Positive #3: The left 8 experiment continues with Trossard
With Granit Xhaka now in Germany pulling strings for Bayer Leverkusen, Arteta’s experiment at the left eight position famously occupied by the Swish captain continues. This time, with Leandro Trossard. Arteta has experimented with every player that he has in the team to solve a seemingly troubled position, the closest to fulfilling that role is Declan Rice, but his presence was needed in his preferred position on the field.
Kai Havertz, Fabio Vieira, Rice and now Trossard; none of these players have truly replicated what Xhaka did in that position. Of course, it is a very specific role that needs players to be exact with what they are asked to do – hence, the struggle. It took Xhaka two seasons to understand the dynamics of the position, and it may likely take whoever is going to own the position some time to also make it his own.
So far, it is not working. Trossard was in the game but not in the position he was asked to play. Maybe a run of games in the position will help us to make a good call on whether he can truly fit in.
Negative #3: Arteta needs his players to urgently hit top form
I did mention above that the likes of Saka, Martinelli and Jesus are still not at their best this season. The same goes for Odegaard. These four are the cornerstone of Mikel Arteta’s attack and none of them have found good form this season.
Martinelli has just one goal (vs Man City) in the league this season, Jesus has one, Odegaard has three, and Saka has four. Nketiah has five and he is not even in the discussion. The attacking returns of the two Brazilians don’t look great, and they need to step up. While Saka’s numbers are great, his overall performances have been very far from the standard we have come to expect.
It is time for Arteta to think of new ways to rejig his attacking talents for optimal results.