“Mikel Arteta’s Masterful Recruitment Will See Arsenal Through” by Ssekatawa Patrick
A lot has been made of the injury to Gabriel Jesus, so much so that it may seem as though the world has come to its end for Arsenal! Mikel Arteta’s charges have put up quite a show, to the surprise of many a pundit who had predicted failure once again, having failed to clinch the all important Champions League spot after their collapse that handed Spurs the advantage to consequently finish 4th, condemning Arsenal to Europa League football that they find themselves in this season.
Finishing 5th, despite all Gooners the world over being disappointed, was in itself an achievement considering the Gunners had finished 8th in the past two seasons. After all, everyone had dismissed them at the start, after they had lost to Brentford, Chelsea and Man City without scoring even a bad goal!
To the optimists, myself inclusive, that was an upgrade and we harboured a feeling that the good times were making their way back to the Emirates. To the pessimists though, it was all doom and gloom and many even called for Arteta’s head!
Clearly though, something was cooking in the kitchens at London Colney. Mikel Arteta and Edu had a plan, and they were determined to execute it no matter what! Out went all the deadwood, and they set out to recruit players that suited the Manager’s philosophy to the dot. Mikel Arteta had talked of ‘specificity’ repeatedly in his press conferences and today we can explicitly see exactly what he meant.
In came Aaron Ramsdale, Benjamin White, Gabriel Magalhaës, Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Martin Ødegaard, Sambi Lokonga, Fabio Vieira and Gabriel Jesus.
Despite all talk of William Saliba signing permanently with Marseille because ‘Arteta didn’t believe in him’ and all that nonsense in the press, the Spanish tactician had a plan up his sleeve for him as we all have come to realize.
Those players are a true embodiment of the manager’s philosophy. Young, fearless, hungry, exuberant and most importantly; extremely versatile. And that is the gist of this article.
Mikel Arteta put a lot of thought in his recruitment to prepare for setbacks, like the latest one that saw his star striker fall prey to a nasty injury that will reportedly see him sidelined for up to three months.
Takehiro Tomiyasu said himself that he’s capable of playing in defensive midfield, having been educated as one back in Fukuoka, and that he only began playing right-back while at Bologna.
At the national team in Japan, Tomiyasu plays center-back while he has been deployed at left-back as we’ve all seen this season, and to great effect.
Benjamin White is primarily a center-back, but was often used by Marcelo Bielsa in defensive midfield at Leeds, while Arteta has used him at right-back this season so far.
Martin Ødegaard can play as an #8, a #10 or as a mezzala, Fabio Vieira can play all the positions Ødegaard can as well as right winger, left winger and as a false#9.
Gabriel Jesus is predominantly a striker, but he’s comfortable on either wing, so is Gabriel Martinelli.
Sambi Lokonga can play both as a defensive and as a central midfielder,
Zinchenko can play as left-back, central midfielder and as a playmaker.
The same goes for the players Arteta didn’t sign. Bukayo Saka started as a left-back, moved to left wing, then central attacking midfield until he settled at right wing, Emile Smith-Rowe can play as an #8, #10 and as a left winger, Reiss Nelson can comfortably operate on either wing, while Eddie Nketiah can play as a striker and out wide.
That is not inadvertent, it was as a result of insight, diligence and several months of cautious scouting.
So, yes, the loss of Jesus is undoubtedly a massive blow, but in recruiting the way he did, Mikel Arteta knew setbacks like that would happen, and made pre-emptive moves to counter them.
Little wonder therefore that rather than a striker, it’s Mykhaylo Mudryk, a winger that is rumoured to be their number one target in spite of Jesus carrying a long term injury!
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No need to panic, Gooners, Arteta is in charge!