What have we learned from Arsenal under Arteta so far?

Written by Edward Pitt

December 13, 2020

Arsenal have been very poor this season so far, particularly in the league. However, there is still time for that to change. A win against Burnley would put us 6 points off Chelsea. Meanwhile, we passed the tests of the Europa League group-stage with flying colours. Not to mention we are in a cup quarter final later this month against Manchester City. There is still plenty of potential for Arsenal to have a great season, but we need to learn some valuable lessons based on what we have seen so far.

Saka might just be a generational talent

A lot of our players have failed to show up this season, but Saka is not one of them. He has put in stellar performances and is perhaps the one attacking player who has been able to show a bit of invention. I’m particularly impressed with how he has matured as a player recently. Last season he was very exciting but struggled at times to keep hold of the ball; this season he seems to very rarely give the ball away cheaply.

Aubameyang last season was phenomenal

Fans don’t realise that we were just as lacking in creativity for most of last season. Auba was just a great deal more clinical in the crucial moments. This will return for our main man, but we need to get the right players around him and inject a bit more life into our attack to do so.

We can build a team around Gabriel, Tierney and Partey

We haven’t seen much of Partey because of injury, but it’s clear our midfield is much better with him in it. Last season we didn’t see much of Kieran Tierney either, but this season he has shown exactly what we were missing. He is defensively rock solid and has excellent crossing ability. What we now need is a left winger who likes to operate in the inside channel on the left, allowing Tierney more scope to overlap and deliver. Finally, I don’t think I can say anything about Gabriel that hasn’t already been said. I genuinely think he’s had a fairly faultless season so far. His job now is to just continue this form for many years to come and prove to us that this form isn’t a fluke.

Arsenal need to improve the right side of the defence

I feel bad saying this because Holding and Bellerin clearly love the club and play with a great deal of passion. And in fairness, if the aim was Europa League qualification every year, then they’d be more than good enough. But if Arsenal want to get back in the Champions League and start winning titles again, these two won’t be good enough. Some solutions could come from within the club. Before we go charging into the transfer market, it would be nice to see Saliba get some games next to Gabriel to see what he is made of. I also think we need to see either Cedric or Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right back for an extended period in the Premier League. I particularly think that AMN has better technique than Bellerin for crossing, and is a better one on one defender as well. But these are subtle changes that we have to see desperately soon. Arteta should know that in the long-term, Holding and Bellerin are not good enough. So, let’s test out some internal solutions and use this season purely to help transition the squad, or else we will reach the next season having failed to learn anything about the current squad.

This is the perfect time for Kroenke to invest heavily

Most club’s finances are low, meaning we have seen a few bargains in the recent summer transfer window. A lot of the owners of the big clubs have been investing heavily for years; naturally a pandemic gives them ample excuse to slow this down, as we have seen from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool. Meanwhile, other clubs have recognised the excellent opportunity to invest that this presents. Look at Everton and Chelsea who both spent a lot and spent very well in the summer. This has left them both with a transformed squad. Chelsea in particular went from an inconsistent young side last season to one that looks likely to be in the title race for most of the season. Kroenke historically has not spent much money at Arsenal, but rumour has it he fully supports Arteta. If that is the case, he needs to show it. Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea were used to spending nearly £200 million every transfer window. Well, I would say Arsenal only need a window or two like that to be firmly back in the top 4.

After January, we need to decide whether we focus on the league or the Europa League

Arsenal’s goal for the season still needs to be putting themselves back in the Champions League next season. If, after January, this seems unfeasible through the league, we will need to gamble on the Europa League. Arsenal have performed well in cup competitions compared to the league in the last 5 or 6 years and it is about time we start seeing this on the European stage. Last season, we put in two very laboured performances against Olympiacos to get knocked out. We need to have players rested ahead of the crucial Europa League fixtures to avoid these results this season.

The search for the heir to Aubameyang needs to start

I am not saying this based on a poor start to the season; this happens to even the world’s best players. But we cannot be blind to the fact that he will be 32 in June. The nature of his game relies on his pace. I would say due to perhaps age and a lack of rest, he has lost some of his pace this season, making him a less efficient and impactful striker. We need to start looking for another talisman to lead the line, initially as understudy to Aubameyang, but ready at any point to take over from him. Naturally, the dream would be to sign someone like Haaland; young, powerful, clinical and reportedly has only a £65 million release clause. However, realistically if Arsenal are not back in the Champions League, this will surely not happen. One option could be Martinelli; it will be interesting to see how he does in the second half of the season and whether or not he is ready or still too young. Asides from him, we have been linked with some promising strikers. Primarily, Donyell Malen and Odsonne Edouard. Both of whom I really do like. 

The rest of this season is make or break for Nicolas Pepe

I liked what I saw from Pepe last season and I have liked what I have seen this season. He has that bit of flair that this team lacks and an ability to make something happen from nothing. However, he clearly let himself, the club and the fans down at Leeds. He needs to hit the ground running on his return to Premier League action. But the key trick is to get some consistency; he needs to be able to perform at his best every week which is something that I do believe Arteta can get out of him. 

Photo creditChensiyuan



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