No Gabriel Jesus, no problem.
Mikel Arteta had chosen Kai Havertz to lead the line for the 3-1 win over Liverpool, but on Sunday he turned to Leandro Trossard. The Belgian did an excellent job and scored Arsenal’s fourth just before the break. Had it not been for a brilliant save from Alphonse Areola, he would have had two.
That would have been no more than Trossard deserved, who terrorised West Ham in his role as a false nine.
He repeatedly dropped deep and created space for others, playing a key role in Arsenal’s second goal. Picking the ball up well inside his own half, Trossard turned and set Bukayo Saka away with a pass over the top. Saka was brought down by Areola and made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Saka wasn’t the only one of Arsenal’s attackers to benefit from Trossard. Gabriel Martinelli was unlucky to not get in on the act himself when picked out by a stunning ball from deep that completely split the West Ham defence.
Havertz, who kept his place in the side but moved into midfield, also relished driving into the space Trossard vacated.
“It’s something very different,” said Arteta, when explaining Havertz and Trossard’s movement. “The way I had the game in my head, and the spaces that they leave, I thought Leo with Kai in those positions could hurt them the most.
“Something else is the execution. Credit to them because they’ve done really well.”
The last two weeks have shown how Arteta has options in attack. Against Liverpool, he used a target man in Havertz. For West Ham, he utilised Trossard’s ability to be a false nine.
At times in the past, Arsenal have looked overly reliant on Jesus and his ability to link the play, but this past fortnight has given hope that could become a thing of the past.
The one question in all of this, though, is where does it leave Eddie Nketiah? For a player charged with being the direct competitor to Jesus, it cannot be easy being overlooked in the past two games.
Only Gabriel and Saka have made more appearances under Arteta than Nketiah
There has already been speculation about Nketiah’s future this summer, not least because the fact the striker is homegrown would significantly boost Arsenal’s finances in relation to financial fair play regulations if sold.
Crystal Palace were one of those keen on the 24-year-old, and the next few months will surely have a big impact on what happens next. If both Havertz and Trossard are getting the nod when Jesus is out injured, what does that mean for Nketiah?
Of the current squad, only Gabriel and Saka have made more appearances under Arteta and he has continually sung Nketiah’s praises.
History has shown us, however, that Arsenal do not standstill under Arteta and he is constantly looking to evolve the side. These past two weeks feel like a nod to the future.