Arsenal continued their winning start to the season against Aston Villa with a 2-1 success, but what did we learn from the dominant performance?
1 - The Gunners need to find their killer instinct.
Arteta’s side dominated proceedings, and in a world where VAR performs as it should, his side walk away with a clean sheet.
However, that doesn’t excuse the lack of killer instinct. Arsenal created 2.96 xG this evening, more than Manchester City did against Nottingham Forest, yet the Citizens won 6-0.
It’s encouraging that the Gunners are accumulating high xG performances regularly, however, discovering that cutting edge will push the team up another level, making the push for Champions League football much easier.
Half-time: Arsenal 1-0 Aston Villa.— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 31, 2022
xG: 1.93 - 0.11
Shots on target: 7-1
Touches in opposition box: 28-4
[@Squawka] #afc pic.twitter.com/6gFZcu9t0c
2 - Eddie Nketiah deserves starts.
In a 8 minute cameo, the Arsenal no.14 showed again how his value to this side is immeasurable.
Upfront by himself as the Gunners saw out the game, the ball stuck to him, as he spun defenders and drove the team up the pitch.
Once again, he could have scored, and on another day his mazy run through the heart of the Villa defence results in him nettling the ball in the back of the net.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal ✅— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 31, 2022
Arsenal 4-2 Leicester City ✅
Bournemouth 0-3 Arsenal ✅
Arsenal 2-1 Fulham ✅
Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa ✅
Perfect start to the season. 💯 #afc pic.twitter.com/OikqbyeyjS
Bukayo Saka is in need of a rest, despite his good performances, and the option of playing Jesus wide and Nketiah through the middle must be appealing to the Arsenal boss.
3 - Granit Xhaka is indispensable.
The Swiss international can’t put a foot wrong at the moment, he is the living embodiment of consistency.
With the injuries to Partey and Elneny, the inexperienced Lokonga was thrusted into the no,6 role, however, with Xhaka’s presence, the Belgian had a fine performance.
Aided by the stellar performance of the vice-captain, the Belgian midfielder controlled the game, highlighting the ever increasing tools Xhaka is adding to his arsenal.
Granit Xhaka on Instagram: “Emirates Stadium was rocking tonight. You pushed us to this win - thank you!” [IG: granitxhaka] #afc pic.twitter.com/XwvCM1MpNE— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 31, 2022
4 - Smith Rowe mustn't be forgotten.
Similarly to Nketiah, the young Englishman had a fine cameo when he came on, linking up play with typical fluidity and guile on the right hand side.
Odegaard is undroppable in his current form, but Smith Rowe will certainly have a large bearing on the course of the Gunners’ season.
Having been hampered by injuries for much of 2022, the Arsenal no.10 will be hoping to put the worst of things behind him.
Last season, it was his fine form that contributed to a tantalising run of form over the Christmas period, form the Gunners never truly recaptured at the back-end of the season.
5 - Signings are needed before the window shuts.
This squad is of a very high level, but it is a couple injuries away from being stretched thin.
There is no like for like deputy for the talismanic Bukayo Saka, who is being run into the ground due to a lack of alternatives.
As for midfield, whilst there is more leeway in this department, the long term injury to Elneny means a signing is urgent.
🚨 Mikel Arteta on if Elneny’s injury impacts transfer plans: “Obviously that has an impact because as well, Thomas is injured, we are a bit short in that position. We have Sambi, we have players like Granit who can play there. We are just looking at options in the market.” #afc— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 31, 2022
With the congested schedule set to hit the footballing world like a ton of bricks, strength in depth is necessary.
The clock is ticking, and if moves are to be made, urgency is of the highest order.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Arsenal, Mikel Arteta, Aston Villa, Premier League, Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah, Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli