The honeymoon is over for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta – but a switch to 4-2-3-1 could save him, even without Mesut Ozil

MIKEL ARTETA is under increasing pressure from Arsenal fans – with even the most optimistic supporters struggling to find any positives from the 1-0 loss to Leicester.

The Spaniard's honeymoon period at the Gunners is officially over – with his methods and tactics under real scrutiny – despite winning the FA Cup in his debut season.

But those fans urging Arsenal to sack Arteta are wrong.

Perhaps the early success he experienced raised expectations to an unattainable level.

Let's not forget, life after Unai Emery – and even Arsene Wenger – was always going to be a period of transition. 

While many clubs hide behind 'transition periods' to excuse their shortcomings, the Arsenal board's inability to back Arteta to the fullest in the transfer window means the Gunners will be stuck at this point for at least the first-half of this season.

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Had Arsenal been able to offload more of the deadwood, fringe players, they may have been able to find the missing piece of the puzzle – the creator.

The spine of the team has clearly been strengthened with the arrival of Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey.

It's clear Arteta has made this Arsenal crop more difficult to score against then any recent-era Wenger or Emery teams.

With the arrival of Partey, Arteta has been able to implement a back-four – a transition which was delayed by the drawn-out negotiations with Atletico Madrid.

But, with the Ghanaian finally on the books, Arteta can push on with his plan of starting a back-four in time for a tough run of fixtures – starting with Manchester United this weekend.

In the past, many have seen Arleta’s tactical inflexibility as stubborn… perhaps they are the same people who saw it as brilliant when Aubameyang scored at the back stick against Man City?

To me, it is more that he is perhaps a little over cautious in his move towards his end goal, both in the formation and playing style.

I sense the home defeat to Leicester will be seen by the manager as an undeserved sucker punch and he will have taken some positives from his move to 4-3-3 – thanks in no small part to the additional chances his team created.

For me, there are FOUR clear issues Arteta needs to resolve to get the team moving in the right direction now at such a crossroads in his fledgling career…

1. START THE PARTEY

ARTETA needs to get Partey playing with more urgency.

The first pass is always to Granit Xhaka – seemingly out of habit – and he needs to mix it up a bit.

The Swiss midfielder has the best passing range and this will stay part of the plan, but the Ghanaian must either move the ball more quickly or travel with it.

Oddly it is why Partey's partnership with Mohamed Elneny and Bukayo Saka in the 2-1 win over Rapid Vienna looked smoother than the one with Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.

2. TEAM 'EM UP

IN a bid to address the above issue, Arteta could opt to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

In this line-up, Xhaka and Partey would form a double-pivot in front of the defence, rather than be spread across the pitch.

This in term, should limit the sideways passing.

3. FULL-BACK TO THE FUTURE

THE change to a 4-2-3-1 could also help with Arteta's most-pressing problem – the lack of creativity.

With a strong midfield, including those two defensive-minded midfielders, full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney will be afforded more freedom to roam forward.

From there, they can look to be more adventurous and more actively involved in our attacking play, overlapping with the wingers and getting some crosses in.

We've seen how lethal that can be at Liverpool, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.

4. TEN-SE MOMENT

THE pressing question in this formation though, would be who would start in the No10 role?

Man Utd have Bruno Fernandes, Chelsea have Kai Havertz, Everton have James Rodriguez, but who do we have to play behind the striker with Mesut Ozil out of the squad?

For me this gives is an opportunity to ease out misfiring forward Alexandre Lacazette and bring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back into the middle.

In behind, Nicolas Pepe would start on the right with two of Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Willian making up the three.

None of these players are the traditional No10 but all three can create – and they could seamlessly switch roles mid-game to keep defences guessing.

Ceballos is also an option as the advanced midfielder is certain matches.

CONCLUSION

Arteta will be continually judged as any top-flight manager will be.

But the key now is how he manages to get the best out of Partey and how he uses that strength in his midfield as a platform to allow greater creativity and attacking variety.

How he performs now will tell us all how good a coach and tactician he really is…

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