Q: It was a big summer for Arsenal: what was their best bit of business this summer?
A: For the second straight summer, Arsenal has made several positive additions. This year you can make a case that all six additions have already proved their worth. Marquinhos and Fabio Vieira are excellent young signings who can play now and have plenty of development ahead of them. Matt Turner is a decent pickup for the backup keeper role.
Oleksandr Zinchenko was a steal to provide us with two great options at left-back with Kieran Tierney. But the best business? You can’t go wrong with Gabriel Jesus or William Saliba. Jesus is the top scorer at the moment and fits this squad perfectly. While Saliba has walked into the starting XI and looks the part of a well-established Premier League centre-back despite being just 21 - and he’s already scored twice!
Q: Arteta’s side has continued to evolve since his appointment. Does the year-on-year transformation of this team prove that managers should be given more time in the modern game?
A: Yes, most of the time. Far too often managers are asked to transform a club and not given the time to implement those changes. Given existing contracts and varying budget levels, most clubs and managers need at least two or three windows to begin to build toward a new iteration. Arsenal’s board has thankfully stuck with Mikel Arteta through the ups and downs that are inevitable in a project such as this.
Next up for the #PremierLeague leaders is a trip to Elland Road to face off against Leeds United. We caught up with SB Nation’s @ThruItAllLUFC to discuss this weekend’s opponent. https://t.co/5mVI1LuTkw— The Spooky Fuse (@TheShortFuse) October 14, 2022
Q: What makes this Arsenal team different to last season?
A: It really is just the next step in the progression. You have the additions we spoke about above while another round of senior-level players from the last era were moved on (Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette, Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, etc.). Then factor in several of the young key players are another year into their development - Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, & Odegaard - all between 21 and 23. And all of the players have even more of an understanding of what Arteta wants and experience playing together.
Q: What does this team need to get to the next level?
A: Depth and avoiding injuries. The starting XI should be right there in the fight for the Champions League positions. But a few injuries and it’s back to the end of last season. Jesus’ backup in Nketiah, for Bukayo Saka it is Reiss Nelson, Partey’s backup is Albert Sambi Lokonga, and so forth. Manchester City have extremely talented players sitting on their bench. But as Mikel Arteta and Edu continue to revamp this squad the next step is ensuring each position has two players capable of playing in the Premier League.
Q: Predictions for the game? How do you see it playing out?
A: I expect Leeds to start strong. They are at home and could really use a positive result. Three points against the league leaders would be just that. If Arsenal’s defence remains as solid as they have been so far and keeps Leeds off the board in the first 30 minutes I think they will get control of the match. I’m going with 2-1 to Arsenal.
Be sure to check out our reverse Q&A on The Short Fuse.