Arteta’s New Lean Mean Football Machine Has Only One Weakness

So the TW is closed and we bought nobody. The squad has thinned out and especially the departure of Auba feels right for all involved. I wish him well at Barcelona, and I hope he will cope with his lack of passing skills.

The question is, has Arteta stripped down too much and will the failure to buy a CF or midfielder come to bite us in the proverbial?

With just seventeen games to go, on average one game per week, I don’t think so.

Getting the recruitment right is important, as the risks are high. We don’t need another Auba or Pepe like mega investment going all wrong. A player has to fit the style of play, the group culture and have the willingness and intelligence to play Arteta’s way. There was no need to rush a purchase; we are just fine for the rest of the season.

We have direct double cover in almost all positions. The CBs are White, Big Gab and Holding, so you could say we are one short, but either Xhaka or Elneny could provide cover. Surely also Tierney or Tomiyasu can provide cover.

In midfield we have four deep midfield players, and yes they are prone to receiving suspensions but they are now well rested and will refocus on the simple task of winning as many games as possible of the seventeen remaining PL games. I will even say that Xhaka and Partey will be the main factor in us finishing in the top five or better. We, are lucky to have them and they will deliver.

Up front I thought we would be vulnerable. I don’t rate Eddie in Arteta’s system and if Laca gets injured or suspended, we will be exposed. Or do we?

Arteta has learnt at MC that we don’t need great CFs to score a lot of goals. Laca hardly scores, yet we know he is an important player for us. After a tough start, we are now scoring a decent average of goals per game. I also think that we will see Martinelli be the number two to Laca rather than Eddie. He may even become the number one now. I think it is time for Martinelli to get some starts in the centre and playing Saka, ESR and the Ode behind him. Pepe, Eddie and Laca give us options from the bench and Arteta may promote a few young attackers too. We should be fine in attack for those seventeen games.

The only worry I have is an injury to Saka, as we don’t have a similar player with the ability to take on defences and create space and chances like he does. But finding a suitable nr2 to Bukayo is no mean feat and let’s hope one of the youngsters will come through soon.

All in all I am optimistic about the remainder of the season and cannot wait to get going again.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

74 thoughts on “Arteta’s New Lean Mean Football Machine Has Only One Weakness

  • Excellent analysis TA and I completely agree that Arteta has revitalized AFC and removed fading players as well. IMHO we will see our younger players begin to mature, while our older players wind down their careers. We have formidable keepers, a very solid CB situation and fullbacks who can really defend. Our midfield is our greatest strength with both skill and experience as well as being very well integrated into Arteta’s vision. Our attackers are multi-talented and very versatile, being able to play across the forward zones and score as well. With talents like Nkeitah,Saka,Pepe, Laca and future stars coming from our youth setup, we are solid, if not spectacular.

  • Well said TA. I wouldn’t be be surprised if Pepe was given more minutes and maybe some starts.

  • I agree with a lot of this, but I think we have two areas of significant weakness if we want to challenge the top three. First, the midfield is OK, but too often we get dominated there when we meet the top sides. Partey and Xhaka aren’t a strong enough combination. My wish list would add someone like Declan Rice.

    Second, and more obviously, we need a high-quality striker. I agree with points you make about our attacking players, but I doubt Martinelli can lead the line. He seems to lack the ability to play with his back to goal and hold the play up in the way Laca can. I wonder if Pepe could play down the centre? He likes to twist and turn, which is frustrating when he slows down attacks on the right flank – but it might be a useful skill when holding the ball up in the middle and drawing others into a move. Dunno really, just a thought.

  • FEMan, Pepe upfront is an exciting option. Martinelli has the energy and tenacity of Laca but yes he is still a work in progress. I am not worried about our ability to score goals.

    We can improve on our midfield but it’s not easy.

  • Totally agree with every point, TA. Let’s hope and pray that we will not be bugged by covid, injuries or suspensions.

  • While agree with most of what you said, i have been consistent from summer and even now i say that we will not make Europe only due to our center mid quality and quantity. Iam not worried about any other area, but center mid is the engine of the team. We have to understand that we loose our attacking shape of we don’t have our first choice center mids there. I am not confident Xhaka will not get red card for the next 17 games. I would be very happy to be proved wrong. I beleive me missed a trick in the center mid and hope that doesnt bite us in the back.

