A positive solution
We don’t have to wait for the transfer window. There is a solution that leans into our individual and team strengths.
Our defense is the best it will be until new players arrive.
Our midfield is unfit for modern football so why worry about it until it gets blown up as there is no perfect in-house solution.
Our strength and in form players are attackers.
So, rather than pick the team front to back you ensure that your strengths are as strong as possible and then pick the rest. If you don’t you make strong, average.
Here we go….
Firstly, you emphasize Aubameyang whilst you have him. He is not good physically or with his back to goal. Ok. Don’t have him do this. Play an attacking midfielder whose job it is to track the play defensively but be the ‘out ball’ for transition and remove the need for Auba to have to check back.
Auba’s dream are quick balls behind defense, right? He might be the most dangerous striker in the world if given early balls behind.
If told to stay high you also lean into his second strength which is separating himself for slot passes.
I actually think inside left forward works quite well too, but it’s not using him to his optimum.
Pepe hasn’t scored many like he did yesterday but he’s threatened frequently given that chance.
Alternatively, when Pepe plays on the wing he is double teamed 80% of the time.
Pepe is an inside forward. Exactly like Salah. Mo Salah was average until he was moved inside.
Pepe’s strength is his trickery in the box not out wide.
Give him 5-8 chances on goal at inside right or on the top of the box, you transform him from a 5 goal a season player to 15. He is clearly a very good finisher that rarely has the chance to finish.
The other potential 15-25 goal a season striker is Martinelli.
He is also not a winger. Get him closer to goal and he now terrifies.
For those that haven’t already had this vision, this is how Mane and Salah play. They receive the ball in shooting range far more often than on the wing.
So, on to the promised creative attacking midfielder.
The wandering Bukayo Saka.
He’s been everywhere and to be fair to him he’s impressed everywhere. The thing is though that do we put him where he is impressive or where he is a game changer?
I say we should allow the wide forward on the ball side to come back defensively forming a 4-3-1-2 when the opponent has the ball.
Leave Saka to be the transition man.
He can penetrate on the dribble, he has the eye for the through ball and he has goals and assists too. The rotational option is Pepe who can do similar.
Think of De Bruyne. As soon as City get possession he simply sits in areas where defenders don’t want to go. He gets the extra time and is therefore arguably the worlds best midfielder because City lean into the absolute best version of him.
We have a gem. Let him sparkle.
In order to be this adventurous you need the most athletic and defensive minded midfielders you have so I say, Maitlind-Niles and Torreira. AMN is the athlete (rotate with Willock) and Torreira the defensive minded one.
An alternate formation if more defensiveness is needed is to play a 4-3-3 and use the right forward as ‘wanderer’ and use Torreira as a right centre midfielder who sits and covers that side, not going ahead of the ball.
This summer you buy Partey and Witsel and now you have strength in midfield too.
Add a centre back to play and mentor Saliba and you have a team.
Diego Godin and Thiago Silva are both free (can’t spend everywhere) and have both contended as the world’s best centre back in recent years. You could even get both and rotate so there is always an experienced player at CB. Silva has been told that he will have to take a wage cut and Godin has never had high wages.
- Martinez might be the best number two in the PL and was very confident.
- Auba and Laca combinations were promising
- Holding and Mustafi showed promising signs as a short term pair.
- Pepe finally ran behind the defense from the first minute. Making him more effective is a game changer for Arsenal.
- Kolasinac was our best player.
- Dani Ceballos tried so hard. This actually exposed him which is sad. When he chases he looks like he is pulling a cart. His offensive game is too slow and conservative also. I am happy to believe that if he is also played to his strength with athletes around him, he is a very good player, but in this team he is exposed.
- Guendouzi made less mistakes and also recovered quicker but unless he learns to tie his hair back and scan, he will always be the guy who has to be the hero simply to keep possession. He is at his best when driving forward so maybe his best is, like Ceballos, in a 3 man midfield. You cannot possibly keep both of them as neither are modern midfielders. One perhaps, not both.
- Bellerin looks very uncomfortable in possession. Only seems comfortable when running on to a pass. Hoping he will recover this confidence as I don’t think we can afford to replace him as well as rebuilding the midfield.
- Their equalizer was an accident waiting to happen. It was their 3rd time they were given a 2 on 1 on the wing. That’s on field leadership and without Xhaka and Luiz I’m reminded that during our rebuild we have to find leaders.
- Matt Macey is out of contract on Tuesday. He will now need to be extended.
- Leno will no doubt miss most of next season. Due to lack of funds I’d be very interested in Martinez as number one. This will mean signing a GK on loan or free. Might be Claudio Bravo who is experienced and free.
- When Saliba arrives perhaps we solve one of our team issues by having a higher defensive line. Can’t do it with current defenders.
- N’gakia at West Ham is a modern, athletic, strong RB. He is free this summer. Seems a better long term solution than anything currently at Arsenal.
That’s two gut punches.
I’ve always preferred to find solutions than complain.
Would love to know what you think of my solution?
Former Highbury regular. Moved to TN, USA in ’99. Married with 3 kids. Coached in UK and US for 27 years.
Mike McDonald Soccer Academy in Morristown TN, Olympic Development coach, Regional Premier League Champion.