The subject of Arsenal's attack has engulfed many column inches in recent weeks and that column was no different. Six of my last nine tracks on the site have mostly dealt with the topic and if Arsenal has taught me anything this season it's to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again. (Joke).
The problem with the attack is as much recruitment as Mikel Arteta's tactical approach. Arsenal spent the best part of £ 185million on three strikers who cannot play together and then added a 32-year-old Willian to the equation. Currently, Arteta selects Aubameyang (31), Willian (32) and Lacazette (29) most often.
It's an attack in its later prime years and the benefit of throwing a mature attack should be a sense of cohesion that experience can bring. Instead, Arsenal are still playing with the rubix cube for a triumvirate of attackers on their final elite contracts. However, scratch below the surface and there is the vague outline of a different future.
Aubameyang and Willian have three-year contracts so they won't be going anywhere in a hurry, Lacazette had two more years on his contract this summer and Arsenal made no attempt to tie him up to a new one which you said. its medium-term future lies elsewhere. Aged 25, Nicolas Pepe is not exactly wet behind the years but he is many years the youngest of the team's unfortunate first choices.
Beneath him, Arsenal have Gabriel Martinelli cooling gently on the windowsill, with Bukayo Saka already sustaining a failed attack full time. Eddie Nketiah sees a lot of playing time as Lacazette. In the short term, Arteta must find a way to transform his main attackers into a more formidable unit.
In the long run, his tenure may well be defined by how he shapes Arsenal's attack of the future. Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka secured new contracts over the summer and with limited funds and holes elsewhere in Arteta's squad, in an ideal world, the club won't need to spend a precious transfer budget. for another attacker unless he directly replaces an outgoing member of the team.
Let's say Lacazette was to leave, or Pepe was to be seen as damaged and sold property, or if Willian was making a permanent transfer to that chintzy restaurant in Dubai, then they might need to use the money for a direct replacement. Arteta has the option to turn his failed attack in increments, pulling Pepe up to par and ushering Martinelli into the fray, like a dash of chili powder into a bland bolognese.
However, Arteta has so far struggled to integrate more spontaneous attackers. Before his injury, Martinelli was an unused substitute in four consecutive Premier League games following the 0-0 draw with Burnley in February. Martinelli was part of a failed frontline at Turf Moor which saw him play on the right and Aubameyang on the left of Alex Lacazette.
At this point, Arteta has realized that Martinelli and Aubameyang cannot both play wide in a forward three because they are too similar. They are low touch players looking to run behind, they are wide forwards as opposed to wingers and that creates an imbalance. Having two low contact forwards on the front line only works if you have two very creative types (usually a wide attacker and an attacking midfielder) to balance them out.
Arsenal do not have a creative and attacking midfielder. Nonetheless, the refusal to use even Martinelli on the bench as Arsenal sought results at home against West Ham in March and Brighton in June suggests that Arteta struggled to integrate Martinelli. The Brazilian's burst of form in the middle of winter, culminating in his solo effort against Chelsea, came when Aubameyang was suspended for three games.
Martinelli scored two goals and one assist during Aba's suspension. If his return from injury will be welcome, the headache remains for Arteta to know how to integrate him and Aubameyang in the same line of attack. Assuming Aubameyang steps into a more central role, Bukayo Saka might hold the key to unlocking this partnership.
During Aba's suspension in January, Martinelli played to the left of the attack with Bukayo Saka straddling. The pair found instant chemistry, Saka crossed for Martinelli to score against Sheffield United, while Martinelli combined with the Saka overlap for his excellent goal at Bournemouth a fortnight later.
For Martinelli's goal against Sheffield United, Lacazette and Özil combine at the edge of the box with Saka and Martinelli already pushed, while recently Arsenal attackers have tended to stand in a straight line. At Bournemouth, Arsenal had a much better balance in their attack with two players attacking the box at Martinelli and Nketiah, Saka and Pepe creating wings and Willock carrying the ball forward from midfield.
With Kieran Tierney at the club, it doesn't make sense for Saka to reprise his left-back role, but on the left side of a midfielder three, Arteta could create a very virtuous triangle between Martinelli, Saka and Tierney . This sense of kinship is lacking in the current setup, Willian, Lacazette and Aubameyang don't really combine and no one behind them except Saka really supports them.
