This crazy season had Arsenal on relegation form losing and drawing game after game. Conceding the most shots forcing Leno to be at his best every time the opponents had the ball in our half. Our centre backs were not being covered by our midfielders and there was a lack of stability within our play. Players started disrespecting Unai. Unai got the sack. Then Ljungberg came in and tried to steady the ship but Arsenal were nowhere near their usual standards and as far away from winning any competition as possible. Cue Arteta: Captain to Manager. The man believes in his principles and knows what he wants. Slowly Arsenal as a whole started to sway towards Arteta’s demands. Mustafi and Xhaka started putting in solid shifts and just as these two became regulars so did the rest of the team blossom into a fine-tuned Arteta Machine.
What does Arteta want though? Arteta wants to mold this Arsenal team into a squad full of determined and hungry players willing to give their all every second in matches and in training. This means players who aren’t here mentally and who have the passion to play week in week out at their max will not make it through Arteta’s tenure at Arsenal. Ozil and Guendouzi are two players that haven’t impressed Arteta in respect to their dedication levels and their temperament. Which means the highly skilled Ozil is not an Arteta player. Exciting wonderkid Guendouzi needs time to develop his understanding of the game and his professionalism, time which Arteta does not have. Arteta values mentality over pure talent and these two players will most probably not be at Arsenal much longer. This is a hard decision for us fans to accept but by making this decision Arteta lays down the law. Work hard and you make the first team on match day. End of. That’s elite club mentality, that’s where Arsenal need to be directed towards.
The players are onboard so how are we going to play? 3-4-3? 4-3-3? 4-2-3-1?
Based on the players that Arsenal have already signed and whose contracts have been extended. The 3-4-3 is not going away just yet. David Luiz needs this formation to be at his best and I believe it will be Arteta’s go-to formation against teams favored to beat Arsenal. Mari and Saliba playing as the the wider center backs in that back three with David Luiz as a libero. This would consist of:
LIBERO: David Luiz
Tierney would play as a marauding left wingback. Bellerin would play as an inverted wing back aiming to link play as he still hasn’t recovered his pace. Xhaka and Ceballos would be playmakers and mezzalas dictating the tempo of the game and utilizing half spaces to bring the attack into play. Aubameyang and Pepe will aim to play on the counter with Lacazette linking play.
This is not the style that Arteta wants this Arsenal team to play like on the regular according to his press conferences. He wants that 4-3-3 that can transition to a 4-2-3-1. Possession play is the name of the game with Arteta mentioning on many an occasion that he wants to keep the ball in the opposition half as much as possible. With the players lining up like this:
The center backs will aim to pass the ball around and both are comfortable in a back four. The fullbacks will aim to overlap the wingers and create width. DM Xhaka will aim to be a playmaker from deep dictating the tempo. Willock and Ceballos will press and help keep possession of the ball. They will also dribble with the ball as both are comfortable doing so. The wingers will tuck in with Aubameyang as an inside forward and Pepe as an inverted winger. Runs in behind from both will be key next season. Lacazette as the focal point will require that he links up play again as that is where Lacazette excels. In matches this formation can shift to a 4-2-3-1 with all positions kept the same as the 4-3-3 but with Xhaka and Ceballos as the CMs and Willock as the CAM. Providing space for Lacazette to operate in the box more and not to have to link up play as much outside of the box with Willock doing so for him. This is just the formation on paper, the real magic happens in how players move around without the ball and where they have the numerical advantage on the pitch. Arteta wants attacking possession based football and this is what the fan base should expect from Arsenal going forward.
Signings? As Mari is the only left footed centre back in the team I expect Arteta to want another such center back. With Gabriel being the most likely signing. In midfield, Partey is looking like the perfect addition. He’s physically capable to dominate the center of the pitch and he is an excellent tackler and passer. A combination which allows Arteta to have more freedom in what he can expect from the midfield. With Ceballos extending his loan Arteta will have a strong combination in terms of physicality and skill. In attack, Willian is coming in on a free and this could really be a master stroke from Arteta. Saka, Nelson, Martinelli, Pepe and Smith-Rowe can really look up to Willian and how he handles the mental side of the game. Signing these 4 would be splendid business for the club.
Now let’s have some fun and see what Arteta’s 4-3-3 could look like with the proposed signings.
GK: Leno (Martinez)
RB: Bellerin (Cedric)
RCB: Saliba (Mustafi)
LCB: Gabriel (Mari)
LB: Tierney (Kolasinac)
DM: Xhaka (Elneny)
RCM: Ceballos (Willock)
LCM: Partey (Torreira)
RW: Pepe (Willian)
LW: Aubameyang (Saka)
CF: Lacazette (Nketiah)
Solid. Determined. Experienced. Skillful.
This is Arteta’s 2020-2021 Arsenal.