With the Premier League moving closer to a potential return in June, Mikel Arteta has begun putting his squad through their paces again at London Colney as the Gunners train in small groups of five-six players each.
As the weeks go on, the 38-year-old will once again be tasked with finding his strongest starting lineup to head up an end of season push for European football. Currently, Arsenal are ninth, five points off fifth [which could get them Champions League football], with a game in hand.
In the 15 games Arteta has already had in charge of the club, the tactical demands he has put on the side have become essential to the way the side play. Building off these foundations will be paramount when football does return and it will be the players that prove whether or not they’ve used this enforced break fully to their advantage compared to other teams.
Here, football.london access which players would fit best in Arteta’s system when Arsenal are back playing, moving onto the midfield [two deeper players and a No.10.] after discussing the back four.
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Who plays as the right-sided central midfielder may be the most debatable out of the trio but even if Lucas Torreira does return to match fitness over the coming weeks, it should be Ceballos that starts in that role.
The Spaniard may have struggled in the first half of the season but those struggles weren’t exclusive to him. After the winter break in February, he started to show exactly why Unai Emery was so keen to bring him to the club in the summer, only it was Arteta that was allowing him to do so.
Playing alongside a more reserved Granit Xhaka, Ceballos had the licence to effect games in as many ways possible. In possession, he could drive forward and pick the right passes at the right times to keep things moving whereas without the ball, his concentration and anticipation saw him grow into the most reliable two-way midfielder at the club, rightly seeing Torreira benched.
With the 23-year-old making the way Arsenal progress through midfield so much smoother it won’t be a surprise to see him starting when Premier League football resumes. Especially as he started four of the six games after February’s winter break [Torreira’s only start came away at Portsmouth on March 2 where he was injured].
This will be the most certain decision for Arteta in the midfield and arguably the entire squad as Xhaka will continue to fulfil his ‘quarterback’ role on the left side of midfield.
His role has been analysed in more detail here, but the basic premise is that his game has become much more focused so that he pretty much has to worry just about his strengths. Rather than being left in the open like under Emery, now, he’s being positioned in areas [between the left-back and centre-back] where he’s…