It’s been a long wait but Arsenal is finally back in action. After an underwhelming year, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and look towards the new Premier League season. Following a third successive season of qualifying for Europa League football, the demands of Champions League football and the improvement in player performances grows stronger. With that being said, the following looks at five players that will have a point to prove to everyone this pre-season.
5) Gabriel Martinelli
First and foremost, it’s fair to say that all eyes will initially be on 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli.
While Arsenal has signed young players in the past, this transfer seems unique. Unlike other signings including Takuma Asano, Krystian Bielik, and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, the club has decided to present Martinelli as a star and there is a lot of intrigue behind him.
With Arsenal facing the Colorado Rapids later today, it seems like fans will not have to wait much longer to watch the summer signing in action. The next few weeks will be perfect for Martinelli to prove his worth to the fans and the club.
Also, his influence during pre-season could determine what sort of impact he has at the club over the next twelve months. While the forward has trained with the senior squad and been rewarded with a first-team number, it’s unknown where he will actually play a majority of his football this season.
Taking into consideration his age and the circumstances of his transfer, there’s a possibility the youngster isn’t ready yet to play at the highest level for the club. Some players require patience when it comes to their development and if Martinelli fails to impress in the next few games then spending a season at the academy could be the best move for him.
4) Mesut Ozil
After having arguably his worst season in football since joining Arsenal back in 2013, Mesut Ozil needs to prove his worth this season and that starts off in pre-season.
Last season, the German international looked like a shadow of his former self under new manager Unai Emery. With a different philosophy and style-of-play in place, the 30-year-old has been one of the players to suffer the most from the various changes over the past year. His creativity has declined and his performances have dwindled too.
Unfortunately, it’s getting to the point where a lot of people are giving up on the midfielder and this pre-season could be what Ozil needs to encourage people to keep their faith in him.
Going into his second season under Emery, one can only hope the playmaker better adapts himself to the changes in place and perform consistently at the level that everyone knows he can reach.
3) Eddie Nketiah
Perhaps I’m being overreactive but I’m beginning to feel like it’s now or never for Eddie Nketiah.
After many successful years in the academy, it’s getting to the point where the 20-year-old needs to play at a higher level on a more regular basis to support his development. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette way ahead of him in the pecking order, sending Nketiah out on loan seems like the right move for him at this stage of his career.
As we’ve seen with Reiss Nelson and Bielik, a loan move away to the right club can be very beneficial for a player’s long-term development and doing this with Nketiah would be the ideal way for him to receive regular first-team football this season.
This pre-season, the forward must make the most out of every opportunity that he receives. Nketiah has proven on multiple occasions in the past that he has the potential to be a great player, but now is the time for him to prove that he actually has the ability to achieve it.
Now is the time for Eddie Nketiah to make a name for himself and put clubs on notice.
2) Calum Chambers
At the age of 24, it’s time to see whether or not Calum Chambers has what it takes to make it at a top club like Arsenal.
Following his loan spell with Fulham, it’s hard to tell what sort of role Chambers will actually play for Arsenal this season. While he was supposed to improve and gain league experience as a central defender, the Englishman arguably failed to accomplish this and actually performed better further forward in more of a defensive midfield role.
As of writing, it’s hard to determine where Chambers fits in this current set-up but his versatility should benefit both himself and the team.
Although his development in defence didn’t go to plan last season, it’s still worth mentioning that Chambers has shown the potential to succeed here in the past. He’s a good all-rounded player and his ability on the ball will be beneficial under Emery. Elsewhere, his ability in midfield gives the Arsenal head coach another option to choose from.
If Arsenal decides to persist with Chambers as a central defender, the Englishman must make the most of his opportunities. The club is lacking defensively as it is and these chances will be suitable for the 24-year-old to try and show off his ability and prove to the fans and staff that they were right to put faith in him.
1) Reiss Nelson
Taking into consideration the current expectations that are on him, pre-season will be Reiss Nelson’s time to prove that he’s deserving of the hype.
Following his promotion to the first-team, the 19-year-old should receive a lot of game time during pre-season where he can showcase his ability.
Considering Arsenal’s limitations out wide, there are spots to be filled on either side in attack. Also, since it’s unknown whether or not the club will be able to sign a new winger during the transfer window, positions in the team are there to be won.
Arsenal hasn’t had a young player of Reiss Nelson’s calibre for quite some time and he would slot in perfectly on the right side in attack. Last season, the 19-year-old enjoyed a successful spell at Hoffenheim where he featured in over 20 matches, mostly as a substitute. Also, the Englishman’s output in front of goal was promising with seven goals in the Bundesliga, averaging a goal every 90 minutes.
While the 19-year-old is still relatively young, he looks more than ready to take the next step in his career.
Reiss Nelson would offer something completely fresh out wide for Arsenal. Last season, the club severely lacked skilful and energetic wide players and bringing in someone like Nelson would benefit the team offensively in many ways.