3 Risks Mikel Arteta Must Take

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) /

Ten months after taking the job and Mikel Arteta is facing his first ‘crisis’ as manager.

Consecutive 1-0 Premier League defeats for Arsenal have been compounded by just how poor we have been creatively, and on Sunday night we just ran out of ideas quickly with no semblance of a Plan B.

Not for the first time this season (or year) it was slow, ponderous, conservative football with no one willing to take a risk. Watching Arsenal trying to pass the ball through ten blue shirts in the Leicester half became increasingly frustrating as the minutes ticked by.

The Foxes came to N7 with a game plan on Sunday night (a ploy I predicted before we even kicked off) and it worked perfectly, albeit aided by the ineptitude of our attacking players.

It’s back to the drawing board for Arteta now and, unfortunately, the games aren’t getting easier so he needs to try something different because his current plan just isn’t working.

Start William Saliba

Arsenal, William Saliba
Arsenal, William Saliba (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images) /

OK, so not an attacking risk, but a risk that Arteta needs to make. Willian Saliba arrived with a big reputation and there was a genuine excitement that he could be the answer to our defensive problems. Arteta seems to feel differently as he can’t even get into a Carabao Cup or Europa League squad.

It’s never been clarified as to why this is but it’s rumoured that Arteta has concerns over his maturity and positioning at set pieces. That’s all well and good but surely he isn’t any worse than some of the defenders we have at the club already? We are facing an injury crisis in defence at the moment and the likelihood that we could be seeing Shkodran Mustafi get a run of games is making my blood pressure increase just thinking about it.

All I will say is I would rather see a 19-year-old Saliba make a mistake and learn from it than see a 28-year-old Mustafi keep making the same mistakes and absorb them like water off a duck’s back. You only have to see the footage of the Leicester goal to realise how much of a liability Mustafi still is. In the lead up, Gabriel is seen telling Mustafi to cover the space, Mustafi subsequently ignores him and is nowhere near Jamie Vardy who gratefully heads in the winner.

How many times have we lost games because of mistakes like this? A young player would no doubt make errors but I have faith that he will learn from them given the right guidance. Arteta just needs to show the same trust and stop lending it to players who don’t deserve it.

Play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Through the Middle

Aubameyang signed a new Arsenal contract
Aubameyang signed a new Arsenal contract /

It’s become increasingly evident to everyone – except maybe Arteta and the Arsenal hierarchy – that Alexandre Lacazette is not good enough to lead the line. His stats of 51 goals in 134 games is a poor return when you consider the reputation that came with him when he joined from Lyon.

It almost makes me miss Olivier Giroud… almost.

While I don’t doubt Lacazette’s work rate, it’s clear he is far from an elite striker and some of the chances he misses are criminal. It’s time he was benched and given the role of impact sub until we eventually replace him fully. On the left wing Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is also looking increasingly lost and his form has declined – it’s debatable whether him being surrounded by average footballers has caused this or he’s just happy to coast by now he has his contract.

We do need to at least give him a run up front though, as on his day he is the elite forward that we need. Although he has made become a mainstay in his current position at Arsenal, he is a natural striker. His pace, even at the age of 31, hasn’t declined.

Put him in a front three with two natural wingers and it will guarantee goals.

Give the Arsenal Youngsters More Opportunities

Arsenal, /

Buyaka Saka is our Golden Child and he is already making that left hand side position his own, but what of the other youngsters?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a great end of last season and was immense in a man of the match display against Liverpool in the Community Shield. His reward? Benched.

Reiss Nelson looked good towards the end of last season. His reward? Dropped entirely. There is also Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe, who seem to have been completely omitted.

What is it about Arsenal at the moment not giving more chances to the youngsters in our squad? It’s not like the senior members of the team are performing on a weekly basis. Giving young players a chance in the first team will show the senior members of the team that their positions are not secure and they too should step up their own performances, and if the youngsters come in and shine it’s a win-win situation.

dark. Next. Lineup vs Dundalk

Watching certain players drop poor performances on a near weekly basis only to find themselves in the team the following game can’t be doing the youngsters’ confidence any good, and can it really do harm giving game time to a younger player rather than a player who doesn’t deserve it?