We are fortunate to have two such creative attacking midfield talents as Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard.
Yet some supporters have been doubtful as to whether the two can be accommodated in the same starting line-up or whether they are in an either/or situation.
Indeed, when we signed the Norwegian on a permanent deal this summer there were concerns that his arrival would push the young Englishman down the pecking order and hinder his development.
So it was very gratifying to see the pair start in tandem against the N17 Miscreants on Sunday and to both play so well.
They also started the previous league game (our 1-0 win away at Burnley) and were in the line-up that allowed Aubameyang to grab a hat trick against Leeds United last season in a 4-2 victory.
Selecting a starting eleven is a careful balancing act and it’s easy to see why some of us have had concerns about Odegaard and ESR meshing successfully without either leaving us weak in midfield or forcing other key players onto the bench.
For example, if we now assume that a trio of ESR-Ode-Saka behind Aubameyang might be Mikel Arteta’s preferred starting line-up, then where does that leave the likes of Pepe (our most expensive player), Martinelli (one of our most promising) and Lacazette (one of the most experienced)?
Personally I prefer the idea of putting our best players on the pitch and finding a way to make it work. And ESR and Odegaard are certainly among our best players (along with Saka and Auba).
You don’t have to look back very far to remember a time when, although we had tightened up defensively, we were having real trouble creating chances. It was a common complaint in comments on this blog and others.
So when you have two such creative players as our blonde-on-blonde duo it is surely incumbent upon the manager to create a system that allows them both to feature and I, for one, am glad that El Patron seems to have found a way of doing just that.
Will it be appropriate for every game? Perhaps not. Against Chelsea or Man City the manager may choose to sacrifice a bit of that attacking thrust, but in many, many matches it is a combination that puts us on the front foot.
And it may well work even against the best teams: on Sunday it was a joy to see how quickly we broke on the counter-attack, leaving the Spuds dead in our tracks. We have seen very little of that kind of speedy defence-to-attack play under Arteta and too much of the constipated, crab-like ‘horseshoe’ approach.
For parts of last season it seemed that Arteta’s preferred attacking set-up was Lacazette up front, Auba on the left, Pepe or Saka on the right and one of Odegaard or ESR behind the striker. It worked at times, but typically produced slow build-up play with the ball going into Laca’s feet then being passed back out and sideways as we probed for openings.
The new approach is much more pleasing on the eye and much harder to defend against.
RC suggested yesterday that it now appears as if Arteta has finally developed a clear idea of what his best starting formation is – and it includes all three of ESR, Saka and Odegaard. With a proven finisher like Auba ahead of them, that’s a combined attacking threat that will worry any team in the EPL.