Where was Arsenal’s midfield against Leicester?

A Tactical rethink is quickly needed!

Was I too quick to comment that I thought Dani Ceballos and Thomas Partey will do well alongside one another, or is it too early to tell?

I recently wrote an article saying that I feel Partey will help to bring the best out of a lot of our players, mainly the ones alongside him, Xhaka and Ceballos.

But after the game against Leicester, which Ceballos returned from injury, Xhaka got recalled and Partey made his Premier League debut, in all honesty, the midfield was nothing to shout about and it really disappointed me.

I understand for Partey, playing in the Premier League, will take time to get used to it, the tempo and the League as a whole is completely different to La Liga so he can be excused as it was his first EPL game, but knowing how Xhaka and Ceballos have played previously and can play, I was disappointed that they hardly did anything in the game.

Whether it is a case of not being used to playing alongside Partey or whether it is something else, only they know, but this is something that needs to be addressed. I know adding Partey to our squad does not fix everything, but me along with a number of fans I am sure, thought it would add that creative flair we have been missing, but it quickly became clear that even Partey alone could not change our midfield and whatever is going on right now is much deeper than just the midfield.

Arteta needs to have a rethink on his tactics, formation and general squad mentality, because if we keep going how we have done in the last two Premier League games, we will once again be finding ourselves in the bottom half of the table and no FA Cup or Community Shield trophy will make up for it.

Although it is an inconsistent league this year, it is beginning to look like it is the same old Arsenal!

Shenel Osman

Tags Ceballos Partey


  1. We have to give credit to Leicester, the low back was massive, they did it well,they scored with their ONLY shot on target.

    I think the team tried we have just been so unlucky in the last two games, but I agree we need to change somethings in our set up. For me I will just stick Saka on the right and let Willian and Nelson compete for the left wing. Maybe the Europa League travels and exploits also took a toll on the players, I am so gutted right now but we mooove, coyg!

      1. Another narrow loss against a top six team. Still a lot to like about the squad. Just need some more goals. If Auba doesn’t score we struggle. Need Lacazette and Pepe to start scoring. Top four is still possible as we are only six games in. Just have faith in the process.

        1. We said that against Liverpool, Manchester city and now Leicester. He could have been the same against westham and shelfield. When are we going to f”””king wake up. The system is so bad when you know the creative outlets in our team is our cb. I can count how many time this season our attackers will be calling for balls and Xhaka and Ceballos will pass it to the defenders. We can blame Lacazette and Auba all we want but have we seen them being given that kind of pass Vardy scored from. Arteta is playing timid and controlled football even the commentator said it yesterday. There is no way your central striker will play so deep if he is getting service upfront. Put Auda in the center and the same way will yield worse results than what we are seeing now. We need to play to the strength of our forward players.

        2. Neva…with this way they play i see a 10th position at best 9th. The board are starting to confuse Arteta. Very bad game. Ceballos is in dat team for what exactly? Auba to the right? The only creative player we had was Luiz. If Arsenal even get to beat Man u next….i wont be surprised, cos we dont have a pattern of winning. We struggle everytime against smaller teams and yet we can just go all out and beat a big team….so confusing.

          1. Beat bigger teams 🤔😂?
            Are u referring to the FA Cup and Community Shield?
            Coz we don’t beat them in the Premiership.
            What I can not understand is why in the 87th minute we Re 1 nil down and still playing out from tge back, passing back and sideways ffs, this is ridiculous, yesterday we were poor, as we were v Man City but nobody is saying so, because Arteta is popular with the media and how people are saying a top 4 finish is possible I really don’t know, Man City were there for the taking and so we’re Leicester. No plan B under Arteta and he is obviously coaching them not to shoot 🤷‍♂️ and don’t mention Leicester goal what wete Mustafi and Leno doing and the other defenders?
            Take the blinkers of lads, we are poor the only thing on our side is that the other teams going for a top 4 spot are also dropping points, but we need a very big improvement and need to beat those teams

  2. Elneny works better than Ceballos. Please use him and also Özil compares well above him. Ceballos made mistakees and he is lazy and slow.

    1. Oh, when he plays well, he’s our best and all of that, but on a bad day he’s ” lazy” huhh..lets learn to surpport our players both in good and bad times please, these guys are not roboths, they are humans like you and i.. God bless Arsenal

  3. Elneny should have used to disturb all the time players like Vardy. Now Vardy was free to use his talents and speed.

  4. For me, this was it – the line up and formation I’ve been wanting to see…. I feel really short-changed….
    My only hope is Luiz isn’t out for long, as he had a good game….

