Arsenal host Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend and Mikel Arteta has to make some bold changes to get his side back on track after our opening day defeat to Brentford.
The Gunners were woeful against the Bees last week. It was one of our worst performances under Arteta, and that simply cannot happen again on Sunday when the European champions come to our part of town.
With injuries and illness limiting Arsenal’s options, it will be difficult for Arteta to change his personnel. However, there are three things we feel he could do to surprise and potentially get the better of Chelsea.
Three tactical changes Arteta could make for Arsenal vs Chelsea
Three at the back
All the talk in the media this week has been about Romelu Lukaku embarrassing Arsenal’s defence on Sunday. The Belgian is expected to start at the Emirates and if our centre-halves play as they did against Brentford, we’ll get battered.
To avoid that, Arteta could switch to a back-three to tackle Chelsea’s attack. Outnumbering Lukaku in duels could be the best way to eliminate his threat, and that could prove to be a real game-changer for us this weekend.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles starts
Arsenal’s right-back situation has been a much-discussed topic over the last few days. Calum Chambers didn’t have a great game against Brentford, while it’s clear that Arteta doesn’t quite trust exit-linked Hector Bellerin at the moment.
As a result, handing Maitland-Niles a surprise start at right wing-back could work really well for us. He is very mobile, excellent with the ball at his feet, good in one-on-one duels and he has shown in the past that he can perform outstandingly well against the bigger sides.
He wouldn’t be a bad option at all against Chelsea on Sunday.
Pepe and Martinelli up top
Alexandre Lacazette is ruled out of the game on Sunday, while skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a big doubt. That leaves us with just Folarin Balogun and Gabriel Martinelli up front, but it may just be too big a game for the former.
As a result, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Arteta to pair Pepe and Martinelli up top. Yes, the Ivorian isn’t naturally a striker, but he looked more than decent when he played there for the final 20 minutes against Brentford.
Pepe is quick, excellent on the break and is fairly clinical in front of goal. Starting him up top alongside Martinelli could cause Chelsea a few problems, especially in a counter-attacking system as that will likely be our approach on Sunday.