Arsenal

Arsenal faced with selection dilemma as Leandro Trossard bids to shed ‘super-sub’ tag

The versatile Belgian continues to prove his worth off the bench, sparking debate over where he now might slot into the Gunners’ first X

It was after a conversation with then-England rugby coach Eddie Jones last season that Mikel Arteta rebranded his substitutes “impactors”.
Jones changed the name of his replacements to “finishers”, and the thinking from Arteta was the move would improve the mentality of players coming off the bench.
No player has been a better “impactor” for Arsenal than Leandro Trossard since he joined last January. The Belgian has been a valuable weapon off the bench, and his £26million move from Brighton now looks a bargain.
He has scored four goals and provided 11 assists in the Premier League, and only Bukayo Saka has been involved in more goals for Arsenal in the last year.
He again led the line from the start against Burnley on Saturday and opened the scoring as the Gunners won 3-1 at Emirates Stadium. The 28-year-old also made another goal for William Saliba, as he capped off a fine week after he scored against Sevilla in the Champions League.
His impact against Sevilla and Burnley came after he was handed starts through the middle, and the challenge for him now is to cement a spot in the team.

Before last week, four of his five Gunners goals had come off the bench, and it is easy to see why Arteta has used him in that role. But, after excelling in his two starts in the past week, Trossard can justifiably push to ditch his super-sub tag.
“I think every time you ask him to play, whether it’s wide or as a No9, it flows and he’s a real threat,” said Arteta. “I think he connects everybody.

He’s so intelligent. He moves in the spaces in ways that attract [the opposition] and generates spaces and options for people.”

Exactly where Trossard plays is a big debate, and it is part of the reason why he is so dangerous off the bench.
He can operate on either flank and in midfield, while his two starts last week came as a No9. Trossard looked bright in that role, drifting deep and out wide to create space for wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Saka.
Gabriel Jesus will assume the No9 role if he is fit to face Brentford after the international break, but Trossard has arguably leapfrogged Eddie Nketiah in the pecking order.
He could keep his place by playing on the left, given Martinelli has failed to score in his past five games.
Perhaps more intriguingly, would be the prospect of Trossard playing as a left No8, a role Arsenal have failed to fill since Granit Xhaka left.

Arsenal’s attack has not quite clicked this season and they have had more fluidity in attack with Trossard through the middle. He is developing a great understanding with Saka, who has incredibly assisted all seven of his goals in all competitions.
“I don’t know why but every time Bukayo is on the ball, I just know I need to make a movement or come close to him,” said Trossard.
Time will tell if Trossard can go from impactor to starter, but he has given Arteta a selection headache.

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