The loss of Kieran Tierney just before the clash with Crystal Palace was a little unlucky, but as we had a ready made backup in Nuno Tavares, it should have been a straight swap without much disruption. Tomiyasu has also been out with a long term injury but we have managed quite well with a straight-swap Cedric once he managed to get a couple of games under his belt.
It’s a shame that Mikel’s tactics meant that Tavares, who seems to lacking in confidence right now, was brought off at half time, but that was purely for the good of the team, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it was his fault that we collapsed so quickly to the onslaught by Patrick Vieira’s men.
But then we were hit with the second blow when we lost Thomas Partey in the last 15 minutes, but rightly so he was replaced like for like by Lokonga without losing the shape of the team, although Elneny could also have been the one to replace Partey.
So, we then had a nice 5 day gap to prepare before taking on an out-of-form Brighton team at the (supposedly) Fortress Emirates, with an easy win expected to get us back on track.
With no new injuries, it was obvious that Cedric, Tavares and Lokonga would replace our injured players with minimal change to shape or formation.
But instead Arteta moved Xhaka to left-back, and left Lokonga stranded in the middle without an experienced partner to help the transition to the front me, and a highly packed attacking line up, with only Lokonga to protect the back line and provide the communication between the lines.
I made it clear yesterday that if Arteta was only going with one midfielder then why not use the vastly more experienced Elneny, or even better, put Elneny alongside Xhaka, and use Tavares again at left back to give him a bit more confidence (or even Holding if Arteta doesn’t trust Tavares).
I am sure if we had kept our formation and continuity we would have won that game!
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Video – Mikel Arteta post-Brighton “It’s time to criticise ourselves”