Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside, former Arsenal midfielder Michael Thomas has admitted that he couldn’t ‘understand’ why Dani Ceballos didn’t start in the 2-0 defeat against Spurs.
Ceballos was called into action at halftime when he replaced the injured Partey, but with the side already 2-0 down at this point, the Real Madrid loanee couldn’t help break down Jose Mourinho’s team at all.
Arsenal appeared to start yesterday’s match in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but reverted to a back-three – which left just two men in the middle of the park.
Thomas believes that Arteta should deploy three central midfielders in the must-win Premier League tie against Burnley on Sunday, with Ceballos alongside Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Thomas, who spent nine years with the Gunners, who cemented himself as a hero with his late title-winning goal in the 1988-89 season, believes they should’ve went with a three against Spurs as well.
Here’s what Thomas had to say on Arteta’s decision when it came to the midfield, and what needs to happen for their next Premier League game:
“For me I don’t understand why Ceballos didn’t start. He works hard and compliments Partey in the middle. This would have allowed for more direct passes through the lines and not out wide.”
“Xhaka has his qualities but I would have gone with a robust midfield three of Elneny, Partey and Ceballos for that game and I’d like to see Elneny come back in, possibly with Maitland-Niles.”
Thomas also importantly notes above that consistently starting Ceballos alongside Partey – which may be out of the question due to the star’s injury for some time now – could improve the side’s creativity.
The Gunners are simply being overrun in midfield right now, which has been a massive contributor to the five defeats from their last seven top-flight games and also their inability to defend on the transition.