Injuries to Saliba and Tomiyasu have thinned Arsenal’s defensive options somewhat, but the real dliemma Arteta faces before our Sunday trip to Anfield exists at the other end of the pitch. While Gabriel Jesus is an electrifying presence, January signing Leandro Trossard has been a revelation, his seven assists in 545 minutes second only to Bukayo Saka’s 10 in 2,444. This suggests that Trossard, had he joined this past summer, would have upward of 30 assists to date.
Of course, that’s not how statistics work; you can invent statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that. What is more provable is that we have an almost-embarassing luxury of options in attack. Trossard has shown his value across the front line, having now played on both wings and as a false nine. Jesus, though perhaps less versatile, is much more dynamic.
With Saka and Martinelli also fit and lively, what should Arteta do? First, it’s such a welcome change of pace from the days when we were forced to shoehorn players into unfamiliar positions or roles. Having resoundingly answered that question once and for all (cough), what should Arteta do?
Playing Jesus might make the most sense. He’s the livelier, quicker player, the one more likely to distract and discombobulate defenders who would be ever-alert to his whereabouts. On the other hand, a bit of reverse psyschology might be in order. Playing Trossard might lure defenders into a false sense of security. “It’s only Trossard,” they might say. Both players have a tendency to drift to stretch defenses and create channels for runners in behind—especially Martinelli.
If you’re not yet salivating, let me offer you one more tantalizing morsel: Trent Alexander-Arnold. Never the world’s most-alert or diligent defender, his shortcomings have risen to an almost Mustafian level. This doesn’t necessarily resolve Arteta’s dilemma. Then again, it might. Starting Jesus might put Alexander-Arnold on high alert. Starting Trossard might allow him to drop his guard.
I don’t mean to many any definitive suggestions here. I am after all just a blogger. If I knew more than Arteta knows, I might maybe attract enough attention to get hired to manage a club with lesser ambition, such as Southampton or, say Tottenham. If any of you feel more confident than I do, offer your recommendation and rationale in the comments below.
One last thing: this month, you can enter a raffle for a £25 Arsenal Direct gift card by commenting on this and other posts. Yes, it’s a direct attempt at bribing you to join the conversation. The more often you comment, the better your chances at winning!
I say, we start Jesus. Trossard has been a revelation, like you say, but Jesus is by far the better player — he can single-handedly conjure a goal up out of nothing. He would terrify Alexander – Arnold. This would also undermine Liverpool‘s attack a lot.
You are tricky, Jon. I might even accuse you of Clickbait. The reality is as you say, though. We do have a lot of options in attack. I’m assuming that Saka is fully fit, he should start on the right. Through the middle, I guess I would go with Trossard. He seems better at springing Martinelli free through the middle. Keep in mind that Jesus is still not 100%. If we can get away with arresting him instead of starting him, that would be a good thing. If we need him, we can send him on in the second half.
Interesting thought and possible strategy, but I would go with Trossard despite Jesus having scored twice this weekend. Whether Jesus will relish not being a starter is a concern, but if, in some bright future Arsenal spend more money and increase their squad as we hope they might do, this problem will become a reality at several positions not just at the front. As was noted Jesus is not fully fit and it may not hurt to have him in reserve. The question, of course, is whether Liverpool come out of their Chelsea match intact and with a win and whether they then find or see hope of catching Spurs or either Newcastle or ManU (who also have 2 games in hand) for 3rd, 4th or 5th. They have dug a deep hole for themselves and maybe time is catching up with them as it appears to be for Spurs, as well
BTW, there was an interesting article or piece on one of the Arsenal sites (cannot find it now) that theorized that the entire Mudryk transfer saga was a con on the part of Arsenal to divert attention from Trossard (and Jorghino??) , i.e., we never really wanted to go that high or even come that close, but Chelsea may just have assumed we knew something and “bit the bait”. So far, of course, it does not look good for Cheslea (on many fronts) and it may well be that Mudryk, unless he acclimates to the PL, may become another Pepe (or worse). Hmmmmm
GJ9 is just getting back his form, so we can start trossard. We’ve seen trossard and Martinelli make a wonderful pairing, maybe trossard is not so fast but immobile Arnold will surely be caught off guard by Martinelli or he might get too focused on Martinelli and gives trossard a free ticket to the box 18
excellent points, Omo (I hope that is an acceptable nickname). Trossard has his tail up, and Jesus is still finding full fitness. Alexander-Arnold will almost surely be exposed by Trossard or Martinelli!
Hello Jon. Nice write up indeed. Trossard for me is a lesser player than Jesus but knits the attack together in impressive fashion. I like the way he drops off into space and gives defenders a conundrum of whether to follow or dig in their heels. He is a tidy little technician who views the game with an extra angle. Have you seen his assists, they always look quite simple but most defenders never see them coming. IMO, Jesus is more of a chaos player. Sometimes this confuses other players who might not be on the same wavelength as him thoughtwise. Furthermore, he is still getting back to full fitness so we need not overplay him and risk having him break down again. A little shout out to Xhaka as well. My oh my has this boy not arrived. I saw him walking alongside Arteta after the Leeds game and I pictured him in that dugout as his successor a few years down the line. Still we rise. COYG.
very well said, James, you’ve knitted together som very interesting points. I really should devote a post to Xhaka, but there’s been so much going on that he’s almost flown under the radar lately. His performance and leadership have been instrumental to our position. Wouldn’t it be something to see two former players become Arsenal managers?
I really can’t believe am the only one that has noticed the selfishness in Martinelli ever since he was dropped for a match or two a few weeks ago..
Against Leeds United, he had chance after chance to lay a simple pass to a teammate but never did, instead he would try to wriggle his way through a million Leeds defenders or try to shoot himself instead of a simple pass
Look closely, you would realize that what turned out to be an assist for Benny Blanco, wasn’t actually a pass, but a shot on target that fortunately got into the path of white for our second goal..
This has been a regular occurrence for the last few matches.
This is where Saka has been amazing and why Saka would remain a country mile better than Martinelli.
Saka knows when to hold on to the ball and attract defenders to himself, but also knows when to quickly release the ball to a team and also when to shoot.
That’s the unique quality about messi, his decision-making.
Speed of thought…
So regarding your post on who to start upfront, I would say, start Jesus through school the middle, trossard on the left and Saka on the right..
Jesus seems to be hitting form at the right time, it would take the wind off his sail to take him out of the starting lineup.
Now he’s scoring and red hot, let him carry on in this rich vein of form, trossard is very unselfish and would always put the team in front of his personal goal achievements, so I say trossard on the left. Saka is on a level of his own, so he will always start when fit.
Goal scoring chances will be minimal against Liverpool, so we need an unselfish player with assist qualities and an in form center forward (Jesus) to take those chances when they come by..
For me the best lineup against Liverpool would be
Trossard. Jesus. Saka
Martinelli, Jorginho and others to come in when needed