Arsenal are scheduled to start the 2021-22 Premier League season in Brentford tonight and it will be without key forward duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
🚨 Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his teammate, forward Alexandre Lacazette, are not feeling well and will therefore not be available for the opening match of the new Premier League season in Brentford tonight. @AthleticUK #AFC #BrentfordFC #BREARS https://t.co/RFFL2fWNPH
– David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) August 13, 2021
As David Ornstein of The Athletic previously reported, the veteran forward pair is unwell and unavailable for the national team as the Gunners look to start at Brentford Community Stadium before facing Manchester City and Chelsea in their upcoming matches of the Premier League. .
Compounding the situation, England U21 international Eddie Nketiah is also unavailable due to injury and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will now find himself struggling to assess his tactical options against what should turn out to be a difficult opponent. at Thomas Frank’s Bees. So what options can Arteta trust? Here are some.
Gabriel Martinelli down the middle
Many in the Arsenal fanbase spent a considerable amount of time last season speculating that young Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli could be a long-term option to lead the Gunners line, but he has yet to be given a real opportunity. in that role.
Martinelli is a pressure machine, though, and using him down the middle could put Brentford’s bottom line under regular pressure if that’s the game plan Arteta is slated to roll out tonight. His desire to advance and enter the final third combined with his technical quality on the ball would present a balanced attack profile that could be difficult to handle.
Throw Folarin Balogun into the fray in a full debut at Arsenal
Arsenal fans rejoiced when the prolonged uncertainty over whether the Gunners were going to lose another youngster, Folarin Balogun, was ended when the New York native extended his contract with the Emirates. But is Balogun ready to be thrown into the fray in a completely unexpected way?
Balogun comes in with high praise during his time at Hale End, but he has yet to record a single minute in the Premier League for the club, and unexpectedly calling the England youth international tonight not only seems completely out of place for Arteta, but it would be a less than ideal debut for a player who many think is not yet ready for the English top flight.
A Manchester City-style false nine option for Arsenal
The least popular option (at least among the Arsenal fan base) would see Arteta unfold his front line with a false nine. If such a decision were made, it would be likely that one of Nicolas Pépé, Emile Smith Rowe or Willian would take on the role in the evening similar to similar decisions that we have seen in the past by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
At the very least, a false nine on the line from one of the aforementioned triumvirates would offer a high level of mobility across the front line that could help Brentford’s baseline lose its shape. It would also throw a huge wrench in the works because Thomas Frank’s heavy reliance on data analysis and exploration would undoubtedly have evoked a match plan to target ways to close Arsenal’s forward ranks.
Given the options involved, for me, Gabriel Martinelli having a real shot in the middle seems like the most viable thing to do. Although he is not a true center forward like Folarin Balogun, he can at least draw on a much better tactical understanding given his appearance and understanding of those around him. His uninterrupted ability to push should also provide Mikel Arteta with another avenue to get to Brentford’s bottom line and potentially put new signing Kristoffer Ajer under pressure in a long-awaited competitive debut for the Bees.
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