Daily Archives: March 3, 2023
Trossard Proves his Worth with Martinelli’s Rise in Form
Trossard arrived at Arsenal in the January transfer window after his agent’s emotional outburst, reacting to his client losing his place in the Brighton team post-World Cup and frozen out completely with the emergence of Kaoru Mitoma. Following Arsenal’s intense, yet failed pursuit of Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhailo Mudryk, Leandro Trossard was identified as an alternative, and Arsenal wasted no time in acquiring his services, drafting him to the substitutes’ bench in the exciting 3-2 win over Manchester United.
Gabriel Jesus was out with a long term knee injury and Mikel Arteta expressed the need to get a dependable forward to provide adequate backup, and in Trossard, Arsenal was gifted with a versatile, experienced Premier League-ready forward that needed no adaptation time, as the club is in the business end of the season. Trossard came on as a sub in the Manchester United game and had a hand in the late winner by Eddie Nketiah. A visit to Goodison Park was next and its fair to say Arsenal stunk the whole place, but he managed to get half an hour under his belt, coming on for Gabriel Martinelli that had really looked off the pace in the period. Those that watched the game can attest to the fact that Trossard did more in 30 minutes than Martinelli in an hour.
Trossard earned a start in the FA Cup clash against Manchester City and had one big chance that was saved by Ortega in the Manchester City goal, but the rotation with Martinelli continued, as he has subbed out for the Brazilian winger in Arsenal’s eventual loss. When Martinelli put up another weak performance against Brentford and was yanked off after an hour, Trossard came on as his replacement and showed good movement to attack Bukayo Saka’s drilled effort to the far post and score his first Arsenal goal, much to the delight of his new fans. However, Brentford scored a goal that was meant to be ruled out for offside, and Trossard’s moment in the Sun was gone, as the back pages couldn’t label him as Arsenal’s hero that scored the winning goal on the night.
Mikel Arteta felt it was time for Martinelli to lose his place entirely, and Trossard took his left wing slot in the visit to Unai Emery’s Aston Villa at Villa Park. Trossard put up a strong performance on the day and was subbed for Martinelli after 68 minutes, with the game delicately poised at 2-2. We all remember the drama at the end, but most importantly, Martinelli scored a goal, his first in eight games, ending his personal drought.
Then came the master stroke from Arteta – instead of the usual Martinelli vs Trossard rotational outlay every week, why not start them together? However, someone else had to be sacrificed for this cause, and Nketiah, who was going on his own personal drought of five games without a goal since his perfect brace against United, was relegated to the bench to allow Trossard and Martinelli play together. No disrespect to Nketiah – he has actually been brilliant deputizing in attack in Gabriel Jesus’ stead and when he scored that brace against Man Utd, it was his sixth goal in his sixth appearance post-World Cup, having scored earlier against West Ham, Brighton and Oxford United. He also gives 110% like Gabriel Jesus and worked very hard to improve his build up play, even though he’s just renowned for being a poacher. Nketiah’s preference has always been to stay on the shoulder of the last opposition defender, moving around the goal and waiting for a chance to spring. He has pace to burn and prefers a pass into space, which gives him the chance to show his excellent finishing skills and composure – even though consistency has been a challenge for him.
However, Nketiah’s style of play was somewhat detrimental to Martinelli, as he was always isolated on the left and was hardly brought into play by Eddie. Saka on the other hand, always has the connections with Martin Odegaard and Ben White which increases his influence on the pitch, while Martinelli has no Kieran Tierney to run into space on the left to allow him cut inside, rather an Oleksandr Zinchenko that adds to the numbers in central midfield.
However, Trossard playing the false nine role, has brought out the best in Martinelli, as his positional awareness and consistent swaps with the Brazilian forward is akin to what Martinelli enjoyed with Gabriel Jesus pre-World Cup, which has seen him flourish yet again. In Trossard’s first game as the center forward against Leicester, he swapped with Martinelli a lot of times and Arsenal reaped the reward of this tactical approach, with Martinelli scoring what proved to be the match winner. Trossard received the ball from Gabriel at the back, drifted to the left wing, dragging Leicester’s big center back, Harry Souttar, with him, creating a dangerous space in the rearguard for someone with pace to exploit, nutmegged a sumptuous ball to Martinelli who turned on the afterburners with Wilfred Ndidi on the chase, before placing the ball past Joel Ward and receiving a whack on his knee for his troubles.
Arteta acknowledged the tactical decision after the game in his Leicester post-match press conference,
“We had the option to play Gabi as a nine and Leo on the left, we had to see how the game developed and what Leicester wanted to do. I wanted to have that option from midfield to make that change if necessary, and it was great because I think his contribution was really good.”
Lest I forget, Trossard scored a beautiful goal against Leicester from the edge of the box, but White’s shenanigans with Ward in the build up to the goal was caught on camera, ruling that brilliant effort out. Trossard was eventually subbed for Nketiah in the 69th minute, but he had put up another great shift for his new team.
I expected Arteta to repeat this feat against Everton two nights ago, and the Arsenal manager delivered. Trossard retained his place ahead of Nketiah and his movement and positional swaps with Martinelli brought out the best in the young Brazilian yet again. It took some individual brilliance from Saka to break the deadlock, but Martinelli opened his scoring on the night while staying in the center forward position, with Trossard on the left. The actions between Martinelli and Trossard on the pitch has turned out to be nightmare for opposition defenders, with both players drifting on the left wing, and center forward spots at intervals, as well as showing great positional awareness to keep their markers guessing. The Belgian maverick also created a sweet assist for Odegaard, latching onto Granit Xhaka’s pass in behind the defense on the left and cutting the ball back from the byline. Odegaard’s technical astuteness was on show, using the pace of Trossard’s ball to guide the ball into the back of the net.
Trossard left the pitch for Nketiah, like the previous game, and in Arsenal’s fourth goal, Nketiah unleashed his inner Trossard, drifting to the left wing to receive Zinchenko’s pass, before carefully threading it to Martinelli that toe poked the ball home from point blank range. A player that had not scored in eight games, has smashed in four goals in his last three, thanks to some tactical brilliance from Arteta.
I am expecting Trossard to remain as Arsenal’s center forward in the remaining Premier League games till Gabriel Jesus is fully fit, while Nketiah can get another runout when Arsenal travel to Portugal to take on Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League Round of 16.
Trossard has definitely proved his worth to the club, as it has coincided with Martinelli upturn in form. Long may it continue.
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