I have been writing for a while now that Arteta might give some of the younger players with a point to prove at Arsenal, a chance in the Premier League. These players are playing with imagination and fluency, admittedly against weaker opposition in the Europa, whilst the experienced stalwarts are stuttering from bad to worse on the weekends. Yesterday’s fourth successive home defeat to lowly Burnley, may belatedly be a catalyst for change. If indeed Arteta is given that chance.
With many sections of the fanbase calling for the intransigent Spaniard’s head, some may be tempted to use the new Betfair Promo Code. Certainly, with the odds on the Arsenal Manager losing his job dropping sharply, Wednesday’s match against a confident Southampton, has ‘win to save you skin’ written all over it. Ironically, as so often the case in football, circumstances beyond the manager’s control might just assist his decision making. Just as midfield injuries in 2014/15 saved Wenger’s stuttering team, by throwing together Coquelin and Cazorla as an unlikely midfield combination, Xhaka and Bellerin being ‘unavailable’ for selection might just be a blessing.
As the two longest serving players in the selectable squad, Bellerin and Xhaka, should be exactly what Arteta obviously believes them to be, role models, leading his team with consistency and reliability. Neither, in my view, has risen to the challenge and both have deserved ‘resting’ sooner. Hopefully on Wednesday, we will see the manager freshen up the team, and add some much-needed vim and vigour, and I believe this will come from blending in some of the exciting younger players, desperate to make their case.
Interestingly the current malaise represents the club’s worst started to a top-flight season since 1974/75, I recall that was the season when Bertie Mee, exasperated with underperforming seniors began to blood a talented crop of younger players to spice up his aging double winners. Liam Brady and Jon Matthews played 30 and 20 games, aged 18 and 19 respectively, in an Arsenal midfield, still boasting Armstrong, Storey, Kelly and Ball. Brian Hornsby, came in up front for the legendary Radford, on the run in, scoring a few goals to help avoid the drop. Sammy Nelson, at 24, a long-standing understudy, also took over from Bob McNabb in the March, when the drop still threatened.
The 1974-75 Arsenal side were one of the sides labelled too good to go down, that nearly did and the 2020/21 version, current FA Cup Holders, are in a similar position, to that mid 70’s side sprinkled with Double winners and a World Cup Winner. Arteta needs, as Bertie Mee did back then, to swallow his pride, stop relying on under-performing seniors and give some of his younger hopefuls their opportunity to shine, save him and Arsenal’s season.
Willian is a player devoid of confidence and will be better served coming off the bench to add experience and energy. Nelson has watched his younger peer Saka thrive and perhaps it is time to give the tricky wingman some games. Certainly, with Pepe still suspended he will have a chance to show his worth against the Saints and he needs grasp it. Many seem to hope that with Bellerin suspended that Maitland- Niles will be give a chance to claim the right-back berth. I am not in that camp. Cedric has earned his opportunity, understudying well on Thursday’s and I am desperate to see Ainsley given a run in the heart of this this team.
Deprived of his first-choice pairing of Xhaka and Partey, now is the time to offer the England International a chance to earn the position he wants. He has never let his manager down, whether at fullback or particularly at wingback and it has been in that (more midfield) role we have seen him at his best. He links play well, drives with the ball, has superb close control and unlike Ceballos or Xhaka can afford to push into the final third as he has speed of recovery. I would like to see Maitland-Niles partner Elneny in a 4231 on Wednesday, with the Egyptian simply sitting and protecting a providing quick ball.
This is a fuller version on my Sun Fan’s Column posted yesterday here.
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.