October 28, 2021, 1:33

Mikel Arteta: Five things prospective new Arsenal head coach must address

Mikel Arteta: Five things prospective new Arsenal head coach must address

Mikel Arteta is close to being appointed as Arsenal boss and Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol has identified five issues he must address quickly.

Sort out the defence

Speak to any Arsenal supporter and they will tell you the first thing any new manager needs to fix is the defence – the team have not kept a clean sheet for 14 games.

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Long gone are the days when they could rely on Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn to keep clean sheets for fun.

Arteta must get his team defending as a unit again and he has to find an effective centre-back partnership.

Sokratis playing alongside Calum Chambers does not look like the answer and he needs to decide if he wants summer signing David Luiz back in the team. Arteta will also have to deal with the fact both first-choice full-backs – Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney – are out injured.

Arteta was a fine defensive midfielder himself so he will also know how important it is for players such as Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka to offer the defence more protection. While he’s at it, he needs to sort out Arsenal’s vulnerability at transitions and get them to press as a team.

Mesut Ozil

What do you do with a player like Mesut Ozil? There is no denying his ability but many Arsenal fans think he is a luxury the club can no longer afford.

You can imagine him thriving in a winning team where he has the freedom to express himself but he does not look like what Arsenal need at the moment.

Ozil was clearly unhappy when he was replaced by Emile Smith Rowe after less than an hour of the 3-0 home defeat against Manchester City on Sunday. Freddie Ljungberg explained the substitution by saying he needed more energy in the team.

Arsenal cannot afford to carry any passengers.

Arteta must decide whether to try and integrate Ozil into his side or to cut his losses on the club’s highest earner.

The captaincy

As a former Arsenal captain, Arteta knows what it means to lead the side on the pitch.

The saga surrounding the captaincy has been symptomatic of the problems at the club since Arsene Wenger left 18 months ago.

Unai Emery allowed the players to vote for the captain in the summer and their choice of Xhaka was always going to create problems with fans who are not convinced the Switzerland midfielder is good enough to be playing for Arsenal.

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Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy after he reacted badly to being booed by his own fans when he was substituted during the draw with Crystal Palace in October.

Emery made Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang captain instead but many Arsenal fans are not convinced the striker is captaincy material.

Aubameyang appeared to lose his temper with 20-year-old midfielder Joe Willock during the defeat by Brighton and it is unlikely he will sign a new contract when his current deal runs out in 18 months.

Arteta must decide whether to persist with Aubameyang or put a new man in charge.

Get the best out of Lacazette

On his day Alexandre Lacazette is one of the best strikers in the Premier League but he looks totally disillusioned with life at Arsenal at the moment.

He looked cold and miserable on the bench against City on Sunday as young players such as Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Willock were sent on instead of him.

Arteta needs to find a way of getting Lacazette and Aubameyang back together in Arsenal’s starting XI. Lacazette is too good a player to be sitting on the bench.

His contract runs out in the summer of 2022 but unless he returns to being an automatic starter, it is difficult to see him wanting to stay at the club for long.

Get back into the top four

Arsenal’s main focus has to be getting back into the Champions League.

Unless results improve immediately, Arsenal will miss out on playing in the Champions League for a fourth season in a row.

Source: skysports.com

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