The last few league matches, certainly the home ones, will have left most Arsenal fans scratching their collective heads. These are predominantly the same players, and the same coach who finished the last campaign with a flourish beating many of the top sides right?
This cannot just be about changing from three to four at the back, it has to run deeper than that. Yes, we can decry the lack of a true playmaker, the linkman, but not being a genuine playmaker does not mean you suddenly lack the ability to pass forwards does it? Remember the Xhaka who precision passed through the lines and the Ceballos incisive through balls in on the FA Cup run? Yes, so do I but I do not know where those players have disappeared to.
Of course, possession of the football is crucial but not surely at the expense of any attempt at creativity. When you reach the final third, you must be willing to take risk and this may mean you lose the ball. In fact, on most occasions you will but it is how you carve out the goal scoring opportunities and Arteta’s team are currently, simply not taking the risks often enough.
I hate to say it, but we seem to be striving for efficiency at the expense of fluency and in so doing we are sucking the individual creativity from those in the squad who have it. It is easy to sit here and scream for the club to buy Aouar of whoever the latest fad might be, but that will not help us now.
Arteta needs to bite the bullet and allow his existing players to express themselves. To watch players who can beat a man with ease, not endeavouring to do so in favour of a safe pass back is soul destroying. It takes away part of the joy of watching the team. Yes, we can all applaud the Arsenal goals that arrive at the end of a passage of play that included a patient 30 plus pass period of possession or build up, but the truth is the winger beating two players and whipping in an indefensible cross, finished with aplomb but Aubameyang would give us as much pleasure if not a bit more.
Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson, Pepe and Martinelli when he returns are all gifted footballers with the ball at their feet and Arteta surely needs to develop a system or way of playing that allows these guys to express themselves. Not only will it enable them to realise their potential, but it will make sense of the decision to play the skipper centrally. If Arteta does not build a platform to allow this creativity. I fear this team will continue to struggle, and he may as well put Aubameyang back on the left.
Surely, he must allow his wide men to play on their natural foot and attack the opposing fullbacks or if not, play them as inverted wingers and encourage Bellerin and Tierney to provide the width. Either way or both can only improve our fortunes and at least ensure we have a goal threat, which we barely have at present.
I would be genuinely concerned for the team if he persists with over coaching and striving for efficiency. Football, like life is exciting when there is a degree of unpredictability and I do not subscribe to the view that without a new 10 of CAM we cannot play with flair and creativity. So, I beg you Mikel, while you still have credit in the bank, let some of these exciting players do what they do best. Take risks, allow your skilful players to take risks or risk losing them and ultimately your dream.
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Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.