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Arsenal’s rebuilding project under Mikel Arteta

Arsenal's rebuilding project under Mikel Arteta
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Arsenal’s rebuilding project under Mikel Arteta – A detailed review into Arsenal’s transfer business, tactics and more as 2022/2023 season approaches

Arsenal fans often mistake a coach adapting to the profiles he’s got as some baffling tactical choice or philosophy pivot. This happens with analysts, too. ‘Pressing is a means of chance creation. Why are Arsenal not pressing more? At least Klopp did it in Liverpool’s first year.’

Team rebuilds are different from club to club. Arsenal were notorious for being defensively inept when Arteta came, conceding an unholy amount of shots every game. You think that is the kind of atmosphere to instill a gung-ho approach? Especially with a coach who wants control?

You have to make choices with respect to your situation. Arsenal needed a steady ship at the back. That is what Mikel Arteta instilled immediately – top coach. The profiles of defenders in the squad were not conducive to pressing high anyways: Sokratis and Mustafi.

MUST READ: Why Arsenal fans need to be patient with Mikel Arteta

Mikel  Arteta has displayed enough flexibility and realism to be praised in that aspects. The likes of Bielsa come in with ‘My way or the highway, a 100% immediately’ and is slathered with praise for sticking to his convictions. Outside of football, that is called foolhardiness.

The way he can solve Arsenal’s confidence issues off the ball is nuts too, apart from the obvious stuff. adds to their aggression within blocks, and pushing teams back to their keeper and winning the ball from there.

Look at the sprints he makes as a forward in city’s defensive structure and you can easily see how he adds that confidence within Arsenal’s fluid defensive schemes. These are the things people don’t see but they mean everything.

Remember how Lacazette prevented Arsenal from getting back up the pitch to press and exert off-ball control on games through aggressive pressing? Yeah, forget that – Jesus is one of the best pressers in the game. Arsenal will press teams off the park & dominate the ball with him.

The consequences of that?

Arsenal will have the ball more and defend more aggressively more often. Then they can use their top quality positional play and individual quality to exploit the opposition directly off the back of (counter)pressing AND in settled attacks.

MUST READ: Arsenal Transfer Rumours, Team Tactics and structure

So many Arsenal fans have no idea how Jesus and Nketiah will transform the entire team, let alone when considering that the quality behind them is improving through individual development, natural progression, added experience, new signings (or easily put, the overall increase in quality).

Arsenal’s summer is exciting due to logical reasoning but let’s not mistake logical hype with illogical expectations. Mikel  Arteta is building a team that can compete with teams that have 2 players in every position. Arsenal are building towards that, but they don’t have that.

As such, just like last season, albeit to a lesser extent, Arsenal will be prone to injuries. Mikel  Arteta is doing a fantastic job of rebuilding Arsenal from an ageing, toxic, qualitatively poor team to a side with top stylistic, qualitative and selfless individuals, but that takes time.

The transformations include;

  • Aubameyang and Lacazette ➡️ Nketiah & Jesus (?).
  • Mustafi, Luiz, Holding, Sokratis ➡️ White, Gabriel, Saliba, Tomiyasu
  • Leno/Martinez ➡️ a true ball top player in Aaron Ramsdale
  • Torreira, Guendouzi ➡️ Thomas Partey, Ødegaard
  • Mesut Özil ➡️ Vieira
  • Nicolas Pepe ➡️ Bokayo Saka

Guys like Holding, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Bellerin, Chambers, Leno, etc have been or will be moved on too. The list goes on, but we’re essentially talking about a full squad rebuild here, and that takes a lot of time. Arsenal are having a *TOP* window but will still be short.

Comparatively to last season, they’re not short with guys like Saka, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, Ødegaard, etc, maturing with added experience at the elite level along with increased strength in qualitative options & stylistic similarities across the squad. That’s the direction Mikel Arteta is moving towards.

Arsenal aren’t miracle workers. Even with Jesus, Raphinha, Tielemans, Saliba, Lisandro Martinez, Matt Turner, and Fabio Vieira Arsenal will still be short numbers wise (albeit GREATLY improved). If Partey is out, Arsenal may have Elneny at #6. If Jesus is out, there’s only 1 Centre Forward.

