The loss of Granit Xhaka to the Arsenal midfield had an almost immediate impact with the Gunners struggling to play out from the back against Brighton. The Swiss’ absence led to replacement 21-year-old Sambi Lokonga playing on his weaker side.
Both Lokonga and partner Thomas Partey struggled to deal with the Brighton press and Graham Potter’s high pressing tactics suffocated the Arsenal team, leading to regular turnovers of possession.
However, like all good coaches, Arteta and Arsenal have a deep squad and options are available should the manager wish to make changes before Xhaka returns. Furthermore, the increasing youthful quality of the side means there are more alternatives than may be obvious for Arteta.
Starting for England’s under 19s this week, Charlie Patino operated in the left central midfield position for Ian Foster’s side. Patino played the first 45 minutes in the role which Xhaka occupies for Arsenal at present.
His influence on the game was significant as the young Three Lions ran out 3-1 victors over Mexico despite going a goal behind.
Patino played 6 out of 7 successful passes into the opposition’s defensive third, helping England utilise their wide areas to create shooting opportunities. Charlie Patino is yet to make his senior debut for Arsenal but his top performances are edging him closer to it.
With a 91% passing accuracy throughout his performance, the England side could trust Patino in the middle. On the ball, Patino was diligent in completing 100% of his 4 dribbles.
However, for a diminutive technical player, the central midfield role can often overburden players with the many layers of responsibilities going both forwards and backwards.
Yet defensively, Patino also shone. Winning 75% of his defensive duels, making 4 interceptions and 5 recoveries. He wasn’t afraid to go in for 50/50 challenges either and won 2 of the 3 he was involved in.
Still, just 17 years of age, turning 18 in just under a week’s time, Patino has much to learn and suggesting throwing him straight into the first team to replace Xhaka would be hasty. Sambi Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny & Ainsley Maitland-Niles are all available as more senior options.
Yet, Patino is gradually earning more and more respect from his coaches and a gradual integration is likely not too far away.
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Source by Football London