  • The king, MA, is naked guys, and the article sounds like sour grapes on Auba.
    We are weaker than we were in the first half, thanx to a thin skinned coach, and I honestly don’t see us back in the Champions League anytime soon.
    Which top player will risk coming to us and be MA’s next target for humiliation?

  • The king, MA, is naked guys, and the article sounds like sour grapes on Auba.
    We are weaker than we were in the first half, thanx to a thin skinned coach, and I honestly don’t see us back in the Champions League anytime soon.
    Which top player will risk coming to us and be MA’s next target for humiliation?

  • Well if he is naked he has nothing to hide and is giving his all. Arteta is doing the same as what Klopp and Guardiola did when they started.

  • Very upbeat post Total and exactly how I feel.

    With 17 games left and no distractions we have enough strength in this squad to deal with the workload before us and I’m confident we will.

    Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham and Man Utd all have FACup games to contend with and should all progress into the 5th Round and beyond putting more stress on their resources, Chelsea have a cup final and also more games in european football as do Man Utd, let’s hope they both progress to the end of their competitions. Man Utd have also released Martial and lost Greenwood which weakens their ability to win in added time even if they’re still strong in that dept.

    Referees and VAR are the fly in the ointment as I don’t trust them and I don’t think that Arsenal call them out enough, certainly not publicly, I’d like to see our top management taking a more aggressive line when it comes to how we are mismanaged by the officials.

    Finally it’s notable that both Omar Rekik and Miguel Azeez have not gone out on loan (yet) so do either of them have a part to play if only in providing an option of fresh legs on and from the bench?

    We know that Arteta thinks very highly of Charlie Patino and he will have been watching his progress in Dubai very closely and maybe one or two of our other young bucks like Kirk, Foran, Biereth and Ogungbo might have caught his eye as well?

  • Great comment, Kev. A post in itself.

    I am with you on the refereeing and it really looks like the refs are looking for every opportunity to punish us. We are not a dirty team, and although we do make silly mistakes at times, so do other teams. I have no doubt that the break and good conversations with Arteta will help Xhaka and Partey to refocus and avoid the red cards. If they can do that we have two fab midfielders on which the team can lean…. but the refs have to be watched as they will draw red as soon as they legally can.

    It would be nice to see two youngsters being added to the first team squad. Just so they learn and contribute where they can.

  • I totally agree that the refs are biased against Arsenal as it cannot be coincidence that similar fouls by many players are not penalised but our players (not only Xhaka) are penalised. This has been going on for many years ever since Wenger came because of the perception that he is a foreigner. I agree with the idea of appointing a local player as captain to reduce the bias.

  • Great stuff, Total, Kev and GN5. While I am missing the twice a week regularity of watching The Arsenal, we have a tangible and tantalizing opportunity to develop and focus our resources upon those 17 encounters over the remainder of the season. Bring ’em on.

  • Cheers GN5. I really think Martinelli through the middle will be tried out. ESR on the left or sometimes Pepe is also likely to happen. Saka on the right is a banker.

  • It’s a clear mission, Stuart. Like you I have missed the games but am grateful for the break for the team and manager. It was needed to refocus.

  • Wolves v Arsenal………..Away (0-2)
    Liverpool v Leicester……Home
    Chelsea L v Arsenal L….Draw
    Man United v Soton…….Draw (2-2)
    Everton v Leeds…………Home
    Villarreal v R.Madrid…..Away(1-2)

  • Lots to look forward to Stuart, we have a young talented squad and a young manager – what’s not to like. A few well placed summer recruits and we will be well positioned to challenge the big boys in 2022/23.

  • Balo lasted 60+ minutes. He was strong on the ball and made some good runs. Some intelligent football despite limited service. Didn’t deserve to be subbed, but good experience for our young Gunner.

  • A mixture of some very good footballers Total, a lot of nondescript ones and a few big time Charlie’s, not a team for sure but quite a few match winners- and they’re very very very lucky….

  • Hahaha! Enjoyable commentary, TA and Kev. I was in a dilemma all through the game as on one hand, I wanted Manure to win (so, more games to navigate), but on the other, only ever want them to suffer enough losses to keep them depressed.

    Pleased for Boro.

