Mikel Arteta has been getting plaudits for a good job at Arsenal. Just under a year at the helms, he has won the FA Cup, the Community Shield and has made Arsenal a much more difficult team to breakdown. Arsenal’s win against Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend was their first league win on United’s territory since 2006. It was also their first away win against a top-six opponent in five years. However, Arteta’s style seems like one that will deliver in the Cup competitions but one not sustainable enough in the league. What does Arteta need to do to get Arsenal to the level where they can compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool? This writer believes this players are the difference between ‘almost’ and ‘there’ for Arsenal.
Arsenal presently have like seven senior center-backs on their books, but it is more of quantity over quality. One of the reasons Arteta has gone for three center-backs is to cover up for the deficiencies of his defenders. Gabriel Maghalaes looks solid and seems like a defender that can serve Arsenal well for years. It seems Arsenal can play a back four in matches were they have to be more expressive if they have an assured partner for Gabriel. Rob Holding, Gabriel Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi have been impressive in patches but they can’t be trusted enough. Holding still looks like the best option if he can find some consistency.
William Saliba has not played yet and is unpredictable. Like Gabriel, Dayot Upamecano will slot straight into the team and a partnership with Gabriel will be solid.
Upamecano already has years of first team football at a young age of 22. He has starred in the Bundesliga for RB Leipzig and was pivotal as the German club got to the semi-final of the Champions League last season.
Arsenal’s pursuit of Aouar is well documented. The Gunners were said to be interested in the French midfielder but could not reach a deal with Lyon at the summer.
They should however return for the French midfielder. In some matches and at some stages in some matches, they will need a different type of midfielder that can unlock troublesome defences. In probably their most disappointing defeat so far this season, a 1-0 home loss against Leicester, it was clear they need variety in midfield.
Since it seems Mesut Ozil will never play for the team anymore, Auoar will make the team closer to becoming title challengers.
The Gunners have long been linked with Zaha and were said to be pursuing the Ivorien before they shifted attentions to his compatriot Nicholas Pepe.
Pepe has not really had the expected impact. However, at 27, Zaha is getting to the peak of his career and Arsenal may be the beneficiary of the talent Alex Ferguson spotted years back. He has become more of a goals threat with 5 league goals so far this season. Even when he is not scoring he is a handful for Premier League defenders.
Whichever way Arsenal plays, he slots in. He could slot into the left hand side of Arsenal’s attack, allowing Aubameyang to play more centrally. His pace means he is equally as dangerous on the left as Aubameyang has been, when the team plays on the counter.
As we have seen in Crystal Palace, he could also play on the right as well as centrally. He will make Arsenal’s attack really dangerous to handle.
These three players will be the icing in what is looking like a solid team. If they can go all out to splash the cash, the North London team long wait for another Premier League title will be over.