Arsenal: Mikel Arteta faces big decision in bid to avoid title race slip-up

Arsenal: Mikel Arteta faces big decision in bid to avoid title race slip-up

With three matches left for Arsenal in the title run, Mikel Arteta appears to have settled on his best team.

Arteta has named an unchanged side for successive matches for the first time since the start of March and, with just one game a week for the Gunners from here on in, there is no need for rotation in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps the only decision for Arteta ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against Bournemouth is who to start alongside Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard as the third midfielder.

Thomas Partey will hope to keep his place after performing well in the wins over Chelsea and Tottenham.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Injuries have dogged the Ghanaian but he looked close to his best last week and brings added physicality to the midfield, while he is bold with his positioning and passing.

Partey is not afraid to demand the ball on the edge of his own box, and his ability to get Arsenal up the pitch quickly benefits the likes of Odegaard.

But that style comes with risk, as shown with the first Spurs goal last weekend.

Goalkeeper David Raya was at fault for his poor pass straight to Cristian Romero, but Partey also was part of the problem. He was Raya's intended target and the positions he takes up encourages Arsenal to sometimes play in a risky manner when building from the back.

It is why Arteta may well turn to Jorginho at times in the title run-in.

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The Italian may not be as adventurous with his passing, but he brings control. Arteta will not be expecting Saturday’s match against the Cherries to be anything like the chaotic 3-2 win they had against them a year ago, however the presence of Jorginho would ensure it definitely is not.

His style suits how this Arsenal team has evolved this season, and it speaks volumes that he has been offered a new contract.

Jorginho's deal expires in the summer and he is attracting interest from clubs in Italy, but Arsenal are confident he will stay.

There is less certainty around the future of Partey, who will have one year left on his contract come the end of the season. Injuries mean he cannot always be relied upon and, given like Jorginho he is in his thirties, Arsenal must start looking to the future.

Arsenal want to sign a midfielder and much will depend on how Arteta sees Rice's position going forward. Rice was signed to play at the base of midfield, but Arsenal also believed he could excel as a No8 due to his athleticism. His brilliant form as a No8 is why Arsenal's summer business may now shift to someone who can provide competition for Jorginho and Partey.