Kai Havertz: Can He Be A Key Factor In Arsenal’s Title Challenge?
The dividing debate within the Arsenal fanbase early on this season has consistently been based on whether or not Kai Havertz is a player worthy of aiding the Gunners’ pursuit of that coveted first Premier League title in 20 years.
Ever since he was first linked with a move to North London, there has been many questions surrounding why he was needed at all. Being a former Chelsea player is a key factor as well as the idea that he does not have a settled position on the pitch.
Let’s analyse some of the reasons why Kai Havertz is such a divisive figure to Arsenal fans so early in his Gunners career as well as what he adds to the team.
Dividing Factors of Kai Havertz
The fact that Havertz signed from Chelsea is definitely a factor behind the lack of fanfare and hype before his arrival.
Notable former players to cross the blue side of London over to the red include Willian, Petr Cech, David Luiz and Jorginho who all achieved mixed results at Arsenal.
With Chelsea being desperate to sell Havertz and the big price tag of £65 million that Arsenal paid, there was a lot of apprehension behind the need to do this piece of business, especially with several players available to play in the two positions Havertz has been deployed in.
Havertz’s best position?
This question has repeatedly been asked about Havertz throughout his career.
He is not seen as an out-and-out goal scorer who should be occupying the centre forward position, yet at Chelsea, he played the majority of his minutes as a number nine due to the failings of big-money strikers including Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku.
Havertz has already seen himself positioned in various spots on the pitch for Arsenal. He started as the focal point up top in the Community Shield win over Manchester City and in the attacking role behind Eddie Nketiah against Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace. Havertz’s versatility may be his own worst enemy as many do not see which position he should permanently fill.
Positive Contributions of Kai Havertz
The Strength of Versatility
As previously stated Havertz’s versatility may let him down in the eyes of the spectators because many do not see how he starts ahead of Gabriel Jesus when he is fit.
However, for Mikel Arteta, the ability to play numerous positions is a great strength for Havertz.
Arteta highlighted this in pre-season: “He gives us something different with his quality and his height where he can be a target man if we need to beat the press. (…) I’m sure throughout the season he’ll be used in different positions.”
The ability to play multiple positions was crucial in the away win over Crystal Palace as he was able to lead the line after Takehiro Tomiyasu’s controversial sending-off, pushing forward from the left position he started the game in.
Outstanding Work Out of Possession
One of the key questions around Havertz’s signing was about if he could fill in and replace Granit Xhaka’s physical presence on the pitch.
The answer has been a resounding yes as he covers ground so well and has won the most duels out of any Arsenal player in both Premier League games this season (eight in both games).
His attacking instincts have never really been a doubt, but his defensive work has surprised many and he is flourishing in this area.
How To Get The Best Out Of Havertz
A lot of the debate surrounding Havertz and his ability is based on pre-existing judgments and his reputation as not fulfilling anywhere near his potential at Chelsea.
He scored some big goals for them including the historic Champions League final winner against Man City in 2021. Many would not have selected him as the man to replace Xhaka at Arsenal but he has shown he has the talent to do this whilst also contributing more to the attacking third for this team.
Havertz has not shown his attacking side so much but the fluidity of Arsenal’s attack so far this season has not clicked entirely.
The absences of both Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jesus, who add an incredible amount to their build-up, have been a factor behind this and when they return to the side, Havertz’s ability should flourish.
Factoring in the new system and environment, Havertz should be allowed time to prove himself with a clean slate not prejudged based on his mixed Chelsea stint.
If the time comes when he has played considerable minutes and has not elevated the Arsenal side beyond what Xhaka contributed, then questions may be asked. Until then though, Havertz should be given every chance to be a success on the red side of London.