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Forget Zaha: Arsenal’s best signing this summer could be pure mental strength – opinion

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The onus may be on Unai Emery to change the look of his Arsenal squad with time to replenish his team running out ahead of August’s deadline, but with additions hard to come by at the moment, the manager may well be left being tasked with improving the state of the side that failed miserably in the search of Champions League football.

With efforts to bring in players remaining at a standstill with just over three weeks remaining until the season restarts, focus may soon shift to solely rectifying the contributing factors to Arsenal’s first season under Emery which exposed some serious mental flaws.

And the nature of some of last season’s results suggests a bit more mettle wouldn’t go amiss next year, with The Gunners guilty all too often of completely crumbling when things don’t go to plan.

Perhaps a victim of the unbeaten run that saw Arsenal go almost four months without defeat in the early days of Emery’s reign, once their perceived mental toughness was put into question last winter, the dip in form either side of the new year exposed a core weakness of The Gunners’ squad:

Showing battling qualities to twice draw level with Southampton in the game that consigned Arsenal to a then-unfamiliar feeling of defeat, their eventual demise to The Saints saw The Gunners unable to overcome many a setback thereafter.

That game was immediately followed up by the inability to stage any sort of comeback at home to Spurs in the Carabao Cup, while a soft equaliser conceded at Brighton a week later was left without reply.

And when swiftly hit back by Liverpool after taking a somewhat surprise lead at Anfield, their first-half collapse that saw them three goals down at the interval showed just how brittle Arsenal’s collective mental strength really was.

The pattern continued throughout the season – whenever Arsenal’s plan went off-course, there was no answer. They go behind to West Ham – lose the game. Hit with both barrels by Manchester United – never a chance of winning. Conceding to BATE Borisov – not a sign of any comeback until the following week’s home leg.

By the back-end of the season, Arsenal were simply shot to pieces.

As it stands, Emery will largely be left with the culprits of such behaviour and will have to find the formula that worked so well for him and his side last autumn to garner the positive results his early days endured.

Considering how close Arsenal eventually were to the Champions League last season, there may be a case for The Gunners being better off in focusing on tightening up their mental qualities as a unit rather than attracting personnel – with little by way of transfers so far as the clock ticks on.

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