Arsenal have begun the 2020/21 better than most would have expected with three wins from four Premier League games and a place in the Carabao Cup quarter-final.
Despite this, there are still areas for Mikel Arteta to push for improvements. Over the past six weeks, performances have been impressive in spells but not consistent, while key players are yet to hit top form – which is to be expected with how cramped the schedule has become.
Arriving at the October international break in the manner they have, however, Arsenal are now in a position truly drive forward, the primary reason being the options signing Thomas Partey on deadline day have brought to the table. Yes, the 27-year-old brings quality in midfield, but he also opens the door to Arteta revisiting his initial plans for the club on the pitch.
“I think he allows us to play different formations and he can fit in within those formations in different positions, which is a really good thing to have in a squad where, in midfield, I think we were a little bit short,” the Spaniard said after the signing was confirmed.
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“I have a few things in mind that I want to start to train with the team and [Partey’s signing] is going to give us a little bit more adaptability and more balance in defending and attacking transitions and the way we have to set up certain structures to attack better in certain moments of the game.”
Although he wasn’t specific in the shapes he wants to deploy after the international break, he did provide a glimpse at the possibilities beyond a 4-2-3-1 or the 3-4-3 that have become synonymous with his current side.
In Arsenal’s first two games after the restart, Arteta trialled a 4-3-3 formation. These plans were hurt immediately as two key players for the system were injured within 25 minutes. Granit Xhaka was…