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Arsenal are looking to finalise the deal that would make Mikel Arteta the club’s new head coach imminently.
The club’s chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and chief negotiator Huss Fahmy held talks with the Spaniard late on Sunday after losing 3-0 to Manchester City.
On Monday, we reported that Arteta would also meet with Josh Kroenke, owner Stan Kroenke’s son, to close the deal. Having been on the club’s initial eight-man shortlist when Arsene Wenger departed in 2018, he has been a leading candidate since Unai Emery’s sacking in late November.
Despite the fact that Arsenal would be his first managerial job – if he is appointed – there is an idea of how he would like to play. Speaking to Manchester Evening News’ Stuart Brennan on Monday, football.london found out what Arteta’s principles could be.
“He shares the same basic philosophy, both Barcelona products, so you would expect it to be very similar,” Brennan said.
“Guardiola always makes the point that he needs the right players – so Arteta might have to adapt to the squad until he can start to make personnel changes.”
The 37-year-old may have to make some tactical tweaks, but here’s how he could line-up if he becomes the next Arsenal head coach.
Not a particularly hard decision, Arteta would most likely keep Bernd Leno in goal for Arsenal.
The German cemented himself as the club’s No.1. keeper last season and has continued in the same vein this term. Although his league-high 73 saves have come from being behind an unreliable defence, he has still made a good account for himself.
Under Guardiola, City have typically played with a back four which should also be expected from Arteta. The one thing that may change, however, is the personnel.
Rather than sticking with ageing centre-backs, Arteta may decide to use players he can still improve. With this, he would land on Calum Chambers and Rob Holding.
Both 24-years-old, the pair will need to kick on to become mature centre-backs soon and the Spaniard could make it his mission to do so. Although Sokratis and David Luiz offer experience, the pair have both been incredibly inconsistent throughout this season.
To complete the defence, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are as clear starting options as Leno.
Defence: Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Tierney
This is where Arteta could decide to change Arsenal’s setup to one which resembles his tutor’s. From his early days at Barcelona to the 3-0 blitzing of Arsenal, Guardiola has favoured a 4-3-3 system.
Having coached this for almost four seasons, it would be strange for Arteta to steer too far away from this. Arsenal have used a 4-3-3 under Unai Emery, but the 37-year-old may look to change the roles certain players fulfil.
City traditionally have a sitting midfielder to protect the defence and keep the ball moving. At Arsenal, Lucas Torreira would be the best man for this job. Granit Xhaka tried under Emery but often found himself isolated.
Ahead of Torreira, Arteta may use Xhaka where he is less exposed so he can build play from deep while partnering him with a more attacking midfielder. As the Gunners don’t have a midfielder in the Kevin de Bruyne mould, to compensate he may opt for Matteo Guendouzi.
The Frenchman is more of a threat when driving at defences than Mesut Ozil and has more Premier League experience than Joe Willock.
Should Arteta decide to field a midfield three without Ozil, however, this may leave the German in another confusing siutation. As Xhaka has been used more regularly in the middle third, it’s more likely that the Spaniard would start him but Ozil could try and fit his way into the system.
He has played as a No.8. for Germany before but not for Arsenal. If he wants his future to be in north London then this may have to be a role Ozil has to prove he can perform well in consistently.
As time goes on, however, he could look to develop Emile Smith Rowe into this role. For the Under-23s, he has excelled driving through the middle of the pitch, has the technical ability to survive in midfield and the vision to find his teammates further forward. That will of course be a discussion for a later date though.
Midfield: Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka
Freddie Ljungberg found the basis for his Arsenal line-ups at West Ham and one thing that Arteta shouldn’t change is the front three.
Although they didn’t score against City, there were still signs that this will be the trio to take the Gunners forward. Off the left, Gabriel Martinelli was a threat and almost opened the scoring in the first minute of the game.
Nicolas Pepe was on the fringes but this may be something Arteta can change as he touched on helping Raheem Sterling take his game to the next level.
“We wanted him much closer to the penalty area. It was like he was a bit scared of the goal. We wanted him to become the kind of player who would get us a goal every game, or even just missing two or three big chances,” he told The Guardian .
“We wanted him constantly generating goal threat. And we wanted him to lose the fear. He needed to believe in himself, to believe that he could be the best.”
Having elevated Sterling’s game in the final third, this is something that Arteta will surely try and help Pepe with after a difficult start to life at Arsenal.
Forwards: Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli
Mikel Arteta’s best possible line up: Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Tierney; Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka; Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli.
But what do you think?