It seems that we are actually going to have to fight very hard for a top 8 finish this season. Who would have thought this would be the case after our Community Shield victory and the signings of Gabriel and Partey?
The point is that we are cruelly lacking…points so far this season. We have not won any games in two months in the EPL and although there has been a bit of misfortune, overall, we have not performed well and we have not managed to be “hard to break down” nor “hard to stop/contain”. I know the players are the ones on the pitch but I also think that the coach has his responsibilities. We just have not been good enough this season (except maybe in the Europa League).
So who should lead Arteta field to steer us back in the top half?
GK: We let Martinez go so we have to rely on Leno as our GK.
RB: Bellerin did have some good games but mostly, he has been ineffective. AMN needs to improve some more defensively but he has been OK while Soares is at best a sub so AMN for me.
CB: Gabriel has been great until he got his red card. Luiz is still among our Top 3 defenders and although Holding is not as consistent as we wanted, who do we play ahead of him? Saliba/Sok are not qualified, Mari/Chambers are recovering and Mustafi remains a liability…
LB: Tierney has been sensational as a LCB and LB and I think he should be played as LB as his crossing is rather good.
DM/CM: Partey is key, El Neny has played well. Ceballos has been our most dangerous midfielder thanks to his passing. So we do we start? Partey-El Neny for me.
RFW: Saka is really our creative force these days. His runs and timings have been good and he can pbbly cause havoc if played on the right side too. Willian has been abysmal and Pepe not consistent enough. What about Nelson? Hard to say so far.
ST: Martinelli for me. I think he can hold up the ball and not only create for others but also for himself. He is also good at making runs inside the box. Nketiah works hard but not enough end product, same for Laca. As for Balogun, maybe a bit light still although a great prospect.
LFW: It has to be Auba. I think that with Saka on the right and Martinelli in the middle, he will be able to rediscover his shooting boots. With Tierney’s overalaps, he will have the chance to cut inside.
So here it is for me, if we stick to a back 3 system:
Leno – Holding, Luiz, Gabriel – AMN, Partey, El Neny, Tierney – Saka, Martinelli, Auba
Bench: Runnarsson, Saliba, Mari, Bellerin, Xhaka, Willock, Nelson, Willian, ESR, Pepe, Nketiah, Balogun
Offload in January: Soares, Chambers, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kola, Laca
What do you say? Is that starting XI our best when all are fit and available?