Mikel Arteta’s April to-do list as Freddie Ljungberg proved right over Arsenal’s Aubameyang issue


Find the right attack

Freddie Ljungberg’s prophecy during his spell as Arsenal caretaker manager has come true.

The Gunners legend was questioned why he didn’t bring on Alexandre Lacazette during the defeat to Manchester City last season, instead opting to give minutes to youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock.

Ljungberg’s thought process was simple; when you play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette in the starting XI, it rarely benefits the team.

“You need to have balance in your team,” he told beIN SPORTS.

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“With Lacazette and Auba, we tried in my first two games, but we looked really vulnerable defensively. They are both great players that’s why I wanted them on the pitch, but we were vulnerable defensively. “

We’ve taken the route against West Ham where we’ve played one of them to have more defensive organisation and we played well and won that game very clearly.”

The Auba-Laca debate has been talked about since the Gabon striker arrived from Borussia Dortmund two years ago.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Alexandre Lacazette could not hide their smiles during training on Saturday. (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images).

Saturday’s defeat to Liverpool was the first time Aubameyang, Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe started a game together since the FA Cup final win over Chelsea in August.

Despite being close friends off the pitch, the Gunners have rarely seen the best of Auba and Laca in the same team together.

With Lacazette’s contract expiring next summer there probably won’t be many more games where the duo will be starting alongside eachother.

Both players have their unique individual qualities but it makes more sense for other players to be given a chance based on their overall contributions, rather than experience and reputation alone.

Give youth a chance

Arsenal fans have clamoured for Gabriel Martinelli to be handed an opportunity since his return from injury in November.

The 19-year-old forward clearly possesses all the attributes to succeed in north London, with his infectious work rate and enthusiasm already making him a fans’ favourite at Emirates Stadium.

And now it’s time for him to play.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on March 05, 2021 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Martinelli has impressed again in training

As Aubameyang and Lacazette struggled to impact the game against Liverpool, there was an eager youngster sitting on the bench desperate to showcase his talent.

Reiss Nelson was also included in the matchday squad due to the absence of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

Nelson has fallen out of favour at Arsenal after initially impressing with cameo appearances in the Europa League.

The 21-year-old rejected the opportunity to go out on loan last summer and in January – a decision that he may be regretting when he sees the success of teammates Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock at West Brom and Newcastle.

With the amount of games coming up thick and fast for Arsenal, the likes of Nelson and Martinelli should be getting minutes whether it’s from the start or as impact players coming on towards the end when legs are tiring.

The famed Hale End academy has long produced some of the best youngsters in the country and Arteta has seen the benefits of utilising Saka and Smith Rowe this season.

Reiss Nelson has struggled for game time at Arsenal this season. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

If he wants to keep the likes of Martinelli and Nelson at the club long-term then there is no better way to show his faith in the starlets by providing them with a platform to contribute at a crucial part of Arsenal’s season.

Avoid further injuries

This one may be out of Arteta’s control but it’s vital that Arsenal don’t lose any more players in the coming games.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: ( THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT ) Kieran Tierney of Arsenal goes of injured during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on April 03, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Kieran Tierney suffered an injury for Arsenal against Liverpool

David Luiz and Kieran Tierney are both on the sidelines now, which means any further injuries to the defence would cause huge problems going into the back end of the season.

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Injuries are part and parcel of the game and more common because of the congested schedule that players have had to contend with this campaign.

However, a mixture of rotation and knowing when to rest those in the red zone would benefit the Arsenal squad right now.





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