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Getting senses into WHY Arsenal are pushing for Arthur Melo

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Arthur Melo is a player most famously known for the strange and often-joked-about transfer saga he was involved in when Juventus purchased him in the summer of 2020 for more than 80 million pounds, swapping Miralem Pjanic to Barcelona in the process. Arthur is now back in the news as reports have surfaced linking the former Grêmio and current Juventus midfielder to Arsenal this month. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is apparently a fan of Arthur’s and, with a depleted midfield core that has recently lost players like Ainsley Maitland-Niles to transfer and Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey to red cards, Arteta and Arsenal are clearly looking at the potential of bringing in a new player to restore some balance.

Arthur is an interesting player, he specializes as a number 8 who links the backline to the frontline and likes to be heavily involved in overall play, drifting to the ball-side frequently when he isn’t. Arthur’s qualities are hard to miss, he is a mazey dribbler with a consistent first touch and at his best he can act as a metronome to retain possession for his team, give them a comfortable out-ball, and recycle play when the pressure is on. Contrary to his ability to recycle play and retain possession, underlying stats show that he also likes to pass into the final third with regularity and isn’t afraid to try and break the lines if he spots a forward player making a run. One of the issues when evaluating Arthur is that he has only amassed 1096 minutes over the past 365 days according to FBref, this means that a majority of his underlying metrics are potentially very misleading and don’t accurately reflect his ability or his form. Using mostly the eye test for the rest of this piece, I will attempt to analyze Arthur as a player and evaluate his potential impact on Arsenal if his reported loan comes to fruition.

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I want to start with the things Arthur is known for and how well he’s done those things during his time at Juventus. Arthur is a classic metronomic number 8 with vision, active scanning, an excellent first touch, and great dribbling ability which allows him to retain possession and keep the play alive. It is understandable why Barcelona decided to purchase him given their connection to possession-based football and high-volume midfield passers. His job, which he has done quite for spells since his move to Europe, is to keep his team in the game and on the ball. He does this by dropping between the center backs or just ahead of them in the left half-spaces and making himself available either with his back to goal or on the half-turn, looking to progress the ball further upfield or beat a man to break the press. Arthur is a strong dribbler with great lower body strength and the ability to essentially bump defenders off him when he is pressed, this makes him a fairly safe option to pass to in these scenarios. He is mobile as well and likes to drift around the pitch to stay involved in the build-up. While his vision is also pretty good, Arthur does struggle to execute long balls, particularly in the air, preferring to keep the ball on the ground whenever possible. It is hard to tell if this is an issue of weakness in his muscles or if it’s just a reflex or gap in his game.

Some smaller details I noticed while watching Arthur play; He has a consistent ground diagonal pass in his repertoire that he uses quite often to link play to attackers dropping in. You can see this during his time at Barcelona playing with Luis Suarez, often Arthur would receive the ball in the left-half space just below or just above the halfway line, assuming he isn’t being pressed, Arthur would take a few touches toward the opposition goal before zipping and perfectly weight ball diagonally across the pitch the aforementioned Suarez who is dropping deep to receive. The quality of these passes and the vision to execute them cannot be overstated and would be a great addition to the Arsenal system which often deploys it’s striker in a deeper, more creative role. Another thing Arthur is great at is losing his defender with a drop of the shoulder, it’s not something I saw a lot in the footage I watched of him at Juventus but, again, it’s something he has in his toolkit and it can be vitally important in breaking lines to spring an attack. Arthur has lost a bit of his explosiveness due to injury in recent years but this skill can still be applicable in certain situations and shows that he has the tools to be very press resistant when he’s at the top of his game.

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Arthur’s weaknesses aren’t as concerning as some on Twitter or in the media may suggest but in regards to his ability to play in the Premier League, they may be exacerbated by a move to England. Firstly, Arthur has been fairly injury-ridden since leaving his boyhood club Grêmio in March 2018, in total he missed 135 days of action due to injury during his time at Barcelona according to Transfermarkt, which amounted to 24 games out. His time at Juventus hasn’t been much better, he’s missed 17 games for the Bianconeri since joining, including a 77 day absence after having surgery done on his right leg. A move to the Premier League will likely not help fix these injury woes as many foreign players and managers alike have called the PL the most physically demanding and brutal league in Europe. Another issue Arthur has is his overall physique, at about 5 foot 6, Arthur is not the most physically imposing player on the pitch, while this may not be a huge issue when playing in a less physical league like La Liga or a less active league like Serie A, it may cause problems for Arthur if he were to join Arsenal in England. While he does possess wonderful lower body strength, this does not guarantee he will be able to fight off tacklers with the same consistency as he does in Serie A for Juventus.

