Six things Mikel Arteta must do before Arsenal's trip to Newcastle with Champions League on the line after Spurs maulingMay 13, 2022
ARSENAL were thumped by fierce rivals Tottenham on Thursday night at the worst possible time.
The 3-0 drubbing at Spurs has given Antonio Conte's men all the momentum heading into the final two games of the season with a Champions League place on the line.
The Gunners were dreadful at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – but still lead their North London rivals by three points with just two games to play.
Mikel Arteta – who was furious in his post-match interview – made a few errors in his selection process.
Takehiro Tomiyasu should have started at right-back to keep Son Heung-min – who won a penalty, got Rob Holding sent off and scored a goal – quiet.
Cedric Soares would have been better suited guarding left-footed right-winger Dejan Kulusevski.
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Ben White, despite his recent injury worries, should have started in a back-three and Holding should have been pulled earlier after it became all too clear he was a disciplinary risk.
Arteta's had no issues subbing the likes of Nuno Tavares in the first half of matches this season, so why was Holding allowed to continue?
There's no use living in the past though, so how can Arsenal recover and get their top-four hunt back on track, starting with Monday's trip to Newcastle?
Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes must be reunited in the heart of defence – fitness permitting – with Tomiyasu playing centrally should either be forced out.
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The Japan defender plays in the middle for his country and should be more than capable – and a safer option that risking an untried teenager.
Arteta must also resist the urge to play Granit Xhaka in defence.
The Swiss star has forged a solid partnership with Mohamed Elneny in the deeper midfield roles and his experience will be invaluable at a raucous St James' Park.
The boss will have to consider running a 4-2-3-1 with Xhaka and Elneny holding back and allowing the three attacking midfielders and striker more freedom, rather than dabble in the 4-1-4-1.
Arteta will be tempted to start Emile Smith Rowe, too – but, again, he must resist.
Eddie Nketiah up front with Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka in behind would be my ideal front-four for the Toon trip.
But most of all, Arteta must play the role of motivator.. he has to lift the spirits of the squad with just two games to go. Two cup finals, if you will.
The Spaniard must also address his side's disciplinary issues, which has so often been Arsenal's Achilles heel this season.
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With the Gunners' Champions League fate in their own hands, Arteta has to keep things simple: Pick the right players in the right positions and let them go to work.
Missing out on the top four would hurt, but to let it slip away so late – to Tottenham of all teams – would be agonising.
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