    1. I agree Sue, I think the line-up was good and should get an extended run to be honest. Only change I’d make would be Auba as CF,Saka LW and Willian RW

      The instruction to midfield needs to be better though. Cellabos and Partey were clearly told not to venture forward, at no time did they ever try push up in the middle of the park. Very negative tactics

  5. To answer your question, I think the midfied did what was asked of it. LC just played a proper low block . I feel like every fan is pointing a finger in the wrong direction. Why are we asking for more chances? Why aren’t our strikers finishing what is being created for them?

    I sort of like the midfied pattern. I’m hoping Arteta goes with the same shape to united and gets the forwards to actually finish.

    I’d also like to see Elneny in place of Ceballos. I understand why the coach is playing this pattern. Using a number 10 would mean the fullbacks have to stay back and hold the fort. Overloading the wings gets us into the box fast. We just need to use the opportunities when we get there.

    I must have said this 1000 times already, and I’ll say it again. We didn’t have a creativity deficit. It was an efficiency issue. Same as against city.

    1. Wow what a load of bs
      Low block midfield did well??
      They never played in the opposing half
      Not one midfield player got between the lines or attacked the penalty area.and then your calling for Willian he is useless total waste of money

      1. None of them were asked to play between the lines . Are you after seeing players in particular areas? Or are you about chances being created

    2. Joe…
      Now that many of our inflamed minds have started to settle, atleast we can begin to have reasonable conversations to understand issues a little deeper…

      I have read a number of your posts and I really love your reasoning… I know you are hurt like many of us are, but you still have given some application to reasoning and simply asking “what went wrong?” and followed by “why”. Credits to you.

      I really do agree that the formation and personnel were spot on and there is little you can do when your strikers don’t take their chances, particularly against a low block of 11 men behind the ball…. I totally agree with you that the formation shouldn’t be changed going forward but maybe personnel can be tweaked…

      In this regard, I must disagree that Cebalos should be replaced with Elneny, instead I think it should be Xhaka and these are my reasons: Apart from Xhaka’s inabilities on the ball, we now have a Gabriel, who is a stronger left footer… Thus, we don’t really need to rely on Xhaka covering up the left back when Tierney bursts forward. Infact, the method is now stale and causes us to lack presence in the midfield… Because Xhaka stays back, Partey still lurks behind to cover the midfield and Cebalos also lurks on the right covering up for Bellerin because our attacks are built via the wings… I feel this will be reviewed going forward…

      Instead, Xhaka should be subbed for Elneny. I feel Elneny hasnt received the attention he deserves…. People always say he keeps things nice and tidy, but not a top 4 quality… I feel sad in this regard. He provides better stability than both Xhaka and Cellabos, atleast since he returned… With Elneny holding forth, Partey can as well surge forward as well as Cebalos… I do not claim to know what transpires in training, but my gut feeling tells me we have intelligent guys in charge and they will study and know what went wrong…

      The Arsenal team took atleast 5 years of slow rot to get to this point, and we can only apply similar time to rebuild it… I wish we can all see that the underlying process at work at the moment is the right process, and it is a law that surely the results will soon follow… Arteta will need time to bring in his own players and only then can we critic with more data to rely on.

      Summarily, I have a deep feeling that Arteta will go with Cebalos–Partey–Elneny going forward! And if he does, I can almost guarantee that we will turn the corners….

      More posts from you Joe!


      1. I see what you’re saying, but the reason why I’d keep Xhaka is even yesterday, he was pretty much the only one of our midfielders with final third entry success and this was similar even against City. Against that lot, he actually played more final third entry passes than all our other players. I feel like we need to keep him on. Partey is a better passer at short range, but when it comes to passes through the lines, it still feels like Xhaka is ahead. Don’t just look at the last two games. Consider how we’ve played since our return from lock down. We tend to play with Ceballos further back because he really isn’t great at ball progression. I feel like Elneny Partey Xhaka would be more purposeful. We don’t need our midfielders running around trying to be smart. I feel like the wide overloads we create Will actually create the chances. I also feel like Auba needs to do more. I agree that Laca looses the ball a lot, but he presents himself to receive it. Auba needs to work on that. Saka and Laca are getting their legs kicked and he’s just coasting.

        1. In that case Joe, only time will tell…

          My take: Cebalos – – Partey – – Elneny.

