Why Arsenal must turn to Jorginho against Chelsea in desperate bid to halt title slide

·2-min read
 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

After a chastening night at the Etihad, Mikel Arteta will probably be relieved that Arsenal have a clear weekend.

The Gunners had originally been due to face Chelsea on Saturday, but this month the game was moved to Tuesday, due to policing issues.

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It gives Arteta an extra three days to pick through the bones of Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat by Manchester City, which has left Arsenal’s title challenge hanging by a thread.

They are still two points clear of City, but Pep Guardiola’s side have two games in hand and can knock the leaders off top spot with a win at Fulham on Sunday. Arsenal have taken three points from their past four games and, even if many believe the title is now out of reach, Arteta still needs to stop the slide.

Whatever happens, it has been a brilliant season for Arsenal and they have exceeded expectations. But, with five games to go, they cannot allow the season to end with a whimper. Teams who end seasons badly often carry that form into the following campaign, and Arteta will not want his project to stutter when it is finally taking off.

Calming presence: Arsenal should turn back to Jorginho against former club Chelsea (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Calming presence: Arsenal should turn back to Jorginho against former club Chelsea (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The Arsenal manager has been reluctant to make changes all season, but for Tuesday’s clash he must be tempted to switch things up.

Defence has been a problem area in the run of four games without a win, but the midfield has been equally poor. Arsenal have lost the control that was a character of their matches during the first half of the season, and that has led to chaotic games against Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton and then City.

Thomas Partey, usually so assured, has been careless in possession and positionally poor; Granit Xhaka’s goals have dried up; and even the form of captain Martin Odegaard has dipped.

It feels time to bring Jorginho back into the team against his former club. The Italian initially impressed following his move to Emirates Stadium in January, filling in for Partey and playing a starring role in a dramatic 4-2 win at Aston Villa.

He brought a calming presence to the midfield by calling upon his vast experience and, at a time when Arsenal are creaking, Arteta would be wise to tap into that. Arteta could justifiably drop Partey for Jorginho, given his dip in form, or he could play the two together.

Partey has played as a single pivot at the base of midfield, but having an extra body in there and shifting from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 formation could give Arsenal the control they crave.