Written by Harry Dodds (@HDodds_BU)
Arsenal have had a very inconsistent start to this season, winning four, losing four and sitting 11th in the Premier League table.
The key problem, in my opinion, is the lack of creativity in midfield, which is rubbing off on the forwards and hindering them from unlocking their potential. I’d like to explore the Gunners’ midfield problems and how they can possibly be addressed.
Arsenal’s last Premier League outing was 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, who embarrassed the Gunners in the midfield. That game for me, highlighted Arsenal’s lack of a true playmaker, with Jack Grealish having a field day at The Emirates.
Arsenal need a player like Grealish desperately. For context, Arsenal’s entire midfield has a combined one assist this season, whilst Grealish has five.
It’s truly embarrassing.
What’s up with Ozil?
The sad thing is that Arsenal have a creative midfielder on their books in Mesut Ozil, who has been left out of the Premier League squad and is now, in my opinion, getting poorly treated by the club.
He’s definitely not as good as he once was, and recent Arsenal managers haven’t favoured the German for one reason or another, but we are at a point now where Arteta needs more end product from the midfield. Ozil has world class passing ability and is a proven chance creator, bagging 54 assists in 184 games for the Gunners.
The club have completely shut him out and haven’t even communicated to the fans why he isn’t in the Premier League or Europa League squad.
A player of his quality deserves more respect.
How can Arsenal get the most out of their current players?
Arsenal’s preferred midfield duo at the moment seems to be Elneny and Partey, which doesn’t provide much of an attacking threat.
Arteta’s men have undoubtedly been more solidified at the back, holding the best defensive record in the league before their last outing against Villa. But Arsenal’s current 3-4-3 setup doesn’t allow the midfielders to get forward like they would in, for example, a 4-2-3-1 formation, which I feel would be more suitable for the current group of players.
With Ozil out of the squad, I think the best candidate for the ‘number 10’ role is Willian.
He has been playing on the wing for Arsenal so far, but in truth has been underwhelming to say the least.
I think Pepe deserves a fair shot at starting on the right, and Willian can be shifted into the middle, where he has proven that he can be a valuable asset to the side. There’s also the potential for players like Willock and Ceballos to play there, who could prove to be a threat from further forward.
The truth is that Mikel Arteta doesn’t have a permanent solution to this problem at the moment, with missing out on Houssem Aouar looking to be a mistake on Arsenal’s part.
And if not him, they need to go for another playmaker this January transfer window, otherwise Arsenal will continue to struggle to create chances and the strikers will continue to misfire, leaving their top four chances looking rather bleak.