison over Jesus in his side, and the Tottenham Hotspur man has been in tremendous form in the tournament.
Jesus was given only a small run out against Serbia and Switzerland. He played 63 minutes against Cameroon and came off with an injury. The former Manchester City striker has undergone knee surgery. Arteta has started Jesus in every league game so far, and will be looking for new solutions. Eddie Nketiah is available, while Arsenal may also look to the transfer window for potential new signings.
Arsenal are relatively lucky with the impact of the World Cup on their squad. Their closest rivals, Manchester City, have as many as 11 players who have progressed at least to the quarterfinals. However, the Premier League is won by fine margins, and Arsenal will need to hit the ground running as soon as the 2022-23 season restarts.
The Gunners are playing three friendlies – against Olympique Lyon, AC Milan and Juventus to prepare for the second half of the season. Furthermore, Sporting Director Edu should look to take full advantage of the transfer window to strengthen the squad. This poses a series of interesting questions for the Gunners:
A. Fixing the Defence
Mikel Arteta has two top-class goalkeepers at his disposal in Matt Turner and Aaron Ramsdale. Similarly, both full-back positions seem well-stocked too. Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric are available on the right, while Kieran Tierney and Oleksandr Zinchenko are quality options on the left.
However, the Gunners find themselves more limited in the centre-back positions. William Saliba and Gabriel have nailed down their places in the starting XI. Rob Holding is a good third centre-back. However, with Ben White playing wide, Arteta does not have a fourth centre-back option.
Evan N’dicka and Robert Renan have been linked, but a transfer seems unlikely. Loanee Auston Trusty has been highly impressive with Birmingham City, and could return to the fold next season. This means Arsenal do not need to make yet another long-term signing for the left-centre-back slot. Arteta could instead try to use Tomiyasu in that role as cover for Gabriel, or perhaps give Mazeed Ogungbo a chance?
B. Improving the Midfield
Mikel Arteta has found his best midfield trio in Martin Odegaard, Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny provide effective cover too. However, the Egyptian has been plagued by injuries, while the Belgian has lacked confidence this season.
The North London side could look to add another midfielder to their ranks, preferably a deeper midfield profile. Palmeiras midfielder Danilo has most recently been linked with a move to the Emirates.
C. Revamping the Frontline
Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka have got very little rest this season. This is probably due to the gulf in quality between them and their backups. Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson have been Arteta’s only natural forward options in the first team, with Marquinhos also stepping up.
Arsenal's attack in 22/23:
Jesus – ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️🅰️🅰️🅰️🅰️🅰️🅰️
Saka – ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️🅰️🅰️🅰️🅰️🅰️🅰️
Martinelli – ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️🅰️🅰️🅰️
Odegaard – ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️🅰️🅰️
How many do you own?#FPL pic.twitter.com/kfk9VGX9wi
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) November 1, 2022
Emile Smith Rowe has been unable to participate this season but could be involved with the team in the second half of the campaign. Gabriel Jesus’ injury means the Gunners may need even two signings for their frontline:
- A backup winger to cover for Saka – Mykhaylo Mudryk has been most heavily linked with a move, and would represent a very sensible transfer.
- A provisional centre-forward option – With Folarin Balogun performing impressively on his loan spell, the Gunners can avoid a long-term signing that may hamper the youngster’s development. At the same time, Arsenal need a player of enough calibre to lead the frontline in the absence of Gabriel Jesus. Could a shock loan move for the disgruntled Joao Felix be a surprise option? Let us know in the comments.
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Arsenal are well-placed to continue their bid for the Premier League title in the 2022-23 season. However, the ongoing World Cup has exposed some shortcomings in the team, especially in the depth of the squad.
Nevertheless, with just 2-3 transfers in the winter window, the North London side could easily vie for all the cups they’re playing in, and build a solid team for years to come.
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