If Ramsdale is out, there’s not a ball player back up to replace him. Tomiyasu’s back up is Cedric. Thing is, a lot of these issues can be resolved due to the versatility Arsenal’s squad possesses, but I’m also discussing best case scenario here with *ALL* links signing.

EDITOR’S PICK

It’s quite possible Arsenal don’t sign Tielemans due to prioritizing other more important positions first which means Granit Xhaka will play a massive role in the first team picture as a box to box #8, and that’s not a good thing because that’s not a role that suits him.

As such, Arsenal will have a player in the 1st team that is unsuited to their style as he’s not press resistant like a Tielemans due to his inability to turn in possession which means Arsenal’s build-up will be worse as will their final 3rd play because he’s not comfortable there.

This can also be applied to someone like L. Martinez who if Arsenal don’t sign could mean a raw & young player like Tavares plays a large portion of the season as a starting left back but also the technical depth in defence is much worse with Holding becoming a potential regular.

So, to act like Arsenal’s project is finished even if they get every player they’re linked with (which is unlikely) is a misrepresentation of the situation. Mikel  Arteta and Arsenal would have carried out the best business possible but there’s only so much they can do at once.

It’s important to keep this in mind when judging a project like Arsenal next season. What is absolutely clear is that with their best XI or even a slightly rotated version of the team, they’ll will play incredible football way more often than they managed to achieve last season.

This naturally means that they will pick up a lot more points, particularly when considering the team won’t be as easily crippled with injuries with increasing strength in depth but it’s important to add context that although they won’t be crippled, they’ll still ‘suffer’.

People may say every team suffers from injuries and they’re not wrong but the reality of the situation is Arsenal’s competition is Liverpool/City who have two players for every single position bar none. Unless there’s a freak injury crisis, those teams are not effected that much.

So, expectations wise for Arsenal, if they sign Jesus, Raphinha, Lisandro Martinez and integrate Saliba on top of Fabio Vieira, then the ceiling for the project next season is 4th minimum and a Europa League or domestic trophy, but that’s subject to those/similar players signing.

EDITOR’S PICK

Then, from there, heading into next summer, the squad is in a position where they can realistically expect to upset the apple cart in Liverpool and City in the 23/24 campaign as the squad becomes more cohesive, grows in experience and crucially addresses qualitative issues.

This is all in the assumption that Arsenal do sign the aforementioned players who are necessary for improvement squad depth so team dynamics remain regardless of who plays. City play the same way all the time and so do Liverpool. Improved depth will help Arsenal achieve that too.

That’s what Arsenal and Mikel  Arteta will be *MUCH* closer to next season as they have increased squad quality so aren’t reliant on fringe players like Holding, Lokonga and Pépé to play in roles they’re not comfortable in thus impacting the entire teams dynamics. Maintenance of style is key.

Arsenal defended deep last season by bringing Holding on to see out games. Next season, they will attempt to control games with the ball when winning, drawing or losing. The players Mikel Arteta is identifying will enable them to do that, but patience with the project is everything.

Sometimes that will not be possible when team dynamics are affected. If Arsenal aren’t dominating the ball and press high, team dynamics are likely negatively impacted i.e. there’s a qualitative/balance issue somewhere. One player can be complemented, but not 2 or 3.

Either way, although Arsenal will improve to a miraculous standard next season thanks to the likely incredible business by the club in this window, expectations should still be tempered. Spurs are top class too and are improving their depth. Chelsea/United will sign players too.

Arsenal are similar, as are United and Chelsea. Smart sales generate funds for big players and then before you know it the team is in a position where they’re only a couple of players away from winning leagues. Arsenal are currently most likely to make the jump like Liverpool did than United right now.

Saka, Martinelli, Smith-Rowe, and Edie Nketiah are developing from within to a top, top standard and the talent identification + generation of funds is similarly good from Mikel Arteta along with obvious necessities such as tactics & general managerial qualities.

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Mikel Arteta is conducting one of the best rebuilding jobs that has ever been seen in British football and the best thing about it is the masses aren’t entirely sure about it yet due to the fact that his CV doesn’t point towards such obvious success like Klopp’s did at Dortmund for example.

If Arsenal sign Raphinha and the window shut it would be a superb summer. The masses may not realize it but Saliba is an unbelievable player and is like a brand new signing too! If they manage to get Lisandro Martinez/Youri Tielemans on top of that, then I’ll be lost for words.

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