How Arsenal's Strongest XI Could Look by the Start of Next Season

Mikel Arteta
Arsenal FC v West Ham United - Premier League | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

After inheriting Unai Emery's underwhelming Arsenal team late last year, Mikel Arteta has already shown glimpses during his short tenure as manager of what he plans to do with the Gunners.

Defensive woes coupled with a deficient attack have seen the north London side drop down to ninth in the Premier League in what has largely been a disappointing season so far, and they're in desperate need of a revamp in order to restore their former glory days.

Entrusted with steering Arsenal out of mediocrity and back into Champions League contention, Arteta will need a much improved campaign next season, satisfying the demands of an expectant fanbase.

Here is a look at how Arsenal could line up at the start of the 2020/21 campaign.

GK - Bernd Leno

Bernd Leno
Arsenal FC v Everton FC - Premier League | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

A solid all-round goalkeeper, Leno has had a good season between the sticks, though you could argue that with a better central defensive pairing in front of him he would have far more clean sheets than the seven he has tallied so far this campaign.

Known for his cat-like reflexes and impressive shot-stopping ability, Leno's comfortable progression in an Arsenal shirt will surely see him retain his place in next year's starting lineup.

RB - Hector Bellerin

Hector Bellerin
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

It's been a season marred by injury for poor Hector Bellerin, yet when fully fit and firing the explosive wing back is a top performer for Arsenal.

With his pace and determination, Bellerin is a threat going forward on the overlap and handles his defensive duties efficiently.

Having experienced the highs and lows of playing for Arsenal, the 25-year-old is someone to look up to in the dressing room and, providing he can stay fit, will thrive under Arteta's new attacking style.

CB - David Luiz

David Luiz
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

With Covid-19 remaining a factor for the foreseeable future, Arsenal may not have the funds to lure target Dayot Upamecano to the club, though in David Luiz they have an experienced ball-playing centre back who has shown this season that he still has what it takes to compete at the top level.

The 33-year-old Brazilian was brought in on deadline day last summer and has settled into his role under new manager Arteta.

He would be the most suitable partner to William Saliba - who we'll get to shortly - given both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi give Arsenal fans nightmares whenever they play.

CB - William Saliba

FBL-FRA-L1-BORDEAUX-SAINT ETIENNE
FBL-FRA-L1-BORDEAUX-SAINT ETIENNE | NICOLAS TUCAT/Getty Images

A big-money signing for Arsenal at the start of the season, Saliba was loaned back to Saint-Étienne where he has been a standout performer for Les Verts this campaign.

Although injury has restricted his game time, when fully fit it is clear to see why Arsenal pounced on the opportunity to sign the 19-year-old.

A domineering presence in defence despite his inexperience, Saliba could very well be an upgrade on Arsenal's current options at the back as Arteta looks to rebuild.

LB - Kieran Tierney

Kieran Tierney
West Ham United v Arsenal FC - Premier League | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Former Celtic hero Kieran Tierney has had a frustrating first season in London, with first-team opportunities limited through injury.

The potential is clear though, as the marauding wing back has shown through his performances in the Europa League.

A more dynamic option to Sead Kolasinac at left back and still only 22 years old, the Scotland international has plenty of time to develop into a key player for Arsenal.

CM - Lucas Torreira

Lucas Torreira
Portsmouth FC v Arsenal FC - FA Cup Fifth Round | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Don't let his physical stature fool you, Torreira is a fearsome competitor. The little Uruguayan, another one of Emery's signings, provides grit and determination in midfield.

The 24-year-old assumes the role of enforcer in midfield, breaking up play, using his composure and ball control to play out of danger and launch potential attacks. Has had a mixed season thus far, but definitely has time to turn things around.

CM - Matteo Guendouzi

Matteo Guendouzi
Arsenal FC v Everton FC - Premier League | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Many believe Arsenal's pursuit of Thomas Partey may spell the end of first-team opportunities for Guendouzi.

Having made the leap from Ligue 2 to the Premier League, exceeding expectations and becoming an inspired first-team regular under Emery, Guendouzi's appearances have been limited under Arteta.

The 21-year-old has struggled with attitude problems, lowering estimations in the eyes of his new manager. It is clear he is undeniably talented, and Guendouzi's determination in midfield has made him a fan favourite. With the right mentality, he can certainly become a key player for Arsenal in the future.

RW - Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Arriving under Emery for an astonishing £72m, the weight of expectation was firmly placed on the shoulders of Nicolas Pepe this season. Unfortunately, it hasn't gone down quite as he would have liked, though one thing is for sure; we haven't seen the best of the 24-year-old - not by a long shot.

Yet to hit the dazzling heights that his transfer fee implied, Pepe has still shown glimpses this season of why Arsenal paid what they did for him. Yet, like most of squad, he's struggled for consistency.

Known for his quick feet and ability to cut in onto his left foot, Pepe will certainly be more of a dangerous force when next season rolls around.

CAM - Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil, Youssef El Arabi
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

A tricky customer, Ozil's attitude has constantly been scrutinised, particularly under Emery's reign. Frozen out of the team for a large portion of the season, Arteta has looked to re-instate the 31-year-old back into the squad.

Despite his lackadaisical approach, Ozil's quality is not something to be ignored. Arteta's tactical style and being surrounded by the right players may result in the former Germany international playing a little more enthusiastically.

When he's up for it, Ozil is an unplayable resource. His play-making ability and slick passing style is something that Arteta clearly acknowledges.

LW - Willian

Willian
Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

With his contract up at the end of the season and seemingly uninterested in any form of extension, Willian looks set to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.

Arsenal have been heavily linked with the experienced Brazilian and could tempt him with a move to North London, though face competition from rivals Tottenham.

The 31-year-old is a powerful runner with the ball, constantly looking for areas to run in behind the defence and have a pop at goal. On a free contract, this may be an opportunity Arsenal cannot refuse.

ST - Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi
Amiens SC v Paris Saint-Germain - Ligue 1 | Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

OK, this isn't particularly realistic. But right now there is a lot of uncertainty around the futures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Both have been linked with moves away, meaning Arteta may need a new focal point relatively soon.

And if Paris Saint-Germain don't trigger their release clause or sign him for some other fee, Arsenal should be looking at Mauro Icardi as a potential incoming.

The Argentinian is a proven poacher in the same vein as Aubameyang and would make fine use of Arsenal's creative players with his sublime finishing abilities.

If that deal doesn't work out, there's always Gabriel Martinelli or Eddie Nketiah.