Thursday, June 13, 2024

Arteta: We want to be more unpredictable next season

After watching his team beat the MLS All-Stars 5-0, with goals from Gabriel Jesus, Leandro Trossard, Jorginho, Gabriel Martinelli, and Kai Havertz, Mikel Arteta says he wants more variety from his side next season.

Last time out, the use of Oleksandr Zinchenko as an inverted left-back operating in midfield gave opponents a tough time, but that will be something they have come to expect now.

So, with a new campaign looming, Arsenal have added Kai Havertz, Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber to the mix, and the manager is keen to lean into their strengths to make his team less predictabe.

“The idea is to be more unpredictable every year and be more difficult for the opponents to stop and nullify what we want to do,” he said.

“That’s what we have now, especially at the back and in the midfield the options we have, to open up the spaces, we have many more options than we had last year.

“We have to start doing the right things in preseason to get the best possible preparation and get that chemistry and cohesion in the team.”

He expanded with some thoughts on two his new signings. First, Jurrien Timber, about whom he said, “I think you’ve seen tonight that he’s a really versatile player, you can see him defend in those positions. He gives you the capacity to invert, to occupy different spaces.

“He’s so comfortable on the ball in that phase and he’s also got this aggression in the duels and that dynamism that I really like about him. You saw from the first action; he went and won the ball straight away on that duel and he was ready to go.”

And then Kai Havertz, “He gives us something very different with his quality and size as well, when you have to beat the press for example and use him as a target man.

“So, we will see – for now, he’s playing in the attacking midfield position, but I’m sure throughout the season and throughout games as well, we’re going to have the options to play him in different positions.”

With the Gunners seeking another wide forward in the transfer market, as well as the return of Emile Smith Rowe who has joined up with the squad in the US, there are plenty of options for Arteta in the front part of the team, and much greater depth in midfield and at the back too.

It remains to be seen exactly how we trim a big squad before the season starts, but for now, it’s exciting to think about how we might operate when the important games begin.

Related articles


Notify of

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Really impressed by Trossard, competent cover for five positions and that shot from the edge of the box is lethal, brings to mind the one robbed by VAR last season.


I’m so excited for the season to start… COYG!!!!!!

Johnny 4 Hats

I wish Jorginho wouldn’t do the bunny hop. I really hate it. Far more than any man should hate a penalty technique.

Great win though! And that Trossard strike. We all forget about him when we talk about how we will set up etc. But that kid ain’t here to be backup.


There are many paths to the mountaintop…
You could also just look away. Or ignore it 🤪


He can do as many bunny hops as he likes, as long as the penalty hits the back of the net

Reality check

Wouldn’t the ball hit the back of the net if someone threw the ball from behind the goal? Always puzzled me this one..


Yeah, but it’s football mate. Nobody’s throwing balls at the back of the goal. Life must be difficult if you’re puzzled by that.


You are Ted Lasso and I claim my £5


That would be front of the net. What is seen from the stands if the front face of the net. The back side of it is where the keeper stands guards…hence back of the net.


Good god man – I truly hope that’s not the level of your chirps for this coming season. Lift your game fella!


We did become a bit predictable last season, that plus depth is what stopped us winning the league. We now have incredible depth and some unpredictability. What a season this could be…


You’re right. Saliba showed us exactly why we lost the league today. Composed, imposing, sharp, all the right attributes in the perfect proportion with the way he kept the MLS players at bay. A solid backup like Timber or Tomiyasu and the league would have been ours.

A Different George

It’s true that other teams figured out that Zinchenko was playing a different role and that you actually had to cover him when he “inverted.” But I don’t think that was key–the point of that inversion is precisely to force defenses to constantly have to make difficult choices about positioning. The great weakness of moving a defender into the midfield is the space it leaves behind, which requires exceptional pace and intelligence from the centre-halves to counteract the threat. So, for me, Saliba’s injury and Tomiyasu’s unavailability, much more than teams figuring out Zinchenko’s role, is what cost us the… Read more »


Haven’t seen the game (and I’m fully aware it’s a pre-season friendly) but from the bits I read Trossard looked great in the left 8 position.

