No Tierney and possibly no Partey for a while…. are we in trouble?
If we are going to miss both players for a month or more it will certainly affect us. Both add a lot in terms of Arteta’s style of play and game plans, and they also really add personality and experience to the team.
But these things happen to all clubs and there are suitable replacements within the squad. The squad is of course not thin but some will argue we lack depth in certain areas. We obviously have to see how things go and it may take a bit of time before the direct replacement – most likely Tavares and Lokonga – have fully settled. Furthermore, Arteta can make tactical adjustments to still get the quality that we have in the squad come to the fore again. With Brighton (H) and Southampton (A) away up next, Arteta has an opportunity to get it right gradually whilst hopefully not drop points in the process.
Option 1: replace Tierney and Partey with Tavares and Lokonga or Elneny – rest unchanged. Xhaka likes working with Elneny as they played together many times in the past, but Lokonga offers more to our attacking efforts. Xhaka will have to sit deeper than recently to get the best out of him and Lokonga can be the one who pushes up more.
Options 2: Bring in Holding and push Gabriel to the left. This should be an easy adjustment to make, especially if Xhaka sits deep on the left to support the left side of defence when required.
Soares, Ben, Hold, Gab
(Rest as usual)
Option 3: play three at the back and use our best player, Saka, as left back in midfield. As a left footer Saka brings a lot to the team and our left side would be very strong from an attacking point of view. Our right side would need fixing but Pepe, ESR or Martinelli can all play there.
Ben – Holding – Gab
Soares – Eln/Lok – Granit – Saka
ESR/Pepe – Laca/Ode – Mart/Pepe
I believe these are the main options but maybe Arteta or you will come up with another one?!
I think we should stick with Tavares, who clearly is work in progress but also a ferocious talent. Our next two games should give him an opportunity to settle and with Granit deeper in midfield he should feel a lot more comfortable. But I also like the thought of now introducing fab Rob into the defence, either in a three or four at the back. There is a winner in Holding and this might be the time for Mikel to use his trump card.
We are well covered for Partey, with either Lokonga or Elneny ready to step in. They are not as good as Thomas but will do a more than decent job against most PL teams. Hopefully, the Ghanaian will be back when we have to face Manure and the skinny-chicken-on-a-ball team.
Let’s see what will happen over the next game(s).
What would you do?