Image via Reuters.com
Hello all Gunners,
After a very long time, Gooners worldwide can agree that we are all desperately waiting for the new season. There maybe some pessimistic fans out there still finding a reason to bash Arteta & Co. but currently things looks very rosy.
The Arsenal have been near perfect throughout pre-season games and the signing of Gabriel Jesus has given us the impetus needed to start firing on all cylinders come the new season.
In this article, we take a look at an obvious problem that has not yet been rectified. If Arteta has an internal solution in mind , there lies a certain risk involved going into the new season.
Arsenal have been excellent in this transfer window so far. We needed a functional Centre Forward who could be a link up option, as well as a goal scoring threat having excellent movement. Gabriel Jesus has it all – this season might just be the launching pad for his career that elevates him from a very good CF to a world class CF. Fabio Vieira seems to be an excellent addition to our already potent and young attacking talent and might turn out to be a surprise package this season with his skill set. Likewise, keeping in mind the injury record of Kieran Tierney since he joined us, the signing of Zinchenko will enable us to have excellent options … in fact at this point it might even be debatable whether the starter is Zinchenko or Tierney.
The problem though is the Central Midfield area (although there is a valid argument that Zinchenko is that midfield solution). All in all, we are geared up for the new season barring two positions. One of them as mentioned earlier, is the backup to the Partey position in CM. The second most important position to worry about is the Right Back position, where Tomiyasu has had a nightmarish record as far as injuries are concerned.
THE THOMAS PARTEY ISSUE
Thomas Partey has been an odd signing for us. Despite his brilliance, we have been unfortunate not to have him for the most important games where he is needed the most. He was signed after triggering the release clause from Atletico Madrid for 45 Million Pounds in the 2020-21 season. His qualities are so unique, it is really hard to find someone who does what he can, with so much calmness to his game. In a way, Partey is irreplaceable. He had the highest Take On success % and Ground Duels success % at 81.4 and 53.4% respectively amongst himself, Rodri (Man City) and Fabinho (Liverpool). He is magical in how he can resist the opposition press and turn it into a transitional phase/counter attacking phase.
The number of games he has missed over the past few years are here:
In the 2020-21 season, Partey had a stop start season. His technical qualities, his physical ability, and his importance to this young Arsenal Side was visible for everyone to see. It is though, fair to say that he took a good season to settle in at Arsenal. He missed a total of 17 games in 2020-21 season. Similar to his first season, he missed about 14 games in 2021-22 season. In the recently concluded season, Partey’s absence specially in the last 10 games of the season was an absolute disaster for Arsenal. After being substituted in the 75th minute in the game against Crystal Palace which we lost 3-0, Partey did not feature again till the end. Although Arsenal made a mighty comeback towards the end of the campaign we fell desperately short of finishing in the top 4. With Mo-Elneny and Xhaka giving their all in some excellent performances towards the end but on a whole they can’t do what Partey can.
With the recent allegations over his involvement in an assault case, it must have left Arteta’s heart sinking deep to even imagine not having Partey for the start of the season. While the club has not commented on the situation, we can assume all is well for the moment.
While it is clear that Partey’s presence in Arteta’s midfield is of significant importance, finding an able backup should be very high on the priority list. It is very hard to find someone in the Thomas Partey mold, but it has to be done in this transfer window for us to feel safe when the inevitable injury happens. Albert Sambi-Lokonga is a name worth mentioning in the Partey role but he is still finding his feet at Arsenal although he has had a very good pre-season so far.
THE TOMIYASU PROBLEM
Again, Similar to Partey (Maybe worse) here’s this guy who was mostly unknown when we signed him. Even if someone was following Bologna, no one could have possibly predicted the influence he has had on games. Again, Arsenal’s recruitment under Arteta has been phenomenal barring a few blunders. Tomiyasu’s physical presence in the box and his aerial ability is unique for a full back having an Aerial Duel success rate of 54.55% which is better than Kyle Walker, Reece James and Aaron Wan Bissaka just to give a perspective. His terrific balance allows him to use both feet with good precision and hence he is a cornerstone in the Arteta dynamic currently. He defends very well one on one and once he plays on that right hand side, it is sure to be secured defensively. So lets take a look at Tomiyasu’s injury record:
Again, the actual games missed number shows up to be 09, but the reality of the matter is you cant just thrust in an injury prone player returning from injury straight into intense action. So the actual minutes missed would be much higher than what shows up. On the right hand side of the equation, Arsenal do have a few options in Cedric, Bellerin and AMN but none of them even come close to the quality Tomiyasu possesses. Ben White, might be used as a RB down the line but not until our Star young defender Will Saliba gets a decent run in in the first team in competitive matches. Tomiyasu has failed to feature in Pre-season games so far and it is understood that he has a muscle injury and may not start the first game against Palace.
Well, currently a majority of Gooners are all excited for the new season and rightly so. Our transfer business so far has been terrific. I dont want to sound too negative about things but If we have to start the next season flying & not fall short again, I think these two problem areas still lie where Arsenal are yet to strengthen in the squad depth position. The transfer market is still open and there are a fair number of days to operate. Meanwhile, I’d love Arsenal to find the money to buy a backup CM to Partey, a Backup RB to Tomiyasu, a Center Forward who is a physical beast in the mold of Osimhein/Toney, and a winger to soothe the wounds left over by not being able to sign Raphinha, but this all sounds too dramatic and probably is not going to happen in this window alone. But the two problem areas which have caused a drop in performances at Arsenal last season are yet to be addressed.
32-year old Arsenal FC fan since 2002. Started following Arsenal because of the gorgeous style of football they used to play and soon fell in love with WENGER-BALL. Still can’t believe how Mr. Wenger managed to make a very complex game look so simple and beautiful. Keen observer of tactics and love to analyse data and statistics. Passionate about writing on Arsenal-related stuff.