Him with Martinelli at LW and Jesus at ST could have some serious fun on the left flank, interchanging positions all the time.

There’s the „ESR/Havertz” (or even Rice!) left 8 debate but let’s not forget Trossaad is a great option as well.

Nice problems to have!


Trossard is so technically gifted that he’d look really good in a couple of positions on the field. The way he takes his shots must make goalkeepers tremble.

And there’s usually not much fuss about him. He just gets in, does his thing, hardly celebrates. What a guy! To think that we got him that cheap


I rate Trossard a lot… Surprisingly fans don’t speak so much about him, but thank goodness Arteta really does rate him evident by the starts he has been getting…he is a smart player…I see him as our Bernardo Silva..good technical ability to play anywhere across the frontline … tipping him to be Arsenal player of the season…watch out!


As soon as I read Mikel saying Havertz is playing attacking midfield I thought “so Ode at the 8?”

He obviously has everything you need to play that role to perfection but no one has even imagined it because you don’t want to lose what he does further up the pitch… I wonder if Mikel sees him and Havertz swapping between the 8 and the 10 among other things to confuse opponents gain that unpredictability.


I think Arteta is redefining that position. With inverting fullbacks (Zinny/Kiwior or Timber) that attacking LCM almost becomes a second number 10, so we play 3-2-2-3 in some phases. Very fluid and exciting and we should get to the point where we have no weak spots in the match day squad.

Hein was terrible with his feet last night though….where’s Turner?


He’s on holiday as he’s been playing with the US team until last week, will probably join us for the last pinch of preseason back in England.

Yes I love that we’re becoming so fluid, almost position-less football. Every player has about 3-4 positions they can be on the pitch. Obviously confusing for opponents, but could also be sometimes confusing for our own players in terms of defensive responsibilities and who coves what part of the pitch at what moment, so I hope they manage to get on top of it.


I think we all understand at this point that there are 5 defensive positions and 5 attacking positions with some variation depending on how the opposition is set up.

With that in mind I think the depth is pretty impressive.

Saliba, Tierney, White, Partey, Gabriel, Timber, Kiwior, Tomiyasu, Jorginho, Zinchenko and Rice. That’s 11 players for the 5 defensive positions on the field.

Attacking wise is good too with: Saka, Odegaard, Jesus, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, Nketiah, Trossard, Vieira, Nelson, Balogun and Havertz. Also 11.

Add 3 goalies and there’s your 25 man squad.


I thought it was worth watching just for the 20 min of Rice Havertz Odergaard. I know it’s a friendly against MLS etc but it looks promising. Overall pretty entertaining, and actually very curious to see how we stack up against Manu and Barca. Can’t remember the last time I was this excited about preseason.


I know you say “it’s just MLS” but these are the best of the best MLS players. That was not a bunch of ragamuffins the boys trounced last night.

With that being said, Arsenal did look a bit disjointed at times and against top tier completion we would have been punished for some sloppy play.


Cohesion is a big part of football though it’s not just about having the best 11. I think maybe a random MLS team that has played a season together would have put up more of a fight.


I personally feel signing another wide forward and another midfielder/retaining Partey would be a great sign off to the transfer window.
I also wanted to hear your opinions on retaining Partey vs selling him and getting an indirect replacement, assuming both options go well.

Mikels Arteta

My hunch is Reiss singing a new deal means we won’t go for a wide forward. Martinelli/Trossard/Smith Rowe/Saka/Vieira and Reiss means we’re well stocked. Fabio needs a loan move that being said


Wasn’t quite sure why we went for Havertz as our Xhaka replacement ahead of more “natural” 8s like Mount, Mac Alister, Kovacic etc but it’s starting to become clear now. He’s at least as good as those other players technically but he has one thing they all don’t; size. He’s a beast in the air and that could totally change how we play in the future.


Seems like he was preferred since he can also cover for Jesus and like you said, is a good option for crosses in the box


Exactly this. He brings an aerial threat to the attack, which we lacked last season. Mikel Arteta has mentioned it about 100 times since the end of the season.

