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!