Aouar, Martinelli, Tierney: How could Mikel Arteta's Arsenal XI line up in five years?

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Arsenal are on the right track with Mikel Arteta in their technical area.

Pretty much every Gooner across the world is in agreement that Unai Emery was the wrong man to replace Arsene Wenger in 2018, but the north London club are finally back on track.

The Gunners gave a very good account of themselves during the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool on Monday night and were potentially just an Alexandre Lacazette strike away from securing a point.

Progress under Arteta

But regardless of Alisson Becker thwarting Arsenal's hopes on an upset, there's plenty of reasons to feel optimistic at the Emirates Stadium now that we're ten months deep into the Arteta project.

The former Manchester City coach has already brought the FA Cup and Community Shield back to the club and he's only overseen seven defeats during his 30 games in charge.

Nevertheless, the key word here is 'patience' because although he's already achieved so much, the road to making Arsenal contenders for the Premier League again will be a long one.

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Long-term project

"This is the standard we have to reach," Arteta said after the Anfield defeat. "We are on a different journey. They've been together five years, we've had a few months."

It's a quote that got us wondering here at GIVEMESPORT: what would Arsenal's XI look like if Arteta was able to implement the same five-year project that Liverpool have undertaken?

Well, we've decided to put our perpetually-dodgy predicative powers to the test by drawing up an Arsenal XI that could represent the culmination of Arteta's project in 2025.

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Predicted 2025 XI

We've tried to keep new signings to a minimum where he can because, let's face it, they're essentially impossible to predict, but you can check out our best effort down below: 

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno

Starting off with a pretty straightforward selection considering Leno is one of the Premier League's finest goalkeepers and he'll still have plenty left in the tank on his 33rd birthday in 2025.

Right-back: Ainsley Maitland-Niles

In the space of a few days, Maitland-Niles has gone from the verge of leaving Arsenal to looking like one of their most underrated players, so the sky is the limit with Arteta improving his game.

We just don't see a world in which Hector Bellerin is still manning the right flank at Arsenal so far in the future with a move to PSG already being touted, so it's Maitland-Niles' position to lose.

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Centre-back: William Saliba

If Saliba can transfer the impressive form he's shown at Saint-Étienne to the battlefields of the Premier League, then he'll be a guaranteed starter for Arsenal by the time he's 24 years old.

Centre-back: Dayot Upamecano

Look, there's not a chance in hell that Arsenal's XI in 2025 will be entirely comprised of players currently at the club, so excuse us for making Upamecano our first wild-card pick in the line-up.

I predict Upamecano will spend a few more years at RB Leipzig after signing a new deal recently, before deciding to join his defensive compatriot as part of the Arteta project in London.

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Left-back: Kieran Tierney

Pretty self-explanatory, this. Tierney might have struggled badly at Anfield this week, but the Scot has shone under Arteta regardless and certainly has it within him to become an Arsenal mainstay.

Central midfielder: Joe Willock

We're happy to admit it, the midfield is where we struggled the most and we're torn on whether Willock will make the cut when, despite his undoubted talent, he's blown hot and cold hitherto.

Central midfielder: Houssem Aouar

We can be optimistic, right? Arsenal fans have been crying out for some midfield reinforcements this summer and Lyon's Aouar seems to be the name on everybody's lips right now.

If Fabrizio Romano isn't ruling it out, then it's good enough for us, even if it means predicting a seriously attacking midfield three on the basis we just can't see Thomas Partey finally signing.

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Attacking midfielder: Orkun Kökçü

We take no pleasure in saying it, but we're just not sure that Reiss Nelson has impressed enough in his 24 games since returning from Hoffenheim for us to predict him staying for five more years. 

As a result, we're really sticking our necks out by backing 19-year-old Kökçü, who was routinely linked with Arsenal in the spring, to become the Gunners' lead playmaker when 2025 rolls around.

Right-wing: Eddie Nketiah

Yes, we know this isn't Nketiah's natural position, although he does have experience playing out wide, but a lot can change in five years and we couldn't resist including the exciting 21-year-old.

The young Englishman's performances might not have pulled up any trees, but you can't deny his knack of scoring big goals and two strikes already this season means we're willing to back him.

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Striker: Gabriel Martinelli

It says it all that Jurgen Klopp branded Martinelli as 'talent of the century' and with 10 goals in red before his 20th birthday, despite requiring knee surgery, you can expect big things by 2025.

Left-wing: Bukayo Saka

We come to the last place in the XI and there couldn't be any selection other than, in our opinion, the most talented Arsenal youngster of the bunch. Surely Saka is going to be a superstar.

Ten assists during his breakthrough season and the number 7 jersey on his back means Saka has all the makings to become the MVP at the Emirates Stadium when Arteta's project culminates.

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Full starting XI

Bright future for Arsenal

So, would this team win the Premier League for Arsenal in five years' time?

If none of the younger players improved over the next half-decade the answer is, obviously, a big fat 'no' but surely they would be title contenders at worst if they continued their current trajectory.

Bear in mind that Arteta has already reaped two trophies from his young and undercooked Arsenal side after one year, so just imagine what he could do within five. 

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Nevertheless, half the reason we love Premier League football is because it's so unpredictable and there are certainly no guarantees that Arteta will survive for that long in the job.

But if worst comes to worst, then we can always chuckle at how disastrously inaccurate this prediction will more than likely turn out to be. That's half the fun of it, though, right?

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