Arteta’s Next Challenge

After a tough start for Arsenal in the league, we are truly back now and it’s good to be a Gooner again. The main reason for this incredible turnaround is our focus on keeping it tight at the back and taking our chances when they arrive. Arsenal remain a work in progress but a solid defence will always be the backbone of any successful team. The boys conceded an eye-watering ten goals in just three games at the start of the season but since then only four goals in eight games, which is great.

The team have also started to score goals but it is fair to say this remains an area for improvement. 13 goals in eight games, about 1.6 goals per game, is nothing to write home about of course. We had one 0-0 v Brighton and three 1-0 to the Arsenals, and two games in which we scored two goals (Leicester and Palace) and two games in which we scored three goals (Villa and Spuds).

I reckon we will start to see further improvement in the next ten games but there is quite a challenge for Arteta and co to get our attack to work better. The big issue is how to combine creation and finishing of chances optimally. In principle all players play a role in our attack, from keeper to CF, but the main players are taking up the four attacking positions in front of the deep laying ‘DMs’.

It is hard to get things right at the moment as there are five players who ideally all play but for whom there are only four positions if we want to stick to two deep-laying midfielders, which certainly has my preference. Auba and Laca ideally both play and the same goes for the Ode and ESR, but that would leave Saka out which is almost unthinkable right now. Something/somebody has to give and that seems to be the handsome viking. It has meant that we needed more creative support from the other players and this has not been bad at all. With Tierney returning soon we will get better passes and crosses from the left (even though Tavares has not been bad at this) and with Partey (and hopefully soon Xhaka too) we have an allround midfielder who can pick a creative pass now and again. Lokonga has also shown real promise in the last few games.

Still, Odegaard is the sort of player who has to play regularly and the same goes for Smith Rowe of course. Ideally, we can fit them both in. But whom to leave out? Saka, Auba or Laca? Saka’s wing play is a real weapon on the right; Laca has been awesome in connecting up with his fellow players and creating space for others; Auba has worked hard but all this hard labour has made him less predatory when it comes to taking his chances. Still, I love Auba for buying into the Arteta philosophy and working his socks off. Laca suffers a bit from the same and if and when they start combining the hard work with some cool finishing we will see a step improvement in our average goals per PL game going forward.

In our highest score games, when we scored three, we had either both of Auba and Laca or both of ESR and Ode on the pitch, so the jury is still out in terms of what works best. And maybe that is just what Arteta wants right now: either focus on more creativity or more finishing power depending on our opponent. The big question is still what is the optimum combination up-front and we will find out about this in the next couple of months, no doubt. It may well be that Arteta will need to buy one or two attackers who are more natural at combining hard work and cool finishing, and January’s TW will be interesting in that respect.

What is your ‘ideal four’ in attack and why?

By TotalArsenal.

36 thoughts on “Arteta’s Next Challenge

  • ‘Pool and the Barcodes are a week apart. After that we have 8 PL matches in four weeks. We will need all of the players you mention to be fit and available for that run. Each should get plenty of time on the pitch without necessarily starting every match. Arteta will be able to tweak the team to suit the teams we face and by the end of December, he (and we) should know more about which combos work best and when. I am so happy that we have so many strong contenders vying for places in the team.

  • Morning all,

    Here are the results of last weekends competition:-

    1st OX10 with 4/6 plus 1 correct score and the most correct predictions = 10 points
    2nd Madhu with 3/6 plus 1 correct score = 5 points
    3rd GN5 with 2/6 plus 1 correct score = 4 points
    4th Total, Eris & Kev with 3/6 = 3 points
    For the season to date:-

    1st OX10 with 70.13
    2nd Eris with 61.46
    3rd GN5 with 56.13
    4th Madhu with 51.66
    5th Total with 51.15
    6th Kev with 44.33

    Congratulations go out to OX10 for a big 10 points and dominating the table.

  • These are next weekends choices.

    Aston Villa v Brighton
    Burnley v Crystal Palace *
    Newcastle v Brentford
    Liverpool v Arsenal *
    Tottenham v Leeds
    Manchester United Ladies v Arsenal Ladies *

  • Hi Total, I don’t have much time at the moment and my strongest suit isn’t team selection – however to me our best four choices in attack are – Auba, Lacca, ESR & Saka. I would find it very hard to leave any of them out of my starting eleven.

  • GN5, good job, as always with keeping the scores in the Predictions game.

    For once, I have to request you review our entries again, against the results of the games selected. Now, that’s because from memory, I thought I had 4 correct predictions and no correct score. If I recall, so did TA and Kev.

    It is possible I have aspects of the rules wrong, so it will help to get clarification. Just to ratchet up the competition further, I did get the prize of an authentic Home shirt (for those who didn’t know. Thanks again, TA and GN5 👍🏽👌🏽😀), so easy to see why I care.

