Arsenal Need a Firmino for Better Balance: Three In-House Options


Klopp’s Liverpool is admired by all. It has become a benchmark for ambitious football technocrats. Coaches dream of mirroring Klopp’s Liverpool. But the dream begins in earnest only when equivalent playing personnel are believed to have been acquired.

Opinions sampling through some sites show that about 90% of Arsenal fans want Emery to play the PALs together regularly. Many reason that it’s best for a team to play its best players though there is always the strong argument that the best individual players don’t necessarily make the best team. Others who favour the PALs playing together draw their inspiration from the Liverpool’s so called Fab-3. They feel that our PALs are as good if not better than the devastating Liverpool trio.

We have witnessed the PALs start together only once and that was in our last match against the Spuds. There was no doubting their amazing offensive threat, recognized clearly by the Spuds themselves. In response and contrary to their playing style, the Spuds sought safety in sitting deep. Frankly, I don’t see many who wouldn’t. That, however, is only half of the story of that encounter.

Whenever the Spuds had the ball, they cut through our midfield like knife through butter. Our midfield-3 simply couldn’t deny the Spuds space. How then is Liverpool’s famed midfield-3 able to cope with those same wide spaces? Is it simply because their midfield-3 are more physical and athletic than ours. It is much more than that. The major reason is hidden in the fact that Liverpool has a midfield-4 camouflaged as a midfield-3.

Enter Roberto Firmino. Only recently have the experts begun to recognize Firmino as the heart of this marvellous Liverpool team of hearts. Before he came to Liverpool, Firmino was a #10 who scored a lot of goals. Klopp’s simply tore off the old name tag of a #10, gave a him a new name tag of a striker but left Firmino still a 10 who scores a lot of goals. Change of bottle, the liquor remaining the same.

Or is it Firmino who pulled the wool over the eyes of the world? He is such an unobtrusive player, visible only to the educated eye. A facilitator, he loves nothing other than to share in the glory of the team that his quiet sweat helped so much to shine.

The PALs are all great players on their own right, but non of the three has that facilitator #10 role of Firmino. 7amkickoff did an interesting article showing Firmino and Lacazette nearly identical but for the great disparity in their passing stats:

While Firmino has the passing generosity of a midfielder, Lacazette has the “good selfishness” of a striker. They have distinct footballing personalities. If we have to mirror the way Liverpool plays, we have to look for a Firmino and the good news is that we already have a couple of his like with us: in the genius of Ozil as a facilitator as well as in Dani Ceballos and the up and coming ESR.

See the source image

In summary, in order to balance the terrific offensive firepower at his disposal that stands on a porous midfield, Emery should lean more on using only 2 of the PALs at a time and in place of the third of the trio use a facilitator like Ozil or Ceballos to help strengthen the midfield. That also gives us the luxury of a super sub on the bench. Of course nothing stops Emery showing up in certain encounters triple barrelled.

How many Gooners are with me on this?  Sooner than later we would learn on what side Emery is.


By PE.

25 thoughts on “Arsenal Need a Firmino for Better Balance: Three In-House Options

  • Le Gall wrote a good comment at the end of the previous post:

    well, further down memory lane …
    i’m from rouen, normandy, and on dec 17th, 1969 – i was 10 – my dad (RIP) took me, as he always did, to support our local team against the Arsenal Football Club, in the third round of the inter-cities fairs cup “europa league” nowadays.
    this was the best team the “FCRouen” ever had (and i was a player of club “u11” youth team, actually) – and the Arsenal, who were to win the cup, that season, of course, had quite a hard time knocking them out.
    but many have forgotten the respective levels of english and french football back then (the best england team ever, had just been unfairly knocked out of the mexico world cup – for which we french didn’t even qualify – by the immense gerd mueller); anyway, it was a life-changing game for me, all the more so since i was growing into a rolling stones fan as well: i had eleven (not exactly eleven, but to me charlie george certainly was the sixth stones, not ian stewart or nicky hopkins) stones in front of me, playing the best football i had ever seen (even though the game ended up in a nil-nil draw, the level of that team was plain to see, for everyone wanting to see).
    never stopped supporting the team since then, from far away at first (but i did learn english, not at school, but listening to the arsenal games (and others) on the bbc every saturday afternoon – as well as to “exile on main street” and “sticky fingers”, to tell the truth), and now as a red member (thanks to the internet), able to watch all games (thanks to my various subscriptions: canal +, bein sports, … you name them – also have a few reliable streaming sites in store); and to me the arsène-arsenal years were a match made in heaven – I’m still mourning.
    having found out about such a friendly blog certainly adds up a very nice touch to this “arsenal community” experience; keep up with the good job!!

  • Thanks for the further background info, LeGall. You clearly have a very long history with Arsenal, especially for a non-Brit!! You are also clearly an Anglophile and so from a very young age. And then to see a Frenchman leading the club to glory much have been extra special for you.

  • Cheers PE, top stuff and agreed: we need a creator who can also finish and all three options could/should work. Question to you is who of the PALs would you play next to Ozil/Ceballos/ESR…

  • Who would of thought lacca started out at Lyon as a number 10, them moved out wide but his goal scoring ability ensured he was moved to centre forward. His our most technical striker at the club, if he is instructed to play as a false 9 ie: like Firminio I have every confidence he would be very much up to the task. I dont understand why some in our fanbase try to downplay his ability.

  • TA, …. easy to answer. Any 2 of the 3, maybe depending on the opposition.

