With just a couple days to go till our encounter with Emery’s Villareal CF, let’s have a look at how Arteta could make changes in order for us to get a good result. As always in an European two-legged affair, an away goal is crucial and Arteta will have to set up the team with this in mind.
There are four things Mikel needs to look at as to put up the strongest possible team right now:
- The first big question is who should be in goal? Leno has gradually lost his command of the goal area and has made some big mistakes recently. Arteta is not a man to punish a player for a mistake (thank God) and will always aim to give players confidence, but he has to make a big decision here, as the next two UEFA League games will determine so much for him and the club. Ryan may be the better option right now: fresh, wants to proof himself and he seems more confident in the air/work better with the current lot of central defenders. What do you think?
- The left back situation. Xhaka has done very well there defensively but he is less likely to be effective going forward and he is well missed in midfield. The main reason he is playing left back is his exceptional left foot: none of the current full backs has one and for playing out of the back it is essential right now. But I don’t feel that we can afford to play Partey on his own/ with Dani in these pivotal games. Xhaka has to be moved back in midfield and somebody else needs to take up the left back situation. Soares and Hector are options but what about Big Gab as left back? He is fast and energetic, a typical defender and with the calm Mari next to him Gabriel should be a solid option. What do you think?
- I can see the potential of a hard working Partey bossing the midfield on his own with a fellow midfielder who has a free role around him. This player needs to be very mobile with a huge engine. I think that man may well be Joe Willock but he is donning the barcode shirt currently. I can also see ESR in this role or even Odegaard, but Ceballos is not the right guy. As I mentioned in item 2, I believe Arteta has to reinstate the Xhaka-Partey partnership against Villareal, but what do you think?
- Who should lead the line? Will Auba be fit (enough to be effective)? Is Eddie the answer or is this the game Martinelli will put his name on the European map? Or is it time to gamble big and put the almost totally untried Balogun – newly signed up by the Gunners – up top? If Auba is not fit then from a loyalty point of view Eddie should play; he deserves this chance. But we need an attacker in the Laca-mold as that is the way we have been most successful recently; so a player who supports midfield and harasses defenders all the time, who is great at linkup play whilst also a fox in the box. IMO that player is Martinelli as I don’t know enough about Balogun. But what do you think?