Arsenal need to be dropping “negative” Willian for a derby date with Tottenham, says Ian Wright, with Mikel Arteta urged to shuffle his pack in a contest that has a Gunners great feeling “afraid”.
Both teams have Europa League fixtures to take in before then, but attention is already starting to shift towards a heavyweight Premier League encounter.
Spurs head into the weekend sat the top of the English top-flight table, with Jose Mourinho inspiring a potential title challenge, while Arsenal have made their worst start to a season in 39 years and find themselves languishing down in 14th spot.
Wright admits something needs to be done in order for the Gunners to turn the tide, with a change of approach required from Arteta.
Experienced Brazilian forward Willian is among those who could see their position fall under threat, after making a slow start to his time at Emirates Stadium, and youthful exuberance may be the answer for Arsenal.
A Gunners legend has told Wrighty’s House Podcast: “I’d try to throw something else into the mix, Reiss Nelson or even [Bukayo] Saka on the right.
“But Saka’s going to be on the left so I’d put Reiss Nelson on the right instead of Willian because we know what Willian’s going to do.
“For me he’s been a little bit negative with the way he’s been playing, a lot of backwards passing.
“You need somebody who can at least get back and progress the ball.
“If Saka can go and really put pressure on [Serge] Aurier, that’s where I think, if we’re going to get any kind of joy, then I think Saka’s got to go up there and put pressure on him, then [Granit] Xhaka can pull in on the left, just to put that body in there, then [Mohamed] Elneny should hold.”
Wright added on the tension that is building ahead of an eagerly-anticipated encounter: “Going into the north London derby, I’m always nervous about it simply because for me it is one of the best games, I enjoyed everything about it.
“And when I went to Arsenal it was the game which meant the most to the fans and at the time to the players because we had a lot of players who came through that derby from the age of nine or 10.
“This is the first one I’m going to where I am afraid.
“I’m afraid simply because of where Tottenham are at the moment and we can’t ignore where they are at the moment, they’re in the ascendency.
“This is as afraid as I’ve been for a north London derby as I’ve been for a while and they’ve got Mourinho managing them. He wants to embarrass us.”