In pictures: Arsenal v Chelsea
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Arsenal technical director Edu plans to shift seven senior stars from the club’s wage bill to help Mikel Arteta complete a huge overhaul of his first-team squad, according to reports. The Gunners have endured a frustrating start to the season and their upcoming fixtures hardly present an opportunity to properly kickstart their Premier League campaign.
A dismal 2-0 defeat to newly promoted Brentford was followed by a comfortable victory for Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Romelu Lukaku was dominant on his second Blues debut against a poor Arsenal back four. The Belgian bullied centre-backs Rob Holding and Pablo Mari, with new £50m signing Ben White absent with Covid-19.
And with defending champions Manchester City coming up next, the Gunners could well soon be staring down the barrel of three defeats out of three to start the new campaign.
Edu and Arteta have already added over £120million worth of talent to the Arsenal this summer.
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White and £30m buy Martin Odegaard were unavailable for the Chelsea game but woeful performances have persuaded the club to pursue further targets.
Arsenal might need to offload players to be able to buy and have plans to sell as many as seven players, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a surprise name on the list, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Aubameyang signed a new three-year deal in September 2020 but it is believed that Arsenal will entertain suitable bids after the Gabonese striker endured his worst season in front of goal.
The same applies to fellow forward Eddie Nketiah, who has missed the start of the season due to an injury.
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Crystal Palace are said to be interested in the former Chelsea youth prospect but whoever buys him will be aware that they are signing a player missing for at least the next month.
The 22-year-old has entered the final 12 months and this is the Gunners’ last opportunity to receive a sizeable fee for the forward, who has scored just 13 times in 65 senior appearances for the North Londoners.
Nketiah’s fellow academy graduate Hector Bellerin could soon end his 10-year association with the club, although expected bids from Spain and Italy have not materialised.
The 26-year-old is believed to want a fresh challenge and has not featured in either of Arsenal’s opening two fixtures, with Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares both preferred at right-back.
Meanwhile, the versatile midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles is another who might leave but Arsenal will need to accept a lower fee than the £15m offered by Wolves last summer.
That move did not go through and the 23-year-old ended up on loan at West Brom, who he could not save from relegation.
Maitland-Niles’ stock has fallen over the last 18 months. It is perhaps easy to forget that he has five England caps and was considered to be a contender to make the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 squad before the tournament was postponed last year.
Lucas Torreira and Sead Kolasinac, who have also fallen far down the pecking order under Arteta, could also be shifted.
Torreira was a £26m arrival in 2018 but has struggled to force his way into the Arsenal team, while a frustrating loan at Atletico Madrid has hardly helped his cause.
Arsenal have so far failed to offload left-back Kolasinac due to his reported £100,000 per week salary.
Winger Reiss Nelson is the final player who could depart this summer, with Palace one of the clubs interested in a possible loan deal.
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