Arteta needs to return to the touchline for Arsenal to maintain their momentum

Arsenal started the 2022–23 PL season with so much vigour, bagging win after win. The energy levels at which Arteta and his boys were playing made many talk, with critics saying what they were seeing from Arsenal was only a mirage and that it would wear off.

32 league games have been played, and the Gunners are still at the top of the table, and in a position where they can win the league. After last weekend’s results, it was all but confirmed that Arsenal are back in the Champions League after some years in the wilderness, but that’s not satisfying if they don’t win the league title. To win the league, there are some things Arteta will need to check on. Here are some:

Arsenal maintaining their momentum throughout the game: For the past few weeks, Arsenal players have been getting enough rest compared to their main title rivals, Manchester City. However, in the last few games, it has been noted that either Arsenal start well or their levels drop. Or, like Southampton, or start poorly and end on a high. Arteta needs to come up with a way to balance his team’s momentum. He can do so by making the right substitutions and also making sure his boys have control in games.

Move on Past Saliba: Rob Holding has been deployed at central defence with the hope that Saliba returns soon, but it seems Saliba isn’t returning soon. Going forward, I’d advise Arteta to return Ben White to centre back to play alongside Gabriel like old times while Holding is pushed to right back. If not, play with a Tierney, Gabriel, and White back three until Saliba returns. Arsenal haven’t been defensively good, and conceding nine goals in their last five says it all: changes must be made.

Aaron Ramsdale also needs to be warned about sometimes napping in games. The Englishman has been brilliant, but at times he needs to be reminded that he is active on duty and there’s no room for slacking.

Lastly, Arsenal players need the vocal Arteta back on the touchline. Arteta needs to return to pushing his players, throwing instructions here and there to get them over the line.

So other than these that I have mentioned, what else needs to change for Arsenal to be in the best position to finish what they started?

Sam P


Mikel Arteta in positive mood ahead of Man City visit – “If you want to be champions, you have to win those matches. It’s as simple as that.”

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  1. The sweeper CB in our 3-2-4-1 formation requires excellent aerial ability. White is generally weak in that aspect and Magalhaes loses the aerial duels sometimes

    If you pay attention on our shape when we have the ball, you would notice that Saliba or Holding always stays behind as our last CB. Watch how many times they win the aerial battles this season and imagine if we put White or Magalhaes there

    1. @GAI
      Agree with you completely. BW is essential to keep Grealish subdued. Equally, KT is required to Mahrez quiet.
      My feeling is a double pivot: Partey + either Zinchenko or Xhaka or Jorginho is essential.
      Flooding the midfield is essential. That is why I feel Trossard should start over Odegaard as both Trossard and Jesus are intelligent enough to rotate from midfield to striker position to confuse the Man City defence.
      Rest of the team picks itself.

      1. Arteta did manage to beat Guardiola once using our old double-pivot formation. But that was a defensive setup and we deliberately lose the ball possession to play counter-attack, so it would be interesting to see if Arteta uses that tactic again

        Playing Trossard in Odegaard’s position instead of Smith-Rowe is an interesting idea, because Trossard generally uses his weaker foot better than Smith-Rowe. If De Bruyne can make diagonal passes and crosses from that area, I’m sure Trossard can also do it

        1. The double pivot system means the opposition have to apply consistent pressure to break it down. This means you can use breakaway tactics effectively ‘if’ your wide players are up to it. If they’re fit, I’d say they are. City are more than capable of applying consistent pressure, the question then would be are Partey and whoever his partner is, up to resisting it ‘and’ setting up attacks when they can? But this is speculation. Arteta is unlikely to change his formation.

      2. Odegaard cannot be out of the team. It’s better to leave Xhaka out. Shift od r guard ty o 8 to accommodate Troussard

    2. A sweeper also has to be mobile and quick in the tackle. Holding isnt the best at either. As you rightly say, he’s the best at dealing with high balls, but not sure I’d trust him cleaning up what the other CB’s have missed ie – Haaland.

      With Saliba gone, and common sense says he should stay gone until next season, our lack of defensive cover has been exposed. That means Arteta has to pick, again as you rightly say, a defence that covers all bases from what he has left. So far he hasn’t successfully managed that. Tonight therefore, is the moment to do so.