When it comes to how Arthur would fit into Mikel Arteta’s system at Arsenal, I can only speculate that he would be signed as a backup to Granit Xhaka who has played as a box-to-box number 8 this season when Arsenal move to a 4-3-3 setup. Arthur plays in almost the same positions as Xhaka but also has the mobility to drift which is something Xhaka doesn’t do a lot of at all. Arthur would be tasked primarily with ball retention and with progressing the ball through the lines to an attacking player. Overall, this fit looks good on paper but I question it in practice given Arthur’s weaknesses and his lack of physical and aerial presence. With a plethora of exciting attacking talents at his disposal, Arteta is most in need of a physically imposing number 8 who can break up play, win 50-50s and do all the on-ball work mentioned above. In this regard, Arthur feels like 50% of the player Arsenal need right now. All of this being said, Arthur Melo is far from washed up or a bad player, he possesses high technical ability, great vision, and has tools to play line-breaking passes. He is also a clever dribbler and at his best, is very hard to press due to his low center of gravity and comfort, turning either way and driving at different angles. Regardless of how his latest transfer saga plays out, there is a place for Arthur somewhere at a top team in Europe, whether that team is Arsenal or Juventus, or neither is a question we may still be pondering long after deadline day.












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Premier League outright to win without the Big Six odds: Newcastle 66/1 ahead of summer window

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Premier League outright to win without the Big Six odds: Newcastle 66/1 ahead of summer window – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Newcastle United? West Ham United? Leicester City? If none of the ‘big six’ sides won the 2022/23 Premier League trophy – who would? Keep track of the latest odds and get the lowdown on the movers and shakers here.

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Premier League Winner Without Big 6 Odds
Newcastle United 66/1 at bet365
West Ham United 100/1 at bet365
Leicester City 150/1 at bet365
Brighton and Hove Albion 200/1 at bet365
Aston Villa 250/1 at bet365
Everton 250/1 at bet365

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Will The Premier League See A Repeat of Leicester City’s Famous 2015/16 Title Win?

In the unlikely event that one of the ‘big six’ fail to win the Premier League next season, the bookies’ favourite to take the crown is Newcastle United at 66/1.

Following the Saudi-backed takeover of the Magpies, Newcastle spent heavily in January – bringing in Chris Wood, Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes and Matt Targett.

West Ham United sit at 100/1 but with the threat of losing Declan Rice in midfield this summer, this price may begin to drift as we approach the window’s opening.

Leicester City at 150/1 are just behind, and the Foxes are no secret to an underdog story. However with Youri Tielemans poised to leave the King Power this summer with just one year left on his contract, we’re also expecting to see this price drift closer to the season’s start.

Who Will Win The Premier League?

As implied by the Premier League outright winner odds.

Premier League Winner Chance of Winning
Manchester City 63%
Liverpool 33%
Chelsea 5.8%
Manchester United 4.7%
Spurs 3.8%
Arsenal 0.6%

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Premier League outright winner odds: Manchester City 4/7 favourite

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Premier League outright winner odds: Manchester City 4/7 favourite – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Manchester City? Liverpool? Chelsea? Whoever you believe will win the 2022/23 Premier League trophy, keep track of the latest odds and get the lowdown on the movers and shakers here.

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Premier League Winner Odds
Manchester City 4/7 at bet365
Liverpool 2/1 at bet365
Chelsea 16/1 at bet365
Manchester United 20/1 at bet365
Spurs 25/1 at bet365
Arsenal 50/1 at bet365

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Manchester City Look Unstoppable For Third Consecutive Title 

After some final day heroics from Pep Guardiola’s side reminiscent to Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time winner to seal the title in 2012, Manchester City enter the market as 4/7 favourites to retain their Premier League crown next season.

Having already secured the signature of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for a £51m fee, City have filled a considerable gap up front after failing to sign a striker last summer – unsuccessful in their pursuits of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Manchester United are poised to spend big this summer as the Erik ten Hag era gets underway at Old Trafford, with Jurrien Timber a reported target for the former Ajax boss.

Liverpool couldn’t believe their luck on Sunday when Philippe Coutinho put Aston Villa 2-0 up at the Etihad and looked set for a record-equalling 20th league title, only for Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan to spoil the party.

Chelsea will aim to bounce back under new ownership following a disappointing season including two cup final defeats, and are 16/1 to win the league next season.

Who Will Win The Premier League?

