The boss fielded two different XIs in each half against Charlton in a bid to both give the squad a fitness boost and experiment with tactics. Tribuna.com takes a deeper look at two midfield trios used by Mikel.
Arsenal have a problem with the midfield. At the first look of it, we have several good players competing for just three places. However, when you watch games, you can see that something is missing in the way our build-up is organised.
The Gunners are too heavily reliant on the pace and individual skills of our attackers to score goals. This points out to a certain lack of creativity in the middle of the park, worsened by Mesut Ozil's downfall.
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Arteta has made up for Arsenal's issues with feeding forwards through the middle with some tactical tinkering but it requires a long-term solution that is not based on Bukayo Saka's brilliance or Aubameyang's reliability in front of goal.
As we could see from the game against Charlton, or, better say, from the glimpses of it we could see via highlights, Arteta tried and tested two different midfield options. In the first half, the had one advanced man with two players in a deeper No. 8 role; in the second half, the Spaniard flipped the triangle.
First half: Guendouzi, Maitland-Niles - Ozil
- Good balance. Guendouzi and AMN both run hard and are not afraid of doing the dirty work for Mesut Ozil. They create a good basis for the German to roam freely without having too much defensive responsibility on his shoulders.
- Second chance. Ainsley gets a nod from Mikel Arteta despite previously receiving criticism from the boss.
- Entrenched Gunners. Both the Frenchman and the Englishman come handy if we need to spend a lot of time without the ball and withstand attacks. Perhaps Arteta tried to check whether AMN and Matteo develop chemistry ahead of the City clash.
- Over-reliance on Ozil. We all know the playmaker is unstoppable when he is in the mood. However, this formation means that when he has a bad day, Arsenal won't really create many scoring opportunities as neither Guendouzi nor Ainsley are particularly good when going forward.
- Lack of flexibility. AMN-Guendouzi-Ozil is a more defensive set up and it's difficult to see it quickly transformed into an attacking one without taking off at least one player. Granit Xhaka's ability to play deliver both defensively and offensively will be missed if Arteta decides to go with this as a first-choice option.
Second half: Xhaka - Ceballos, Willock
- Granit's best role? Xhaka is capable of dominating the game from a deep playmaker role given his exceptional passing skills. Perhaps Mikel Arteta has just found the best position for the Swiss international.
- Offensive potential. Dani, Granit and Joe are all very attack-minded players. With this midfield triumvirate, the Gunners won't have any problems with feeding the forwards.
- Defensive gaps. Granit Xhaka is not a holding midfielder and he struggles with timing his tackles and defensive positioning. Hence, Arsenal could see their back four exposed if the ex-captain is used as the tip of the midfield triangle facing our own half.
- Ceballos' departure. Dani is set to leave Arsenal when the current season finishes so is there a point in relying on him as a first-team player?
- Willock's lack of involvement. Joe is a brilliant ball carrier but has not been a reliable passer. The youngster is seemingly more comfortable in an advanced midfield role and his lack of
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