We’re winning – Which statements are wrong? by Gurjit
Much like everybody else I was astounded when we beat Chelsea, and the way we did it certainly was impressive given the form we have been in. We followed this up with a win this week against Brighton, albeit a less convincing one which could easily have ended in a draw.
I have two trains of thought on our change of form – firstly why it has happened, and secondly what it means.
Many have suggested that it is down to the youth players that we have been able to play this way by not letting the old guard fill the team. I’d say this is partially correct, I say this because we saw from these games that the typical players that have fingers pointed at them played well. There certainly should not be any complaints about the performances of Xhaka/Bellerin, etc over these games. So why do I say partially correct? Because I think the difference is that we have filled a position that has been left unfilled all season – a number 10.
Emile Smith-Rowe does something that no other player can do, which is to link our midfield and attack. This doesn’t necessarily mean providing assists and scoring goals, but popping into pockets of space to pull defenders out of shape and create gaps for other players to exploit. We haven’t seen anybody be able to do that this season, and watching a genuine number 10 be in our starting 11 should make it clear how desperate we are for that kind of player. It takes a huge burden from our sitting midfielders (who no longer have to risk pushing forward) and our attackers (who do not have to do their own build up play). My only worry is that ESR being injured could hugely impact the team or Arteta could drop him for other players.
So what does this mean? This is a little harder to work out and perhaps your thoughts on this may be a little different – but hear me out, I’ve tried to be logical so tell me which statements you think are wrong and give me a good reason why.
So this is what these performances say to me about the squad/management.
1. If the squad is good enough to beat Chelsea convincingly, the squad alone cannot be blamed for consistently poor results and Arteta must be criticised.
2. If a number 10 has made the difference, excluding Ozil and only playing ESR after so long suggests a stubbornness/favouritism in the starting 11 to the detriment of performances.
3. Only playing a number 10 at this stage of the season and leaving Ozil out with no inbound transfers suggests that playing ESR is a last resort or not Arteta’s chosen playing style.
4. If on the other hand we purchase a number 10 in January it suggests that Ozil was left out for more than footballing reasons and ESR never trusted (until now).
5. Auba’s performance has not improved unlike every other attacker that has played in these games, he does not lead and should be dropped from the league squad until this improves. He does not appear to be captain material.
6. Playing 5 at the back has been an intentional choice and a mistake as the team is better balanced, more attacking with 4 at the back and without significant detriment to our defence.
7. Arteta has made significant mistakes so far this season, contributed to by formation and lack of number 10. Any return to 5 at the back and no number 10 will mean that Arteta is not learning from his mistakes or trying to improve the performances of the team.
I’ve been very disappointed with Arteta so far but given that we can play the way we have, there is light at the end of the tunnel if Arteta learns from his mistakes.