Arteta’s Eight Big Questions during this Pivotal Summer

Isn’t it great to have a break from club football? I probably would not be saying this if the Euros weren’t about to start, but I feel we all needed a break: the players, managers and supporters.

Last season can only be seen as a transitional one and we’ll need to see a step improvement in the coming one. Arteta will need this summer to make the required squad changes: a few more need to leave after the successful winter moves and a few additions would be nice. But the squad is good and working with them to implement the next stage of the Arteta revolution is key. It’s more about style and system of football, and having good time to work on this, than player acquisitions.

Still, I think Arteta has the following squad-related questions to deal with:

  1. The GK situation: who is Nr1 and Nr2? Do we need to buy a Nr1 or Nr2?
  2. What to do with Saliba and Mavropanos? Let’s assume Holding, Mari and Big Gab are all staying, who is to become the fourth CB?
  3. Are we sorted with FBs? Do we need an extra LFB? Do we need a top RFB?
  4. Central midfield: will AMN and Willock’s return be enough for strong midfield options? How to get the best out of Partey?
  5. How to get more assists from midfield? Will ESR be our main man? Do we need to buy? Can we get Odegaard for another season? Can Azeez step up?
  6. How can we get more goals from our experienced attackers: Auba, Laca, Pepe and Willian? Do we need to sell one or two and get a strong in the air CF?
  7. Who should be captain?
  8. What to do with the loan returnees: Guendo, Torreira and Kola especially?

Over to you fine fellow Gooners! 😁

By TotalArsenal.


46 thoughts on “Arteta’s Eight Big Questions during this Pivotal Summer

  • He’s got that, “I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to poop there” look. Very cute, Total. Do I detect spring breaking out in your garden?
    Tho’ fullback is not the ideal position to captain a side from, I’d give the arm band to Tierney. He on occasion captained Celtic, tho’ usually when they played him at Centre back. He has a great work ethic, the passion and fire of a Frank McLintock, respect from his team mates and the devotion of the fans. Rob Holding would be vice captain. Quiet, steady, reliable, reminds me of David O’Leary.

  • Indeed Stuart, spring is in the garden. It’s a playful look, full of puppy mischief. 😊

    KT is a strong shout. I like my captain to play more cental though, and Kieran is kind of bound to the left flank. So I would give it to either Xhaka, Partey or Robbo. With TP my favourite.

  • Another transfers season and another sets of transfer madness making rounds. I hate this time of the football calender

  • These are very relevant and thoughtful questions crowned by an adorable pup. 🙂
    Here are my answers. Not necessary the most probable solutions, but what I would do in Arsenal interest.

    1. I don’t see a GK ‘situation’ at the moment. It would be a good idea to clear out at the goalkeeper department, but that shouldn’t concern Leno. I don’t know if there is any real demand for him (and I don’t trust journalists with click-bait claims), so we should focus on selling Iliev, Runarsson (who played for Iceland yesterday drawing against a stronger Poland side in Poznan) and 3-4 U23 goalkeepers, but the first team stopper issue is not that pressing. We need a backup GK; I would gladly go for Ryan, as I don’t think the homegrown status should be an issue at a 25-head squad.

    2. I would add Ballard to the mix. Besides Holding, Mari and Gabriel we have 3 young super-talented defenders, but we don’t need 6 CBs for 44 games. Ballard could be easily loaned (back) to the Championship as he secured promotion with League One Blackpool who (rightfully) see him as a hero. I would personally loan 1 more CB (Mavropanos back to Germany or Saliba to a PL team), but I (pessimistically) think Arteta will start the season with 5 center backs. Either by keeping them both, or signing another CB and selling a couple from the loan trio. But I shouldn’t keep doubting the management transfer skills, I rather wait and see if I can start trusting Arteta and Edu.

    3. As I always been an advocate of the small squad concept, my answers are obviously Yes, No and No. We already have a(n EC-winner) backup RB/LB in Soares even if Bellerin leaves. At one point in the future it could make sense to develop the squad by improving the stand-in fullback(s), but I don’t think this is the time for a relatively marginal issue. Whatever happens with Hector I have faith in Chambers and Tierney, and we have Soares, Xhaka and Saka to provide cover if needed.

