Mikel Arteta begins his first full season in charge of Arsenal with a squad that has undoubtedly been strengthened since its last competitive game but one where there is still work to be done.
Arteta’s matchday squad to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage will likely be bolstered by two new signings: former Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian. However there is a possibility that neither will feature from the off when the Premier League curtain is raised.
Gabriel’s chances are perhaps, certainly with a growing number of central defenders out of contention for the season opener. Calum Chambers (knee ligament), Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring) and Pablo Mari (ankle) are all yet to return to training whilst the Gunners were handed a further blow this morning when news emerged that David Luiz was struggling with a neck problem.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos could enter into contention but the Greek centre-back is a transfer target from Napoli and does not feature in Arsenal’s plan for the coming season.
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Arteta can still call on another addition to the squad in William Saliba, who spent last season on loan at Saint-Etienne. The 19-year-old might just edge out Gabriel for a starting berth by virtue of having had more time to work alongside his team-mates.
Perhaps the most significant decision that Arteta could make will come behind his back three with Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez. As football.london revealed on Sunday, Aston Villa are leading the chase for the latter’s signature and pushing hard for an agreement.
Martinez has made no secret of his desire to be No.1 for Arsenal and Argentina. If his club side do not give him that opportunity he will look to leave so as to secure his role in the next summer’s Copa America. Sources close to the player insist this week will be decisive in terms of his future.