          Yours: Xhaka – – Partey – – Elneny…

          Let’s bookmark this point, and return to it in the future!

          Do have a blessed day!


  6. Xhaka is being trusted too much for substandard performance. It seems aa if it’s automatic for him to start every game. Elnerny, Partey, Maitland-Niles, and Xhaka should compete for defensive midfield positions.

    1. Totally agree Topgunner, in reference to admins take on Partey bringing the best out of Xhaka and Dani well I did not see Partey do too much wrong he looks very comfortable on the ball and his passing was overall pretty sound,Dani is still pretty green at times and yes Partey will be a big help to him,but Xhaka is a very experienced player both in the prem and internationally as the Swiss captain,i really cannot see what he gives to this team he wanders around picking up the odd loose ball never seems to deliver a killing pass,wastes free kicks and plays the ball backwards too often i think he has improved slightly under Arteta but still seems to just be there rather than making any notable difference .

  7. They scored with their 1st real chance and we didn’t despite having some chances. Yes i’m gutted to lose but at least we did something even it was for only a half instead of laying down like vs liverpool and city. But the sharp decline in intensity and effort in the 2nd half is very worrying. Our whole fullbacks were always upfield in the 1st half then nothing in 2nd half.

  8. Gunners fan of many years here.. as I see it.. Basically, we’re slow and predicatble because when we play it forward we don’t retain the ball – Laca, Auba, EddieN as target men cannot do it. No one knows when we’re going to put the ball in the box so stop making the runs – that’s the problem when Ozil plays, great at keeping it but go nowhere except backwards. Tierney is the only one to put good balls into the box. For me, Elneny for Xhaka, keep DanniC & Partey and get pace wide with AMN and Saka. Must get Auba involved more – Leicester do with Vardy, play to your strengths. COYGss

  9. Some I wonder how u people watch match, midfield or what, they are perfect, our strikers failed to score does not mean u condemned all the team work, try to find the video and watch again maybe u will see well, but I would have preferred elneny than ceballos coz in the previous matches he contributed in our attacks than ceballos of yesterday, and no killer pass like the one bellerin converted to assist in europa. That’s just it, and we don’t use to fast ball bellerin, saka, tieney are more faster than laca and auba

    1. The midfield “are perfect”? Unfortunately they have a long way to go to match the majority of midfields I have seen play for the Arsenal.

  10. Thanks for this article for some time Arsenal’s midfield has been non existent all thanks to Arteta’s Tactics…Ceballos almost played as a right winger and Xhaka played as a left center back only partey was in that midfield yesterday and He was overwhelmed…Laczatte was playing like a ten and all this have hampered the team with too much thinkering….if you’re really technical you would observe that Arteta’s tactics are the reason we’re not scoring and not the fault of any midfielder…how can we have saka,tierney and Xhaka on the left wing and Aubemang,ceballos and bellerin on the right leaving the midfield with only Partey…and thats why all our concentration are through the wings but if the wings are clipped we’re doomed because we cant penetrate through the middle because we have nobody existent there. Arteta should take the blame…tthe great Invincibles and wengers dominance were the middle and sometimes through the wings…..
    Arteta needs to stop too much thinkering, there’s an adage that says ”Too much spices in a meal makes it uninteresting”. Thus with same players we can do more but too much tactics has spoilt the team’s offensive strenght.

  11. You can say whatever you think about our midfielders, the weakness link is our strifeforce , if those chances that fell to both Aub and Lacca, were presented to Vardy in the first half, he was going to score them. Even our captain he is very lazy.

  12. The weakest leak in our team is the strike force, had it been that they score those chances presented to them.They won’t be any negative emotions about the game and tactics.

    1. sorry its actually mid, always playing backwards, idk whether some people watch leads, Aston villa en so on, these guys have average mid fielders, but you see them carrying the ball forward at every cost despite the quality of the opposition, that confidence in them, I mean look at the guys you praising now one could get foul, in our mid or link the play to laca en he gets one just like I so Matteo do it on several occasions last season, its not in our mid now.

  13. Try this against penchester united
    Leno gk
    Bellerin rb
    Luiz rcb
    Gabriel lcb
    Tierney lb
    Partey rcm
    Elneny lcm
    Willian cam
    Pepe rw
    Saka lw
    Auba cf

  14. *My preferred team to face Man Utd.


    Soares – Gabriel – Saliba – Tierney

    Niles – Partey

    Saka Willian


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