Goals and assists from central midfield have been in short supply for Arsenal this season.
It’s perhaps timely then that Dani Ceballos popped up with an FA Cup winner from that position on Sunday, days after Joe Willock scored to seal the 2-0 win over Southampton in the Premier League.
It’s an area of the pitch Mikel Arteta knows well, of course, having fashioned his career in the engine room, and between now and the end of the season, the Arsenal boss is looking for more from the players in those positions.
Asked if a good final league position will depend on midfield providing more goal involvements, he said, “Absolutely. If we talk about playing with two attacking midfielders, even more.
“They have to be a threat, constantly threatening the box and the final third, assisting, getting chances to score … it’s one of the big jobs they have.”
In recent games a back three has seen a slight shift in the set-up, with the manager keen to set up his side in a way which maximises its attacking threat in relation to the opposition’s system.
“We’ve found a balance in relation to how the opponent plays, how we believe we can hurt them, to make it difficult.
“How we can find the balance for us to attack better, and to control transitions better as well.
“It depends on the players we have available. At the end of the day we have to put the players in the right positions, where they are better and feel more confident.
“Sometimes it be with five, sometimes with four, with the diamond, it depends.”
Arsenal Premier League goals from midfield
Lucas Torreira – 1
Joe Willock – 1
Mesut Ozil – 1
Arsenal Premier League assists from midfield
Dani Ceballos – 2
Mesut Ozil – 2
Lucas Torreira – 1
Granit Xhaka – 1
Matteo Guendouzi – 1
Definitely some room for improvement there. Let’s hope we see a bit tomorrow evening against Norwich.