4-3-3 with Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe
This is one to get the pulses racing.
It’s been brewing for months that Arteta eventually wants to move away from the 4-2-3-1 and shift into a 4-3-3 with two No. 8/10 hybrids alongside a single defensive midfielder. At present he doesn’t have the personnel to do so, thus Thomas Partey takes his place in a double pivot with Smith Rowe the key creative operator.
Granit Xhaka and Partey look set to form a partnership that will see the season out (at least), but there could be scope to try a lineup to truly whet Arsenal appetites.
Playing Partey as the single deep midfielder with Smith Rowe to his right and Odegaard to his left (even if he prefers the right), he has two players of a similar mould who can assume the No. 8 role either side. Both thriving in half-spaces and effective movers of the ball, Arsenal would have the most mobile and athletic midfield in years. Balance wouldn’t be unhinged with Odegaard’s natural left-footedness.
Odegaard has dabbled in a few positions including a more reserved space in midfield, one that allows him to perform box-to-box duties and offer delayed support in attack. Alongside Partey there will be added defensive assurance given his exemplary reading of danger, while equally striking a balance with Smith Rowe, thus allowing him to assume the more traditional No. 8 mantle.
Such a system is less defensively sound than if, say, Xhaka featured, but late in matches when either chasing the game or against opposition who pose less of a threat, Arteta may look to dabble with his long-term preference.