Arsenal continue to frustrate but after two glorious wins against the top two sides in the Premier League, fans need to remain objective. The Aston Villa vs Arsenal match was always going to be difficult for the visitors and if they were looking for favours to help them close the gap on Spurs, they were gravely mistaken.
It was hard to find any real positives from the 1-0 loss to struggling Aston Villa, however, five things came to light which Mikel Arteta will need to urgently address as we go into the final week of the Premier League and head straight into the transfer window.
1. Arsenal has no Squad Depth
Arsenal’s squad has no real depth. The players that were introduced as substitutes could not make an impact or change the nature of the Aston Villa vs Arsenal game. With the volume of games since the restart, Mikel Arteta has had no real option but to rotate due to injury and fatigue with three Premier League games in a week, but the quality simply wasn’t there.
2. Kolasinac and Torreira Need to be Moved on
Sead Kolasinac has been found wanting whenever Arteta has called on him of late. His positioning as a defender isn’t good, nor as a left-back. In reality, his most useful position seems to be on the left of midfield but his form has recently dipped and he now needs to be moved on with the likes of Sokratis and Chambers.
Lucas Torreira was hardly recognisable as the little terrier from a season ago. His touch was heavy and unsure, he lunged into tackles, collected a yellow and was eventually replaced by Granit Xhaka. Something isn’t right with the little Uruguayan and reports state that he wants to leave England. On the evidence of his performance in the Aston Villa vs Arsenal game, he isn’t the answer to Arteta’s problems even if he has few opportunities to prove his worth.
3. Arsenal Need a Playmaker in Midfield
Arsenal need a consistent and creative influence in midfield, who can break down gritty and durable defences by delivering the perfect killer ball. Ceballos was the only player against Villa that looked likely to feed the strikers, but the hosts hassled and harried the Arsenal side, minimised the opportunities down the flanks, and shut off the pockets of space that the Gunners thrive on.
Ceballos was reduced to putting the ball into non-threatening areas or simply tapping the ball sideways for long periods because Villa allowed him to do nothing else. He was unable to create anything further up the pitch because everywhere he went, there was a line of Villa players. At only 23, Ceballos has huge potential and there are few that doubt that he’ll develop and grow under Arteta if he continues to get the right support and necessary playing time.
4. Arsenal Youngsters are Not Ready Yet
The youngsters, apart from Saka, Nelson, and Martinelli, haven’t made a significant impact and surely aren’t ready at present. We can only hope that Smith Rowe reaches his potential quickly if Arsenal are not going to buy in the transfer window.
Although Arteta likes Eddie Nketiah, I’m not sure he is up to Premier League standards at the moment. How much would he have benefitted, had he stayed and played at Leeds. Yes, he’s got goals but at Villa Park, he was anonymous apart from one header. Mind you, he wasn’t alone.
5. The Defence has no Co-Ordination
The understanding at the back was non-existent due to rotation. No Tierney or Bellerin from the off and no Mustafi due to injury. That left David Luiz to try to marshall Kolasinac and Rob Holding with little or no success.
The Villa goal was due to some typical tragic Arsenal defending with a host of players running towards the incoming ball, which exposed a massive gap for Trezeguet to get off his shot. Soares was at fault for failing to charge out, instead, he turned away and went to ground. Incidentally, this was his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt, his crosses were equally awful.