Before we begin, I’m not bashing Mikel Arteta in this blog. The young Spaniard has worked a series of wondrous miracles since his arrival, which delivered two deserved trophies in the process. He has had to suffer the club’s mismanagement on many levels, but he was still able to turn Arsenal into a more competitive team. However, the reluctance shown by Arteta to accept that the Gunners were lucky to beat West Ham was purely for the players’ ears. Deep down, Arteta knows that despite his best efforts in the transfer window, which in my opinion has been excellent, he still lacks key components in his rebuild.
Arsenal’s problem over several seasons has been to find a way past lesser opponents. They have continuously fallen to the same style of play that prevents their natural game of space and time on the ball. There’s no better team in possession if they are allowed to stroke the ball around to create an eye-pleasing art form but without the ball, they look ordinary.
Many coaches have managed to find a way to play Arsenal that completely nullifies the threat they pose, by stifling them in their own half, throwing numbers in attack and defence, and chasing them down. Arsenal fall for the same trick every time and it’s something that Arteta is acutely aware of, with the players he has at his disposal.
Arteta needs a high octane, quality ball winner with an aggressive trait. Someone that can dominate the midfield and who can win 50/50 balls to get Arsenal moving away from their own goal. He needs someone who can push forward with pace and can deliver a probing ball that causes havoc in defence. A player that can offer Aubameyang and Lacazette a foot-to-foot pass, over a short or long distance, and who isn’t afraid to involve himself as they push forward.
In defence, the player has to be able to read the game, have great positional awareness, and the ability to orchestrate the proceedings as they unfold. That’s a lot of quality to find in a player and that’s exactly why both targets – Aouar and Partey, are valued around the £45m mark.
Ceballos is a very good player but he’s not that type of player, the Arteta needs a general who can push them past average opposition, and for as much effort as West Ham showed, they are never going to challenge for a top-six slot. Arsenal were saturated in midfield as they have been by a whole host of other teams who play gritty, physical, and determined football.
Stoke, Palace, Brighton, Bolton, and West Ham are known to be spoilers but you have to give this Arteta team credit, they still won the game. Having said that, there’s no denying that in a long and difficult season, Arsenal need more, and Aouar and Partey are the perfect fit in every way possible.
After the West Ham game, Arteta couldn’t exactly come out and say his team wasn’t good enough to challenge for the top competitions, but he knows where the weak spots are and he also knows consistency has been a major issue. He knows he needs steel at the heart of midfield and he needs it before the close of this transfer window.
Arsenal will certainly finish higher just because Arteta has managed to instil a winning mentality. He has organised a side that comprises several ordinary elements to see off top-quality opposition but he needs support in his endeavours. If Arsenal are serious as a club, they need to get these players in pronto or settle for another season of making do.