Although he’s barely been at Arsenal for six weeks, the capture of Leandro Trossard is already looking like a masterstroke.
Grabbing one goal and two assists so far since joining from Brighton & Hove Albion for a reasonable £27 million, his impressive form has quickly made the Gunners fans forget their failed quest to sign the highly coveted Mykhailo Mudryk, who instead chose to sign for Chelsea in a mega deal.
Especially stamping his mark when handed some recent starts as Mikel Arteta’s centre forward/false 9 in place of Eddie Nketiah, who was in need of a break after playing roughly 1000 straight minutes, the Belgian has capitalised handsomely on his opportunities.
“I thought the move to put Trossard as a false nine was really inspired. Eddie Nketiah you could see against Manchester City maybe lost his way in front of goal a little bit, just needed to be brought out of the firing line,” insisted former Arsenal legend Martin Keown.
“The way that he [Arteta] interchanges Trossard, that’s been a snip.”
Proving an absolute nightmare for defenders to keep tabs on courtesy of his multifaceted movement and positional awareness, there’s been much to like about how he’s fulfilling his responsibilities from his nominal central attacking station.
A master at connecting and injecting impetus into attacks, it’s been a pleasure to watch him drop deep to link play and create numerical and positional superiorities.
The way he’s interchanged with left winger Gabriel Martinelli has been another key aspect of his armoury, for the man who loves operating in wide areas has relished getting dangerous on the flank and in the half spaces while allowing Martinelli to wreak havoc centrally.
It’s also been positive how he’s interacted coherently with the likes of Granit Xhaka and Oleksandr Zinchenko, for this has enhanced Arsenal’s menace further.
So alert to vacant spaces in behind and into the box as well, his wisely timed and directed bursts have ensured he’s provided a superb outlet for teammates to find. Instinctive, astutely targeting unoccupied zones and identifying sharply when defenders are preoccupied or out of place, Trossard’s aptitude here has amplified his effectiveness wonderfully.
As a result of his variations and adherence to Arteta’s mechanics, defenders have struggled severely to settle into a pattern of best to stop him due to him never giving them consistent reference points to follow.
Meanwhile, his output in possession has been integral as well, for the fleet-footed, fast-thinking utility has brought so much to the table with his dribbling and passing.
Direct, incisive and imaginative, the 28-year-old loves driving at opponents 1v1 and getting at retreating opponents. Able to bypass foes with his nifty pace, wicked change of direction, sweet shimmies and clever spins, this, in combination with his strength and balance, has ensured defenders have their hands full dealing with him.
His razor sharp close control and crisp first touch ensures he can wriggle free from danger in close quarters, as this adds to what an elusive man to contain the press resistant, two-footed maestro is.
His class in the aforementioned also ensures he can gain separation and find room to put his classy finishing to good use. Be it with powered blasts, placed efforts, dinks, clinical 1v1s, rapid rebounds or ingenuitive finishes, he’s proven how lethal he is when an opportunity arises (especially at Brighton).
There’s been much to admire about his progressive and creative passing too, for he’s a proficient chance conjurer and effective at sparking attacks into life. Already proving his worth for the Gunners in this compartment, his whipped in crosses, measured through balls, accurate switches of play, intricate combination play and line breaking ground passes have been vital.
The defensive work he’s undertaken has also been impressive, with his pressing, all-round determination and fierce approach further endearing him to his new club and the supporters.
By the numbers in the last five matches, it’s admirable how well he fares (despite this being a small sample size) when compared with Nketiah, in a range of metrics, with him notably holding the ascendancy in terms of assists per 90, key passes p90, dribbles p90, progressive runs p90, received long passes p90, successful attacking actions p90, crosses p90, passes into the penalty area p90, progressive passes p90, deep completions p90, successful defensive actions p90, defensive duels p90 and interceptions p90.
Although it’s still early days in his Arsenal career, all the signs are there that the multidimensional Trossard will be a massive hit at the Emirates.
Experienced, tactically knowledgeable and joining knowing what it takes to succeed at the EPL level, the Gunners deserve immense credit for this sensible, smart piece of January business that has been crucial towards them maintaining momentum in their hunt for glory.
Versatile, adaptable, intelligent and hitting the ground running, Trossard’s presence is unquestionably giving the Gunners a major boost in their pursuit of their first Premier League title in nearly 20 years.