1. Laurent Koscielny
Strengths:He is a good reader of the game and shows good pace on the cover. Koscielny also possess the ability to come up with last-ditch tackles to bail the team out of trouble. To supplement this, he has the uncanny knack of coming up with crucial goals from set-pieces.
Weaknesses: He gets outmuscled sometimes against strong, physical centre forwards. Diego Costa and Andy Carroll have in particular, troubled him quite often. With age, the number of errors in his game are creeping up.
Arsenal would want him back on the pitch sooner rather than later as he still represents Arsenal’s best option as the left-sided Centre Back.
2. Shkodran Mustafi
Strengths: A defender with huge potential, he is good at making interceptions. Apart from this, he is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and plays the role of distributor in Arsenal’s back line. Mustafi is also one of the few Arsenal centre backs who are good in the air.Mustafi was signed a couple of seasons back from Valencia. He enjoyed a solid start to his Arsenal career and had a decent unbeaten streak going for him. However, things turned sour for him very quickly. Mustafi had to endure a tough second season at Arsenal. The Gooners would hope a change in manager brings out the best in the former Valencia man.
Weakness: He gets caught out of position too often and without the pace to recover, leaves his team exposed at the back. Despite his talent, makes a lot of errors which lead to goals. Hence, he hasn’t slipped into the top most bracket of centre backs yet. Mustafi also commits to tackles too easily, thus leading to fouls against fleet-footed players.
With Koscielny out of the picture till the end of 2018, Emery would like to build his defence around Mustafi. The latter has shown that he has the talent and now it is time to deliver on that promise.
3. Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Strengths: Sokratis is a warrior and leader in the truest sense. Willing to put his body on the line, his commitment to defending is second to none. Out of Arsenal’s centre backs, he is the best aerial defender. In addition to being a good game reader, he brings bags of experience to an inexperienced back-line. The Greek defender was brought in from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. He had a solid pre-season for the Gunners and Emery would hope he can hit the ground running against the Cityzens.
Weaknesses:Pace is not his biggest asset and he could find himself in trouble against some of the league’s speed merchants. The Premier League is much quicker than the Bundesliga and Sokratis would have to acclimatise swiftly.
Of the current Centre Backs fit enough to play, Sokratis represents the most stable alternative. Arsenal have never had the fortune of having a warrior of the ilk of Tony Adams since he left. While Sokratis has a long way to emulate Adams, Sokratis relishes the prospect of being involved in a war of attrition, similar to Adams. If Sokratis is even half as successful as Mr. Arsenal, he would have had a stellar career at Arsenal.
4. Rob Holding
Strengths: Holding is a good passer of the ball and wins his fair share of headers. He has enormous potential and belongs to the breed of ball-playing centre backs. With age on his side, he can develop into one of Arsenal’s premier centre backs in the years to come.Rob Holding is an exciting English defender who was signed from Bolton Wanderers a few seasons back. While his compatriot John Stones has gone on to cement his place at Manchester City, Holding has been unable to hold down a place at the Emirates. With Koscielny out with injury, Holding could be thrown straight into the mix.
Weakness: Lacks pace and gets caught out of position too often, like Mustafi. He also faces problems against dazzling dribblers as he gets too tight to them, only to get beaten. Sadio Mane in 2016 and more recently Correa exposed that deficiency. Though he is good on the ball, he sometimes overplays and puts his team in trouble.
Rob Holding is far from being the finished article. However, he would hope that Emery can help him develop quicker than he did under Arsene. At present, he is the only fit left-sided centre back. Hence, one can expect opportunities to come his way.
5. Konstantinos Mavropanos
Strengths:He is an old-fashioned defender who prioritises defending over attacking. He does not mind getting stuck into challenges. Mavropanos possesses good pace and strength and has the attributes to emulate his Greek teammate, Sokratis.Mavropanos is a Greek defender who was signed by Arsenal in the winter transfer window of 2018. He has impressed in the handful of appearances he has made for the Gunners but has a long road ahead to become an ever-present in Arsenal’s defence.
Weaknesses:He is far from the finished article and makes questionable decisions at times. His red card against Leicester being a perfect case in point. He is still a little raw and makes challenges that he can avoid. Mavropanos is not very good technically and buckles under pressure, when trying to play out from the back.
Mavropanos is still very young and has an enormous amount of time on his hands. In Emery, he has the ideal manager who would help him develop into a top-drawer centre back.