    4. If you think the last point was controversial, wait for this one. 🙂 While I hugely appreciate Willock’s performance, and I could hardly imagine a more convincing loan spell, unfortunately I don’t see a place for him – or any box-to-box midfielders (including Ramsey) – in Arsenal’s current formation portfolio. There is no place for a B2B in our most common 4-2-3-1 nor is there in a 4-3-3 (assuming ESR is injured, or we prefer to play with Partey-Xhaka-Camavinga in midfield against a strong side with Saka/Martinelli, Pepe and a striker trying to score from counterattacks). Too bad that Willock’s athletic shape and shooting skills are not paired with decent vision and passing abilities to become a fine AM or with tackling skills to boss midfield. There are proper formations to field box-to-box midfielders (4-4-2 diamond and 3-5-2 come to mind), but currently we have no experience in them whatsoever – making both the re-loan or the sell options more desirable on Joe than keeping him around. I’m afraid AMN didn’t redeem the world, and while I love him as a person, he sadly became the next Iwobi.

    5. I don’t have a strong preference here. ESR could easily be the long-term AM Arsenal needs, but he is versatile enough to flourish in another position. I’m worried if we buy let’s not make an Ozil/Willian mistake buy going for a free transfer, and end up with a possibly unmotivated player earning astronomical salary which makes him an unsalable flop. The other possible mistake here is buying a player who is not a full class above Smith-Rowe, but this is something hardly transparent before the transfer. Azeez used to be an AM, but mostly plays CM, so he could be more of an Aouar-understudy than a substitute for ESR (unless we intentionally switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 mid-game). Odegaard has a rather hefty price-tag, but he is indeed a great player who would obviously improve the team.

    6. That’s the toughest question of them all. My solution to get more goals from our experienced attackers like Auba, Laca and Pepe is that we need a better coach. But I accept that I belong to the minority here. I don’t see if we could sell Auba (we already made the Ozil mistake here), and I personally wouldn’t sell Lacazette – my player of the season. So the only wiggling room here is to improve the build-up of the attacks, by focusing less on the byline crosses and give more freedom to the midfielders and wingers to become more creative and less predictable. Somehow I feel Arteta prefers discipline over creativity, but time will tell. And another option is to give license for the midfielders to shhot from distance. We know Xhaka has a deadly left foot, and Elneny improved a lot in that department, so maybe our midfielders can help out the guys up front. (Furthermore we are about to have 3-4 CBs well over 190 cm, so we might score more goals from corners and indirect free kicks.)

    7. If Xhaka stays he should be the captain. I don’t see anybody else fitting the bill and ticking every box. I love Holding, but he is way too laid back. He is a lovable, cheerful guy, but I would prefer a brute like Xhaka or Partey with the armband. Tierney could be an interesting option, but Granit’s experience (as a former Arsenal and current Swiss captain) is huge. KT could be vice captain, as they are the (only!) 2 players to exceed 3500 minutes when fit.

    8. Oh I forgot about Sead already when I checked the LB options. He is our third most underappreciated player behind Nelson and Xhaka, and while he has unreasonably high salary (he was a free transfer after all) he is a fine player. I won’t mind him staying, but we don’t really need further cover for LB… About Torreira and Guendouzi, they are both 80% victims of Arteta and only 20% of the pandemic, but let’s not forget that both were top10 players in their respective position 24 months ago. I don’t know whether their Arsenal career can be salvaged (Lucas is rumored to have family/cultural issues too), but I would prefer if they were given chances before their departure is decided.

  • Total, did you take that picture of Basil just after you’d caught him gnawing away at you favourite shoes?

  • Basil does have a cheeky look about him Total – you have made a super choice in picking a Lab as they are a wonderful breed. Maybe he should become BKs mascot and we can all watch him as he grows.

    Football will be coming at us thick and fast from Friday onward I really looking forward to watching some Top class player in action. The games here are at a very civilized time 9:00am, 12:00pm and 3:00pm on most days.

    I’ll be out a lot today so I’ll have very little time for blogging.

  • That is a great comment, PB.

    You have given the issues a lot of thought. I guess the big issue is about our system of football and midfield structure. To me it looks like Arteta is moving towards 4-1-4-1 or 4-1-2-3 system, with Partey in the ‘1’. If so, we need dynamic, energetic midfielders in front of him and then there is a position for Willock imo.

  • 1. Goalkeeper, I really can’t be sure what Arteta is thinking, why would he plump for Leno a year ago by selling Martinez and now look to replace him? The Ajax guy sounds interesting but I’ve never seen him play and have no idea, so my only thoughts on the No.1 would be sell, loan, give away Runarsson and get the lad back from Brighton. Also bring Okonkwo into the League Cup squad.

