After Arsenal’s shock 3-0 home defeat against Aston Villa in the Premier League, Mikel Arteta has had a lot of thinking to do over the international break.
The Gunners once again seemed a shadow of the team they once were, and after the elation of the victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford, the club and fans were given another reality check.
Mikel Arteta is yet to find his ideal starting line-up, and when it seemed he might’ve moved closer to doing so at Old Trafford, that same team fell to pieces against Aston Villa. With that in mind, here is how I would like to see Arsenal line-up in their next Premier League game against Leeds United on Sunday.
Goalkeeper and defence: Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel, Kieran Tierney
Despite having numerous injuries in the defensive department, Arsenal’s defence has been the Gunners’ area of strength this season, so much so that before the horror show against Aston Villa, no team had conceded less than Mikel Arteta’s side in the league.
In my opinion, this is our strongest backline, at least until teenager William Saliba is ready to return to action. Both full backs are good going forward, whilst the centre backs are capable on the ball, something which is very important in Mikel Arteta’s system.
Arsenal’s new signing, Gabriel, has been a revelation at the back for the Gunners since he joined in the summer, and whilst he has settled in well, I feel like having a fellow Brazilian next to him will always beneficial for him.
Midfield: Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Joe Willock
Arsenal’s midfield has been one of the major issues Mikel Arteta has faced this season, with the Gunners being one of the least creative sides in the Premier League, however I think this trio would go some way in helping solve that problem.
This midfield has a good balance of physicality, defensive awareness, passing directness and dribbling ability, and it also provides an opportunity to Joe Willock, who in my opinion deserves a chance after his Europa League performances.
However, using these players would signal the end of Arsenal going to a 5-2-3 formation when defending, given Joe Willock would not be suitable for that left wing-back role. While it is a risk leaving the defence slightly more exposed, I feel like it is a decision Arteta needs to make given the attacking problems his team have had this season.
Attack: Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka
Given the poor performances of Alexandre Lacazette and Willian, this felt like a fairly easy decision for me, although it won’t do for Mikel Arteta, who in my opinion will start both on Sunday.
Arteta has always talked about giving chances, so he will most likely see this as an opportunity to demonstrate his faith to the pair, even though the majority of fans want them dropped, and rightly so in my opinion.
However, regardless of form, I believe this is our best front three. As simple as it sounds, it allows two creative wingers, Pepe and Saka, to provide chances to the team’s best goal scorer, Aubameyang.
In the current set up of Willian, Lacazette and Aubameyang, our goal scorer is forced to become a creative player out wide, whilst an out of form striker is on the end of our major chances.
In my opinion, our attack, and overall team, lacks balance, however we have the personnel available to achieve this, it just depends if Arteta is willing to back down from his faithful ways and be ruthless with his misfiring forwards. In five days’ time, we’ll have our answer.