Arsenal

Arsenal can replace Havertz by unleashing £90k-p/w “wizard” in different role

Arsenal have been superb this season, and last weekend’s relatively comfortable 1-1 draw away to Liverpool highlighted the progress made by Mikel Arteta’s side.

A win versus West Ham United this evening would be their 13th victory in 19 matches, and it will see the Gunners return to first in the Premier League table.

Despite having a slightly longer rest period than some other clubs, the boss will still be forced to rotate his squad.

Leandro Trossard’s stats this season
Leandro Trossard is yet to solidify a role in the extremely talented and competitive Arsenal starting XI since joining from Brighton last January for £27m. The Belgian has played in 14 matches in the league this season, but he’s only started five. That said, he’s featured quite heavily off the bench and is often brought in on the left wing for Gabriel Martinelli.

Even though he averages 40 minutes per game, he has scored three goals and registered one assist, and each goal contribution has been a clutch moment; for example, he scored the winner against Everton, equalised against Chelsea, and scored and assisted in the 3-1 win over Burnley.

The table below highlights some of Trossard’s key stats from this Premier League season and how they compare to his positional peers.

Trossard has typically played as either a left-winger or a centre forward this season at the Gunners, but with Kai Havertz picking up five yellow cards and earning a suspension, tonight’s game versus West Ham provides the perfect opportunity to try the £90k-per-week star in a different role.

The German has featured as the advanced left eight often this season, using his attacking traits and defensive understanding to give Arsenal control and an additional threat in the final third – scoring three goals from his last six league games.

When in possession, the former Chelsea drifts into the box and almost acts as a second striker, with crosses mainly coming via Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard on the right. Havertz also acts as a connector to the wingers, and the instruction out of possession is to counter-press and contest in duels to regain and then retain the ball.

As for Trossard, the Belgian forward is extremely versatile, and he can produce moments of magic all over the field, which is why he has been described as a “wizard” by journalist Charlie Haffenden. The ability to perform in multiple roles makes Trossard unique, and his time at Brighton showcased that to the extreme, as one game he would play as a number nine, and the next match he would be used as a left-wing back.

This means that not only would Trossard thrive in the Havertz role because he has the goal-scoring traits to be effective in the final third, but he also possesses defensive capability, as displayed by the fact that he ranks in the top 5% among his European peers for blocks as well as in the top 20% for interceptions per 90.

Although Declan Rice could slot into the left eight position, with Jorginho taking the Englishman’s role, Arsenal will dominate the ball this evening, and their biggest task will be breaking down the inevitable low block that David Moyes will deploy.

Therefore, starting Trossard in midfield may just be the key to unlocking the visitors and ensuring Arteta’s team returns to the top of the Premier League.

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