Mikel Arteta must show Arsenal squad his ruthless side with Newcastle selection decision“


All but a handful of Premier League teams have a clear and defined first-choice-on-the-team-sheet striker in the squads. The game has evolved hugely since the 90s when almost every team played 4-4-2 and had forwards dovetailing together.

In the present day, Arsenal are one of those teams with two big-name strikers on the roster – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

With Aubameyang being club captain, his place in the team is assured but under Mikel Arteta and his predecessor Unai Emery, he has had to sacrifice himself to allow his friend and team-mate Lacazette to lead the line.

Last season, it worked to an extent as their goals kept Arsenal in the race for the top four and took them to the Europa League final.

As a duo, they scored 50 of the 106 goals scored by Arsenal and Aubameyang’s wider role could be justified.

This season it has not worked with Aubameyang leading the scoring on 16 and Lacazette struggling on six.

Lacazette has been one of Europe’s top marksman over the years and there’s no doubt the goalscoring touch will return.

However, Arsenal have reached a critical junction in their season and how it ends will have a significant impact on what takes place in the summer.

With three consecutive seasons in the second tier of European club competition Arsenal are now a Europa League team desperate to get back with the big boys in the Champions League.

Getting there via the league or winning the Europa League will be a mammoth task for a team that has won just eleven games all season.

In the past, even at their most passive, Arsenal always carried a goalscoring and creative threat but not any more.

It would be unfair to put all the scoring issues on Lacazette but at this point of the campaign, Arsenal need to show a ruthless edge.

And it must begin with dropping Lacazette to the bench for this weekend’s clash with Newcastle, starting Aubameyang in his favoured position up front and restoring record signing Nicolas Pepe to the starting line-up.

Arteta has made some bold decisions in his tenure – putting faith in Bukayo Saka & Reiss Nelson, backing error-prone Shkodran Mustafi, tactical changes away to Chelsea – but leaving out Lacazette would be the biggest of them all.

It risks damaging the harmony within the squad due to his relationship with Aubameyang and the other French-speaking players in the squad.

But a message needs to be sent that underperformance cannot continue to be rewarded.

Emery lost his way by the end of his time at the Emirates as the poor mentality and attitude of certain players took over.

Arteta may be young but he’s no fool. Goals change games and for Arsenal to move forward and achieve their targets, he must address the glaring issue and prove he can take decisive action.


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