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Arsenal’s Draw Against Fulham Highlights Ongoing Issues: What Needs to Change?

In a thrilling encounter, Arsenal dropped points for the first time this season, drawing 2-2 against Fulham at home. The match not only left fans on the edge of their seats but also exposed several ongoing issues that have plagued Arsenal in their last three games.

The game got off to a disastrous start for Arsenal when a poor backpass from Saka allowed Pereira to take advantage and give Fulham an early lead. Despite goals from Nketiah and Saka, Arsenal’s defensive lapses allowed Fulham to equalize from a poorly defended corner.

One of Arsenal’s problems lies in their defensive setup. In all three games this season, Arsenal has opted for an inverted fullback on the right, with Thomas Partey, instead of Zinchenko on the left. This switch, along with the introduction of new players, has disrupted the team’s chemistry and connections on the field. Mikel Arteta’s defensive strategy this season depends on which fullback inverts. If Partey inverts from the right, the defense consists of White (RCB) – Saliba (CCB) – Kiwior/Tomiyasu (LB/LCB). If Zinchenko inverts from the left, the defense would be White (RB/RCB) – Saliba (CCB) – Gabriel (LCB).

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However, the switch to Partey at right back has had significant consequences. It has disrupted established connections, such as the successful triangle of White-Odegaard-Saka and the pairing of Zinchenko-Martinelli. Additionally, it has deprived Arsenal of Gabriel’s defensive presence in the LB/LCB or CCB role. Furthermore, the introduction of Havertz in the left #8 role has not been seamless, as he is not yet on the same wavelength as his teammates. With these changes, Arsenal lacks the fluidity and attacking combinations that were so effective last season.

While the first two games without Zinchenko may have justified the switch, it is puzzling why Arteta did not revert to the old system that nearly won them the title last year. Despite being on top of the game against Fulham with Partey at RB, the difference was noticeable when Zinchenko came on. It is concerning that the fruitful dynamics established last year have been discarded for an “experiment.” If Arteta fails to rectify this in the upcoming game against Manchester United, Arsenal may find themselves struggling to secure all three points.

Another issue that Arsenal needs to address is the acclimation of Kai Havertz to the team. While he showed glimpses of his potential against Manchester City, it is clear that he has not fully clicked with the team yet. Playing in the Xhaka role from last season requires time and patience, as it involves complex movements and coordination with teammates. Havertz has demonstrated his usefulness in duels, winning headers, and sniffing out spaces in the box. However, he has also shown flaws, such as poor weight on the ball, which slows down the game. To become a mainstay in the Arsenal lineup, Havertz needs to improve his speed and decision-making.

With the crucial game against Manchester United on the horizon, Arteta must revert to the old system that brought Arsenal success. The match is a must-win and will send a strong message to the rest of the league. Arteta’s stubbornness as a manager, once he finds something he likes, leaves fans curious about the lineup he will choose. Reintroducing Gabriel and Zinchenko, while benching Havertz in favor of a Rice-Partey-Odegaard midfield,

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would be a wise decision in my opinion. This lineup would provide stability at the back with Gabriel’s defensive prowess and Zinchenko’s familiarity with the inverted fullback role. Additionally, the midfield combination of Rice, Partey, and Odegaard would bring a balance of defensive solidity and creative attacking play.

Of course, there are no guarantees that this lineup switch will guarantee a victory over our rivals, but it would certainly make the task easier as the players would be well-acquainted with the system. The familiarity and understanding among the players would allow for smoother transitions, better coordination, and increased fluidity in Arsenal’s gameplay.

It is crucial for Arteta to make the right call for this important match. The performance against Fulham highlighted the need for adjustments and a return to the successful system of last season. Arteta’s decision will not only impact the outcome of the Manchester United game but also send a message to the rest of the league about Arsenal’s ambitions and capabilities.

As fans, we can only hope that Arteta recognizes the issues at hand and makes the necessary adjustments. The Manchester United game presents an opportunity for Arsenal to bounce back from the draw against Fulham and make a statement to their rivals. It is a chance to demonstrate their ability to compete at the highest level and reignite the confidence and belief within the team.

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The upcoming match will be a true test of Arteta’s managerial skills and his ability to adapt to changing circumstances. It is essential that he puts the team’s success above personal preferences and makes the necessary changes to maximize Arsenal’s chances of victory.

Only time will tell whether Arteta will go back to the old ways that brought Arsenal success or stick with the current system. As fans, we eagerly await his decision and hope that it leads to a positive outcome for the team.

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