In 15 games under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal kept 7 clean sheets unlike in their last 15 games prior to Arteta’s arrival where they couldn’t keep more than one clean sheet.
Arsenal seems to be defensively stable than they’ve ever been for a long time.
Looking at what Arteta might have done right…
It has to be said that, Arsenal have had a good defensive record so far, due to the fact that Arteta has incredibly found a balance with what he has at his disposal.
Looking at how he sets out his team; the right back stays deep while on the other side, Xhaka is positioned to cover as a left back, creating some protection to the left side of the defense.
But the argument still remains that; would the presence of an elite defender allowed the team to have been more expansive in their overall approach?
Having an elite defender (potentially Upamecano) as your left centre back, it will give more license to the left central midfielder to be more offensive cause. Upamecano presence will give the LCM the confidence that he has someone that can close that space quickly and effortlessly. While same goes for the right hand side too, when you have an elite defender covering that space, it’ll also give room and confidence to the midfielder placed ahead of him to take some offensive risk with the ball, hereby causing offensive threats to the opponent.
Having two elite defenders gives the full backs and the central midfielders more license to focus on the offensive side of the game.
Realistically, any decent defender will look good in a system where they are given close cover unlike the elite defenders who are more capable of nullifying any threat with less support.
Apparently, every defender needs a cover, but an elite defender will make the defensive duty much easier for the others to concentrate on the offensive side.
In order for the team to be more expansive in their approach without too much focus on the defense, signing one or two elite defenders will give Arsenal enough room to express their offensive side of the game and start to create more chances than they’ve been able to.
Arsenal has recorded one of the worst rate of goal returns from their midfielders, while mainly relying on club’s captain Aubameyang to come up with some moment of brilliance in order to save the day. Goals and chances created haven’t obviously been free flowing like the Wenger’s era.
All this tends to point out how Arsenal have still been badly affected by lack of an elite defender.
When the team doesn’t believe in their defense, it tends to limit their offensive flow and causes too much consciousness in their offensive approach and the fear of not to be hit on a counter-attack will limit their movement.
All this tends to make Arsenal’s approach much predictable by the opponent.
Therefore, signing an elite defender practically seems to be what Arsenal needs to prioritize during this summer in order to once again become an offensive threat and get back into an high goal scoring team we’ve all known them to be.
Though not to forget the arrival of William Saliba, if he turns out even quite good as we want him to be – then maybe we don’t need to splash cash on Upamecano or anyone of a kind.