Mikel Arteta was appointed Arsenal head coach over a year ago after the previous boss Unai Emery was dismissed just four months into the 2019/20 campaign. The former Gunners midfielder made an unassuming start in the second half of last season but seemed to gain momentum with an FA Cup triumph in July. However, things have been nothing short of abysmal for Arteta this season as the Gunners have made their worst start to a top-flight campaign since 1974 and there is a grave need for reinforcements in January.
Following the 2-1 loss to Everton last weekend, Arsenal have lost nine of their last 10 matches and sit 15th in the Premier League, just four points off the relegation zone. It is clear that Arteta has a big job on his hands and he needs to make several changes in January to turn Arsenal’s fortunes around in 2021. Check out the latest odds for upcoming matches in world football according to footballbettingtips.org.uk.
The word ‘deadwood’ and Arsenal have been used side by side quite frequently in recent years. However, it has never been so apparent until this season that certain players need to be moved on.
Former club captain Granit Xhaka is one player who has exhausted his time at the Emirates. Although a regular starter, his lack of discipline and below-average performances are not a new occurrence. He cost Arsenal a vital point, possibly three, with his recent sending off against Burnley. When the Gunners were in the ascendency, Xhaka needlessly lashed out and Arteta must expect more from his senior players.
Mesut Ozil is another player Arteta will be looking to offload in January. The former German international was left out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squad at the beginning of the season, a big call from Arteta, but a decisive one. Ozil may have helped Arsenal improve on their current situation, but he is not justifying his extortionate wages and must be released.
Arsenal’s current squad looks strong, at least on paper, and at a glance, it certainly seems that they don’t need to strengthen too much. Defence, for instance, is not an area that requires much reinforcement and a more regular defensive trio should help Arteta solidify the backline after a defensive injury crisis disrupted the first half of the season.
However, Arsenal certainly need fortifying in the midfield area. Thomas Partey will come good in the second half of the season, but what the Gunners need is a creative midfielder. Their only problem seems to be the supply line between the midfield and attack.
Arteta needs to improve the attacking aspect of his midfield in the January transfer window to supply Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette. So far, the Gunners have relied on the likes of Bukayo Saka and Willian to supply goals. While Saka has been extraordinary, the latter has failed miserably with a return of 3 assists in 12 Premier League games.
They need more creativity in the central areas to dictate and control the play and provide their strikers with goal-scoring opportunities. According to Marca, Arsenal have been linked with Real Madrid playmaker Isco. The Spanish midfielder will be the perfect addition for the Gunners and will certainly add more drive through their midfield.
Arsenal have been most successful with a 3-4-3 formation this season, Arteta’s favoured setup. It appears like he will persist with 3-4-3, having used it in the past two games. Moreover, the formation does not seem to be the issue at Arsenal. Instead, putting sole focus on attacking via wide play is the reason for their poor goal scoring record.
A change in attacking approach may be more successful for the Spaniard. Playing through the likes of Willian, Saka, Lacazette, and Aubameyang is Arteta’s route to scoring goals. Currently, he favours width and crosses into the box and this hasn’t worked out so well for the team.
Moreover, Aubameyang and Lacazette, while both talented, do not thrive on this type of service. Through balls, playing into feet and short, quick link-up play is their preference, so a more varied build-up through 3-4-3 could turn Arsenal’s fortunes around in attack.