What role should Jorginho have for the Arsenal run-in?

  • Jorginho has established himself in the Arsenal first-team
  • Recent matches have highlighted both his strengths and weaknesses
  • Should he continue to start for the Gunners, or revert to a bit-part role?
Arsenal FC v FC Bayern München: Quarter-final First Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Arsenal FC v FC Bayern München: Quarter-final First Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

Can he help Arsenal to finish the job?

For Jorginho, 2023/24 has been a season of two distinct halves. It began (and continued) with minimal involvement as the 32-year-old earned just five starts in our ‘first’ 25 Premier League games, but he has matched that tally over the last six and is now a key part of the Gunners’ title charge.

And recent performances beg the question of why it took so long, with Jorginho using high-quality vertical passing to unlock our previously stodgy attack, a nimble frame to evade the press and in-game intelligence to always be in the right place for interceptions. His experience might also explain the rise in minutes as we reach the business end of the campaign.    

However, all of that counted for nought on Tuesday night, when his poor display against Bayern Munich cost Arsenal some control and led to an early substitution.

The Italy international was (predictably) overrun by the industry of Konrad Laimer and Leon Goretzka in midfield and could not compete with them in duels. Meanwhile, an uncharacteristic sloppiness on the ball boosted the visitors’ transitional threat, and he simply did not have the legs to recover.

Does Jorginho still have a role to play for Arsenal ahead of the run-in?

Jorginho - Soccer Midfielder - Born 1991
Jorginho joined the club from Chelsea in January 2023 / Visionhaus/GettyImages

These shortcomings may well see him benched for the second leg but, more importantly, they underline his current square-peg, round-hole status at Arsenal (likely only starting due to Kai Havertz’ new striking berth) and raise doubts about the role he will/should play for us moving forward.

Although no one can dismiss his N5 contributions, Jorginho bears great physical and athletic limitations that force Mikel Arteta to accommodate him whenever he is selected, and such protection means the team cannot play at its optimal level in his company - a restraint we can ill-afford when battling for major honours.  

It is perhaps a harsh assessment and one that might not be as relevant to the domestic scene, as Arsenal generally dominate possession here and will not come face to face with world-class, speedy opponents like Leroy Sané and co. every week. Maybe Arteta just needs to pick the right games to call upon him, and Bayern Munich was/is not one of them.

Even if he does not help us in Germany next week, Jorginho still has the quality to make an on-pitch difference for this young Gunners side on both fronts and will be a crucial figure in keeping them grounded off it, especially as the run-in approaches.

A summer upgrade is definitely worth our consideration, but judicious use of his talent and expertise could yet pay dividends.