    2. Saliba, another mystery and are we really going to loan him out to Newcastle?
    I guess a year up north might be the making of him, it may also be a decision with an eye to increasing his transfer value? I like Anderson, the guy on loan at Fulham, we were linked to him a couple of years ago so there’s a long term interest there and it would upset Tottenham. Mari, Chambers, Holding and Gabriel can hold the fort at a push and let’s see what Arteta makes of McGuinness and Ballard in pre-season? Mavropanos I think will be sold.

    3. I think that we’ll sign a young left back to understudy Tierney but not Bertrand, no more of those short term, high cost deals thank you. Chambers can fill in adequately at right back and so can Soares (who can’t play left back after all) but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a new right back arrive, maybe on deadline day.

    4. Central midfield, I’d love to see Bissouma brought in but £40m is a bit steep in this climate. I think that we’ll wait and see if the price drops or Liverpool make a bid below the 40 and it gets accepted? I can’t see a future for Niles at Arsenal, not least after he spoke out of turn, I think he’ll be used as a part ex or sold to raise funds. Willock I don’t know? If someone makes a big bid we might be tempted but I wouldn’t mind seeing him stay. Partey needs a replacement for Xhaka, an upgrade if possible, but I haven’t a clue beyond all the names in the frame. Losing Elneny and Partey in January could be problematic so Edu needs to work some magic in that department.

  • 5. Assists? Yeah, Smith Rowe for me is going to be massive for us this season, he’ll be a year older and a year stronger and if it’s just the EPL games and Arteta is thoughtful with his minutes then he’ll be fine.
    Odegaard on loan would be fantastic and that’s a distinct possibility because nobody from Madrid has categorically come out and said he’s not available and until they do, well, he’s available. I’m not sure that Arsenal can do all their business they want and need and afford what Madrid want for Martin, but maybe we could agree to an obligation to sign him at the end of the loan for an agreed fee?

    Saka has shown that he can play the No.10 so there’s still options and we have some very interested academy players waiting for a chance and I do not want to see them blocked off. Azeez has the full range to be a top top player, Cirjan is very talented and I’ve heard that Charlie Patino is going to be fast tracked so watch out for him and of course Hutchinson. We’re well stocked in attacking midfield our lads just need the manager to trust them.

  • 6. Attack, well I’m confident that Nicolas Pepe is finally finding his feet because we need goals from the flanks and he was showing signs of developing into the player we hoped he would be. Eddie will leave, he’s had a fair crack and it’s not worked out but in another set up he could be sensational, Balogun will take his place and once he’s had a few games we’ll all start to wonder what we were worried about, because he’s top top quality. Martinelli after a mixed year could really push on and switch inside more and blossom into the striker we all hope he’ll become. Lacazette should be sold, he’s probably looking for a fresh challenge and giving him a new contract and a salary increase would be really crazy. The elephant in the room is Aubameyang because if he can recapture say 75% of what he was then that should be ok, at the moment he’s at 50% and that’s not enough.

    I guess that Edu might have a striker earmarked to supplement our attack if we lose Eddie and Laca, but if not then we’ll have to make do I suppose.

  • 7. Aubameyang keeps the armband, Tierney or Holding as his deputies, as for Arsenal Captains who were full backs Stuart, how about Tom Parker, Eddie Hapgood, Pat Rice and Kenny Sansom for starters, I bet that GN5 can think of a few more?

    Guendouzi has to go, Kolasinac has to go and Torrieira has to go, of the three I’d be happy to give Lucas another chance, but I think he and his wife have burnt their bridges with England, they just couldn’t settle.

    Now I’ll go and read what everyone else has written. 🙂

  • All good points, Kev (even though I don’t agree with everything), but I think selling Mavropanos would be a big mistake. It’s not only he had a far better season than Liverpool’s big money signing Konaté (in every aspect), but he played so convincing against Norway away from home on Sunday, that one of the word’s top3 attacker Haaland didn’t have a sniff on goal.
    Dinos is the type of player that is still quite low profile (hence no significant transfer fee is to be expected), but he would take the Premier League by storm. And he is big (194 cm) so he would make a killer CB-pair with Mari (193 cm), while Holding could develop synergies with Gabriel.

  • Great responses, Kev, and not much to disagree with, had forgotten about Martinelli and Balogun, wow yeah they are exciting additional options in attack.

    I hope we can keep Laca. Just don’t think Auba is happy to finish his best years at Arsenal, and I certainly don’t want him to be the captain going forward. I also think Arteta’s system doesn’t suit Auba, but it does suit Laca.

  • TA, you have a good point in suggesting that Willock could thrive in 4-1-4-1, but I can’t see him in 4-1-2-3; which would probably be a too defensive formation for a team like Arsenal anyway – hence it is Mourinho’s favorite line-up. 🙂
    Did you see Arteta leaning towards 4-1-4-1, or is it more of a wishful thinking?

