Arteta’s Revolution: AMN/ Eddie/ Nelson edging Xhaka/ Laca/ Pepe? 8 Observations Arsenal v Charlton

This morning PBarany wrote:

“The club website shows only the starting line-up. But based on the video highlights this is my take on the guys played yesterday:

Starting XI: Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, David Luiz, Tierney; Guendouzi, Maitland-Niles; Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

2nd half XI: Martinez (assumed), Sokratis(!), Mari, Holding, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ceballos, Willock, Martinelli, Pepe, Nketiah

Absentees: Macey (3rd keeper), Saka, Torreira, Soares (injured), Chambers (started light training)

The 2 goals in the first half were beautiful, but in the 2nd half we didn’t even concede a chance (worthy of showing among the highlights) and the boys scored 4. Even taking the opponent into consideration it was a promising display.”

Arsenal v Charlton Athletic: Friendly

I agree with PB that it was a promising display, even if we have only the highlights for analysis. The scoreline is more than respectable and the team looked sharp. What is interesting is the way we lined up in the first half. It looks like that was Arteta’s strongest-11, and it could be the Basque’s favourite team to help him beat his former master on 17 June.

Let’s have a closer look at the first half starting eleven:

  1. Leno in goal is no surprise, but the CB pairing of Mustafi-Luiz seems to indicate that Arteta will continue with them when the season recommences. Sokratis, Mari and Holding may be seen as back up CBs, as they are all fit but did not start. If anything will get JW1 back on the blog, it will be Arteta’s inclusion of his beloved Mustafi 😉 Key is here that Arteta wants mobility in defence and players who can play the ball out from the back. Both Mustafi and Luiz have defensive frailties and their concentration levels is their worst enemy, but they are dynamic passers of the ball, and this may swing it for them at the moment.
  2. The thing I have been looking forward from the start of the season, which really feels an eternity away, is both Tierney and Bellerin in the full backs / wing backs positions. Both are very much Arteta-Ball players and to see them start ahead of other options is promising. These positions are so important to get right in the modern game, and we can only hope that Arteta will get this right now (and is lucky with injuries from now on).
  3. The biggest surprise is AMN in midfield. Xhaka did not start but was fit enough to play in the second half. Is this the moment we see Ainsley move into his beloved central midfield position? The other surprise was Guendouzi starting ahead of Ceballos and Willock and the (injured?) Torreira. So this left us with the combo of Guendo-AMN in midfield. There is high hopes for both players but can we really see them played in the heart of midfield v Guardiola’s globetrotters? I am a big fan of both Xhaka and Torreira but also realise that this duo has not been working that well together. Arteta will need to do something to make us more effective in this pivotal area. So this may be it!
  4. We need more goals from the deeper (D)M positions and AMN got himself into promising positions a few times from what I could see. Unfortunately, he did not convert but at least he was in the right place at the right time which is half the job. Joe Willock had a strong half from what I could see, however, with an assist and a goal, but I assume that was from the nr10 position rather than from the deeper midfield positions. But Arteta will have noticed how well Joe took his goal compared to the tamer efforts of AMN.
  5. Laca and Auba each scored and especially the former produced a beauty – together with Willock’s bullet in the top corner the pick of the bunch. It was good to see them hungry and sharp, and if Arteta can lift Laca up to his very best levels then we could finish the season strongly. Auba will always score but we all know that Laca is less prolific at times.
  6. Having said that, the biggest plus to take from this relatively tame friendly is of course Eddie’s three well-taken goals; and Arteta may now be in the luxury position of having real competition for the CF position between Laca and the academy graduate. A shift may be imminent.
  7. Nelson v Pepe. The promising graduate v the big buy from League1… Arteta went for the ball-tight Nelson in the first half and I must say I am not surprised. Pepe has underwhelmed until now, blowing hot and cold in each game he starts, and Arteta seems to prefer Nelson’s all-round footballing ability. It will be interesting to see who will get the preference for the remaining games this season..
  8. Finally, as per PB’s comment, we did not concede a goal and appeared to not have allowed Charlton many chances, perhaps even none in the second half. Keeping clean sheets or at least defending much better is of course also important going forward, and the team has to start somewhere if they want to turn things round…

By TotalArsenal. 

19 thoughts on “Arteta’s Revolution: AMN/ Eddie/ Nelson edging Xhaka/ Laca/ Pepe? 8 Observations Arsenal v Charlton

  • But we still need DM like Partey to cement the middle area.and we are done.

