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3 players who can benefit from position change

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 06: Mikel Arteta the manager / head coach of Arsenal and Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal at full time of the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Leeds United at Emirates Stadium on January 6, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta’s shape at Arsenal is defined by specific roles for specific players. But which individuals might benefit from a role change or alteration? Here are the top three.

While most modern formations are still depicted by shapes and numbers, — under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal have played in a 4-2-3-1, for instance — in reality, a team’s tactics are defined by the roles of the individual players and how they fit together. Arsenal might start in a 4-2-3-1, but in possession, they become a 2-3-5 with an advanced left-back, central midfielder turning to left-back, inverted winger and tucked-in right-back. And out of possession, they often resemble a 4-4-2, the attacking midfielder joining the central striker in front of two banks of four.

The point is this: for Arteta, and for most modern managers, roles matter, not positions.

So, with that in mind, here are the top three Arsenal players who could benefit from a change in role.

Arsenal, Dani Ceballos, Mikel Arteta

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal gives Dani Ceballos of Arsenal instructions during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

3. Dani Ceballos

Dani Ceballos is a ball-orientated, game-dictating, play-conducting central midfielder. His vision and awareness are superb, he is a terrific passer, he can dribble forward and out of trouble, and he enforces a tempo to the team’s overall possession play. He is their metronomic conductor, and he plays it brilliantly.

But with Granit Xhaka protected in a left-sided central midfield position that asks him to move wider in support of an advanced left-back, Ceballos can become isolated at times. Arteta empties out the midfield in possession, leaving only Ceballos in a 20 or 30-yard area to receive passes and then spray the ball wide or up the pitch.

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By changing Xhaka’s role, or by replacing him with a more capable central midfielder who is more comfortable on the ball in tighter spaces, Arteta would be able to provide Ceballos with more support, another player to connect with in midfield. The Spaniard then has the freedom to drift a little more, meaning he can receive the ball in more positions while also playing shorter passes with a closeby teammate.

Arsenal have lacked tempo and speed in their passing at times under Arteta, and Ceballos has been guilty of taking too many touches on the ball. Supplying him with a midfield partner with whom he can connect and combine would help to alleviate the pressure and provide a simple option to move the ball on quicker.

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