Former Arsenal midfielder Michael Thomas has called for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to stop playing so rigid, and to bring more creativity into the starting line-up.
The Gunners have suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats against Manchester City and Leicester, despite enjoying much of the possession and control in those matches, and the defensive approach of Arteta is now coming under question.
“Through Arteta giving the team a more robust look, it has come at a cost to the creative side of our game,” Thomas told CaughtOffside.
“The players are playing very rigid. You need to be able to control the ball in areas that the opposing team doesn’t want to be and suffocate them. I think this will change in time but it needs to be sooner rather than later.
“Mesut Ozil obviously offers great creativity when he plays, but at what cost to the team’s efficiency?
“The team obviously needs more creativity going forward because they simply don’t have enough good efforts on goal. We are used to the frontline being played in behind, but recently everything seems to be in front of the opposition with no penetration or speed in the attacks. Another creative outlet is very needed whether it be Aouar or someone else.”
Thomas continued to name who he believed should get an extended run in the team, with Pepe having fallen behind both Bukayo Saka and Willian since the start of the campaign.
“Pepe still has a lot to give but the creativity depends on Arteta getting the balance right between defensive stability and attacking threat,” Thomas said.
“He has the ability to make the difference and hopefully he does so this Sunday.
“The wide role is not Aubameyang’s best position in my opinion, but the team are not creating enough for him anyway.”
The manager did opt to change things this weekend, opting to start with a 4-3-3 formation for the Leicester defeat, but we still failed to score, although I still believe that our disallowed goal should have stood.
Aubameyang has seemingly gone off the boil of late, although I can’t recall him missing any clear-cut chances, where many of his goals came from him running in behind the defence, those opportunities have not been coming of late.
Has our systems become too defensive? Is the team working too much on stopping our rivals, and not enough on breaking down their weaknesses?