Unai Emery and Arsenal reasserted their Premier League pedigree with a brilliant and much-needed 2-0 win over a resurgent Manchester United heading into the international break.
The Gunners are now snugly in a top-four spot in the English top tier as they look to break back into the Champions League after two years out of the more elite European competition.
Since Emery was appointed to take over from the long-reigning Arsene Wenger in the summer, it has been a season of highs and lows. Opening back-to-back losses to the past two champions Manchester City and Chelsea then went on an 11-match winning run in all competitions, and eventually totalling a 22-game unbeaten streak.
Inconsistency then threatened to derail the campaign, combined with big losses to rival top-six opposition, as well as crashing out early of both the FA Cup and League Cup.
Time is however on Emery’s side, ticking off the first stage of his Arsenal career and now looking forward.
Danny Welbeck, Nacho Monreal, Carl Jenkinson, Stephan Lichtsteiner all have their contracts expiring in the summer, having experienced varying levels of success at the three-time Premier League champions. Who else should be following this crop of players out of the door, for the next stage of the Emery renaissance that fans will be sincerely clamouring to see?
The perpetually error-prone defender is still contracted at the club for a further two years, but the German calamity needs to make way for a world-class centre-back. Arsenal have conceded 39 goals after 30 games this season, the second-highest in the top-seven currently positioned.
The 26-year-old has incurred the wrath of many an Arsenal fan with some simply shocking displays at times; and they don’t get much bigger than legend Ian Wright, who has levelled the accusation of Mustafi being a liability after some dubious decisions in the recent North London Derby.
His partner at the back Laurent Koschielny, the team’s skipper, will also be 34-years-old soon into the next season, and that defensive line will certainly need some stiffening up to compete with the Premier League elite next season.
The Barcelona-loanee simply hasn’t worked out in north London. After gameweek 30, the Spaniard has managed just 67 minutes of league action since his move in January, from no starts. He’s also gained just 28 minutes in Arsenal’s successful Europa League run.
However, despite links leading him a return to Camp Nou, the 25-year-old is defiant, recently posting that he’s back in training with the rest of the squad, and to let others ‘keep talking’.
The big kahuna, the former apple of the Arsenal eye. Just two months into the 2019/20 season, the German will be turning 31-years-old. Still the Premier League’s second-highest paid player - on £350,000 a week - after former teammate Alexis Sanchez, now of Manchester United.
Think of what those brobdingnagian wages could be splurged on; that could legitimately fund a full new XI.