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Leicester vs Arsenal: 3 suitable arrangements Mikel Arteta have to make

The feeling in and around Arsenal is a joyous one. From the very depths of the pit they had dug themselves at the start of the season they’ve managed to claw their way back out in impressive fashion.

On an unbeaten eight-game run, the underlying statistic of not having lost during that time needs to be balanced out with the level of performance witnessed.

In the aftermath of the Crystal Palace draw the displays slotted into their own categories of poor, average and impressive, with the only standout 90 minutes being that against Tottenham where the result was secured before the half-time whistle even blew.

A turgid draw with Palace put the run into perspective, but following that up with a superb outing against Villa and a comfortable victory over Leeds with a second string team, those eight matches can be framed more as progressive as opposed to papering over cracks. Improvements are doubtlessly still needed, which is why Leicester will the real litmus test of this team.

3 good arrangements Arteta should make against Leicester as Arsenal take on Brendan Rodgers’ side in the Premier League on Saturday

Based off of the most recent Premier Leagueperformance it would appear that Arsenal are on an upward trajectory.

Key in that win was the changes of personnel made, with the unlikely strike partnership of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette combining in superb fashion, albeit in their own specific ways.

Despite Leicester facing their own issues this season they too have come into some form and it leaves Mikel Arteta with plenty to ponder as he takes his side up to the King Power Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.

From having a set in stone starting lineup there are now some intriguing selection decisions to make. Some may be based on recency bias (often referred to as form), but there are three in particular the manager should make to give his side the best chance of securing three valuable points.

1. Keep Alexandre Lacazette in Over Martin Odegaard

If there was ever an example of how quickly matters can change in football, the roles of Lacazette and Martin Odegaard act as a perfect example.

Efforts were made to move one on in the summer while the other was the number one target of the club way before the window even opened, as Arsenal were willing to bide their time all the way up until the latter stages to bring Odegaard in for £30m.

Over the span of three matches not only is there a debate over who should be playing between the two, it’s one Lacazette is winning.

A couple of misfiring performances from the Norwegian against Brighton and Crystal Palace, coupled with two strong substitute outings and a wonderful display against Aston Villa from his French teammate, have left Arteta with a decision to make. One is a natural No. 10, while the other is taking the Wayne Rooney route of drifting further away from goal in his latter years.

Odegaard is already a wonderful footballer and will continue to grow and develop throughout his time in north London, and while Lacazette is set to bid farewell at the end of the season, the manager should not change a winning team.

Operating as a No. 10 against Villa, albeit with the license to operate higher up and make runs into the box, Arsenal were at their fluid best and the energy Lacazette transmitted should be allowed to continue emanating on Saturday.

Arsenal should play for the now. And, now, it’s the 30-year-old who warrants a start.

2. If Kieran Tierney is Fit Then He Starts Over Nuno Tavares

Everyone was rightly up off their feet applauding Nuno Tavares after his excellent full Premier League debut at home to Villa. The volume of lung bursting runs he made down the left was a sight to behold, and he matched that energy with aggression, clever movements off the ball and technical prowess in the final third.

Given Kieran Tierney has struggled for form so far this season, there were calls for him to be replaced for the 21-year-old, even if just for the time being.

But if the Scot is fit, he plays. There shouldn’t be any debate over it.

For all the joy Tavares had against Villa, if Tierney had been the one in his place then he would have at least performed to an equal standard. Dean Smith’s side were poor, but Arsenal also pressed high, had bundles of energy and performed to a level well above that they had produced against Palace and Brighton. Reverse the roles and put Tavares in the team at the Amex Stadium and there would have been no calls for him to take Tierney’s place.

Tierney would have loved playing against Villa just as much as Tavares would have struggled against Palace.

The one concern for Saturday is that while Arteta said he’s hopeful of the 24-year-old being fit, the decision to play Sead Kolasinac against Leeds may hint that he’s keeping Tavares fresh in the likelihood that isn’t the case. There must be some doubt in the manager’s eye.

Nevertheless, if both are available, the decision is an easy one.

3. Continue With Sambi Lokonga & Thomas Partey as a Double Pivot

One can hope the manager learned his lesson last week. The difference between the Palace and Villa games was chalk and cheese and the decision to go with a double pivot in the latter was a huge reason behind the improvement.

Not only that, Sambi Lokonga wasn’t asked to fill in behind Tavares on the night. Doing so is a negative move from Arteta – one he began utilising with Granit Xhaka but has been asked of nearly every midfielder on the left – that focuses more on protecting Arsenal’s weaknesses than playing to their strengths.

Vacating the midfield in that way limits Partey’s options on the ball and doesn’t allow Arsenal to press as fiercely through the middle. Seeing the angled combination play between Sambi and Partey against Villa, the reasons to revert to form dwindle further.

Furthermore, with the performances Lacazette has put in across the last three fixtures it would be an odd choice from the manager not to stick with a double pivot. Has Arteta sprung a surprise before? Numerous times. Nothing is out of the question.

With the exception of Tierney coming in if he’s fit, there is no reason for the manager not to stick with the same personnel and shape as against Villa. Leicester also play with a back three and pinning their wing-backs into their own half as was seen at the Emirates would bring Arsenal joy.

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