It’s a theme that keeps surfacing, but it’s entirely obvious that Arsenal’s inability to get goals from strikers Aubameyang and Lacazette has become a massive problem. If you also consider that Pepe has been inconsistent, Saka is still learning his trade, Martinelli is injured and Willian has only really been outstanding on one occasion so far, Arteta drastically has to rethink his lineup.
The formations may be a problem with seemingly constant tweaks but, that’s now part of modern coaching. Sadly, the days of fixed roles and formations are long gone with coaches looking for a ‘Jack of all trades’ player, instead of one that can fill one position extremely well.
Arteta may have become drunk on formations and systems rather than playing to people’s natural strengths and he may have to hit the pause button. Be careful here Mikel, Unai had similar issues. Arteta has certainly improved the defence but having said that, Arsenal are still losing games, even by the smallest of margin.
I’m looking forward to the next international break for one reason only, the chance for Arteta to rethink his approach. I think it’s clear that he made an error with the exclusion of William Saliba, something we can all agree on for a change.
I think there are other areas where Arsenal as a club have acted unintelligently, like loaning Mavropanos out when it’s generally accepted that some defenders left behind, that Arsenal couldn’t flog off in the summer due to injury or lack of interest, are significantly below the standard required.
I and several others including Fergus from G&YR have been in favour of playing David Luiz further forward into a role that allows him to show his full range of exquisite passes. As a CB, he can be either superb or dire, often in the same game or within 10 minutes, but you can’t deny that he has the vision and the range to gift strikers and break defences.
The Brazilian’s career may even get extended by another three years playing in a more creative role. Perhaps, just in front of a back three and behind Partey or Ceballos. His injury against Leicester removed the only real attacking threat from the heart of the Gunners’ side and allowed the opposition to outfox Arsenal with a solitary Vardy goal.
In regards to Willian, he doesn’t currently offer a threat up the top, but he is another player who can drop the ball into a dime from distance. If we are going to experiment while the season is underway, why not drop him in on the right of midfield if we go with a back four.
Arteta also has much to rethink in midfield, due to his need to constantly rotate to meet the challenges of the opponents. I don’t personally see how Xhaka, Ceballos, and Elneny are a fit around Thomas Partey and Arsenal need Partey at his absolute best.
Do Arsenal possess too many players with similar qualities? What’s the difference between Xhaka and Elneny anyway? Aren’t Pepe, Saka, Willian, Nelson, and Maitland-Niles offering the same option? That last one is a contentious issue and would require another blog, but it gives food for thought for your arguments/discussions on the subject.
The undeniable truth is that Arsenal are showing patience in attack but they are lacking the creative edge in the final third. They need to move forward in a mass, release the ball quickly and support the strikers, perhaps trying to find that one player that could arrive late on the edge of the box. More importantly, the side as a whole cannot connect with its strikers seamlessly and without dominating a game or taking advantage through scoring, Arsenal cannot win against the likes of Leicester.
There have been sublime moments and when they arrive, it’s vintage Arsenal goal-wise, but unsurprisingly, Arsenal are failing to fire consistently in their first full season under their new manager. That final line is very important if supporters are going to remain objective about the club.
In my mind, Arsenal need either one more decent purchase or they need to be more inventive and bold with what they have. Miguel Azeez is a player that could save the Gunners a small fortune, but the manager needs to be brave.
I understand the reluctance after the ‘Willock experiment’, but that’s not to say that another youngster won’t fare better. Age is no barrier, Cesc Fabregas was 16 when he made his way into the team that faced Rotherham in the League Cup Third Round on October 28, 2003. His talent suddenly accelerated as a result of being afforded the chance to excel.
At the first available opportunity, let’s see Saliba in action rather than dithering over his readiness for his integration into the side. I understand there have been issues, but the lad may prosper from the distraction of regular football.
It’s clear that supporters and managers differ on certain players and their abilities, but most reasonable fans will acknowledge that the team is better under Arteta’s guidance. There’s more to do but at least the Arsenal faithful don’t have to worry about hefty defeats anymore, you can certainly see the intent and ambition, even if it lacks finesse and finish at times.
Arsenal are a giant jigsaw that only partially makes sense, it just needs the patience to reveal the eventual picture and may require an additional piece. It may also require a rethink on the manager’s part, Arteta may have to stand back to appreciate what he has available, to find where it fits.