And like that, the transfer window is over for 2018.
After weeks of speculation about incoming signings and outgoing players, the focus returns to the football itself.
With club football returning all over the UK, it’s now only days away from returning to he top division of the game in England, the Premier League.
The first game of the season generally brings a lot of change in terms of playing personnel, but never in the Premier League era has the change been as drastic as it has been for Arsenal at the beginning of this upcoming season.
Arsenal have made plenty of new signings this Summer: Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.
Today, two players departed the club – Lucas Perez made the move to West ham United and David Ospina has agreed personal terms in relation to a move to Besiktas.
Prior to that, outgoings had been perhaps scarcer than expected – as of writing – with only Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshire and Calum Chambers exiting the club.
Carl Jenkinson and Danny Welbeck, perhaps surprisingly given the ambiguity surrounding their futures, are still at the club.
There is still time for loan signings and possible outgoing moves outside of England as the window remains pen across other countries.
But now with the window closed, it is time to turn the focus in t’s entirety towards the opening game of the season – and how Arsenal will line out.
With the World Cup securing the football watching publics interests for the majority of the break between the close of the 2017/18 campaign and the upcoming opener of the 2018/19 season, the break – and window – have been short.
While Emery got his transfer business done early, the World Cup in Russia has meant that some of the new signings – Torreira and Lichtsteiner – have not had much time with the squad just yet, and may mean that they will not be risk ed for a game of the magnitude of the Manchester City opener.
Alexandre Lacazette had a terrific pre-season campaign, where he was in fine goal-scoring form. After an opening season that spells the Frenchman may be eager to forget, he will be hoping to not only continue his form from the end of last season – that has extended through pre-season – and make an impact at the Emirates this season.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arguably Arsenal’s best player since he signed from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, there is a major source of debate as to whether the two forwards can play alongside each other.
Based on performances since signing, Aubameyang would be the first choice for the position if only one striker were to play. However, it’s not quite as simple as that, as Lacazette can’t be dismissed out-of-hand and has arguably earned a starting place over the Summer months.
What this may mean, is that Emery may still opt to play one out-and-out striker – Lacazette – and then utilize Aubameyang in a winger position, utilizing his devastating pace.
Leno, for all intensive purposes, appears to have been signed as a first-choice goalkeeper, and while this definitely appears like it will be the case throughout the season as long as he can translate his form in the Bundesliga to the Premier League, he is still being thrown in at the deep-end with his first competitive game for his new club coming against one of the best teams in the world.
He will still likely occupy the place between the sticks on day 1, and hopefully it goes well for the German stopper, as the likes of Claudio bravo and Loris Karius have shown us in recent seasons that adapting to football in a new country as a goalkeeper can be difficult.
With Calum Chambers being loaned out to Fulham and Laurent Koscielny set to miss the first part of the season with an Achilles injury picked up at the end of last year, the centre back positions seem straight-forward enough, at least to start with.
Shkrodan Mustafi will partner Sokratis, with Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos providing support if required.
In the fullback positions, with Sead Kolasinac picking up an injury that will keep him off the field until late-October is a shame as he showed glimpses of what he could do last year and after a solid pre-season, he would have been a shoe-in to begin the game.
In his absence will likely be Ainsley Maitland-Niles as Nacho Monreal as still low on fitness. On the other flank, despite the signing of Lichtsteiner, Hector Bellerin will almost certainly begin the game, with the Swiss defender serving as very solid back-up.
Midfield is possibly the most difficult to predict. Guendouzi impressed in pre-season but is inexperienced and Torreira is thought of as the long-term solution, but with only one pre-season game under his belt during his time in North London, Emery may not risk him from the start.
With this being the case, the central positions will potentially be occupied by the well-versed pairing of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey.
In front of those two, it will be an accommodation of Arsenal’s four strongest attacking players – Aubameyang, Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Lacazette.
Aubameyang is best played up front as a striker, but it may be a bit risky to play so attacking against City given the quality they have in their team.
With this being the case, Emery may opt to play Aubameyang on the right wing with Ozil in the middle and Mkhitaryan on the left. Lacazette will act as a lone striker, but will have plenty of help from behind.
Predicted Starting XI vs Manchester City
This predicted line-up only features two of the new signings – Leno and Sokratis – but it would be unsurprising if Torreira and even Guendouzi made their debuts against City, perhaps from the bench.
There’s also the possibility that Lacazette could be dropped entirely, which would seem harsh after a stellar pre-season, but allowing Aubameyang to occupy the front position on his own. If this was the case, then the formation would be changed to a 4-5-1, with Alex Iwobi or Torreira possibly introduced to fill the empty space.