After the international break we return to the excitement of the Premier League with a short away trip to Vicarage Road, to face an out-of-sorts Watford, minus talisman Deeney but with a new manager. It would be fair to say that Arsenal have found the Hornets troublesome of late having been stung by them home and away in the past few campaigns. That said, Emery’s squad should feel confident after a promising second half display in the North London Derby and I am sure the Gunners will be favourites with Mightytips.com for Sunday’s clash. Our coach is still viewed as overly cautious by many Arsenal supporters, for not starting Ceballos or Ozil in the midfield three he elected for against Spurs.
For me the selection of our three strongest attackers can be seen as positive but the rest of the team needs to be balanced to accommodate and that is where our Spanish tinkerer can be questioned. Whilst I singularly disagree with the last observation that he opted for three holding midfielders against the old enemy, because Guendouzi is never that, I do have sympathy with the view that the creative link to the advanced three was questionable.
For balance I prefer a 4231 and whilst I accept this often means having Aubameyang away from his most effective role, it does allow the addition of a creative advanced midfielder in Ozil or Ceballos. If he is to persist with the Liverpool style 433, in which PEA is still out left, Emery must ask more of the central striker, Lacazette, and the most advanced of the three midfielders.
In Klopp’s successful period, a fully fit Firminho admirably drops deep, links play and allows Mane and Salah to drift in more centrally. The result is that both are outscoring the Brazilian. Lacazette does have some of Firminho’s attributes but can he play that role – and will he want to? – as he is a fabulous poaching goal scorer in his own right. Certainly Dani Ceballos, given his quotes this week, believes his French colleague has all the intelligence to play the role and wants to play behind Lacazette, saying he sees him as the best player at his new home.
The second observation when comparing to Liverpool, is that the third of the central midfield three tends to be more advanced, of 2 holders, usually Henderson and Fabhino and is able to create space by passing or by beating a man to link to the forward players. For them this has been primarily Wijnaldum but may also be Arsenal old boy Oxlade-Chamberlain this season.
For Arsenal the main two holders I feel should be Xhaka and Torreira. I hated Xhaka being deep on his own against Tottenham due to his lack of mobility. Long-term I am far from convinced by the Swiss international, but he is Emery’s on-field captain and also by far the most experienced midfielder. Against Tottenham Xhaka seemed the deepest of the three and Torreira and Guendouzi were more advanced. If our coach perseveres with this then the Uruguayan simply has to be the deepest. He is more mobile than Xhaka and senses danger better.
However, if Emery does have two sitting, the link player for us will be Ceballos or Guendouzi, as I struggle to see him trusting Ozil with the role, despite his obvious creative attributes for it. All that said, I would like to see him risk playing Torreira patrolling in front of the back four with Guendouzi, full of confidence afetr his man of the match display in the NLD and France call up and the exciting Ceballos. Yes, this offers less experience but conversely it would offer more mobility, ball carrying and creativity potentially.
What we all know is that Unai will keep us guessing and his selection will probably surprise us again!!