League: Premier League
Owner: Stan Kroenke (majority shareholder)
Coach: Mikel Arteta
Best Player: Bukayo Saka
Since the 2003 – 2004 season, the team has not won a Premier League, and since 2017, they have not played in the UEFA Champions League. Their last important title was obtained in 2020, when they lifted the F.A. Cup.
Stan Kroenke became the majority shareholder in April of 2011, year when Arsene Wenger was still the coach. After Wenger, Unai Emery was signed, saying goodbye to the team in November of 2019 following a losing streak. Freddie Ljungberg took over as caretaker manager until Arsenal sign a new coach. The Gunners had multiple options, among them, the Italians Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri, the Spaniard Marcelino García and former players Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira.
Ancelotti was by far the better option, a coach with experience, knowledge, leadership and titles. It is uncertain why the board preferred Arteta; either he was cheaper, was a part of Arsenal’s history or worked with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Mikel Arteta enjoyed a promising start, hired in December of 2019, winning the F.A. Cup at the end of the season. In 2020 – 2021, he lifted the Community Shield, beating Liverpool F.C. in a penalty shootout. After this success, Arsenal was very inconsistent; fragile defensively and uninventive offensively, finishing eighth in the Premier League without chances to play in any regional competition for first time after 25 years.
Currently, Arsenal have not improved, unstable and poor, surprisingly losing against Brentford F.C. in their first match of the season, dominated by Chelsea F.C. and Manchester City in their next two. The coach apologizes for their terrible performances, mentioning the team lacks crucial players due to injury or Covid-19.
Emile Smith Rowe
Albert Sambi Lokonga
Style of Play
The preferred lineup is a 4 – 2 – 3 – 1, also using a 3 – 4 – 3 and, occasionally, a 4 – 3 – 3. Arteta does not have a concrete style of play, however, he likes to initiate the attack from the back, involving the goalkeeper and centre-backs. The full-backs and wingers provide speed and dribbling, cutting towards the opposition’s goal when they have the chance. Midfielders try to create offensive opportunities and defend. Strikers have free roam. In the past season, crosses were very used to score, a method with little success.
The signings made by Arsenal have been mediocre, buying young players with a promising future instead of consolidated (star) footballers. Arteta has been part of four transfer windows, signing Pablo Marí, Cédric Soares, William Saliba, Willian, Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes, Alex Rúnarsson. Thomas Partey, Ben White, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale.
Alex Rúnarsson and Aaron Ramsdale are goalkeepers. The young English keeper came this season for 24 million pounds, putting pressure to the inconsistent Bernd Leno. Arsenal made a big mistake selling Emiliano Martínez the past year for 20 million pounds, a goalkeeper that proved to be one of the best in the world representing Aston Villa and Argentina.
Marí and Soares have played more as substitutes. Saliba, centre-back, has never played for the team, being on loan (France) almost his entire career with Arsenal. Gabriel is another centre-back with a promising future, nonetheless, he has to improve in ball control, marking the opposition, and pass accuracy. Tavares and White were signed during this transfer market, left back and centre-back respectively. White was recently infected by Covid-19, obligated to miss at least two weeks.
Partey did not enjoy a good 2020-2021 season, suffering from injuries that prevented him to play and show his quality. Odegaard played various games with Arsenal last season – loaned from Real Madrid – signing a permanent contract this week. The Norwegian has vision and offensive leadership. Lokonga was signed during this transfer window, playing as a defensive midfielder.
Willian has been one of the worst signings made by the club. The Brazilian signed as a free agent last year with a salary (approximately) of 192,000 pounds per week. In his first match, Willian had 2 assists, with his form drastically changing afterwards; very imprecise, slow and dull.
I believe the lineup is correct (4 – 2 – 3 – 1), however, the tactics, player selection and signings are wrong.
Arsenal have zero offensive creativity, relying on crosses to create chances when they cannot break the opposition’s defence. Also, their goalkeepers and centre-backs cannot play with their feet, getting nervous and losing possession. Odegaard was bought to solve the creative issues, having the quality to do it. Saka is a crucial part of their offense, the only consistent and reliable player in the squad; having pace, confidence and dribbling skills. Lacazette and Aubameyang are not as lethal as they used to be, erratic and uninspiring. Aubameyang has sometimes played as a left winger, a decision that is ineffective. Finally, Pépé needs to improve as a right winger, showing skills but lacking forcefulness in front of goal.
In the defensive side, Arsenal lack intensity and precision. Granit Xhaka is not a good defensive midfielder, very slow and disoriented when marking the opposition. The pair of Lokonga-Partey would be more effective, with the youngster protecting the centre-backs while Partey joins the attack. Gabriel needs to take the next step and become a solid defender. White is obligated to demonstrate the price of his transfer fee – 50 million pounds.
The board should try and sign: Thilo Kehrer (right full-back), Matthias Ginter (centre-back or right full-back), Lukas Klostermann (right full-back), Kalidou Koulibaly (centre-back), Marqunihos (centre-back or defensive midfielder), Dennis Zakaria (centre-back or defensive midfielder), Emil Forsberg (offensive midfielder), Houssem Aouar (offensive midfielder), Lautaro Martínez (striker), Erling Haaland (striker) or Duván Zapata (striker).
Unfortunately, the team has to show a sense of urgency for players to be interested in signing with the club. The board needs to demonstrate their desire to improve and win titles.
Granit Xhaka*, Héctor Bellerín, Willian, Reiss Nelson, Sead Kolasinac, Pablo Marí, Mohamed Elneny and Alexandre Lacazette should be sold or loaned out. Also, if the team does not improve against Tottenham Hotspur in September 26, Arteta should step aside. Antonio Conte is a possibility to replace him.
*Xhaka signed a contract extension this week, therefore, he will be staying for another season.
Spanish: Rendimiento: Arsenal F.C.