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5 Current Arsenal most inconsistent players

Mikel Arteta‘s new look Arsenal are showing some much-required vigor that has been missing in the past few years. The club have been looking to rebuild their squad in order to strike the right balance between youth and experience. The Gunners are out of Europe for the first time in 25 straight years and this may be more of a boon than a bane.

Arsenal were the highest spenders in the summer transfer window, with a total of £149 million on six players. They have tried to bring down the age of the squad significantly and are the youngest squad in the Premier League this season.

With that the aim of the manager is to build a side that is capable of capitalizing on the momentum they receive through victories and not give it away cheaply. So removing inconsistent elements from the squad or working on such a player’s game is his main challenge.

Mediocrity and Inconsistency have cost Arsenal their top six status

As of today, Arsenal are unbeaten in nine games in all competitions. Although they haven’t been completely dominant throughout the 90 minutes in all those games, they have shown their grit and seen games through with positivity.

The inconsistency will have to be eradicated at all costs if Arsenal wish to get back into the top four. On that note, let’s take a look at some of the Gunners’ most inconsistent players from the current squad:

#1 Mohamed Elneny

Arsenal signed Mohamed Elneny from FC Basel in 2016. In his five-and-a-half years at the Emirates, he has rarely been the first name on the team sheet. A passionate player, Elneny is known for his work-rate and putting in the hard yards but his performances have been up and down very frequently.

The Egyptian has always been seen as a decent backup and Arsenal never truly stopped looking for an upgrade to him. The pace and intensity of the Premier League has been a bit too much for Elneny at times. For a team of Arsenal’s ambitions and stature, he hasn’t delivered according to demand.

A major inconsistency in the midfielder’s game is the appearance and disappearance of his confidence. Elneny might play a game on the front foot, releasing progressive passes and holding the ball.

But against a decent side who give Arsenal a run for their money, he does too much of back-and-sideways passing and builds unnecessary pressure on himself. For this reason, even though he has amassed a total of 133 appearances in an Arsenal shirt, he has only played 20 plus games in only one Premier League campaign.

The Gunners have Thomas Partey and Albert Lokonga in midfield right now and they have shown Elneny exactly what the club wants to see from their midfielders. Galatasaray have been linked with wanting to sign Elneny and he should be sold for good in January.

#2 Eddie Nketiah

This comes after the Arsenal youngster was referred to as having the potential to become Arsenal’s “homegrown Alexandre Lacazette.” Eddie Nketiahhas been tipped to step up his game and give Mikel Arteta some selection dilemma for the centre-forward position. But the youngster hasn’t shown enough bite in the past two seasons to usurp Lacazette’s position.

Let’s be clear, the Frenchman does not have an exemplary scoring record for Arsenal, but it is quite good. But it is his workrate, the ability to apply pressure and the ability to not give up the ball under pressure that makes him valuable to the squad.

Nketiah is still young at 22 years old, but he needs to start learning how to use his body frame to fit the profile of the striker that will suit Arsenal. Last season Arsenal were particularly struggling to score goals in a brief spell mid-season and Nketiah did them no favors by missing a few easy chances.

His record for England U21s is quite splendid but he’s really had a tough time showing up at senior level. In his 17 appearances last season Nketiah scored twice, but he could have taken that tally higher.

His performance against Leeds United in the EFL Cup tie was decent as he pressed higher with greater intensity. But Nketiah was close to missing a sitter of a chance, something he has been guilty of in the past too. Whether he stays with Arsenal or moves in the January window remains to be seen, but he will surely have to produce more performances like the one against Leeds regularly.

#3 Martin Odegaard

Arsenal were fairly impressed with Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard last season after his brief six-month spell. He brought in some amount of Mesut Ozil-like creativity to the team, but also brought the tenacity to fight when the team was out of possession.

However, one thing that Arsenal fans fear is that the common link between Ozil and their new No.8 could be their inconsistency to replicate their performances. Odegaard has been brought in to unlock opposition defenses and play between the lines with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.

It’s painful that in one game we see glimpses of his true potential and the next, he is struggling. The Norwegian was absolutely spot on with his passes and final third vision against Tottenham Hotspur, but against Brighton and Crystal Palace, it felt like he ran out of ideas.

The No.8 needs to enable his team to tackle the compact shape of such teams, but he is inconsistent with what he has primarily been brought in for. Odegaard’s free-kick against Burnley single-handedly won the game for Arsenal. But the Norway captain has to move on from his wonderful strike and concentrate on performing consistently.

#4 Granit Xhaka

From being on the verge of signing for Roma, to starting games for Arsenal and even rumored to be negotiating an extension, Granit Xhaka has had an eventful campaign. The midfielder has three sides to him; as cliche as it may sound, the good, the bad and the ugly.

It would have been easy if the world had only seen his bad and ugly version to dismiss him. But Xhaka has this habit of turning really good in certain games which only makes the Arsenal faithful feel more miserable. Here is a man capable of taking charge of the midfield, controlling the tempo of the game, but too reckless, too error prone and too indecisive at times as well.

Mikel Arteta likes Xhaka because he has worked with Fernandinho at Manchester City. The Brazilian has the credentials to give a masterclass on playing in defensive midfield, breaking attacks and committing tactical fouls. Xhaka could have been Arsenal’s very own Fernandinho, but he does not seem interested.

The sporadic Arsenal captain’s lack of awareness and a tendency to rely on back passes often builds unnecessary pressure on himself and his team-mates. Sure on his day he can deliver cutting edge forward passes and even score a free-kick with his left-foot, but how many of these days has he had at Arsenal?

#5 Nicolas Pepe

On his day from his preferred right wing, Nicolas Pepe can take defenders for a ride. He can embarrass them with his tricks, run away with the ball and beat the goalkeeper at will. However, the aforementioned days have been few and far between in the Arsenal shirt.

There are plenty of flashes of his talent and his skills over the course of 90 mins but it is his habit to leave a lot to be desired by the end of it. Lots of dropping shoulders and attempts at dribbles are all good to watch, but eventually if you end up making a back pass, or giving the ball away, it’s wasteful.

Pepe has to be more direct and play on the half turn with greater sharpness and the said urgency has been missing in his game. The £72 million price tag has so far proven a curse for the Ivorian. In his first Premier League season, he scored five goals and provided one assist. Last season, he scored 10 and assisted one for Arsenal.

He gets the odd run of three or four games where he scores and then goes to rest. Being unpredictable is good, but only as long as you are unpredictable for the opposition and not for your own team. Every time the winger gives a good performance, the Arsenal boss is quick to assert in post-match interviews that he needs to be consistent. That speaks volumes about the reputation he has forged at the Emirates.

 

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