    1. What’s the usefulness of a draw

      We’re practically behind Man City already (5 points difference but they have 2 games in hand)

  2. The gaffer must return to the touch line immediately, been shouting about this aspect of his Management for weeks.

    I want to see the gaffer jumping up and down inside the dugout like a jack rabbit cheering on, celebrating and prodding the outfit, barking out instructions no matter how early in the game it may deemed necessary.

    This is the gaffer natural style and he must return to basic now.

    1. What the manager is saying cannot be heard. Even in a Saturday park game unless you are standing near him on the touchline you can’t hear a word. Add in 50,000 fans and he’d need a megaphone. As for gesticulating, from personal experience, I was too busy to ever notice if the manager was doing an impression of a human windmill. A professional is likely to be a 100 times more focused than I was. The touchline area antics are to add ‘excitement’ for tv, nothing more.

      1. @ Marge
        Agree with the team impact on human windmills in this day and age.
        The best version of this was the German coach of the Greek team that won the Euros. Not sure of his name. I thik it was Otto Rehaagal. Do you remember him?

        1. Do indeed. His team was ruthlessly schooled in winning games by sitting deep and taking the likely, single chance, that came their way. Not convinced that throwing his arms around had any impact whatsoever, in particular as those tactics require 100% concentration, and thus taking time out to check out your coach doing a graphic impression of vesuvius erupting are not really likely. 😉

          Nothing has changed in football. Players are busy doing their job, any lapse in concentration can be costly, and downtime is limited. As such the coach could be performing handstands dressed in a clown suit on the touchline and no-one doing their job properly would notice.

          1. Agree with you on the concentration bit.

            I remember that guy only because he was all hands and legs at the sidelines and sometimes his legs were higher than his hands.

    2. Marge
      We don’t expect the players to physically hear what the gaffer is saying from the touch line word for word.
      This is why we have leaders on the pitch some times in every third, we expect these leaders to convey the message transmit from the gaffer,
      These leaders normally have outstanding understanding with the gaffer.
      It is for this single reason why Xhaka is so important to the team.

      The gaffer energy on the touch line often times transmit to the players, the players in turn responded eg 50/50 tackles and more passion on the pitch this quite often than not whips up the faithfuls who has been doing a marvelous job.

      Arsenal present out fit would never function effectively under an Avram Grant or say a Benitez leadership in the dugout, and I strongly believe neither would the faithfuls in the stand.

      1. Again, speaking as a former player, and based on the comments of former professionals including some of the biggest names in the game, what the manager says or does on the touchline has no effect on you. As some of the greatest managers of all time have said, once the players are on the pitch, they can’t do any more.

        As such, as you rightly say, its down to on the pitch leaders to translate the managers pre match and half time instructions into action. Hence all the most successful sides have had equally legendary Captains.

        As for getting the crowd going, that’s great, but again that has no effect on the players. As a famous Liverpool captain once said, ‘noise, what noise’?

  3. My philodsophy on a really TOP CLASS TEAM AND SQUAD, is that it MUST have sufficient proper andtop quality true defenders esp at CB. The overl lack of REAL TOP CLASS CB’s has been present since the Invincibles fading away with the sole exception , IMO of Koscielny , who was not a REAL TOP QUALITY CB , but merely a very good one ;oneand who was way below the the excellent SALIBA, whose sad absence is IMO the single most key reason why we will probably not now win the title.
    I SINCERELY BELIEVE, that has HE been available and not Hoilding playing instead , we would have wom, not drawn, ALL out last three games.
    I am certain that having a watertight defence with enough quality back up to allow for injuries and fatigue has done for us this year, sincde Holding first came in. Prior to that it was very good.

    For year after year, esp in Wengers last decade and also after that as well, I posted that we were weak in defence and that UNLESS AND UNTIL we imported enough top class defenders, we would never win the title.

    IF we win it from here then it will have been largely down to the excellent defence we had UP UNTIL HOLDING REPLACED SALIBA, THUS MASSIVELY WEAKENING OUR DEFENCE.Most Gooners seem to se this but there are some who fooishly say “oh but Holding has NOT made individual errors leading to goals since he came back in”!
    Such stage one BASIC intellect that ignores the lack of pace we have with HOLDING and the knock on effect that we have, against top teams esp, where we have to allow for his lack of pace and lack of confidence and speed in passing and in turning ,inorder to cover his deficiences.

    Most Gooners can easily see this , so why do certain others not see this blindingly obvious situation too? Anyone know why?