    Pepe terrifies defenses. Only man to have gone through VVD in 51games at 1st attempt.
    Auba cannot stop scoring. Talk of space and movement and there is non better.
    Laca is a one man riot squad. He might have many things in common with Firmino but attitude wise he is a Mane. No smiles when there is work to do.

  • Aj, …. that’s an interesting Laca history. I remember when Auba was still new here and there were doubts about the possibility of accommodating the 2 strikers, Steve Bould commented that Laca could be used as a #10.

    He naturally likes dropping deep but I appreciate his role as a deep pressing 9 more than as a deep creative 9.

  • Thank you for an interesting post.

    I didn’t see AFC’s midfield get torn apart by Spurs. I saw a fiercely contested battle in which AFC neutralised Eriksen and the other Spurs miscreants.

    They scored twice through errors from Leno and Xhaka – both in the penalty area.

    Furthermore I cannot agree that Xhaka is a liability and not worth his place in the team (I realise this refers to previous comments and not the fine post).

    DB10 was our Firmino, they don’t come along very often – the last I can recall was Tevez. Is De Bruyne such a player or is he more of a Stevie G?

    I think that when Tierney and Bellerin are fit we have the players for a wonderful support group for PAL,

    But IMO Arsenal are a better team with Ozil in it and for some reason UE does not seem to agree.

  • Good point Erik, that when our 1st choice fullbacks are back they’d help to tighten the midfield as well as improve the supply to our front men. That strengthens the case for the PALs playing together.

  • Reading through my post again, I should have used “undermanned midfield instead of porous midfield”. What I was trying to bring out is that our midfield needs an extra body who has to come from our front 3. To me that extra body should not be Pepe, Auba or Laca. I feel that Ozil or Ceballos would give a better overall balance, meaning one of the PALs is displaced. I guess am a bit too balance sensitive for many.

  • That’s a fine post TA, very well written (as usual).

    Tactics and team formation are not my strong points, but I do have a few thoughts for consideration.
    Firstly I fully agree that it will not be until our injured fullbacks report for duty that we will truly be able to assess our seasonal chances, although it may be take a while for them to regain their confidence and in Tierney’s case he will have to make the adjustment into a new club.

    I think of the midfield as our engine room and it should contain tenacity, skill and an enforcer – given that I would have a midfield of Torreira, Cebbalos/Ozil and Xhaka. Up front I would prefer P-A-L.

    In fact my team would look like…….
    Bellerin – Luiz – Tierney
    Torriera – Ozil – Cebbalos – Xhaka
    Pepe – Lacazette – Aubameyang.

    Looking at our squad (below) there are many viable combinations to choose from, but we still lack a midfield enforcer.

    2019/20 Arsenal squad.
    Hector Bellerin
    Calum Chambers
    Rob Holding
    Sead Kolasinac
    David Luiz
    Konstantinos Mavropanos
    Shkodran Mustafi
    Sokratis Papastathopohulos
    Kieran Tierney
    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
    Alexandre Lacazette
    Gabriel Martinelli
    Reiss Nelson
    Nicolas Pepe
    Bernd Leno
    Emiliano Martinez
    Matt Macey
    Dani Cebbalos
    Matteo Guendouzi
    Ansley Maitland-Niles
    Mesut Ozil
    Emile Smith Rowe
    Lucas Torreira
    Joseph Willock
    Granit Xhaka

  • So sorry PE – I’m so used to reading posts from TA that I didn’t even notice that you wrote it. It was very well thought out.

  • Agreed GN5 but maybe it would happen if we are trailing in a must-win game, say for the last twenty minutes or so.

    Is it starting to get much colder in your part of Canada now?

  • Not really TA the next seven days temperature will feel like –

    36c – 25c- 34c- 24c- 25c- 33c- 31c.

  • Good evening all
    If only you knew the truth about Ozil you would be shocked and all will be revealed eventually and the moped attack is nothing to do with it,I assure you.All the squad and Emery know,but it stays inhouse.
    Kolsaniac wants to leave and wants to go back to Schalke 04 as his wife won’t come back to London so expect a move in January but more money will be coming our way which is good.
    Granit is a liability now as he was before we bought him.9 red cards for 2 clubs in 7 years speaks for itself though he has the occasional good game and the odd shot, not Arsenal quality IMO.

    Still undecided about Emery but tend to think like AW has his favourites
    I see GN5 on here, good day to you and I recognise the writing of another who now uses a different name.

    Mikki and Sanchez was the worst swap in recent years (valued at 32 million £’s) and now both are on loan.
    That’s the reality folks and as there is no leader in the squadso my money is on Holding in a a couple of seasons if he fully recovers.

  • You would not be at all jealous when our 4/5 month winter arrives, we get bombed with snow and the temperatures drop dramatically – minus 30/40c is not unusual.

    I’ve sent you a couple of Emails.

  • In Canada we know what to expect from our winters so we are always prepared. For the moment I thought you meant Red wine – which is a great companion.

  • How mice of you to ignore me especially GN5 who asked me recently how I was on another site which I introduced him to and then he ubsequentyly left and rejoined 5 times and of course the main protaganist who has now changed his name led to me and other leaving that site 4 years ago, as unfortunately he he is a control freak.I occasionally pop inas I have done here and Total it is your site and do what you wish.
    I wasn’t rude to anyone in my post just plaun bad manners an don’t worry I won’t be back an I can guess word for worf GN5’s emails to you.
    How pathetic and childish remember we are all gooners Too much self importance by one or two always lead to a clash.
    I have nothing more to ay and you can block me if you like.

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