    These were the actual results of the games:

    Tottenham Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * D 1 – 1
    Spain v Sweden * H. 1-0
    Croatia v Russia * D 1-0
    Fluminense v Palmeiras H. 2-1
    Everton Ladies v Man U Ladies D. 1-1
    Man C Ladies v Chelsea Ladies. A. 0-4

  • Back to the topic. TA, for me, it’s a no-brainer who will lose out of the 5. It’s got to be Ode, unfortunately, until he regains his good form from last season, or there is a tweak with the formation to suit his skill set. He will always have a place in the side though but may not be in the best combination to fulfill the qualities we have shown during the last 8 games’ unbeaten run.

    It may also be expedient for Arteta to consider a player who will fit both requirements of hard work and “cool” finishing; that should be great competition for Auba and trust me, there’s nothing a striker needs to fire from all cylinders like competition. I feel it is the spirit of competition that is bringing out the best in the team. Leno is looking to get back his shirt; Tierney can’t be that self assured anymore, even if he is likely going to be restored when fully fit. Mari looked sharp in training and so did Holding. The only position which has little or no competition is the right back position and the sooner it is sorted, the better.

  • Thank you for pointing out my error Eris, I had the Brazilian game down as an away win instead of a home win. I will post the corrected standings in the morning.

  • Gee, thanks GN5. I actually watched the game and the away side did score first, but the home team had a barnstorming response to win it.

    Speaking of which the England team won against San Marino by 10-0, with moon face Kane scoring 4. Kane is racking up the goals and would easily catch up to Rooney as England’s top scorer at this rate. Did Rooney get to play against so many weak European sides as Kane is doing? Can’t recall. Teams like San Marino, Andorra and Faroe Islands only just started to feature in competitive football but records are records, I guess.

    The good news is ESR got his first international goal and Saka added to his collection too. Ramsdale also started in goal and kept his customary clean sheet, it must be said.

    So England qualify at a canter. For context, the likes of Italy, Sweden and Portugal will be in the play-offs.

  • Fingers crossed, we have no new injuries to worry about after the internationals. Kolasinac suffered a horrendous injury on national duty. Elneny scored the equalizer for Egypt against Angola; Auba scored the winner against Libya. Still, games to go Tuesday and the players can return in time to prepare for the league game at the weekend. It must be noted that a number of players were allowed to return to their various clubs, from various national team camps, but none from Arsenal (save Kolasinac, maybe).

  • Aston Villa v Brighton – A
    Burnley v Crystal Palace * – 0-1
    Newcastle v Brentford – H
    Liverpool v Arsenal * – 1-1
    Tottenham v Leeds – H
    Manchester United Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * – 0-2

  • TA, is its ain’t broken don’t fix it. So i would go with the same formation and team that won the last game. Liverpool is tough and considering that they lost the last one and drew against BHA we should fancy ourselves to get a point. Freshen the team after an hour with players who didn’t play in the Internationals. It would be an indication of real progress if we can get a point to pool.

  • Aston Villa v Brighton H
    Burnley v Crystal Palace * 1-2
    Newcastle v Brentford A
    Liverpool v Arsenal * 1-1
    Tottenham v Leeds H
    Manchester United Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * 1-3

  • Here are the corrected standings for last weekend.

    For the week:-
    1st, Madhu with 4/6 plus 1 correct scores plus share of most correct predictions = 7 points
    2nd Total, Eris, & Kev with 4/6 plus share of most correct predictions = 5 points
    also OX10 with 3/6 plus 1 correct score = 5 points
    Last – GN5 with 2/6 plus 1 correct score = 4 points
    For the season to date:-

    1st OX10 with 65.13
    2nd Eris with 63.46
    3rd GN5 with 56.13
    4th Madhu with 53.66
    5th Total with 53.13
    6th Kev with 46.33
    Once again my thanks to Eris for pointing out my error.

  • Aston Villa v Brighton – H
    Burnley v Crystal Palace * – 1-1
    Newcastle v Brentford – H
    Liverpool v Arsenal * – 2-1
    Tottenham v Leeds – H
    Manchester United Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * – 0-1

  • My heart tells me we could beat Liverpool on Saturday; but the head says “normal service” will be resumed and they get the win.

  • Thanks to all for your fine responses. I think we mostly agree with keeping going with the current four and allow The Ode to join in whenever possible, and also start a few games. We do need more goals per game and the boys will only get better at playing together the longer they play together. CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋

  • GN5, thanks again for the weekly scores update and well done for making the adjustments already. Eris has that sort of beady eye and it was helpful of him to spot it in time. Good man!

  • Aston Villa v Brighton H
    Burnley v Crystal Palace * 0-1
    Newcastle v Brentford H
    Liverpool v Arsenal * 0-3
    Tottenham v Leeds D
    Manchester United Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * 0-4

  • Aston Villa v Brighton…………H
    Burnley v Crystal Palace…….A (1-2)
    Newcastle v Brentford………..H
    Liverpool v Arsenal……………A (0-5)
    Tottenham v Leeds……………H
    Manchester United Ladies v Arsenal Ladies…A (0-4)

  • I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I’m a bit odd but I don’t hold any real negative thoughts towards Harry Kane, except in a NLD, I actually think that he’s a really good player whose made the absolute maximum of his abilities and wish that Arsenal had kept him when he was training with us – a bit of a clang by our coaches on that one.

