Arsenal’s 0-0 draw against Leeds at Elland Road and 1-2 home defeat to Wolves drove a few home truths for boss Mikel Arteta as he aims to rebuild and lead Arsenal into a new dynasty. These two games exposed the frailties that Arteta currently has within his attack, most notably in the creative department.
In comparison to Leeds’ 25 shots on goal, Arsenal only recorded 9, with two on target. It was a game in which Arsenal yet again failed to create any real openings to win the match. Arteta sprung a few tactical tweaks such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starting up-front but to no avail, with the Gabon international only recording just a single shot on target.
If Arsenal are to get back to scoring ways, Arteta needs to get his main man firing again, but that also means the players around him must improve their efficiency and cutting edge in the final third. Aubameyang hasn’t scored from open play since his well-worked team goal against Fulham on opening day, but the support and quality of chances created for him has been threadbare, lacklustre but also non-existent.
The majority of the Arsenal faithful are still miffed as to Mesut Ozil’s absence from the squad, seeing as he is arguably Arsenal’s most creative contingent. What’s also causing Arteta to lose sleep is that his side’s struggles in front of goal this season, they’ve only scored just ten. The draw at Elland Road made it 500 minutes without a goal from open play, a poor stat considering the quality Mikel Arteta holds in his attacking weaponry, but it’s not enough, Arsenal need solutions, and fast.
With the January transfer window yet to open for another month, Mikel Arteta will surely be planning, identifying the players who could ignite the fire in Arsenal’s attacking play. Arsenal have already been linked with some players so far, but here are three options Arteta should seriously consider recruiting in the immediate future:
A player whose name has been shepherded all around Europe right now, and rightly so. Hungarian international Dominik Szoboszlai is a player blessed with tremendous skill, technical acumen, and a range of qualities, making him the perfect candidate to fill the creative void at the Emirates.
So far this season, Szoboszlai has provided the highlight reels for both club and country, and few will have noticed his thunderous strike for Hungary in the UEFA Nations League tie against Iceland, a long-range rocket in the Champions League against Lokomotiv Moscow, and a peach of a strike against Atletico Madrid.
Highlight of the day: Hungary clears off the line and goes coast-to-coast for the Dom Szoboszlai winner to send the Hungarians to Euro 2021 at the expense of Iceland. What a player.pic.twitter.com/WqBuCwXZeD
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) November 12, 2020
RB Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch has already admitted that he could lose his star player in the upcoming January transfer window. If the 20-year-old carries on in this vein of form, then there’s no reason why he can’t join his former teammates Erling Braut Haaland and Takumi Minamino amongst Europe’s elite.
Szoboszlai’s current contract at RB Salzburg reportedly holds a release clause of 25m euros (£22.5m), a relatively cheap fee for a player with such unique qualities. Arsenal should jump at that price in January.
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Szoboszlai holds all the characteristics needed to thrive in the Premier League. Most of all, his application, attitude, and hard work have been a real feature of his game so far this season. But we also know his technical qualities, a player who works best with the ball at his feet.
Whether lining up on the left of midfield, at no.10 or as a free-roaming no.8, Dominik Szoboszlai is a magician in possession. His tendency to roam inside, and pick up smart positions between the lines, from there, orchestrating intricate, incisive, and disguised through balls, accurate switches of play, and driving runs from deep all cause huge issues for opposition defences. He’s already got 5 assists to his name in 8 games in the Austrian Bundesliga, signs of a player well-versed in the art of creating opportunities.
Arsenal don’t currently possess a player with such characteristics, someone who can take risks, operate in tight areas, or even having a pop at goal from awkward positions, these are regular features of Szoboszlai’s game. The Hungarian is also a set-piece master from free-kicks and corners, always willing to put some whip, pace, and cutting-edge into his set-pieces.
At 20-years of age, Dominik Szoboszlai isn’t showing any real signs of weakness, and he is currently one of the most renowned midfielders in Europe. If Arteta is serious about solving the creative deficiencies, then the RB Salzburg midfielder is the perfect candidate to drive Arsenal forward.
Arsenal came close to signing Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar in the summer transfer window, only for the French club to decide at the last minute that they weren’t willing to sell. However, that looks likely to change sometime soon with the talented French international the subject of some disciplinary issues this campaign.
It’s clear Aouar no longer wants to be at the club, but his lack of professionalism could scupper a future move away. However, Arsenal are desperate and an injection in midfield is significantly required. The Olympique Lyon playmaker represents the kind of addition many of the elite sides in Europe would kill for.