    1. Holding hasn’t commit an error they say

      That could actually be the problem: Things he’s not doing that Saliba or a quality CB does

      I hate it that Holding is not a tackler, how can u call yourself a defender and u don’t have impatience/anger when opponents are with the ball against you and you just want to take it off them

      Defenders are eager to tackle, to win the ball back, I don’t see that in him

      1. Tackling has become an art form so I wouldn’t hold that against him. Not only has the physicality been drained out of the game by FIFA, UEFA and the FA, but cheating is so rampant now, tackling has to be surgical and is reduced to ‘critical’ moments. The rest of the time defenders try to ‘manoeuvre’ a player into a less threatening position without committing to a tackle. The question is, would you be comfortable with Holding consistently trying to make surgical tackles?

          1. You don’t need to tackle at all if you win the first ball and mark effectively. However, if you don’t tackle precisely in today’s game the player ‘will’ go down, and you will give away a free kick, or worse. So, not really sure what you meant there?

    2. For Jon
      35% in agreement with you and 65% in disagreement with you.
      35%: Whilst Holding has made the same number of errors as Saliba, the chemistry between him and Gabriel is not the same as Saliba and Gabriel. Possible that Gabriel is making more errors with Holding.
      65%: The biggest problem is a top mobile holding midfielder. MA realised this and went for Caiceido and did not get him (instead we got Jorginho). If we had Caiceido + Partey in the holding midfield (tonight for example) it gives us real options because he would add mobility to do the advanced position of Xhaka and yet come back into the midfield to flood it when we loose the ball. Then you have a box to box holding midfielder in addition to a sitting midfielder which is what is required for selected games.
      Anyone would have been fine: Rice, Caiceido, Onana or even Ahamada of Crystal Palace although he is raw.

      1. IGL Well all opinions – as that is all they are,as they are not FACTS – are valid.

        I DO much agree that we do not have a top quality holding midfielder which I again agree, would make a posituve difference Neither Partey nor Xhaka are proper holding midfielders though.

        IMO Rice is the best in our PREM,though as a pure holder alone. The question is though in Artetas philosophy can we afford to pay only a holding midfilder as teams need more midfield flexibility now than in seasons gone by.

        I hope Rice comes and that he can develop into giving more thanJUST holding the midfield.

        I doubt we will afford Rice though but hope I am wrong.

        We also definitely need another top level CB – to let Holding leave us- and another specialist creative central midfielder to help Odegaard.

        I would LOVE to get Maddison and he would be my first choice in that role, if I had my way!

        1. In the summer window if they only buy a holding midfielder I would be happy.
          As far as CB was concerned, Tomiyasu was meant to be the cover, but in the Arsenal typical way he gets injured. Maybe bring back one of our loan players or promote from the youth set up.
          As far as creativity side I think we are OK as Zinchenko or Trossard can provide this. I do not rate Maddison.
          I think we need another left back as I do not rate Zinchenko.
          So 2 positions for me: Holding midfielder and Left Back.

  4. All you guys suggesting a new formation we’ve not tried before

    U want to test-run a formation on Man City, very funny

    Tottenham switched to 4 at the back against Newcastle (instead of the 3 they’ve been playing all season)

    And it ended in 5 goals conceded in less than 25 minutes

    So we too should go try out something they’re not yet used to against Man City you say ?

    U want to watch ‘Slaughter House In Etihad’ or is it ‘Demolition Derby In Etihad’ u want to see

    1. For us to try out a new formation it would mean that we’ve been playing it behind closed doors

  5. We just need a plan, a tactic

    In the FA Cup that Arteta beat Guardiola he used counter and all balls to Auba who had plenty space in front of him, loved running into space and was on a sweet form at that moment.

    I remember that game clearly, I’m not sure it was an Arteta tactic even, cos it was David Luiz that started doing those direct long balls to Auba and when the team noticed it to be working , the others then keyed into it

    1. @ Babasol
      Only problem with this is that it works for a team playing a high line. I cannot see City play a high line against us as they lack the pace.
      I think if we are to have any success at all we need a double pivot (Partey + either Zinchenko, Xhaka or Jorginho) plus tough full backs (i.e. White and Tierney) and quick passing out to the wings. I feel we can hurt them in the wings. Only problem is that it involves using Trossard and Jesus and cutting out Odegaard which I cannot see MA doing. Because Trossard can make the late runs into the box and can rotate with Jesus and that is going to completely confuse Man City.

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