    I wouldn’t mind extending our formation and tactic portfolio to 3, in order to be less predictable and enable mid-game changes. But for that we might need a Ronald Koeman type of coach, who had to inject young players and new formations to Barcelona beyond their signature 4-3-3. Sometimes I had the impression that he carried it too far (after all they came 3rd in the league and dropped out early from the CL), but he is a manager with great tactical awareness. I would appreciate him at Arsenal.

  • PB, 4-1-4-1 is what Arteta did a few times towards the end of the season. Ceballos was the box to box midfielder and struggled imo. Willock would suit this position better.

  • 4-1-2-3 is very attacking. Its the successful Barcelona style of play with Busquets in the 1 and Xavi and Iniesta in the two.

    Soares Hold Mari KT

  • It’s just how I see it Peter, but I wouldn’t mind Mavropanos getting a chance, why not?
    I guess we’ll know for sure once Arteta has had a proper pre-season with all his players, the first one for him as a manager.

    Imagine that, 18 months in the job and you’ve not had a proper pre-season!

  • Again Total, it’s not what I want to see it’s what I think we’ll see…

    Like you I think that Laca suits our style better and if a club came in with an acceptable fee I’d be comfortable with selling Auba and keeping Laca, but the finances will decree what will occur and if Auba stays it’s fairly certain that Laca will leave.

  • Yes Kev, a fine list of fullback captains. Bob McNab did a good job in the ’73-74 season too. Our list of Scottish captains is as impressive. For me the holding midfielder is the best position to captain a team from. But KT has something special. As did Phillip Lahm, Gary Neville, the great Cafu, the greater Carlos Alberto, the luminous Maldini who all captained club and country from full back.

  • Stuart, some excellent examples to support your choice. A compromise could be a 4-2-3-1 midfield with KT and TP in the two, either can be captain.

  • That’s right Stuart, as someone in the media once nicknamed him ‘the beautiful Bob McNab’ with his long flowing locks, got into TV punditry alongside Malcolm Allison and Derek Doogan

  • Sorry guys got into this late.
    1. GK – I would be happy with Matty Ryan and the ajax goalkeeper. Will keep Leno since the new one cannot play immediately. It’s now established that leaving Emi to ley go was a mistake. I have a severe problem with Leno’s catching and commanding of the box. It’s the only position that is allowed to catch the ball and that advabtage is lost due to Leno punching it and keeping the pressure on.
    2. I would like to see Saliba integrated into the team. No questions there and if Arteta doesn’t then I have a serious problem. Mavro can go on loan again. No buying CB again this summer as that would be serious misuse of scant resources.
    3. RFB if only Bellerin is sold then we dont need any. Last year Cedric was brought as backup. Arteta cannot get another shot at RB if he cannot move Cedric and Bellerin. LB we need someone young as understudy for Tierney. I suspect next summer we will be under tremendous pressure to sell Tierney.

  • 4. Willock should be interested and one of AMN/El should be sold. Bring in someone for Xhaka and if he is also an African then we will need one more CAM.
    5. ESR should be #10 but we need one more. Happy if it’s Ode looks like Arteta wants him or anyone of Aouar or Brandt or another youthful runner. Iam also ok if Willock also gets a chance in this position and asked to score goals.
    6. Attackers – cannot consider Willian as one and cannot expect any goals. Sell him if possible. Iam ok if we have Auba, Laca , Balogun, Pepe, Saka and would like to see more of Martenelli. If Laca is sold we will need tk buy one of Isak or Vlahovic or someone young with hunger for goals.

  • 7. Captain – Tierney is my choice. I need someone who can drag the team on the field and not let anyone slag. When Tierney doesn’t play my choice would be Partey or Saka. I need the captian to be vocal and wears Arsenal on his sleve and embodies all arsenal.
    8. Guendo, Torreira and Kola should be sold. Mavro to be sent on loan again. Sell Eddie or send him on loan if contract extended.
    Finally I would like Arteta to
    1. Set up team to play aggressively , there cannot be any excuse for fatigue.
    2. He has to motivate the team to be switched on every game and make the team believe that they are inferior to none.
    3. He has to allow the creative and strikers to be inventive not regimented.

  • Madhu, thanks for the fab responses. I agree with most of it and you made me look forward to the new season! 😁

    Will you be able to watch the Euros from your place?