Aouar is a meticulous ball-player, harnessing the mastery of when to hold on to the ball, and when to release it. His amazing sense of gravity and close control means it’s difficult for his markers to have an understanding of where he’s going or when to dispossess him.
The midfielder also holds fantastic spatial awareness and the capacity to switch directions in an instant. If he finds there’s nowhere to go when dribbling, he’ll instantly change direction with a swift drop of the shoulder and crisp close control.
Whenever the ball is at Aouar’s feet, his teammates know something special is about to happen, especially within the attacking third. Per 90 last season, he averaged 5.32 passes into the final third. Stats serving as a true indication of his incredible expertise in creating chances, further shown through his 3.04 shot-creating actions too.
Despite his minor disciplinary issues this season, he’s still sprung up impressive numbers. He’s played 8 Ligue 1 games, scoring twice and registering an assist, but it’s his more detailed stats that has highlighted his work both on and off the ball.
As soon as he picks up the ball, he already has a picture of what he’s going to do, whether to dribble past opponents or dissect an eye of the needle pass to his forwards. No matter the amount of opponents around him, Aouar holds the balance, silky footwork, and quickness of thought required to conjure up magic despite being under pressure.
His ball-carrying capabilities could prove vital to Arsenal’s system, allowing them to get out of trouble but most importantly, in creating opportunities and openings in the final third. Aouar has managed 362-yard progressive runs per 90, as well as averaging 2.40 successful dribbles this season. Also, his shot-creating average has improved vastly from last season’s record of 3.13 in Ligue 1, highlighting his stark growth in building attacks.
Houssem Aouar is a meticulous and imaginative number 8, and if 4-3-3 is the preferred formation for Arteta once he does improve on his creative outlets, then the French international could potentially fit in seamlessly at Arsenal.
Odsonne Edouard is a player on his way to international stardom. A move to the Premier League is certainly on the horizon for the French under-21 international and there’s no reason why he can’t join the Arsenal revolution under Mikel Arteta.
The Celtic no.9 could be the face of the new era, the key ingredient in the jigsaw, and the perfect ready-made replacement for Aubameyang when he starts to wane. Odsonne Edouard is a uniquely gifted forward, a player who is set apart from the rest. He isn’t your traditional striker, one who is well-versed at holding up the ball, bringing his fellow teammates into play as well as finding the back of the net.
Despite the latter being a remarkable feature of Edouard’s game, he is a no.9 and a no.10 all rolled into one, and his stats for Celtic certainly paint that picture. Already this season, he’s got eight goals to his name in 15 outings- five in the Scottish Premiership, and three in Europe.
But there’s more to Edouard than just his goals, he is Celtic’s creator-in chief, a player built for the sheer differentiating responsibilities at his disposal, and a player certainly well-deserving of the role. Edouard is an elegant, multi-functional player.
The Frenchman oozes confidence and quality when he steps on the pitch. Up-front maybe his natural position, but his contributions and influence during an attack run deeper than that. He loves to drop into the half-space to exchange passes before moving into spaces vacated by the defence. While it’s so effective and complimentary of Celtic’s attacking play, it is also bamboozling for opposing defenders, they are often left confused as to whom to pick up.
Edouard’s dribbling abilities emerge from his South American roots. He is rarely exuberant or the showboating type, but he exhibits an effective use of his control in tight spaces and a technique which few players in the Scottish division can match. It’s abilities such as this, and his fantastic movement, the link-up play that makes him such a dangerous commodity within the final third.
This season, he has come in for some criticism and made a scapegoat for Celtic’s poor form so far, but the fact that’s he still a couple of hits away from reaching double figures tells you all you need to know about his qualities in front of goal. He is also the French Under-21 all-time top scorer, a remarkable feat for the forward.
There is the odd talk of him leaving in the close future but with no disrespect to the Scottish Premiership, Odsonne Edouard has already outgrown the whole division, into his fifth season at the club. The Frenchman is a remarkably talented prospect, a complete centre-forward boasting all the attributes needed to thrive at the top level.
The Frenchman will certainly have a lot of suitors but he’d represent a fantastic addition to the Arsenal setup. He’s young, skillful, vibrant, hard-working, and a humble character as well as his unique abilities on the pitch. Don’t think Arteta needs any more reasons to jump at the chance of bringing him to Arsenal.