After a busy summer of transfer activity, Arsenal’s matchday squad for the Premier League opener against Crystal Palace will look a lot different from the one that closed out the 2021/22 campaign.
On the final day of last season, Aaron Ramsdale, Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Nuno Tavares, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah started the 5-1 win over Everton as the Gunners narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification.
Meanwhile, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe came off the bench in the second half as Bernd Leno, Benjamin White, Zak Swanson, Charlie Patino, Salah Oulad M’Hand and Emile Smith Rowe were Arsenal’s unused substitutes at the Emirates Stadium.
By the time the Gunners take to the pitch at Selhurst Park a week on Friday, 75 days will have passed between Mikel Arteta naming a 20-man matchday squad for a competitive fixture and he will have to make at least two alterations given Lacazette and Swanson are longer at the club.
In fact, as things currently stand and going by the club’s official website, Arsenal have 33 first-team players listed. This means Arteta will have to leave as many as 13 senior stars at home for the game against Palace in the scenario that no transfers are completed between now and August 5.
With that said, it would appear that there could be a few player sales completed very soon as there’s talk that the Gunners have reached an agreement with Fulham for Bernd Leno whilst Nuno Tavares and Pablo Mari are said to be attracting interest from Atalanta and Fenerbahce respectively.
Should the trio depart in the next week, a decision would have to be made regarding which other 10 players to leave out against the Eagles and the way pre-season has unfolded indicates that Alex Runarsson, Arthur Okonkwo and Lucas Torreira will not be called up by Arteta.
Furthermore, with the futures of Hector Bellerin, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Folarin Balogun still up in the air, Arteta will be sending a clear message that those not included in the squad vs Palace are free to leave either on loan or on a permanent transfer.
Now in terms of more incomings, the Arsenal manager and technical director Edu have already said a lot will depend on getting players out the door first so it’s possible that a deal for Youri Tielemans or Lucas Paqueta, for example, may have to wait until after the Palace fixture.
In a dream scenario where Arteta has no injury concerns, one can assume that summer signings Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Matt Turner will be involved in some capacity against Patrick Vieira’s side, whilst William Saliba could even start in south London after impressing in pre-season.
This would leave the Spaniard with a few more tough calls to make as the likes of Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, Fabio Vieira and Marquinhos could be at risk of missing out. With that said, this does highlight the strength in depth Arteta has at his disposal which will be key to having a successful 2022/23 season.