Arsenal need to address a lack of creativity in the summer transfer window

5

Boring. Lifeless. Mild. Uninspiring.

Mikel Arteta may have raised morale at Arsenal and strengthened their defense, but in the attack, the Gunners are paralyzingly boring. They are routinely struggling to create chances, and it is the stubbornness that saw them need a 97-minute Eddie Nketiah goal to save their blushes against Fulham on Sunday.

What made this performance so frustrating for Arsenal fans was how comfortable they were throughout the match. Fulham did not want this and were content to defend to 0-0, so why did Arsenal play the side again? Why did they celebrate so wildly after securing a draw against a side that fought for their lives?

Nketiah celebrates its late equalization | IAN KINGTON / Getty Images

Arteta’s page enjoyed so much possession but created so little. Sure, they had bad luck with a handful of good Alphonse Areola saves, but any goalkeeper would have handled them. The Frenchman was not required to be the best because so little came his way.

For Arsenal, the problem lies in the lack of creativity from the entire midfield.

Against Fulham, the only players who looked like they wanted to create something were Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, but they are both dribblers. They both want to isolate a man one against a broad and beat him with speed, but that is not always possible.

Saka is already crucial for Arsenal Chloe Knott – Danehouse / Getty Images

There is just no plan B for Arsenal. Emile Smith Rowe does not have the end product needed to be trusted yet, and while Martin Odegaard has impressed when he is in shape, he is not enough. There is nothing behind him.

Arteta lined up with a midfield two by Dani Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny for this one, and of the two, it was the former who made the defense. After seeing that he does not have what it takes to be Arsenal’s champion, Ceballos is now working on his defensive game, and the truth is he was excellent at it.

But Elneny as the top midfielder? Yikes.

The Egyptian’s eye for a forward pass was cruel to Fulham. Time and time again, he derailed Arsenal’s forward with a backhand ball, and one could see how annoyed his teammates were with his performance.

To play the devil’s advocate for a second, Arteta’s hands are somewhat tied by the left – back injury crisis that has seen midfield boss Granit Xhaka play at the back, but that does not mean all hope must go out the window.

Xhaka’s eye for a pass is missing Sebastian Frej / MB Media / Getty Images

With Xhaka’s passing now gone (Xhaka as midfield maestro is a debate for another day), Arsenal needed something else to connect the midfield and attack, and they got nothing.

This summer gives Arsenal the chance to tackle it. They have to find someone who can make something happen from somewhere other than the wing, otherwise the Gunners will be the most predictable team in the league.

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