    I get what you guys have said about the quality of the opposition but I reckon that anyone whose a record breaker, whether it’s tries, goals, wickets, runs or touchdowns (that ones for J) will have accumulated a few of what they fancy against some quite poor opposition during their career.

    I tend to look at the goals scored against appearances made to give me a better idea and Kane has racked up his total in fewer games than most, Jimmy Greaves apart.

    As an Englishman I’m glad we’ve got him, he’s as good as anywhere else in the world, I just wish he’d left the Spuds last summer….

  • Was it ever in doubt that Holland would win that one? 2-0,its ended. Odegaard and his team mates came to hold on and drag the game to the section of games when doubt starts to creep in. That gambit failed, it turned out. They hardly troubled the home keeper and played as if nothing was at stake (perhaps, Holland was just that much better).

    Ode did little to remain on the pitch as long as he did. Maybe, because he is captain or the manager was hoping for some X-factor from him. I cannot tell.

    Pepe’s Ivory Coast and Auba’s Gabon also miss out on qualification for the next round of play-offs for African WC qualifiers.

  • Aston Villa v Brighton H
    Burnley v Crystal Palace * A (0-2)
    Newcastle v Brentford H
    Liverpool v Arsenal * A (1-2)
    Tottenham v Leeds D
    Manchester Unied Ladies v Arsenal Ladies * A (1-3)

  • Brilliant write up there, GN5. No one can argue about the impact of our set piece coach (or set piece coaching, for that matter) after seeing the stats in comparison with previous seasons; in addition to the regression at City, in set play impact, after Jover left. Long may it continue.

    It is true that these days, you feel less concerned when we have set plays against us, while on the other hand, you are more expectant when we have a set piece to take; at least, I am. The movements of the players is indicative of rehearsed decoy runs while all that is required is a bit of accuracy with the delivery. When we get that right, we cause some anxious moments for the opposing defenders. Arsenal are no longer a soft touch at set pieces. It looks like the set piece coach deserves the recognition for his work. Now, the pressure is on to prove this more often, I guess.

  • I didn’t mean the write up was by you, GN5. Just acknowledging your sharing it, of course. 😎

  • I completely agree with your comment Eris, in particular set pieces against. There are many other positive indicators which bode well for the future of Arsenal.

  • Nice article GN5, thanks for that…

    I do enjoy the tactical game that is a dead ball situation, it’s something that Arsenal were extremely strong at under George Graham but we then lost it completely under Arsene and were quite vulnerable from a defensive perspective, as Stoke and Bolton showed us on regular occasions.

    It’s brilliant to see the different approaches our players employ depending on the different opposition and so enjoyable watching our opponents getting very twitchy when we get a corner or free kick around their box. Our corners, for many years almost a complete waste of time and a source of much hilarity by Arsenal fans are now arrowed into the box with velocity and accuracy from the feet of our two young superstars, no more deference to the senior players it’s the guys who can deliver – literally…

  • Sorry Kev. I can’t agree with your Kane comments. I think he is a born loser. Interesting that England has come up short with him most of their big opportunities lately. Just like spurs when they made it to the champions league final. I think England would’ve fared much better if Vardy was up front. He’s tenacious, and an over achiever, where Kane’s an under achiever. Scores a lot when he’s on a hot streak, then disappears for long stretches, especially in the biggest games.

    Then Harry wants out of Tottenham and he can’t even do that right, because he signed a ridiculously long term deal with no release clause. He might actually be as stupid as his voice sounds. Don’t blame his agent, because any player knows enough to leave themself some kind of future option. I heard a clown broadcaster in England asking if Lewandowski could be at Kanes level. Insanity.
    Oh, and Harry is a dirty player too. Not the worst diver I’ve seen, but a vindictive little —- when spurs are losing and frustrated.

    As a matter of fact, I think Son is a more important player for Tottenham, who is in turn, downplayed by the English media. Then Son goes and signs a new deal with Spuds this past summer, knowing that Kane either leaving or staying was going to be an overhang…. Is there something in the water in that slum?

    I must admit I’m a tiny bit biased though.

    I love Koreans. (Girls).

  • Hey Jay mio amigo it’s ok to disagree I promise I won’t be offended, just use my pronouns mate, that’s Gooner and Gunner. 😄

    You know what J, I get what you say about Kane, but there ya go, I also like Son and yes he’s very dangerous and underrated, but that’s it from that mob, I can’t remember a more nondescript Tottenham team than the one they have now.

    Considering that we’re facing our toughest test tomorrow since Man City (a) it’s almost silent on the Arsenal blogosphere, like the calm before the storm.

    I’m really looking forward to some very special posts from Total considering that his creative juices have had a bit of R&R. 😉

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