How can Arteta solve the midfield crisis?

Arsenal FC EPL

Arsenal take on Liverpool in the 2nd leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final and after some dilemma, the match is set to go ahead as planned.

The Gunners have close to a dozen absentees and there were doubts that Thursday’s game could be postponed. But as per the latest updates, Arsenal are confident they will have enough players to name a matchday squad.

Despite so many absentees Mikel Arteta should have 13 players(including a goalkeeper) but the manager’s biggest problem will be to name a strong-enough midfield.

Thomas Partey and Elneny have left for international duties while Granit Xhaka is suspended after picking up a red card last week. This means Lokonga is the only fully fit central midfielder at the moment and this is a major cause of concern.

Thankfully, Martin Odegaard has returned COVID negative so he is going to start but still, the manager needs to do some thinking in terms of naming his squad and the formation in which Arsenal are going to play.

We take a look at a couple of ways in which Arsenal could shape up to face Liverpool:

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Playing with two wing-backs?

The first and the most obvious option is to go with a three-man backline where Ben White, Holding and Gabriel play in the defensive line.

This will allow Tierney and Tomiyasu/Chambers to operate high up the pitch as the wing-backs, thereby giving adequate cover to the midfielders.

The 3-4-3 system will also allow Lokonga and Odegaard to play in the middle of the pitch, without the need for any major cover in the wider areas.

Arsenal vs Liverpool: 3-4-3 formation
Arsenal vs Liverpool: 3-4-3 formation

Odegaard and Smith Rowe both start in midfield?

The second option will be to use Martin Odegaard in the double pivot role alongside Lokonga while Emile Smith Rowe plays as the attacking midfielder.

Odegaard has played in a central role this season but there’s a big question mark if he can put in the shift against a team like Liverpool.

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The Norwegian is an attack-minded player so using him in a deeper role will be really risky but in the absence of another recognised central midfielder, it won’t be a major surprise if the manager chooses this formation on Thursday.

Arsenal vs Liverpool: 4-2-3-1 formation
Arsenal vs Liverpool: 4-2-3-1 formation

Ben White in defensive midfield?

The third option is something that everyone is talking about where Gabriel and Rob Holding pair in central defence while Ben White moves into midfield alongside Lokonga.

In this system, Martin Odegaard is going to occupy the No 10 role while White and Lokonga play as the double pivot.

In terms of keeping the Liverpool forwards in check, this is the most logical formation since White was phenomenal in the 1st leg and he was one of the key reasons why a 10-man Arsenal managed to hold Liverpool to a 0-0 draw.

Arsenal vs Liverpool: 4-2-3-1 with Ben White in midfield
Arsenal vs Liverpool: 4-2-3-1 with Ben White in midfield

Read: Arsenal have a major selection crisis before their Carabao Cup clash vs Liverpool.

Read: Here’s how the Gunners could line up vs Liverpool

Read: Liverpool’s predicted line up against Mikel Arteta’s men – EFL Cup.

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