I accused Arsenal in January of prioritising saving money over what was best for the team. Despite our worst start to the League in decades, instead of improving the squad we slashed the wage bill by loaning out talent or even ripping up contracts.
Many Gooners questioned at the time the decision to allow both Kolasinac and Maitland Niles to leave. Not perhaps based on their ability but with Tierney’s history (even at Celtic) of picking up niggling injuries.
As it turns out the Scottish international could be out for the season and even Euro 2020.
It’s left us so short at left back that Mikel Arteta felt obliged to use Xhaka in the role yesterday because he didn’t want to risk an injury to Cedric, with Thursday in mind. Cedric himself would prefer to play on the other side.
Not having a natural left back on standby is a small decision made in the last window which could prove costly. While a makeshift full back can get you over the line against a Sheffield United, will it win you the Europa League?
My suggestion for midweek (this is without knowing the condition of Saka) is play him at wing back, something he originally did when he broke into the first team. To make this an attacking option I would choose a 3-5 2 formation with the bonus of Slavia Prague maybe caught out by fresh tactics.
With three centre backs (Holding, Mari, and Chambers who can play the Luiz role) and 2 DM (Xhaka and Partey), I can have three in front who can win us the tie (Lacazette, Aubameyang and Martinelli).
With technically 5 defensive individuals and the assumption we will have most possession, Saka and Bellerin can support the attack when possible.
That would be making a positive out of a negative situation. Instead of worrying what someone can’t do as a makeshift left back let’s focus on what Saka can add to the role.
By the time you read this it might be confirmed whether Saka is available for the second leg. If he’s not, then it’s just as well stick to the current system.
Without Saka, our options to replace Tierney consist of two right backs (Cedric and Bellerin) or a midfielder (Xhaka).
We knew at the time that Tierney wasn’t reliable in term of his fitness, yet left ourselves short in that position. Just to save money.
That though sums up how Stan Kroenke runs the club. Other owners invest in the short term to make a greater return in the future. By cutting costs in January, it could mean missing out on a bigger total in May.
Who should be our left back without Tierney?
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