Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal line-up isn’t broken – don’t fix it

Mohammed Eleni and Rob Holding? Starting a Premier League match? In 2020?!?!?

After last season’s FA Cup triumph and with the transfer window to follow, there was some expectation (or desire) of either of these two opening the new Premier League season.

? A fresh team news update before #ARSWHU?

— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 18, 2020

That’s not because either player is particularly bad, it’s just that brand new shiny central defenders and midfielders are supposed to be joining the club, either replacing the aforementioned duo further down the pecking order or replacing them. See full progress.

Two new signings made their debuts at Craven Cottage, with Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes both the Gunners’ best performers on the day. The former Blue weighed in with two assists, while the central defender got himself off the mark with a massive header (erm, shoulder).

The 3-0 win was fairly routine, but a good starting point for the rest of the campaign nonetheless. Can you read too much into a comfortable win against a side who, already at this stage, looked locked in a relegation battle? You can, but only in a negative way.

We will do nothing, and instead operate on the classic concept of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

3-0 win in the bag, no need to change / Clive Rose/Getty Images

With a clean sheet, three goals and three points from their trip to West London, Arsenal host West Ham in the Northern Quarter in a game many believe they want to claim the spoils. A David Moyes side featuring Andy Carroll was beaten 2-0 (crashed), with fan revolt and clueless ownership conspiring to create a spectacularly sour scene at the club. What did

Securing the double at the Hammers last season should not be overstated, as the Gunners were fortunate to secure victories on both occasions. Yet with Mikel Arteta’s confidence so far since taking charge, there is no need to cut and change, even if fns to get his club-record signings and academy stars approved. longing for

The back three should remain the same – not that there is much choice, as everyone else is Crook – with Kieran Tierney taking his place on the left of the back three and Gabriel making his home debut. William Saliba is clearly not at the level required to start the Premier League fixture just yet, as he was left out of the squad to face Fulham altogether. His time will come.

There is an interesting conundrum in the midfield. Elneny, who is probably still up for sale if his price is met, has performed admirably in the last two fixtures, offering real growth in his game. In all his previous matches, it is difficult to pick out an instance where he has contributed at both ends of the pitch. In his final 180 minutes of football, he is seen as the deepest player when the goalkeeper is in possession, as well as the furthest forward midfielder in the final third.

Eleni? Playing well? /pool/gettyimages

Is that weapon/top four material? He isn’t, no. It is a case of an average footballer who plays some good games because of superior coaching. Eleni is clearly not a long-term solution. However, he is playing well, and in a formula that seems to be working. Why not start him against West Ham and drop Dani Ceballos for matches where Arsenal might need that extra trick to get them out of trouble? Liverpool on match day three for example?

Up front the evergreen Villain has a show-in to boot after his man-of-the-match debut. Nicolas Pepe finally started to look like he was coming into his own for Arsenal at the end of last season, with his FA Cup final display perhaps his best yet.

Now though, Willian is in danger of being left behind if he continues his current form – well, it’s a game, but you know – as the 32-year-old is in the attacking stages of the competition. Offers more versatility, whether patrolling the back four or hugging the touchline to allow the wing-backs to occupy the channels.

In attack, Eddie Nketiah showed great promise, but with Alexandre Lacazette on the scoresheet at Craven Cottage, his place in the team must be retained. Rarely do we see strikers rely so heavily on confidence. When he regains his confidence, he has an upswing in style, yet when he’s down in the dumps, he can’t beat the barn door with the banjo.

? @LacazetteAlex? pic.twitter.com/ZIJxOuXhZQ

— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 10, 2020

It all neatly sums up where Arteta is at with his team. Sitting atop the Premier League table, the onus will be on the side to maintain that position for as long as possible, before the big guns finally have their way.

Tougher opposition from the Hammers comes after next week, so for now, keep the team unbeaten as it can keep the momentum going. Simple, right?

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