How many Arsenal lineups will have been scribbled down this week?
Rightly disgruntled, furious in fact, with what Arsenal produced last time out, supporters across the globe have put their Football Manager hats on and suggested their own faultless, infallible solution.
Whether in the pub – wait, not those actually – on social media forums or in expletive texts to friends, there will have been everything from three at the back to Nikolaj Möller as the lone striker.
Is there a definitive answer? In theory there is, but in practice, well, that’s something else entirely.
There are, however, some possibilities that appear wiser, yet even those can be argued to the moon and back. Contentious decisions regarding who leads the line have been front and centre, as well as who is the ideal partner to Thomas Partey.
Having done more scribbling than paper available, my ‘answer’ is as such. By all means, read on with disgust, or quietly agree and keep it to yourself. All responses on whatever platform are fine.
Ideal Arsenal Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – Alex Runarsson has…looked okay? Having hardly anything to deal with against Dundalk means there isn’t great scope for analysis, but the truth is he’s nowhere near this team and has only been mentioned as filler. Reason for that is because it’s Leno all day long. No controversial claim here.
In fact, Leno is even more worthy of a start since he’s now distributing the ball better at range. Still not perfect, but he demonstrated improvement in the Old Trafford win. Right, moving on.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – Another easy-as-you-like pick not just based on a lack of viable options. Bellerin is in his best form, so much better with the ball at his feet and enveloped in the tactical role Mikel Arteta has bestowed upon him.
There does still needs to be an improvement with the link up play with the right-winger. He picks up inside spaces well and adds another body to the midfield competently, yet like Nicolas Pepe, for example, his chemistry down that side isn’t as fluent as it between the Ivorian and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. A minor point in an otherwise excellent campaign thus far.
Rob Holding (CB) – Why not David Luiz? It’s a tough call, admittedly. Building from the back is a vital component of this Arsenal side, and while Gabriel Magalhaes does so superbly on the left, losing Luiz does add some imbalance in terms of flank preference.
This comes down to defensive ability, though. Holding has had a solid season (apart from that), with far greater pace across the ground and more assured man-to-man marking (again, apart from that).
Holding can’t be exempt from the team for one bad showing. Far from the answer, he’s a better defender than Luiz. That’s what matters.
Gabriel Magalhaes (CB) – You could make an argument for the Brazilian being first pick in the team. Gabriel Magnificent, as I like to refer to him as, has barely put a foot wrong – if counted, it’s probably four feet he’s put wrong.
Aggressive in the challenge, progressive with his passing and a threat in the air, it is, as they say, a no-brainer.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – Kieran Tierney hasn’t quite been at this season.
That could be misconstrued as him playing poor, which would be grossly inaccurate. The Scot is a superb left-back and the best we’ve had since prime Gael Clichy, if not beyond that.
With no qualities (football or otherwise) to dislike, he will be a mainstay in this side for years to come. Immense for Scotland over the international break, the slight drop off in his passing down the line appears to have returned to its normal, solid capacity – that was what wasn’t quite right.