A Different George

When I watched Havertz with Chelsea, I thought his technical ability, pace, and intelligence (in terms of the runs he made) were superior. It made it even more puzzling (and worrying, now that he’s at Arsenal) why he could not score many more goals. Like a lot of Arsenal supporters, I have my doubts, but it’s not something Arteta and Edu wouldn’t have noticed unless I pointed it out. So their confidence (as shown by the price we paid) gives me confidence–and maybe low confidence in the Chelsea managerial merry-go-round shitshow was in fact Havertz’s only problem.


Saka: devastating down the right, can go both inside and outside Martinelli: tenacity down the left, can go both inside and outside Jesus: tenacity and Brazilian flair Odegaard: genius vision, always there for the cutback Havertz: tall, great runner off the ball, cool on it Trossard: technically adept, can strike the ball from outside the box as well as anyone playing right now Smith rowe: dangerous, penetrative Vieira: has all the ingredients to pop, and I hope he does Rice, jorginho, timber and zinky: fucking CONTROL in the middle Tomi: fills in every gap in the back with merit Gabi,… Read more »


You left out one very Important player most fans seem to be forgeting….Thomas Partey!….This guy is a baller, I really hope he stays, our chances are far better with him in the squad


Oh my oh my. I missed this. Timber what kind of beast are you? – I must apologise I was not familiar with your game 🔥. Saliba was different class, Trossard is a magician, Saka is Saka. I could go on and on – but the guy that stole the show for me? Captain fantastic, Odegaard himself. My word he is frighteningly good and when he came in you could see a shift in tempo and control. That boy can play. Oh and by the way – where the heck did all of this depth come from? Cannot wait for… Read more »


Trossard was arguably our best player in the first half,in that left 8 role. He’s not talked about enough imo whenever fans discuss the options in that role. The fact that he can cover four three other positions makes him an invaluable member of the squad.


I ended up watching the match thanks to a toddler who woke up too early. Some observations, of course with the caveat that this was a friendly against a MLS all star side that seemed to have all met the previous day: 1. The obvious – we missed Saliba/ quality cover at CB at the back end of last season, Jesus is great, Saka, Ode and Martinelli are world class and look ready for the new season. 2. Trossard at #8 works really well. He was box to box and bossed the game. Another option there. 3. Considering the number… Read more »


Timber and Balogun definitely caught my eye. I would really like for us to keep Balogun – his link up with Ode was really fun to watch. He was making dangerous runs and giving Ode another option down the middle. His hold up was impressive too, pretty resistant to the press and if other teams play low block he has great feet and ball control. He linked up with the rest of the team effortlessly and was quick to make the right decision. He had a great piece of play right before that Odegaard assist for Martinelli. I think with… Read more »



Mikels Arteta

Timber looks the goods. He could almost be a box to box inverted right back. We’re going to play better football this season

Osofuye Odunayo Damilola

GK – Ramsdale, Turner, Hein
CB – Saliba, Mangalese, Trusty
SB – White, Timbre, Kiwior, Tomiyasu
DM – Partey, Rice
AM – Odegaard, Emile, Trossard, Vieira, Havertz
WF – Saka, Martinelli, Nelson, Marquinhos
CF – Jesus, Eddie, Folarin

Let go of: Elneny, Jorginho, Cedric, Pepe, Tavares, Lokonga, Holding


So Timber will give Ben White competition for rb if we we want to play with an inverted right back. Havetz can be either a left nr 8 or a target man, interesting. I don’t really see him as a target man though, but lets see.


What would a pre-season be without one of those hopeful hunches sneaking up on you at an unexpected moment? In these twilight zone weeks when we’re only getting teasing flickers of real action popping through the mists of speculation: new players yet to fully flex in red ‘n white, formations sketching into shape on Mik’s whiteboard; chemistries being formed in key parts of the pitch… Mine (my hopeful hunch, that is) hit me whilst watching Mo’Nenny larking about on the plan to the USA. He came across Flo B reading – not the latest Jack Reache, mind you – but… Read more »


Will be interesting this year to see how much Arteta rotates the squad for the league matches, hardly did any rotation besides for injuries until late in the year. He can have so many different looks with competent players coming in to start various matches like Trossard, Partey (if he stays), Timber or White, Tomiyasu, Kivior and hopefully also ESR without a big drop off from the person they could be replacing.

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x