We started our Europa League campaign with victory, but there’s still cause for concern.
‘We are moving away from a creative scheme to a side full of robots, that have to perform their task and nothing more’ was just one of the things I heard after Arsenal beat Rapid Vienna, and after witnessing our recent performances it’s getting harder to disagree with statements like that.
On paper we have one of the best attacks in the Premier League and nearly £200m worth of talent who we are not utilising effectively in certain games. I understand the need to improve the defence when Mikel Arteta took over, and he has achieved this for the most part, but at the same time our attack seems to have regressed massively.
We seem to be approaching every game with the same pragmatic approach and right now our attackers are feeding off scraps because there is zero creativity going on behind them. This approach is currently working, but it won’t last forever.
It is absolutely fine to set up this way against teams such Liverpool or those who we aren’t expected to beat, but I can see absolutely zero logic setting a team up this way against a smaller club or team we are expected to beat.
Arsene Wenger once said: “To achieve what we want we will have to play with freedom and take the handbrake off and accept the risk, to play with restriction and with the handbrake on doesn’t help the performance”.
Arteta needs to be heed this advice and allow his team to play with a little bit more freedom and risk. I’m not saying I want the team set up to win every game 5-0 (I like a 1-0 win just as much as the next guy), but sticking to this approach isn’t helping certain Arsenal players’ careers.
Do Nicolas Pepe & Willian Fit in This Arsenal System?
Take Nicolas Pepe for example, for the most part against Vienna he looked completely isolated and he kept having to track back in order to make things happen for himself, and this just wasn’t working as he is not that type of player. It’s becoming more and more evident that there is zero link up play between the full-back and the winger in front of him and this is affecting both Willian and Pepe’s overall game.
This, in turn, is seeing fans start to get on their backs for something that isn’t necessarily their fault. Both players don’t suit the style of play that Arteta is trying to implement so again there is zero logic in playing them.
Some fans will argue that this style of football – although not pretty – is getting results. And although that is true you have to question the long-term success of this style in what is likely to be one of the most competitive Premier League seasons in recent memory.
You also have to question whether this brand of football will get us back in the top four. In my opinion, absolutely not. Top four is the absolute minimum requirement to be achieved this season and it’s clear the board – who have signed Thomas Partey and extended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract – will accept nothing less.
Arteta has been in charge a little over ten months and it’s still not clear what his style of play is. One thing for certain, though, is that if we don’t allow some of the squad member to play with the handbrake off then we could be faced with some previously dormant issues.