  • Yes, a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience Eris. 🙂

    Regarding Wolves, our next opponent, in fact our next opponent twice in the next three games, they have a unique record in the Premier League this season, they have only conceded 16 goals in their 21 EPL games to date, the best defensive record except for Man City in the EPL and they have scored the lowest number of goals in the EPL, 19, except for Burnley, who’ve played three games less and scored 16, so the Wolves supporter experience this season must be a tough one and hopefully it’ll remain equally tough until after we’ve played them.

  • After today’s round of FA cup games, Spurs, West Ham and Chelsea all get into the next round. United still have Europe to contend with for a few weeks more, at least. Now, we’ve just got to take maximum points off Wolves (we play them twice) to get them out of it.

  • Eris, we just have to focus on ourselves and those seventeen games now. Get as many points as possible and see where we finish in the end.

    Listening to Arteta on the website, the team believes they can finish in the top four and that’s all I want to hear.. 👍🏻

  • Ollie does it again, two goals in the Milan Derby for a crucial victory at the top of the table. Thank you Arsene for letting him go 😏😏

  • A fine looking lad, Kev. Looks well equipped to be a keeper, those ears might keep out a shot or two…

  • Giroud left us and has been enjoying himself ever since, with a different kind of pressure.

    Won the world cup, CL, shield, etc since,and being an important part of the teams he’s played for. Wenger let him go because he felt he deserved to be playing more than he was at Arsenal. With Auba and Laca about, it was always hard to have him start games.

    Happy for the big man though.

  • AFCON final done now. Elneny gets silver medal again. Sadio Mane is a winner, this time, with Senegal, along with Chelsea’s Mendy. Congratulations, the nation of Senegal, this being their first AFCON trophy.

  • I always rated Giroud: he lacked pace, but everything else about his game was top-notch; strong, great in the air, excellent left foot, great team-player. I know he left when Aub joined, but in terms of role in the team, he was really replaced by Laca, who is fine, but if we’re honest, not really as good as Olli. Really sad to see him go when he left.

  • This Thursday is the start of an enormously difficult run of games for the Gunners and us fans, every one of them will be like a cup tie for Arsenal (and emotionally draining for us) and for those hunting top four and Premier League salvation much the same.

    Arsenal are in a four-way contest with Man Utd, WestHam and Middlesex Ramblers for that financial prize, the prize that makes you attractive to the players you want and need to sign in the summer. Chelsea could also slip into the mix but sadly I think that Tuchel is too smart and his squad too strong and in truth given the Putin Russian gold spent on that mob they should be.

    How we do will depend on our players being responsible in midfield, no more stupid red cards, resilient in defence and clinical up front, it’s down to Arsenal themselves because come hell or high water the officials will do their utmost to sabotage us.

    I’m confident in our defence I have been for most of this season, hopeful in our midfield which on a good day is very very good and we need 17 of them and our attack, ah our attack, what face will they show us in this vital run of Cup ties?

    The efforts to attain Vlahovic show us what the coaching staff think and I’m sure more work on that department will be forthcoming in the summer, until then what we have will have to do!

    Visit many Social Media sites and it’s a mixed view which in a way is a reflection of the team because we never know what Arsenal is going to turn up from one game to the next.

    Goalscoring is the key, Middlesex are a poor team but they have two guys up front who are mustard, West Ham lack in that dept, Man Utd are a bit hit and miss and Arsenal are…..

    I heard Lacazette referred to recently on a Podcast as leaden footed and immobile, both remarks seemed overly critical and bordering on ignorant to me but then everyone is entitled to their view even if it’s the wrong view. Lacazette is playing a deeper role much as Bergkamp used to, linking play for all our young attackers the major difference is that Lacazette doesn’t have Thierry Henry, Bobby Pires and Freddie Ljungberg bombing on past him.

    Opponents have been doubling up on Saka and Martinelli, Smith Rowe and Odergaard are running on empty, maybe the Lacazette experiment has run its course and we’re ready to try Martinelli in a more central role? I’d like to see more fluidity employed with our wide players switching flanks, interchanging, giving the opposition different problems, Odergaard out wide, Smith Rowe through the middle, Saka through the middle, Pepe as an alternative, Martinelli starting centrally and then pulling wide or visa versa, this team has bundles of goals in it so let them off the leash.

