Tactically, we have changed quite a bit since the turbulent – and quite frankly boring – Unai Emery stint.
The Spaniard dragged down our goal threat, turned our already porous defence into Swiss cheese and transformed our midfield into something less exciting than a book about the one-way system in Norwich.
The recovery is still ongoing, but we are far more formidable that under Emery. Mikel Arteta has got the players on board – something Emery failed to do – but most importantly, the defence is looking at least capable of shutting up shop.
We still lean heavily on the tried and tested formation of 4-2-3-1 – Lacazette up top, with Aubameyang, Ozil and Pepe just behind and two holding midfielders.
There are a variety of players who can fill these positions. Reiss Nelson can play in place of Pepe, we have Willock who can play in the hole or the engine room, three or four options in midfield…
We have adaptable players who help us interchange, but modern football is shifting again. There are certain phases – Tiki-taka etc – but now, swift, ruthless attacking is the order of the day and a 4-3-3 formation is in vogue right now with the forward thinkers of football.
With the squad we have, we have the ability to switch to this and give us a fighting chance of being able to have a potent Plan B or even make it our primary option. Aubameyang, Pepe and Laca as the three up top, with Nelson, Martinelli, Saka as options.
It will be midfield though, that a 4-3-3 could see us harness real strength.
With a trio in the centre, a holding midfielder such as Torreira, would be joined by two partners who would be responsible for rapid transitions, with their secondary task being to mop up when on the back foot.
Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi, for example, would be free of the majority of the responsibility of being the defensive shield. They would still shoulder some of the weight, but when it came to counter-attacking, they would push the ball through to the likes of Pepe and Aubameyang to optimise the opportunity of attacking against a defence that is not ready, or underpowered with gaps.
Mikel Arteta, being schooled under Pep Guardiola, will no doubt be prepping his side to be able to adapt to differing opponents. A fixed system no matter who we play is a flawed way of playing, and our 4-2-3-1 system is still useful – but next season, we will likely see Arteta opt for his side changing shape.
Watch this space.