Mikel Arteta has shown on a number of occasions that he is willing to change up his formation to get the best out of his side, and on the back of two straight defeats for Arsenal, now could be the time.
We look set to be without both Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey for at least the weekend’s fixture, while the Scot is reported to be out for most if not all of the remainder of the current campaign. With that in mind, and with Nuno Tavares’s defensive liability being exposed on too many occasions, it could be time to shore up our defence.
While Tavares could well profit from being deployed in a wing-back role, the LWB slot is one that Bukayo Saka has previously excelled in also, and it could well give us the opportunity to bring Nicolas Pepe back into the fold.
Partey’s injury means that Granit Xhaka centrally, while Lokonga has deputised previously he has found minutes hard to come by in 2022 and it remains to be seen whether the manager has trust in him at this crucial point in the campaign, and the manager has previously shown a keen interest in a back five.
Possible Arsenal XI this weekend:
White Holding Gabriel
Cedric Odegaard Xhaka Saka
Pepe/Martinelli Lacazette Smith Rowe
In this system, ESR would operate somewhere between the midfield and front three, similarly to Mason Mount during Euro 2020 last summer, while Odegaard would also come out from his deep role and operate in the hole as Emile pushes up the field, while Saka would also use his energy to get up and down the field to give us an extra man in both defence and attack.
Looking at those available at present, the alternative is to stick with the current formation, with this XI:
Cedric White Gabriel Saka/Tavares
Martinelli/Pepe Odegaard ESR/Saka
The more I look at our options, what fears me the most is seeing Nuno put in a similar performance to Monday at LB, not that he was the only player to fail to bring his A game. Saka simply has to play on the LW and track back his utmost if we are to stick with the system in use at present.
Another potential selection if sticking with the same system could be to shuffle a number of players around, which could mean a lot of training this week to adjust, and could well be too risky is to complete switch up the back four, with Ben White moving out to the right, Cedric coming out to the left and with Rob Holding slotting in at centre-back, but will that completely break up any cohesion which we have built up in recent months?
How would you line up against Brighton assuming that all of Tomiyasu, Partey and Tierney remain unavailable?