Newcastle display will certainly give Arteta headaches ahead of the match against Villarreal by Yash
In a game that had not much significance, Arsenal displayed a commanding show. The Gunners’ faithful and the players would now certainly head into the midweek Villarreal clash with more confidence after outplaying Steve Bruce’s side on Sunday evening.
With a number of splendid performances at the weekend, Mikel Arteta would be forced to think long and hard on who to pick ahead of Arsenal’s most crucial match this season.
Starting from the back, Bernd Leno will be expected to be back.
While in defense, teaming Gabriel with Chambers looks like the best bet. Although many would argue that Pablo Mari “reads” the game pretty well, the performance of his Brazilian counterpart Gabriel against Newcastle should definitely be enough to impress Arteta.
The former Lille man is a more mobile option at the heart of defense than Mari. That might prove to be his greatest strength against a Spanish side who have several tricky players such Gerard Moreno, Paco Alcacer, Samuel Chukwueze and Manuel Trigueros.
Arsenal play better when they have ball-playing defender in the starting line-up
The North London outfit looked a lot better at the Tyneside than they did in Valencia. One of the reasons for that was the presence of David Luiz, whose wide range of passes stretched the Newcastle back-line on several occasions.
The difference in the performance of the team, when they have a ball-playing center-back to when they don’t, is stark.
If Luiz misses the midweek clash, picking Calum Chambers rather than Rob Holding would make more sense. Chambers has been credited with his pinpoint crosses when he has played as a right-back.
The 26-year-old is clearly a more rounded defender (he also played as a midfielder while at loan at Fulham) than Holding, and should definitely start.
The real questions come from midfield. In the past few games, Dani Ceballos has been asked to play a role in which he covers the ground as a left wing-back when the team is in position and as a central midfielder when they are out of it.
With the Spaniard set to miss the clash due to suspension, everybody would be turning on their football brain to guess whether or not Arteta will tweak his side.
Asking Elneny to do the Ceballos role looks like a gamble. The best answer might be putting Cedric at the left-back slot, while recalling Granit Xhaka to the midfield position.
In the first leg, Thomas Partey was forced to cover a large part of the ground, due to the strange tactics of Arteta. Thus, a double pivot of Partey and Xhaka appears as the most rational decision.
Martinelli looked sharp against Newcastle but might not start against Vilarreal
While Gabriel Martinelli continuously caused havoc for the opposition’s right-back on Sunday, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang bagged a goal and an assist after his comeback from malaria.
But with the young Brazilian having completed the full 90 minutes on Sunday, he will not be expected to start.
Now, if we talk about the attacking positions, Arsenal fans would accept anything apart from Arteta selecting a false nine. Even though that formation barely worked in the first-half against the Spanish side, Arteta stuck to it in the second half.
There are many noticeable weaknesses in Arteta, and in-game management is certainly one of them.
But with Aubameyang back, he will be expected to spearhead the attack, with Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe who all were given breathers at the weekend.
Ask any Arsenal fan, and they would be optimistic that a quartet of Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka and Smith Rowe would be enough for them to reach a seventh major final in eight years.
If Arsenal do end up lifting the Europa League title, it would certainly be a big feat as it would be their fifth trophy in eight years. Especially in a period when the club has been called a ‘banter club’ by rival fans (to make this statement even sweeter, Spu*s haven’t won a single major trophy in their “golden generation” 😉).
But before those dreams become reality, Mikel Arteta would hope that his makeshift defense would shut out the likes of Paco Alcacer, Gerard Moreno and co, and hope that his front four turn up at the same time.
If that pans out, Arsenal will be expected to sink ‘The Yellow Submarine’ with their famous cannons.