In order for Arsenal to obtain true top-four status, they'll need to strengthen their current squad, especially where there has been outgoings and players away for the African Cup of Nations.
Club captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had disciplinary issues and looks certain to be on the way out whilst Alexandre Lacazette's contract runs out at the end of the season so identifying a striker is a priority for the Gunners.
In central midfield, Sambi Lokonga and Granit Xhaka are the only first-team midfielders available for the Gunners (due to Elneny and Partey away at AFCON, Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan to Roma), leaving this area very light but regardless of the current circumstances, this area could be improved for Arsenal to seriously challenge for the top 4 spot at least.
In this video, we'll be analysing the central midfielder that's on every Gooners lips and we'll also be identifying a striker for Arsenal using data. And the end, we'll simulate 3 seasons on Football Manager with Arsenal to see how well they'll do with their "new" signings.
IDENTIFYING STRIKERS GOOD FOR ARSENAL
Before looking at the players identified, we at least first want to have an idea of the player profile's that we are searching for.
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Arsenal of late play in a 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1, with no team scoring more counter-attacking goals than the Gunners (5), who look to utilise quick one-touch movements in attacking transitions. Alexandre Lacazette has played an important role with his link-up qualities but Arsenal tend to have one man high up against the opposition's defence to create depth. So, in theory, Arsenal's new striker could always be the man occupying defences but being comfortable linking up play gives room for more flexibility.
Both Tomiyasu and Tierney are accomplished crossers of the ball, Arsenal cross 15 times per 90, and having someone who can compete in the air will be a welcoming bonus. Another quality that Lacazette brings to this Arsenal side is his counter-pressing, working hard and keeping the pressure on when Arsenal lose the ball high up the pitch, engaging in defensive duels and leading the press. But what Lacazette and Arsenal are missing, is a goal-scorer. Arsenal score 1.52 goals from their 12.65 shots per 90 - Lacazette only having 1.27 shots per 90 which is lower than every attacker and midfielder (apart from Xhaka) in the Arsenal squad.
So having somewhat worked out the player profile we are looking for as Arsenal new striker, we can now look at my 3-man shortlist.
1) Dusan Vlahovic - The most obvious and talked about option. He's currently setting the Serie A alight scoring 16 goals in Fiorentina's 19 games so far. Vlahovic takes 3.12 shots per 90, 46% being on target with 25.4% of those being goals. The Serbian has won 63% of his 1.78 defensive duels per 90 whilst completing 1.43 interceptions. And lastly, won 45.9% of his 3.66 aerial duels.
2) Jonathan David - A different style of player than Dusan Vlahovic but he too is a top goalscorer and has also been rumoured to join. He's scored 12 in 19 of Lille's Ligue 1 games, making him the league top scorer disappointedly, with no assists. The 21-year-old Canadian takes 2.17 shots per 90, 60% being on target with 34.6% of those resulting as a goal scored. David has won 57.1% of his 3.91 defensive duels and completed 0.99 interceptions. Lastly, winning 32.6% of his 2.86 aerial duels this season.
3) Darwin Nunez - Similar to Lacazette in that he works notably hard for his side. Unlike the previous two, he's not currently his respective league's top scorer. He's close though, scoring 10 goals in 12 Primeira Liga games so far. Just two away from the current top-scorer and has contributed to 12 goals in all. The 22-year-old has 2.65 shots per 90, 55.6% on target 37.04% being goals. The Uruguayan has won 58.3% of his 2.36 defensive duels and has completed 1.09 interceptions. Finally, he's won 30.6% on his 3.53 aerial duels.
Must note - Darwin Nunez is capable and has played games out on both flanks and completes 50% of his 5.99 1v1 dribbles per 90.
All three of these strikers for me pass the "eye-test", and if Arsenal's transfer responsibilities were on me, the striker I'd be going for is Vlahovic and if priced out, I'd go for Darwin Nunez. Lee Scott, analyst and writer for Total Football Analysis who was the influence of this report, went for Darwin Nunez and Patrick Schick at Bayer Leverkusen.
WHAT BRUNO GUIMARAES COULD BRING TO ARSENAL
The central midfielder who many Gooners and I would like to see at Arsenal is Lyon's, Bruno Guimaraes. Arsenal have been warned it would cost €45m to get this deal done and Fintan O'Reilly, from Total Football Analysis, has an excellent scout report on why Arsenal want the 24-year-old Brazilian star. As we've already identified the midfielder, we'll use that scout report to look at what he'd bring to Arsenal. Link to scout report here.
Guimarães is typically heavily involved in Lyon’s build-up and ball progression phases, and the Lyon man has played a very high 68.31 passes per 90, while retaining 89.23% pass accuracy. These two statistics tell us he is heavily involved in early possession phases for Lyon and how his team relies on his ball retention and ball progression abilities in the build-up. With Arsenal having an intelligent build-up plan, Bruno Guimarães could certainly help the Gunners be very strong when building and progressing. He's also very capable of switching play.
In-game images credits: Fintan O'Reilly https://totalfootballanalysis.com/player-analysis/bruno-guimaraes-lyon-202122-scout-report-tactical-analysis-tactics
Progressing the ball with his dribbling is also a very effective part of his game. He has good ball control, agility, balance, strength and acceleration to help him beat players or draw fouls. This can be beneficial for Arsenal when they are transitioning from their build-up phase to their creation phase. He makes 4.67 dribbles per 90, which ranks him highly compared to other Ligue 1 midfielders, and has a 57.33% success rate. Guimarães also places in the 98th percentile for progressive carries compared to other midfielders in the top 5 European Leagues.
Guimarães has played the fourth-most passes to the final third (11.41 per 90) of any Ligue 1 central midfielder/holding midfielder to have played at least 400 minutes this term, along with a high number of through passes (1.87 per 90) for a Ligue 1 central midfielder. And his ability to break lines with his passing could help Arsenal with their transitions to attack, especially on the counter-attack.
The 24-year-old is a well-rounded player, and has made 9.97 successful defensive actions per 90 so far this season, ranking very highly among Ligue 1 central midfielders. He’s also engaged in 9.22 defensive duels per 90, with an impressive 66.22% success rate. Furthermore, per Statsbomb via FBRef, when compared with other midfielders from Europe’s top-five leagues, Guimarães ranks in the 96th percentile for tackles, 98th percentile for tackles won, 99th percentile for tackles in the middle third and 94th percentile for successful pressures. He is very comfortable playing as an aggressive midfielder in defensive phases, thrives when pressing on the front foot and he loves to be proactive about regaining possession. Using the same physical abilities he shows when dribbling.
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