  • I don’t think he played a first choice team in the first half, I think he mixed it up . I think a starting eleven might include Mari, Xhaka and Ceballos, Pepe and possibly Martinelli. Certainly Zi don’t think AMN is close to the starting eleven

  • I think AMIN has not been fairly treated as an arsenal player.He has been played in wrong position so I want Arteta to give him chance to prove himself in his preferred role as a midfielder before we can judge him.

  • To be honest it never crossed my mind that Arteta fielded the strongest XI in the first half, but based on TA’s valid arguments I can imagine that he played with his best XI customized to his tactics against his former club.
    My alternative explanation – in agreement with Henry Root above – is that Arteta wanted to avoid 2 things: to shuffle units and to have a very strong first half and an obviously lower quality 2nd line-up. So for that purpose he fielded his best back four along with his best attacking 3 (or 4), but he opted the weaker midfield and sent the primary CM duo in the 2nd half.

    If that might have anything to do with the truth that would seriously underline how important the midfield is; as the team with Xhaka and Ceballos in the engine outplayed the starting XI even though all other player on the field was weaker than their first half counterparts. (No offense intended, I admit the Mustafi-Holding or the Nelson-Pepe comparisons could be argued, however I stand firm.)
    The other obvious explanation of the 2nd half improvement in statistics and results would be that Charlton Athletic also replaced its whole line-up, but they don’t have 22 players of consistent quality, so our boys could have faced a lighter opposition in the 2nd half.
    Or maybe Nketiah is on fire, we just don’t know it yet. 🙂

  • Good stuff, Pb. In general, friendlies tend to be about the first 45 minutes mostly. The second half is for further experimentation. But I like your thought about Arteta trying a different, potentially weaker, central midfield in a strong team in the first half, just to see how they would do.

  • So now you’re casting with lures TA? ☺
    Actually, it was your email subject line that pulled me in.
    And I found this short YouTube highlight reel to share:

    Don’t mean to be a spoilsport. But the PL should be scheduling 2 matches each week to finish the season late-July. By running it up to late-August? There’s a chance the season could be halted permanently by a novel virus’ (historically 3x-5x greater) second wave.

    Bundesliga seems to be the formula to follow.
    We’ll know how successful they’ve been in their efforts this week or next.


  • Thanks for the post Total/PB, it was all very encouraging but it was basically a testimonial minus any real aggressive tackling and with the coaching staff sharing the officiating, all the same it’s was invaluable in terms of match sharpness and general fitness whilst scoring goals and keeping a clean sheet is just the ticket for the players’ confidence.

    I can’t really add to most of the very good points made above as they covered most areas of our performance, but for me it was great to see Ballard, Medley and Matt Smith continually involved with the 1st team preparation for the restart, with so many games close together and 9 substitutes per game they might get into the squad along the way.

    No doubt the Premier League will watch closely how things go with the 9 substitutes and a possible 5 changes available per game, it could prevent injuries whilst raising the levels of performance for longer in matches?

  • Jw1, how are 17ht and you doing in the US? It’s been a while.

    TA, Reiss Nelson vs Pepe, Gabi vs Eddie, Laca vs Auba, Mari vs Luiz, Douzi vs Torreira/AMN, Ozil vs Ceballos/Willock. That is so going to give headaches to Arteta.

    For me, I do not think that the starting XI is the final XI against Citeh. The trying out of different players and tactics are the basis of the game, so in the end we will be looking at our most capable XI facing Citeh. But it will not be Xhaka as the lone DM and Willock with Ozil in front of him. We are testing different formations, and the final XI is still up for grabs. Mari is giving Luiz a run for his money. Pepe is a good prospect and we need him to play with massive confidence.

    So, bring on the second friendly game.

  • JW 🙂

    Good to hear from you, even if you come with some dark prediction re the virus/ new virus…

    I guess the PL will finish one way or another but whether we get a full next season remains to be seen. Fingers crossed it will.

  • Hi Kev, I didn’t know those youngsters have been with the first team recently. Hope you are keeping well and that the garden is providing you with lots of joy. 🙂

  • A sensible comment, 84. I do expect Arteta to make some changes in midfield as that is where the biggest improvement should be made, so I don’t think it was just a bit of experimenting by Arteta in that first half. Not saying AMN/Guendo is the way forward but….

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