Arteta at a Crossroads with Key Creative Decisions to make

Mikel Arteta

Decisions to make for creativity

Even the most ardent of positive Arsenal fans have taken the home defeat to Leicester badly and the questioning of Arteta’s methods and tactics is on the increase. It would be fair to say the Spaniard’s honeymoon period during which he basked in FA Cup glory and to a degree the Community Shield triumph, is over.

However, those wishing him gone are ill-advised and premature in my opinion. Perhaps the early success at the end of last season raised the expectations too far as this was always going to be a period of transition. That expression seems over utilised in football these days but the club’s inability of lack of desire to back Arteta to the fullest in the window meant the transition period may have lengthened. Had Arsenal found buyers for a few more of the fringe players, that may have allowed he and Edu to bring in the most obvious missing piece of the jigsaw – the creator.


Gabriel strengthens spine

The spine of the team is visibly strengthened with the arrival of Gabriel and Partey but in a way the leaving of the latter deal has slowed the transition slightly. However, it is evident that Arteta has made his Arsenal harder to score against than either latter day Wenger or Emery’s teams. The next phase of the transition, we saw against Leicester is the reversion to a back four. I had hoped this phase could have begun earlier had we been able to trigger the Ghanaian’s release clause earlier but unfortunately the fine tuning must occur in realm time, in a tough run of fixtures.

Some have seen Arleta’s rigidity of team structure and playbook style training ground patterns as stubborn. Perhaps they are the same folk who saw it has brilliant when Aubameyang scored at the back stick against City? To me, it is more that he is perhaps a little over cautious in his move towards his end goal, both in the formation and playing style. I sense that the home defeat to Leicester will be seen by the manager, as a sucker punch that was undeserved and he will have taken some positives from his move to 433 and the additional chances his team created as a result.

It seems to me that he has these four interlinked, pressing issues to resolve now he has moved to a back four and I will be watching with interest in the coming matches.

  • He needs to address the issue of involving Partey more very urgently. The first pass is always to Xhaka by habit and this needs to change and we need to mix this up. The Swiss has the passing range and this most stay part of the plan, but the Ghanaian will either move the ball quicker or travel with it. Oddly it is why Partey and Elneny, with Saka more advanced looked smoother in Vienna than Partey, Xhaka and Ceballos.

How to get Partey more involved

  • To address this, he may opt to utilise a 4231 with Xhaka and Partey as a double pivot, rather than have the 2 midfielders spread across the pitch.
  • This in turn may help his with he most pressing problem, that of creativity. The 4231 with a strong midfield partnership will allow our excellent fullbacks. Tierney and Bellerin to be more adventurous and actively involved in out attacking play. We have seen how effective such a luxury and be at Liverpool.
bellerin-tierney 0

Increased attacking threat?

  • The pressing question remaining will be who plays as the furthest advanced attacking midfielder behind the striker, with Ozil omitted? For me this gives is an opportunity to ease out the misfiring Lacazette and bring Aubameyang centrally. The three in behind will be Pepe on the right with 2 of Saka, Smith-Rowe and Willian making up the three. None of these players are the traditional 10 but all three can create. Whichever pairing I would see them as interchangeable on the left and centrally with the fluidity assisting us, keeping the opposition guessing and ending our over reliance on the left flank. This is important as Pepe has been isolated too much. Ceballos is also an option as the advanced midfielder is certain matches.

Arteta will be continually judged as any top-flight manager will be but the key now is how he manages the most effective inclusion of Partey, and how he uses that strength in his midfield as a platform to allow greater creativity and attacking variety. How he does this will tell us all how good a coach and tactician he is and inform him, Edu and his paymasters what is required or not required in January.

This is the original unedited version of yesterday’s Sun Football Fan Column.

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2 Responses to Arteta at a Crossroads with Key Creative Decisions to make

  1. allezkev October 29, 2020 at 11:54 pm #

    Nice result against a committed Dundalk side, Tottenham losing in Antwerp made it a very enjoyable evening.

    I saw this stat on Twitter, it was on a usually reliable Twitter account, apparently Arteta has used a back four 5 times in a Premier League game and lost 4 times, so maybe the back four needs a little bit more in terms of player upgrade before we go fully back4 even if it’s the way we all want to go?

    For myself, I think that Arteta will revert to a three with wing backs at OT this Sunday, Man Utd are flying and we need to maybe do one of our suffocating away jobs on them, but it’s a nightmare of a ground for us and we’ve got Coco the Clown as referee so I’m a bit concerned.

    Dave, I’m amazed at some of the criticism that Arteta is copping, tonight, according to Martin Keown, was only the 39th game he has managed and yet some extremists already want him sacked, I don’t get it, we used to have such a well balanced fan base, it’s all a bit crazy to me…

    • Dave Seager October 30, 2020 at 9:30 am #

      I back him fully but I do hope we see a bot more of Nelson and Willock after last night.

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