Arsenal and their issues so far

By ballprogression
7 Min Read

Arsenal have dropped points for the first time this season, drawing 2-2 against Fulham at home. It was a game which got the pulses racing and one which opened up the floodgates of numerous ongoing issues that have been happening for the last 3 games.

Fulham took the lead from a poor Saka backpass which Pereira took advantage of in the first minute. Ramsdale tried running back to goal after Arsenal’s passing sequence was disrupted but was ultimately left on the backfoot and with the ball in his net.

Arsenal eventually turned the game back into their favour thanks to goals from Nketiah and Saka but yet ANOTHER lapse in concentration allowed Fulham to pounce from a poorly defended corner.

So what are Arsenal’s problems and what needs to change?

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Arsenal have flipped the script from last season and went with an inverted fullback from the right with Thomas Partey as opposed to Zinchenko on the left for all three games now.

The switch, alongside the introduction of new faces to the eleven, rightfully meant new connections have to be made among the players. The switch also gave us an insight into the two defensive setups Mikel Arteta will use this season, depending on which of the fullbacks inverts. If Partey was to invert from the right, the defence would consist of White (RCB) – Saliba (CCB) – Kiwior/Tomiyasu (LB/LCB). If Zinchenko was to invert from the left, the rest of the defence would be White (RB/RCB) – Saliba (CCB) – Gabriel (LCB).

The switch to Partey at RB, however, isn’t a small change to the system. It means you lose out on well-established connections as in breaking up the triangle of White-Odegaard-Saka which worked so well, breaking up the pairing of Zinchenko-Martinelli, as well as losing out on a big defensive presence in Gabriel who cannot play the LB/LCB or the CCB role in the system. On top of that, you’ve got Havertz in the left #8 role who isn’t on the same wavelength with his teammates and Rice who despite slotting in seamlessly still represents a new face in the eleven. Plus there’s no Jesus up top who can provide the fluidity.

The first two games were understandable as there was no Zinchenko. But why not simply switch back to the old system which almost won us the title last year? I’m not saying we didn’t have two major lapses in concentration against Fulham but the game could have been done and dusted much sooner. Also, that’s not to say Arsenal weren’t on top of the game versus Fulham with Partey at RB but the difference was night and day when Zinchenko came on. It blows my mind that all those fruitful dynamics we spent so much time working on last year have been thrown in the water for an “experiment”. If Arteta fails to make this right in the game against United, we’re in for another day of disjointed, forced attacking combinations which will likely not lead us to all three points.


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Kai Havertz hasn’t acclimatised to this team whatsoever just yet. We saw how useful he can be when he played against Manchester City but it simply hasn’t clicked just yet. I’m not calling it a “project failure” just yet but it just might be a little too much too soon considering we as a team are not up to speed just yet. If he was to play in that Xhaka role of last season, it will take time and patience. It’s a complex role which involves plenty of moving pieces.

We only saw glimpses of what he can do with his usefulness in duels and winning flick-ons and headers as well as sniffing the space to run into in the box. However, he also showed us some of his flaws with his wrong weight on the ball a particular pet peeve of mine. He cannot allow himself to underhit that many balls a game. It slows the game down and he must do better. He also doesn’t seem up to speed on the game at all at times. Faster, sooner, more useful is the name of the game for him if he’s to be a mainstay in the eleven for Arsenal.

I’m confident we’ll see the best version of him only when Jesus comes back as only then will he be able to thrive off of combinations while the attack is at its fluid best. Let’s wait and see, however.

Arteta needs to go back to old ways

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With the Manchester United game coming soon, Arteta MUST go back to the old system that served us so well. The game is a must-win and it would serve as a massive statement towards the rest of the league.

Arteta can be a stubborn manager once he found something he likes and for that reason, I’m eager to see what lineup he puts out next. Reintroducing Gabriel and Zinchenko into the lineup as well as dropping Havertz to the bench for a Rice-Partey-Odegaard midfield is the right thing to do in my eyes but who knows what he’ll put out. No one says the switch guarantees us a win over our rivals but it would sure as hell be easier as everyone is well in tune with the system.

Hopefully, he makes the right call.

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