Is Jorginho Arsenal’s secret weapon?
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Is Jorginho Arsenal’s secret weapon?

25/02/24 22:15

Arsenal blew away Newcastle in a deserved 4-1 win under the lights on Saturday evening. The one change Arteta made to his lineup following defeat in Porto was bringing in Jorginho who was the clear man of the match and played a crucial part in Arsenal’s second goal. The Italian midfielder has been with the Gunners for just over a year and, despite his age, has played a significant role in Arsenal’s title charge this season.

To first understand Jorginho’s role at Arsenal, we have to look back to last season’s impressive 2-0 win against Newcastle at St James’ Park. Arsenal played without Thomas Partey and deployed Jorginho as a single pivot in their midfield. This may have seemed like a risk at the time, due to his lack of athleticism compared to the energetic approach of Newcastle’s press. However, Arteta’s decision to play the former Chelsea man was a stroke of genius, as he controlled the tempo and prevented Newcastle from getting a hold on the game. Flash-forward to Saturday and Jorginho did the same again against Eddie Howe’s side.

But why doesn’t Jorginho simply play every week?

Arsenal for the majority of the season have opted for a midfield trio of Martin Ødegaard, Declan Rice and Kai Havertz. However in select fixtures, Jorginho has been brought into the team with Declan Rice in an advanced role. Games worth mentioning are Arsenal’s wins against Liverpool, Manchester City and this past weekend against Newcastle. Jorginho in these fixtures has had the task of retaining possession and enabling Arsenal to successfully resist the press of opposition players. In the big games over the years Arsenal have not had a plan B and it has cost them, but now it appears that Jorginho is their perfect big game player and gives their system another dimension. Not only is he press-resistant, but his existence on the pitch allows Declan Rice to drive with the ball, a skill of his we saw a lot during the 6-0 thrashing of West Ham. With Declan Rice’s physical attributes and overall quality on the ball in addition to Jorginho’s calmness in possession, it gives Arsenal the ability to stay in control of the game.

Some may say Jorginho’s pass leading to Kai Havertz’s goal was in the moment and Newcastle just failed to track their runners. But Arsenal scored a similar goal against Sevilla this season with, you guessed it, Jorginho at the heart of it. The veteran Italian played it quickly in-between the lines to Bukayo Saka, as space opened up in the box for Leandro Trossard to score. Now, the goals may look different as Newcastle defended a bit deeper and Gabriel Martinelli made a different run, but the point is Jorginho’s pass. In a deep position he is able to break a defensive line with one pass, creating a goalscoring opportunity from simple possession in the middle of the pitch. This is something which Rice doesn’t offer Arsenal, meaning in fixtures against tough defences Jorginho is required.

Mikel Arteta spoke after the win saying; “He’s a top player, especially when the opponents have certain behaviours or certain setup.”

This is in clear reference to his utility against the most rigid defences, which makes it even more confusing why Arteta didn’t start him in Arsenal’s loss to Porto on Wednesday. Simply put, if Arsenal are to win the title this season, Jorginho will be the reason they edge it over Liverpool and City.

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