The 2016/17 season is going to be a big one for the Gunners and there are a few players in particular that will see this as make or break at the Emirates.
Carl Jenkinson – The English right-back who enjoyed a loan spell at West Ham two seasons ago will be hoping he can recapture the form that saw him break into the first-team at Arsenal and England a few seasons back. After an injury ridden season in a second spell at the Hammers, Jenkinson is now back at Arsenal where he will hope he can compete with first choice right-back Hector Bellerin. Despite Mathieu Debuchy still being at the club, his future is uncertain and if Jenko can keep fit he might have a chance of playing for his beloved Arsenal again this season, especially with the gruelling fixture list Arsenal have on four different fronts.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – lex is another one who has been deeply effected by injuries and this has not only damaged his game time but also his confidence. He seems to try too hard when he does get a chance and this works against him, he either ends up coming off after 60 minutes or picks up an injury. His pre-season has given Arsene Wenger food for thought after two stunning goals against an MLS All-Star team and Chivas. Wenger seems to have a renewed faith in him after the Ox’s pre-season displays, but he will need to keep up the form he has been showing to secure a place in the Arsenal 11. Unlike Wilshere, Chamberlain hasn’t got much competition in the wide areas and if he can stay fit, he could become a real important player for the Arsenal. Wenger has recently said that this is a big season for the Ox and hopefully he can consistently perform for the Gunners this season.
Theo Walcott – Arguably one of the most frustrating players at Arsenal. He is a top earner and holds the prestigious and weighty 14 shirt, but Walcott hasn’t really developed in the last few years. At 27 years old, Theo should be entering his prime years at Arsenal and this could be an important year for him. After his England snub he has been working hard prior to pre-season training in the gym and we hope he can recapture the form he produced a few years back. The few games Arsenal played in pre-season didn’t give Arsenal fans much optimism and he didn’t look like he was going to set the world alight. There are players such as Akpom and Willock who will push Theo for a place in the first team along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. This could be a make or break year for Theo at Arsenal. After Arsenal’s first three Premier League fixtures Walcott has looked better, but with fierce competition he will have to keep this form up.
Francis Coquelin – Coquelin had a fairy-tale breakthrough at Arsenal two seasons ago after being recalled from his loan spell at Charlton and after his performance at West Ham away, he was one of the first names on the team sheet at Arsenal. Despite this, last season Coquelin struggled with a few injuries and when Elneny was bought in January, this didn’t help his cause to secure a first team spot. With Xhaka also brought in this summer for big money it could be more difficult than ever for the hard-hitting Frenchman to stay in the first XI. Coq might have to be patient and wait for his chance and with games coming thick and fast in the winter months he’ll have to be ready to help the team.
Gabriel Paulista – Gabriel joined Arsenal 18 months ago and has since had a mixed bag of performances for the Gunners and some Arsenal fans still question his ability to partner Kos at the back. At 25, he is still young and has room for improvement however Arsenal need a world-class centre-back now, so the hot headed Brazilian will have to improve quickly to capture the hearts of the Arsenal fans. With Mustafi coming in and competition from new signing Holding, this could be a massive season for Gabriel and his chances of being in N1 long-term are questionable.
Kieran Gibbs – Kieran made his Premier League debut for Arsenal in the 2008/09 season and secured his place as the first team left-back in the coming years. However, the purchase of Nacho Monreal a few years back has meant that Gibbs has played second fiddle to the Spaniard ever since. Unfortunately for Gibbs, Monreal has been one of the most consistent playershe Arsenal XI and if Kieran can’t get the game time this season (which is unlikely in the Premier League) we might not see him in an Arsenal shirt much longer.