Arsenal Football Club isn’t part of the mock top four ranked teams in the 2022-2023 English Premier League Season with Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspurs and Chelsea making up the elite quartet. Even in the face of Arsenal spending north of $120 million in new signings this offseason, Arteta’s team is not widely expected to improve its fifth place finish in the immediate past season mainly due to fellow London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham’s similar top level act of purchases.
The Gunners brought in Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus, Marquinhos, Fabio Veira and Matt Turner and are still in the market to get Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans.
Arsenal bringing in a top Brazilian forward like Jesus was met by Spurs bringing in one of their own in Richarlison. Zinchenko was roped in earlier in the offseason but Chelsea has matched that by bringing in Marc Cucurella. Arsenal is under immense pressure to deliver the promise that has been baking for three seasons since Arteta replaced Unai Emery to undertake not a rebuild but some variant of a retooling of the playing unit.
The former Manchester City Assistant Head Coach has shown a ton of promise but with three seasons of EPL Head Coaching experience under his belt and a new three year deal, the time to deliver a Champions League spot and another domestic title is here. “Bad teams, no one leads. Average teams, coaches lead but Elite teams, players lead’ is the famous quote from American Football Coach PJ Fleck.
For Arsenal to take the next step into the vaunted space of the Best League in the World, the top tier players at the club need to step up and the following three members of the playing unit are under the most pressure to do so:
Arsenal’s new front man has big shoes to fill considering the Gunners boast a history of legendary front men in Thierry Henry and Ian Wright for starters. While his time at Arsenal ended in bizarre fashion, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did produce at a top level before his exit and this reflects in 68 goals and 16 assists in 128 Premier League games registered across three full seasons and two half seasons combined. While Gabriel Jesus doesn’t have quite the extensive minutes as a starter in the EPL as Aubameyang due to a crowded frontline at previous club Manchester City, his production (58 goals and 29 assists in 159 games) needs an upgrade for Arsenal to thrive at the elite level.
Aside from being on the hook to improve his stats, the 25 year old has a big curse to break after picking the “Number 9 Jersey”. Chelsea’s version of this curse is well chronicled through Fernando Torres, Mateja Kezman and Romelu Lukaku’s disappointing runs at Stamford Bridge. However, flying under the radar is Arsenal’s version of the curse that has had strikers fail to live up to expectations with the jersey number on their back. Davor Suker, Lukas Podolski, Lucas Perez, Alexandre Lacazette, Eduardo and Julio Baptista have suited up for the Gunners wearing the jersey number and have produced average at best performances or flat out flop performances. Jesus is on the watch by picking up the jersey number after his move from Man City.
Heading into his third season at Arsenal and in the EPL, Partey has a simple mission to accomplish; deliver and deliver well. After his big money from Atletico Madrid in the 2020-2021 season to the London Club, the world is still waiting to see the best of Thomas Partey. In his first season, injuries, COVID 19 related issues and settling in process made for a frustrating debut campaign but made way for an improved string of performances in the following season.
By taking those positive steps, Partey is in prime position to play his way to the level that made him a must have talent for elite teams. As the second highest paid player on the team behind Gabriel Jesus, it is only fair the pair occupy the top spots in this list. That aside, reported off the field issues involving the Black Stars Deputy Captain have put a big target on Partey’s back ahead of the new season and consistent slip ups in production would worsen matters.
Arsenal’s Center Back pairing of Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White proved to be a very good combo with room to grow into an unbreakable unit considering last season was the first time the two joined forces at the heart of Arteta’s defence. 21 year old Saliba was touted as “a can’t miss” talent from Saint-Etienne in the Ligue 1 Arsenal beat off tough competition from the likes of Totttenham to get him. However, Saliba is yet to consistently get a good run of games at the Emirates Stadium after spending a season and a half playing on loan at Nice and Marseille.
Thus far in his career, 6 foot 4 inch Saliba has proven he can produce in the French League (a league famed for its conveyor belt of talents) but this is the time to step up and play with the Big Boys. A failed season would be a huge indicator Saliba might just not be good enough to play in the big leagues for a win-now team hence the pressure on him to deliver this season.