Nicolas Pepe is definitely a frustrating player, capable of equally incompetence and brilliance. He has an end product, however, and after investing the kind of money the club have in the Ivorian, it makes sense for Arteta to invest coaching time in ironing out the wrinkles of Pepe's game. It certainly makes more sense than investing that kind of ability in Willian (although I think he's a better player than the one we've seen so far).
Anecdotally, we are told that the manager is investing a lot of time and resources in training Pepe in the same way he would have managed Raheem Sterling at Manchester City. Pepe has value in being a creator and a goalscorer - despite all of his basic motor skills failures at times he's meticulous in front of goal - few of his shots are wild.
Whether Nketiah can work his way into this long-term equation remains to be seen and there is no need to rush to judge. Nketiah is truly a striker in the penalty box, but he needs to develop the other areas of his game to be considered number nine in Arsenal's first choice as Aubameyang hits his endowment (which is hopefully at least in a few seasons).
The current triumvirate of Lacazette, Willian, and Aubameyang doesn't really work and I don't think there's much of a chance it will ever work given the lack of whimsy and imagination behind it. Saka is already a promising first-team player and his existing chemistry with Martinelli gives hope. Right now there are a lot of ifs and buts.
Can Arteta bring Auba and Martinelli on the same line before? Yes, if he can coach Pepe into a leaner player. Basically, there's something Arteta can work with, a medium-term project that should excite and energize him - because it could end up defining his reign.
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The history of the most popular sport in the world is incredible. Centuries have passes since the introduction of the sport we now call soccer or football ( or whatever you want to call it ), and in that time, history has been made.
We all know some of the more memorable moments like Diego Maradona’s infamous handball and we know some of the more heartbreaking moments like the Hillsborough tragedy, but what we don’t know is some of the more bizarre and usual stories.
Like anything that has history, soccer has some of the most bizarre and humorous stories around—stories that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief.
Arsenal played a friendly against Dynamo Moscow in heavy fog in 1945 at White Hart Lane and despite the urging of players to suspend play due to the fog, the referee decided that play should continue.
The fog was so thick that the game turned into an absolute farce, with both sides playing by their own set of rules and suffering their own bad luck because of the inclement weather.
Moscow at one point made a substitution but didn’t take a player off, with fans watching the match believing that the Russian club had up to 15 players on the pitch at the one time.
Arsenal also made the best of the conditions, with one of their players—who had earlier been sent off—sneaking back onto the pitch and playing the remainder of the game.
However, they did suffer some bad luck, with their goalkeeper knocking himself out cold after running into the goalpost, which of course, he could not see due to the fog. A spectator reportedly took his place in goals and the match continued.
Not too many of the stories to feature on this list take place in the past decade or so, but we have a special place here for the faithful fans at Stamford Bridge, home ground of Chelsea.
You might not know it about the West London club, but Chelsea fans have been bringing celery to the Bridge for decades now—most likely in order to pay homage to their chant ' Celery ' ( warning : inappropriate language ).
However, according to a club statement from 2007, the Blues have reminded fans that bringing celery to the ground is in fact outlawed and that any fan caught bringing the ' dangerous ' vegetable to the ground could face a lifetime ban from the Blues’ home ground.
Nowadays, Everton and Liverpool form one of the strongest rivalries in the league, with the Merseyside derbies highlighting on every football fan’s calendar.
With Goodison Park ( Everton’s home ground ) just around the corner from Anfield Road ( Liverpool’s home ground ), the two clubs have grown in their hatred and disposition for the other—with the desire to beat their rival one of their biggest goals at the start of the season.
However, what you might not have known about the two clubs is that before the rivalry had existed, Everton’s home ground was in fact Anfield Road—the very ground that Liverpool now call their home and one of the tougher places to travel to in world .
The Toffees would play their first game at Anfield against Earlestown on September 27, 1884, and would play their first Football League match as a professional club on September 8, 1888. Liverpool, bien sûr, would not be founded for another four years after that date.
Everton would leave Anfield Road on January vingt cinq, 1892—opting to move to the north side of Stanley Park, to the ground and area now known as Goodison Park. Liverpool ( who wanted to be called Everton Athletic at the time ) would then claim Anfield Road as their home ground.