Arsenal: Four reasons the Gunners can begin to fire under Mikel Arteta

The Gooner's Ian Mills runs the rule over Mikel Arteta's Arsenal and insists there are at least four genuine reasons to be cheerful

Arsenal: Four reasons the Gunners can begin to fire under Mikel Arteta

Ian Mills analyses the Gunners under Mikel Arteta and says there are reasons to be cheerful

All great Arsenal sides of the past have had a formidable spine.

From Frank Moss, Herbie Roberts, Alex James and Cliff Bastin when the Gunners dominated English football in the Thirties through to Bob Wilson, Frank McLintock, Geordie Armstrong, and John Radford in our first Double Year of 1970-71 to latter day heroes such as David Seaman, Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry during Arsene Wenger's greatest years.

I have always believed that to have any long term chance of competing regularly for honours, a strong spine is essential.

However as good as those four players are, unless you have personnel around them with the requisite quality required you will still be massively hampered in your attempts to challenge. 

So bringing things right upto date how does our current squad shape up?

1) Let's start in goal

While the performances of Emi Martinez rightly drew praise from all quarters there was a reason that Bernd Leno was voted into second place in the Arsenal Player of the Year vote.

He is a tremendous shotstopper and is comfortable with the ball at his feet. He is also quick to sweep up when required. There remains the issue about his ability on crosses which even at 26 years of age can hopefully be overcome. Bernd has the opportunity to be Arsenal No1 for the next decade.

2) Our defence

In defence we are overloaded in quantity yet sadly not in quality. That said the signing of Gabriel looks an inspired one. He is a powerful and very solid centre half who is good on the ball - it's rare for a centre back to possess all these qualities.

Given the tendency to deploy three centre backs (however flexible the system allows them to be) our wing backs have become extremely important and we are fortunate to have some quality options in those positions.

Kieran Tierney is an outstanding defender and I, like many others, see a future captain in our Scotsman.

Hector Bellerin continues to look much more like the player he was before his acl injury and Buyako Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles provide genuine competition on the defensive flanks. 

The centre of our midfield has long been the subject of debate.

We have not had a true defensive midfielder (a cdm to quote the FIFA generation) since Gilberto Silva.

Many have tried and ultimately failed including most recently Lucas Torreira, a player I really liked yet who could not nail down a place in the starting 11.

3) Cue Thomas Partey - an exceptional midfielder

He is just as comfortable acting as a screen for his defence as he is charging forward - an Arsenal midfielder called Thomas charging through the midfield, now where have I heard that before?

Partey's arrival allows for Dani Ceballos to move further forward as I can see Granit Xhaka forming a solid 'block' with our Ghanian. 

When Xhaka first arrived he quickly scored a couple of long range goals which have proved to be a false dawn.

However, Partey's presence will allow the Swiss the freedom to venture forward to try his luck again from distance as well as giving him more capacity to spray his long passes around the pitch.

I think Xhaka is at his best when he is not given much time to think on the ball.

That said Mohammed Elneny's performance against Man United was inspired and proves just how flexible our midfield can now be. Let's hope he's back from Covid as soon as possible. 

As for Ceballos, he has been marked out as our creative saviour yet in truth as good as he is on the ball, last season his number of goals and assists were modest at best.

With the security of both Partey and Xhaka behind him, our latest creative Spainard could move further forward to play behind a front two or a sole striker flanked by two wide men.

He clearly has the ability to create and score and a regular run in the team in a more advanced position should see him increase his contributions in both areas.

4) Upfront there is PEA - Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

As good as a lot of our transfer business has been in 2020 by far the most important signing has been that of Auba's contract extension.

He has scored 74 goals in just 117 games. At 31 he shows no sign of losing his pace.

He has a clear bromance with Alexandre Lacazette and they combine well on the pitch.

He is also a fulcrum to help some of the younger forwards such as Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah.

With Partey in the centre of our midfield driving the team forward Auba can finally get better service to him via our more fluid midfield.

While I would prefer to see Auba down the middle he has shown consistently that he is a threat from the left wing and now he will have a constant supply of ammunition. 

With such an unpredictable start to the Premier League and despite a shaky spell under Arteta before the international break, the belief is that a top four finish is within a select few's reach - and I would certainly put Arsenal into that category. 

We have a impressive young manager with a clear vision, who has the backing of his squad and who has already won silverware after just eight months at the helm.

Add those ingredients to our newly formed spine and the future of Arsenal looks very exciting.


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