Mikel Arteta’s crisis could lead to Arsenal star returning to less favored position

Mikel Arteta was distraught after his side were easily beaten by Crystal Palace on Monday and the Spaniard may be tempted to shake up his team to spark an improved display against Brighton

Mikel Arteta must weigh up whether he can trust Nuno Tavares

The news that Kieran Tierney must undergo surgery that will rule him out for the rest of the season will leave Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta questioning his options at left-back.

His side were beaten 3-0 by Crystal Palace earlier this week in a display that highlighted that the North London outfit have a long way to go if they are to secure Champions League football for next season. It also brought to light the lack of depth that Arteta has in the fullback positions.

Cedric Soares and Nuno Tavares are both not the first-choice options at the Emirates Stadium, and their individual displays against the Eagles showed why. The latter, especially, endured a torrid first half against Patrick Vieira’s side and was substituted at half-time before things could go from bad to worse for the left-back.

Although Tavares was signed as cover for Tierney, his display could be enough for Arteta to weigh up having a shakeup so that he can have a more reliable star in a fullback. After making his debut in 2019, Bukayo Saka became a first-team regular a year later whilst playing as a left-back – with Sead Kolasinac and Tierney both injured. He created a real impression in the makeshift role and it brought to light what an attacking threat he was going to be, though also how he was mature beyond his years in how drilled he was in racing back to defend.

The England international is one of the most exciting youngsters in the Premier League and an important component of Arteta’s attack, but the Gunners have flourished over the past few months due to having a strong back four to build off of and it is important that they keep that. With Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe both options to play on the right-wing, Saka could be the most like for like replacement for Tierney for their upcoming, crucial games.

Granit Xhaka dropped into left-back against Palace from central midfield and has done previously, however, the injury picked up by Thomas Partey could throw that idea into jeopardy. The Ghanaian was forced off of the pitch at Selhurst Park and thus Arteta would be fielding a completely new-look midfield for the next few games if Xhaka is deemed the best possible replacement for Tierney – which, of course, carries a big risk.

Who should play left-back for Arsenal against Brighton this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!







Saka has previously played as a left-back for Arsenal
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Image:

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Dropping Tavares despite being the only fully fit left-back first-team player available at the club would indicate that the 22-year-old needs to improve. But Arsenal are not in a position to take risks on players.

The Emirates Stadium outfit are fifth in the Premier League and only behind fourth-placed Tottenham on goal difference, though they do have a game in hand over their fierce rivals. In Saka, there is a tried and tested player in the position that has impressed previously with how he can influence the attack but also keep tabs on some of the best wingers in the league – so with experience under his belt, he could be an improved product in the position.

Saka at left-back could also provide Arteta with the opportunity to keep Pepe happy, who has previously spoken out about how he would like to play more for the Gunners and rumors have circulated that he may be looking for an exit from North London at the end of the season. The next few days will give Arteta enough time to judge whether Tavares is up for the task against Brighton, Southampton and Chelsea, and if not, there is certainly a quality option already amongst his ranks of him.

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