Mikel Arteta may be on borrowed time to say the least at the Emirates Stadium but his strongest Arsenal XI suggests he deserves time to put things right. The Gunners are currently rooted to the foot of the Premier League table with zero points from three matches, having scored none and conceded nine.
The 5-0 drubbing at Manchester City last weekend was arguably the lowest point of Arteta’s reign and the writing appeared to be on the wall for the former Arsenal midfielder.
But still, he is expected to be given at least a small window of time to turn things around, and for good reason…
While Arsenal’s tactics, performance levels and overall mentality have left a lot to be desired, it cannot be argued that they’ve been missing several notable players.
Not only that but the new signings have barely had time to settle. Ben White, for example, has been isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 following his Gunners debut at Brentford on the opening day of the season.
Between the sticks, £24m goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale deserves a shot over Bernd Leno, who has not been up to scratch since he was challenged by Emiliano Martinez.
Ramsdale impressed on his debut and kept a clean sheet in the 6-0 Carabao Cup win at West Brom and he deserves a chance as No 1. He has surely not been signed to sit on the bench, particularly when that cash could have been reinvested into other areas.
In defence, Kieran Tierney remains the undisputed first-choice left-back, while we are yet to see Gabriel Magalhaes this season as he steps up his recovery from injury.
Rob Holding, Callum Chambers and Pablo Mari are nowhere near the required level and £50million man White should be a clear upgrade on all of those, particularly when partnering Gabriel.
Deadline day signing Takehiro Tomiyasu is a mean, no-nonsense defender who will help strengthen the backline and he will slot in immediately at right-back.
In midfield, Thomas Partey has struggled with injuries since arriving from Atletico Madrid last summer while Granit Xhaka’s temperament must improve after his latest red card at City.
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This department remains an area of weakness for Arsenal but Albert Sambi Lokonga looks a bright young player who could be one for the future.
In attack, there is stern competition for places and that will only bode well for Arteta and his coaching staff.
Bukayo Saka’s reliability and character make him a guaranteed starter, while Emile Smith Rowe has been a breath of fresh air since breaking into the first-team as a regular last season.
Those two will occupy two of the attacking midfield spots in Arteta’s preferred 4-2-3-1 while Martin Odegaard and Nicolas Pepe can battle it out for the right attacking role.
If he showcases last season’s form, Odegaard could replace Smith Rowe at No 10, his natural position.
Leading the line is captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who must step up and prove his worth as captain after a number of mysterious absences.
There is no disputing that Arsenal’s team on paper looks completely different when they have everyone fit but excuses are not tolerated in top-level football.
Arteta and his players must now start winning matches before they are left behind by the rest of the Big Six and Leicester…
Potential Arsenal XI this season (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tierney, Gabriel, White, Tomiyasu; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Odegaard; Aubameyang.