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Arsenal – The club who trusted Arteta, the manager who proves that you CAN win with kids…

“You can’t win anything with kids,” is a common football saying, but is Arteta proving it a myth? His Arsenal squad is the youngest in the whole Premier League with an average age of 24.7 years old. His young, hungry, energetic, and tenacious side are sitting right at the top of the pile, 8 points clear of everyone else, in fact.

The more this season progresses on, the more problems that rival fans predicted for the Gunners. It seems the complete opposite though, as Arsenal just look more and more dominant whilst their biggest threats to the title slip up. Just a couple of weeks ago, Manchester United shocked Manchester City, beating them 2-1. Surely Arsenal fans need to start believing now…

Arteta really is an incredible coach, whose philosophy takes a lot from Pep Guardiola’s style of play (probably due to his time as his assistant manager at Manchester City) but it also incorporates the fierce press that Jurgen Klopp has utilised at Liverpool.

Mourinho spotted Arteta’s genius over two years ago after the North London derby which Spurs won 2-0, stating, “Tactically, they [Arsenal] are very good, they were building with a four, defending with a five,

“They tried to find triangles on the side and they gave us problems.

“I want to give good words and congratulations to Mikel because he gave us a very difficult game.” (The Mirror)

Mourinho was ahead of the curve in noticing Arsenal’s revolution. The Gunners have turned into title contenders this year with a sturdy defence, a classy midfield, and a devastating front line. We’ve picked out some key areas of Arteta’s plan to show just how the Spaniard is doing it.

The Defence – Remarkable Ramsdale, the resurgence of Saliba, and Ben White’s new role

All good teams need a defence, and Arsenal’s has been revolutionised under Arteta. England international Aaron Ramsdale has kept the second most clean sheets in the league (9) and has conceded just 14 goals in 18 games. Arsenal fans don’t just love their shot-stopper for his goalkeeper abilities though, which were showed off during the North London derby, but they love his feet as well. Most keepers can play short passes with their feet nowadays, but Ramsdale is making a name for himself with the long, cutting balls over the top of defences from his own penalty area which spring the front three into life.

Since returning from Marseille, Saliba has been awesome for the Gunners. The use of Ben White is also genius. Arsenal like to defend with a back four, usually of White, Saliba, Gabriel, and Zinchenko, but attack with a back three. This allows Zinchenko to progress into midfield, or White to push up and double up with Bukayo Saka on the right-hand side.

The defence as a whole play often together and have a great understanding of each other, hence why they have only conceded 14 goals since the start of the Premier League. The defence, including Ramsdale, don’t just defend well, but create a great foundation for the rest of the team to attack from. They all are versatile, and both full backs can progress forward to support the attack from midfield or wide areas, but can both in turn drop into central defence to fill in. They are so calm on the ball and have clear, defined passing routes which set up attacks brilliantly. The calmness on the ball is an underrated trait, and many teams don’t have the composure to play as intricate football as Arsenal can so close to their own goal.

The Signing and Importance of Zinchenko

Oleksander Zinchenko could be the most underrated signing of the summer, and the Ukrainian adds to Arsenal in every way you could possibly imagine. The left-back hasn’t just strengthened the defence, proven by the stats, but he adds quality and balance to Arsenal’s team. He gives the Gunners the extra man in attack, which is how Arsenal overpower and dominate teams this year, that they couldn’t break down last year. He gives Arsenal an extra option in midfield, which makes it so difficult to win possession, and he also brings the opposition right winger and forwards back deeper to make up the numbers, suffocating the opposing team and not giving them a long ball output. When defending, he simply slips back into left-back to resume normal service.

His knowhow and acumen are also underrated. The Ukraine captain has won 3 out of 4 Premier League titles at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Having worked for Arteta, he already knows his style of play from Arteta’s former time at the Citizens and his education alone pays the price tag. The Ukrainian knows how to win, he knows how to stay composed (on and off the ball) and he knows what it takes to win.

He has gone to Tottenham and Manchester United and won when they have sat large numbers behind the ball, and he is providing the difference for Arsenal now. Tierney was considered one of Arsenal’s best players for a long time, but they don’t look the same with him, and that’s due to the unnoticed extra man in attack, the unnoticed graft, technical ability, and ability to play with men behind you that Zinchenko brings to the Emirates Stadium.

Statistically, he has chipped in with 1 assist, 664 passes, an 89.2% pass completion rate and 211 forward passes. Defensively, he has made 21 tackles, 14 clearances and won 18 aerial battles, whilst Arsenal have only conceded 7 goals whilst he has been on the pitch.

Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka – Making Arsenal Tick

These two complement each other perfectly and provide a great balance to Arsenal’s play and making them tick. Arsenal haven’t lost a game with Partey in the starting 11 this year and many fans at the Emirates think that he is their most important player. It is in fact Granit Xhaka who is the most improved though, the Swiss international has turned into a new player since last season. Xhaka over the years has been known as rash, aggressive and mistake prone, but he has been given a license to attack from Arteta and he has turned into a different beast. To allow his attacking flair to come out, Partey is instructed to sit deeper, with his physical presence and defensive ability protecting the back line. With someone like that as your midfield partner, Xhaka has a lot more confidence to gain attacking output.

Granit Xhaka has registered 5 assists and has netted 3 times for himself this year, whilst Partey has been on the scoresheet twice. Between them, they have taken over 40 shots, and made over 1900 passes, proving how pivotal they are to this Arsenal team when retaining possession. Both keep possession well with a pass completion rate of 86.6% and they have both contributed over 250 forward passes each.

Partey is crucial to making this Arsenal team work, and these stats prove why. The Ghanian has played a part in 8 clean sheets this term, whilst making 19 interceptions, 36 tackles and 22 tackles. He has also won 12 aerial battles. These stats prove that he doesn’t just keep possession, but he wins it back and starts up attacks. There are not many players in world football who Gabriel and Saliba would want to protect them than Thomas Partey.

Martin Odegaard – The Key

Martin Odegaard is a massive shout for Premier League player of the season and has been the difference maker in a lot of key moments for the Gunners this season. The attacking midfielder sits just behind the striker and roams about, waiting for holes to open in the defence for him to exploit. The Norweigen oozes class and is a breath of fresh air in the Arsenal team, and they would be nowhere near their league position without him.

Arteta likes to play quick, exciting football, but when retaining a lot of possession, the football can become patient. Patient football requires a key to unlock defences, and Odegaard is that key. The Norweigan magic man finds crevices in the defence to penetrate with his pinpoint passing range, and he works well in tight areas with his quick footwork. You would expect him to have fantastic football having pulled on an Arsenal and a Real Madrid shirt in his career.

His stats by this stage of the season are world class, finding the back of the net 8 times this season and charting 5 assists. He looks to find the attacker with the best one-on-one opportunity and carves out some brilliant passes. He has created 10 big chances so far this season. Him and Norweigan teammate Erling Haaland must be a force to be reckoned with on international duty.

He doesn’t just create chances; he scores them too. The magic man is certainly not shy to shoot, taking 48 shots so far this season, and he is only two goals away from reaching double figures for the season. At his current rate, he is averaging 0.4 goals a game, which is very good for a midfield player and a target than some strikers struggle to reach.

The Attack – Too Hot to Handle

Arsenal are the only team to have more than three players to create 20+ chances this season, and they have five players who have achieved this. Their attack is too hot to handle because it has goals and chances coming from everywhere in their team. They are also the only team in the Premier League to have 4+ players on 5+ goals, you can’t contain that.

Last season, goals were often halted when teams doubled up on Bukayo Saka, England’s latest talent. Arsenal were very right-side dominant at times but this has completely changed. Xhaka is now a much bigger threat, Ben White can push on, Zinchenko comes into midfield, Martinelli is on fine form and Gabriel Jesus has had a mighty impact up front. With Odegaard supplying chances for these lot, Arsenal are bound to score goals.

You can’t afford to leave the pace, footwork and goalscoring abilities of Brazilians’ Martinelli and Jesus, and Englishman Saka, one on one with a defender. It is too dangerous. The midfield and defence pushing up suffocates teams, and therefore Arsenal look so dominant this season.

Martinelli and Saka have seven goals each from the wings and we are only in January – with a World Cup break too. Saka also has seven assists to his name whilst Martinelli has two. Jesus has five goals and five assists, whilst his replacement Nketiah has scored four huge goals in big games whilst the former Manchester City frontman’s been absent. It is raining goals in North London!

The last reason whilst Arsenal’s attack is too hot to handle is the pace, the fearlessness, and Arteta’s tactics. Arteta’s style of play takes a lot from Pep Guardiola’s style, but defensively it replicates Jurgen Klopp’s fierce gegenpress at Liverpool. The attack is so energetic, hungry, and fearless that it can chase and press defenders with great success – winning possession a lot. The nurturing of Arteta and potentially Jesus being added to the mix means that Arsenal are sensible and pick the correct moments to press, smelling danger rather than running heedlessly.

It is an exciting time at Arsenal, who are proving a nightmare for other teams to deal with, and a massive thorn in title holder’s Manchester City’s side. Was Pep too complacent to let Mikel Arteta, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksander Zinchenko go?

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