Though many believe that the missing component in Arteta’s team this season is a clinical striker, Martin Odegaard suggests that this may not be the case. He believes it is Arsenal’s opponents having worked out how to counter Arteta’s tactics.
Last season, goal scoring wasn’t a major concern for Mikel Arteta; the two major issues were; who to fill in for Thomas Partey (when he was out injured, which is why the club, last January, tried to sign Moises Caicedo with three bids turned down by Brighton) and not having a capable replacement for William Saliba.
These two issues appear to have been resolved: Rice has altered the dynamics of Arsenal’s midfield; he has it covered (of which Partey will soon be back to be of use when called upon), and Saliba appears fit as a fiddle to have an injury-free season (even though Tomiyasu can successfully fill in for him, so hopefully nothing happens between now and when the Japanese international returns from the Asian games). That said, Arsenal’s problem this season has been being poor in front of goal. They’re not clinical, and while a striker signing has been suggested as a remedy, that may not be the case. A striker may join and still struggle.
Teams are now taking Arsenal seriously; they are willing to make sacrifices to let Arsenal dominate possession, but they play a defensive game with a low block. According to Odegaard in the Times: “After what we did last season and the beginning of this season, teams are analysing us and looking at what we’re doing in games,” he says. “They’re trying to stop us playing to our strengths. When I first came here in my first season and even at the start of last season the games we played were more open because teams wanted to come here and attack us and press high.
“It’s also about our quality, we make teams play deep because we have the ball a lot, but some teams are adapting as well. They know our strengths so a lot of teams are defending deep and trying to make it hard for us. I like that challenge. It’s a good sign to feel like teams are coming here and showing that they respect you. We just have to find different spaces and to play well enough to deal with it.”
So, whether Arsenal buy a new striker or not, Mikel Arteta must devise tactics to exploit a low-block defense. If his team is to increase intensity, or perhaps switch to a front 2, or another tactical move, he must devise a tactical maneuver that will allow them to rip those teams with a low block apart.
Signing a striker could be a step forward, but it may not be as effective as it should be if the Gunners struggle to break down teams defending with a low block.
Do you think Arteta can find a way to fix this?
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