Saturday, 9 June 2018

Arsenal: Henrikh Mkhitaryan may be on back foot for crucial battle

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 05: Henrikh Mkhitaryan ofArsenal during the UEFA Europa League quarter final leg one match between Arsenal FC and CSKA Moskva at Emirates Stadium on April 5, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
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Arsenal have such a surplus of attacking options that someone might have to give way. Could that someone be Henrikh Mkhitaryan?
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Arsenal are an attacking team. You may not have gathered that from their goal tally (and goals surrendered), but it’s true. They have so many options that they might actually have too many elite attackers. Because, as it stands, they have four guys for three spots.
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We have yet to see how Unai Emery is going to deploy his team. If he ops for something like a 4-4-2, then this argument goes out the window, but assuming he goes with a 4-3-3 like Arsene Wenger built around, and utilizes his three attacking options similarly, then someone has to give way.
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Alexandre LacazettePierre-Emerick AubameyangMesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are all competing for those front three spots – again, assuming that three is all there will be. That’s no guarantee. But assuming that it is, someone has to give way.
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When you get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s hard to pick out a favorite (or three). Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would seemingly have to start together because they’re both so damn potent.
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Not to mention how much of a rapport they built last year. It would be a crying shame to break that apart.
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Which means that, if you subscribe to that school of thought, it would be between Ozil and Mkhitaryan for the last spot. Which makes things even tougher. If you think international reputation, Ozil wins out. If you think Emery’s personal style, Mkhitaryan’s high-octane play makes him seem the favorite.
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But reputation carries one hell of a weight, and few have a better reputation than Ozil. Not to mention the absolute storm that would erupt if he all of a sudden was robbed of his starting spot. Maybe it would trigger a response, maybe not.
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My early inclination is to think that Mkhitaryan is the one that gets pushed to the bench, to a super-sub role if Ozil isn’t cutting it. But again, it completely depends on Emery and what he sees as best for the team. Ideally, we could avoid all of this, repair the back-line enough to free up the midfield, and start all four, because these four all need to be starting. At least from the off, until we see how they work together.
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It’ll be interesting to see what Emery opts for. My hopes are on the 4-4-2 because I’d hate to see Mkhitaryan’s abilities go to waste.

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