Arsenal and Unai Emery’s main transfer priority in 2020 clear to see during Newcastle win – Football.London

Arsenal under Unai Emery is still very much a work in progress.

The Spanish tactician has now overseen three transfer windows as Gunners head coach, bringing in no less than 12 players and only two can be considered as failures at this point.

Although, it’s too early to judge the deals for Gabriel Martinelli, William Saliba, Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney and David Luiz as they’ve only arrived at the Emirates Stadium in the past month.

Of the sextuple only half featured in the 1-0 win over Newcastle United on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.

And it was a decent start to the campaign given there’s still a number of key players missing: A clean sheet away from home, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang off the mark, youngsters given a chance and a first glimpse of Pepe.

But the game at St James’ Park proved the Gunners have a major concerns with one player in particular.

For the majority of the meeting against the Magpies, not much went right for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The most senior player of the attacking trio behind Aubameyang yet was overshadowed by Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson.

The Armenian gave the ball away countless times in the first-half and blazed Arsenal’s best chance of the half well over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

He did have one moment of quality when timing a pass to perfection for Aubameyang and then had a decent dribbling moment after the break.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action at St. James Park (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

However, all in all it was not a good showing from Mkhitaryan and truth be told he’s not really been all that consistent since arriving in north London as part of the swap deal which took Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United in January 2018.

There’s the argument that the ex-Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder can still be of use, but it does feel like he’s the level below where Emery wants to take this Arsenal team.

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Luckily for Emery, Pepe should soon be up to speed and that spot on the right-flank will be his and that raises the prospect of an exciting attacking trio alongside Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

With that said, Arsenal are effectively one injury away to the big three from Mkhitaryan becoming a regular starter again unless Emery ditches his preferred 4-2-3-1 system or shows faith in Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka.

Emery must already be viewing getting Mkhitaryan off the wage bill as a main priority when it comes to his transfer activity next summer. And could reviving interest in Wilfried Zaha be an option?

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Often inconsistent, at times invisible, Mkhitaryan’s time in north London is surely slowly coming to an end barring an upturn in form. Arsenal could really benefit from some strong competition for Pepe on the right-hand side as well as a viable option on the opposite flank.

Granit Xhaka also struggled at times against Newcastle. Although his issues are nothing new and could eventually be phased out depending on how Willock and Guendouzi progress this season.

The 2019/20 campaign may only be one game in but what Arsenal and Emery must address next summer is already becoming clear.

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