Mikel Arteta’s arrival from Pep Guardiola’s dugout to the helm of Arsenal’s affairs was a bold yet optimistic move by the London outfit. Arteta, being a club legend, was backed by a large part of the Gunners’ fanbase. The Spaniard did not disappoint either. In his first year at the top-job, he managed to win […]
Mikel Arteta’s arrival from Pep Guardiola’s dugout to the helm of Arsenal’s affairs was a bold yet optimistic move by the London outfit. Arteta, being a club legend, was backed by a large part of the Gunners’ fanbase. The Spaniard did not disappoint either. In his first year at the top-job, he managed to win the FA Cup and the Community Shield. Nonetheless, about a year and half since his appointment, Arsenal appears to be in deep, deep waters.
Following a forgettable Premier League campaign, which saw Arsenal finish eighth in the table and miss out on European football for the first time in 25 years, Arteta will hope that he has more time on his belt to change things over. Arsenal would like to maintain their reputation as one of the biggest clubs in England.
With no continental commitments this season, Arteta would want to surpass the limited expectations before him. That, however, will require changes in various departments of the squad.
As it stands, if Arsenal have to get back into the top-4, a massive overhaul of the squad needs to take place. Additionally, it might be imperative to make alterations in the team’s tactics.
Let’s see how, and what needs to be changed at Arsenal!
Tactics and Personnel: Mikel Arteta has tried various formations since his arrival at the Emirates Stadium. In his first ever game, Arteta played a 4-2-3-1 in a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth. Since then he has continuously experimented with the shapes, employing a 4-3-2-1, 3-4-3 in bits and patches of the season.
At times, it appears as if Arteta is overthinking his tactics- where he learnt this from is anybody’s guess. Arteta has tried to use a false-nine in the form of Aubameyang, Nketiah and Lacazette. This has often made Arsenal extremely boring to watch, rotating the ball across the pitch with very few goal scoring opportunities. Arsenal will need to find consistency in their shape and style of play if they’re aiming to beat the big teams.
In recent weeks, Arteta has preferred Callum Chambers at the right-back position. Arsenal have struggled to settle with a first-choice right back owing to unconvincing showings by Bellerin and Soares. Chambers has burst into the scene and made this place his. However, Chambers doesn’t seem to be the solution to Arsenal’s right back issues.
What Arteta is trying to create at Arsenal is a free-flowing system of football, and Chambers being an old school right back, preferring solid clearances over quick one-twos isn’t the solution. Although he does have control over the ball and is good in the air, he lacks qualities that differentiate him enough. Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey and Norwich’s Max Aarons seem to be perfect fits in Arteta’s system. Both are explosive attacking fullbacks, blessed with blistering pace.
3. Central Midfielder
To get the most out of Thomas Partey in the midfield, Arsenal need a deep-lying playmaker with good defensive reading and progressive passing. Arsenal have been chasing Houssem Aouar for over a year now. The Lyon midfielder is a player that makes things happen.
His playmaking abilities, creativity, versatility and goal scoring prowess is highly underappreciated. Another midfielder who could partner Thomas Partey in the midfield would be Ruben Neves. Ruben Neves’s consistency, creativity, rigidity and flexibility are attributes that make him a suitable choice here.
Considering that Lucas Torreira is all set to disappear from the heights of European football and Dani Ceballos is returning back to Real Madrid, Arsenal definitely need reinforcements in this part of the pitch.
4. Centre back
David Luiz played his farewell match for Arsenal last weekend, Rob Holding isn’t one of Arteta’s favourite players and Mari plays in the same position as Gabriel. Neither Mari nor Holding provide the security Arsenal might need at the back.
Having conceded a respectable 39 goals in the Premier League this season, it is still true that a more reliable defence would allow Arteta to play a more dynamic style of football.
William Saliba, arriving at Arsenal from his loan spell at Nice could be one option. Having made 22 appearances for Nice, Arteta could consider entrusting him with the defensive responsibilities. It is worth noting that Arsenal are in the race to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic.
5. Attacking options
Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are Arsenal’s options in this department. An experienced, versatile player in this position would improve Arsenal’s wingplay. Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City would be an excellent buy here. He can play on the wing, and also as a number 10.
His dribbling finesse, linkup play and distant shooting have been key to Norwich’s return in the Premier League. Further, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s form dip has been detrimental to Arsenal’s attack as a whole. In retrospect, giving him a new contract wasn’t a great move, and Arsenal might need to move on.
Odsonne Edouard from Celtic might be the man they’re looking for. The French international was amazing for Celtic this season, scoring 21 goals in 34 games. A versatile, hardworking player off the ball seems to be a perfect replacement for Aubameyang.
Final Thoughts on the Areas of Improvement for Arsenal
A big question mark still lies on the future of Mikel Arteta. Pundits suggest that Arteta’s inexperience at the top-level has pushed Arsenal further behind. To be honest there’s little to back Arsenal’s performances under Arteta.
A more experienced manager such as Erik Ten Hag or Rafael Benitez could take the club forward. On the other hand, sacking Arteta would mean creating further instability at the club. Arsenal have signed off from the Premier League in fine form, and Arteta will hope that Stan Kroenke, the club’s owner backs Arteta with the resources he needs.