Arsenal have finally picked up their first league points under Unai Emery. The Gunners saw off their London rivals, West Ham, in a 3-1 victory at the Emirates. The scoreline seems convincing, but Arsenal’s first-half performance was far from that. The hosts were getting outplayed by the counter-attacks and the runs in behind of Marko Arnautovic, Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson. They couldn’t keep possession in midfield and build attacks. Their offensive acts came via counter attacks too. Arsenal’s Midfield Dilemma is making Emery scratch his hair.
Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka: Arsenal’s Midfield Dilemma
Emery has a big question to ask himself regarding his midfield and who will play when. The trio of Granit Xhaka, Mateo Guendouzi and Aaron Ramsey that featured in Saturday’s game were underwhelming. All three were relatively sloppy in possession and just not good enough defensively. Ramsey was playing in the number ten position, just behind the striker. His role was to press the defenders along with the striker and provide service for Aubameyang. The Welshman’s energy was used, but Ramsey was still not up to his standards.
Xhaka Troublesome Again
Coming to the deeper options, Granit Xhaka simply cannot start for Arsenal at the moment. Not taking anything away, Xhaka is an excellent player blessed with tremendous ability. But his head just doesn’t allow him to play in that role well. He is not alert, careless on the ball, puts the pressure on his teammates rather than relieving it, not decisive and isn’t a ball winner. The Swiss international gave away five fouls against West Ham, the most by any player in the game. He just constantly puts his teammates in dangerous situations. Offensively, he just created one chance. While that isn’t bad, he does nothing spectacular on either side of the field to cement a place in the starting eleven.
The aforementioned Ramsey, Lucas Torreira and Mateo Guendouzi all are better options, currently. Xhaka needs to get on the training field, work his stuff out and return to the team as a better player because he has the talent to be. And that is the most irking fact. Xhaka is in his third season now and still keeps making the same mistakes. The 25-year-old hasn’t improved a bit.
The Youngster Who is Showing Promise
Coming to the man on everybody’s lips, Matteo Guendouzi. The teenager is a sensation, have no doubts about it. But a team like Arsenal cannot rely on a teenager as a first choice central midfielder, no matter how good he is. He will have off days, that is how kids learn. Guendouzi had an off day on Saturday and it his right to have them. His partner in midfield should’ve helped him, but Xhaka has his own issues.
The New Signing Must Start
That is where Lucas Torreira comes in. He has made an impact off the bench for the third game running, just like Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal immediately look better with the Uruguayan on. He provides structure and command in midfield. His passing range is great and the main thing is that he is not a defensive liability. He will put in the tackles and make the interceptions. He is the ball winner that Arsenal desperately needed in the last decade. Emery must start Torreira.
So, the conclusion is that Torreira must start, with Guendouzi and Xhaka in and around the team. Emery could also consider starting Ramsey in the deeper position against some of the lesser teams to have an added goal threat.