As implied by the Premier League outright winner odds.

Premier League Winner Chance of Winning
Manchester City 63%
Liverpool 33%
Chelsea 5.8%
Manchester United 4.7%
Spurs 3.8%
Arsenal 0.6%

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Liverpool predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Team News, Prediction

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Liverpool and Real Madrid are going to face each other in the Final of this year’s UEFA Champions League, in Paris on Saturday.

It is not only about the history of the 2 teams, but also the managers have their own history to go by. Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp are considered to be 2 of the greatest managers to have graced world football with their tactical masterclass. One urges his players to thrive on positional and counter pressing football, while the latter has build a hardcore pressing system, or aka gegenpressing. 

Without the shadow of a doubt, this final is going to live up to its hype. The history, the passion, the sense of redemption in each of the camps, the respect, professionalism and above all the support from the fans. While Liverpool are going to go out there on Saturday in a historic red colour jersey, dating back to late 19th century- early 20th century, Real Madrid are going to represent themselves as what they call- The Royal Whites.

While the Reds face some serious injury issues to deal with, before the Final, the Real Madrid side look well rested and ready to go.

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The Royal Whites winning their La Liga title with 4 games left to spare, has certainly helped them before their trip to Paris for the Champions League showdown. No major concerns to look forward to, as Carlo Ancelotti has a full squad at his beck and call. And by complete squad, I mean full fit squad- with Hazard and Bale also returning to the fore, before the D-day.

However as things stand, it is Liverpool mainly who are to face the wrath of Lady Luck. With Thiago picking up an injury on the final day of the Premier League season, against Wolves, it seems Klopp will have some work to do in order to find the perfect back-up to the Spaniard- who has been exquisite this season. 

Other than that, Firmino has already returned while his national & club teammate, Fabinho, is set to mark his return in the Final on Saturday- after being out of the side for almost 2 weeks. Meanwhile, Salah and Van Dijk are also set to mark a full return in the Final- while the Egyptian did get a runout against Wolves, Van Dijk was given a complete rest so that Klopp can have the Dutchman’s 100%. 

How can Liverpool lineup vs Real Madrid

Be it however the Reds line-up, there will be some major changes from the side that played on the final matchday of the Premier League, against Wolves. One of the things to keep in mind, going into the final, would be that the teams are allowed to make 5 substitutions each. So Jurgen Klopp, along with Carlo Ancelotti, will look to make sure that even the bench stays strong.

#1

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Primarily, one of the most obvious line-ups that we could see on the final day would keep out Konate and Keita out of the side. This will mean that Alisson will start in goal – as the Premier League Golden Glove winner has been a sensation for the Reds, this season- with Trent, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson forming a strong line of the back 4 to protect the Brazilian custodian from getting too exposed.

Followed by Henderson, Fabinho and Curtis Jones in the midfield. And in the attack, Salah, Mane and Diaz making up our front three.

A less likely line-up to go by, considering Jones’ inclusion in the mid 3. But, one of the few permutation & combinations that Klopp and his team would certainly wrap their minds around.

Liverpool predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Alisson; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Mane, Diaz.

#2

Embed from Getty Images

Now, coming to one of the few more talked about line-ups, from the Reds’ perspective, going into the Final. Although, Klopp has resounded his optimism on Thiago’s speedy recovery, it highly unlikely for the Spaniard to start the game- given the extend of the injury and the number day left before the match. A certain miracle, only, can bring back Thiago in the playing XI- and miracles do happen in football.

But barring all that, I must not rely on one of the fewest most chances of his return, rather let’s get our focus back on another possible line-up that Klopp could put up against Madrid.

Considering Konate’s physical and pace prowess as a Centre Back, the German might look to his young French wall to cover for Trent in order to stop Madrid’s pacy Brazilian, Vinicius Jr, in going forward. As Michael Cox said in the recent podcast done by The Athletic, “Ibrahima Konate has got that physical aspect, and the speed aspect that Matip lacks. So, Jurgen Klopp might look to the youngster in order to provide that defensive stability, against the likes of Vinicius Jr.”

Other than that, as we said above, there is a high chance that Curtis Jones might not start the game as Jurgen Klopp would look to Naby Keita to cover for that absence of Thiago on the left side of the midfield. With Salah, Mane and Diaz, remaining the constant fron three in both of the predictions.

Liverpool predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Alisson; Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Mane, Diaz.

Note: Not to mention, if Thiago returns (and that’s a big if) – owing to a miracle and a good support from the physios – the midfield 3 would not change; Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago would start, as it was supposed to be.












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