  • Thanks TA looking forward to the new season. Already missing Arsenal.
    Yep can watch all Euro matches. My dish subscription is only for Sports channels. Iam watching Turkey – Italy game now with Martin Tyler commentary.

  • Here are the next games for you to make your predictions.
    * = score game

    June15th Hungary v Portugal *
    June15th France v Germany *
    June 16th Finland v Russia
    June 16th Turkey v Wales
    June 16th Italy v Switzerland
    June 17th Ukraine v Macedonia
    June 17th Denmark v Belgum
    June 17th Netherlands v Austria
    June 18th Sweden v Slovakia
    June 18th Croatia v Czech Rep
    June 18th England v Scotland *

    So sorry it’s I’m late putting them up but I’ve been tied up this week – get your predictions in as soon as you can.

  • Thanks GN5.

    June15th Hungary v Portugal * A 0-2
    June15th France v Germany * H 2-1
    June 16th Finland v Russia A
    June 16th Turkey v Wales D
    June 16th Italy v Switzerland H
    June 17th Ukraine v Macedonia H
    June 17th Denmark v Belgium A
    June 17th Netherlands v Austria H
    June 18th Sweden v Slovakia H
    June 18th Croatia v Czech Rep H
    June 18th England v Scotland * H 1-0

  • June15th Hungary v Portugal…. Away 0-3
    June15th France v Germany…… Draw 2-2
    June 16th Finland v Russia ……..Draw
    June 16th Turkey v Wales ……….Away
    June 16th Italy v Switzerland …..Home
    June 17th Ukraine v Macedonia Home
    June 17th Denmark v Belgium …Away
    June 17th Holland v Austria …….Home
    June 18th Sweden v Slovakia ….Home
    June 18th Croatia v Czech Rep. Draw
    June 18th England v Scotland …Home 3-1

    Thanks for all your work GN5

  • June15th Hungary v Portugal….. Away 1-5
    June15th France v Germany……Home 3-0
    June 16th Finland v Russia …….Draw
    June 16th Turkey v Wales ………Draw
    June 16th Italy v Switzerland ….. Away
    June 17th Ukraine v Macedonia..Home
    June 17th Denmark v Belgium …Away
    June 17th Holland v Austria …… Home
    June 18th Sweden v Slovakia.… Draw
    June 18th Croatia v Czech Rep.. Draw
    June 18th England v Scotland.… Draw 0-0

  • Good morning all.

    It’s wonderful that football is back and we get to watch the best teams and players in Europe play.

    Stuart, Peter and Kev – thank you for for quick responses it make it so much easier for me as your administrator.

  • Here are the results after the first day:-

    1st GN5 with 1 point for a correct prediction and 2 bonus points for correct score.
    2nd Eris, Kev, Stuart & OMG with 1 point for correct prediction.
    TA & PB both struck out.

  • Here are GN5s predictions:-

    June15th Hungary v Portugal….. Away 1-3
    June15th France v Germany……Home 2-1
    June 16th Finland v Russia ……. Home
    June 16th Turkey v Wales ………Away
    June 16th Italy v Switzerland ….. Home
    June 17th Ukraine v Macedonia..Home
    June 17th Denmark v Belgium …Away
    June 17th Holland v Austria …… Home
    June 18th Sweden v Slovakia.… Home
    June 18th Croatia v Czech Rep.. Home
    June 18th England v Scotland.… Home 2-1

  • A fine article there TA, and enjoyable comments all round, especially the in depth efforts of PB, Kev, Madhu, et al.

    Not much to add there than to agree I won’t mind a change in captaincy; no disrespect to Auba but just for team cohesion.

    I look forward to enjoying the Euros, whenever work time allows.

  • It’s been confirmed that Christian Erikson has recovered and speaking after that scare in the abandoned game between Denmark and Finland. Thank goodness. I feared the worst, given the reactions of his team mates as he collapsed and appeared to stopped responding to first aid.

  • GN5, here are my predictions:

    June15th Hungary v Portugal….. Away 0-2
    June15th France v Germany……Home 2-1
    June 16th Finland v Russia ……. Draw
    June 16th Turkey v Wales ………Away
    June 16th Italy v Switzerland ….. Home
    June 17th Ukraine v Macedonia..Home
    June 17th Denmark v Belgium …Away
    June 17th Holland v Austria …… Home
    June 18th Sweden v Slovakia.… Home
    June 18th Croatia v Czech Rep.. Draw
    June 18th England v Scotland.… Home 3 – 1

  • Belgium and Portugal have served up a humdinger of a contest. The Portuguese deserved it but Belgium has stolen it, in my view. CR7 is disconsolate.

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