  • Here the the past weekend results :-

    Firstly I had to void two of my predictions because of silly errors. Burnley v Watford I had down as 0-0 away win? and Everton v Brentdord in the FA cup as a draw.

    Anyway here are the results.
    Ist (on his runaway train) Eris with 4/6 plus most correct predictions = 8 points.
    2nd GN5,Total, Kev & OX10 with 2/9 = 2 points
    6th OX10 with 1/6 = 1 point

    For the season:-
    1st Eris – 126.39
    2nd OX10 – 107.06
    3rd Madhu – 92.66
    4th – Total – 92.06
    5th GN5 – 91.73
    6th Kev – 90.93
    Points behind the leader:-

    OX10 – 19.33
    Madhu – 33.73
    Total – 34.33
    GN5 – 34.66
    Kev – 35.46


  • TA, the AFCON went swimmingly well, after a few hiccups to do with curious/inconsistent officiating and a crowd stampede at one of the games resulting in some fatalities.

    It was typical African football on display where defences were king, mostly. The likes of Mane and Sallah were well matched in physicality and they were forced to rush decisions, or just made to look ordinary. Occasionally, their flair and innate abilities showed through, but only fleetingly.

    Overall, the event was an enjoyable success. Kudos to the nation of Cameroon for bringing the showpiece to reality and being such great hosts.

  • “Middlesex Ramblers” 🤣 . What a hoot. Good post, Kev. Be interesting to see MO10 out wide, Ozil could be quite effective out there, finding space and cutting in, knocking an unerring ball to the far post for Monreal or Sanchez, or slipping one of his crafty reverse passes. MO has a similar skill set.
    A shame about Marc Overmars. Ajax and he himself seem to be handling the affair responsibly. I hope his wife and family, and those other staff members involved find grace in this time.

  • Kev, that post of yours deserved its own article status. Well captured. In summary, all we need to do is keep a winning momentum going, even though it won’t be easy. We were to have a behind closed doors friendly against Reading FC, this past weekend, as warm up. Did the game hold?

  • GN5, thanks for the reporting and your fairness in it all. Wow! I didn’t even believe my predictions will turn out that well, to be honest. Fine guesses……I guess.

    I would like my momentum to be same as for the team. So, here’s hoping they pick things up and go for it!

  • Thanks for the summary, Eris. Glad you enjoyed it. Now I know why there so few goals in the handful of games I watched. Do you expect an African nation to make it to the quarter finals at this year’s world Cup?

  • TA, that’s an interesting question. Now, I am no Seer or a mystic Octopus of some sort but it is fair to say a resounding YES; why not? Don’t forget that Cameroon and Senegal reached the quarter-finals, respectively, in 1990 and 2002, so reaching that stage for an African team is a valid expectation these days.

    In fact, I feel African teams like Nigeria and Senegal can aspire for a semi-final berth. Nigeria topped its group at the 1994 World Cup (USA 94), at first attempt and was on the verge of a famous 2nd round win against Roberto Baggio’s Italy when a late equalizer took it to extra time; Italy, against the run of play, got the winner via a Baggio penalty and locked up shop against a barrage from the Nigerian forwards. Arrigo Sacchi, Italy’s Manager at the time, was asked what he was thinking with 15 minutes of normal time left and he said something about taking off in a Plane to a land no one could find him. It was that close.

    Ah! Those were the days. Since then, Nigeria has been a fairly consistent participant with varying levels of performance. Of course, Nigeria and Senegal have to qualify first. Both play Ghana and Egypt (yes, a repeat of the AFCON finals) respectively in a straight shootout to qualify for the World Cup. Hard to predict the winners for those games.

  • Great response, Eris. Wow semi finals even. Now I am boycotting the next world Cup but I do hope you are right. Would love to see an African nation win it.

  • That spuds game was really fun to watch. They’ve been so lucky under Conte, playing poorly.. but faced 3 teams down to ten men and that joke against Leicester. Things will begin to even out.

  • Amen J. And recent results for Forest and Burnley offer a helpful perspective as to how we failed to beat them.

  • I noticed that too Stuart. I hope we get back to the confident level we were at after Tottenham. Can’t afford a lazy start tomorrow.

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