With Mikel Arteta coming in as the new manager, I was thinking about all of the changes that will need to eventually happen with Arsenal, and the deficiencies in the current squad.
I think that most, if not all, of us can agree that Arsenal’s current squad is unbalanced but fairly talented and as a team playing below the sum of their parts. We have some really talented strikers, we have an exciting young winger, we have some pretty good more defensively minded midfielders (or at least midfielders inclined to play in deeper roles), and when they aren’t injured we have pretty decent full backs.
What is really missing from this team is true creativity, and players to provide the service that our attackers need.
Sort the Premier League stats by total key passes created (not a perfect metric, but it will work as a proxy in this case), and you don’t find an Arsenal player until you get down into the 40’s.
If we do the same thing with passes completed in the box, it gets a little bit better, but the first Arsenal player doesn’t show up until the 30th spot:
I think that when Arsenal drew up their plans for this season, they were leaning heavily on Dani Ceballos to be that guy, and unfortunately that hasn’t worked out. Ceballos was okay and showed flashes of the ability when he was healthy early in the season, but he didn’t quite fill the hole. Over the last few matches Mesut Özil has played more, but even if we hate to admit it, he is no longer the creative genius he was a few seasons ago. Still, he is probably the player best suited for the role at Arsenal.
As we write off this season and start to turn our attention to the future, finding a creative player (or players) and a tactical system that can maximize and support the attacking talent must become the club’s focus.