In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Kai Havertz said he feels “happy and comfortable” at Arsenal, before going on to explain why he has to do more than just score and assist to help his team win games.
The Germany international had perhaps flattered to deceive following his move from rivals Chelsea in the summer, but although he has scored just four goals this season, it has possibly been the decision from Mikel Arteta to deploy the 24-year-old in a deeper role than what he has played in the past, that has sparked a change in fortunes.
Havertz has begun to complete the midfield trio alongside Martin Ødegaard and Declan Rice, something which of course isn’t necessarily a new thing for the forward, with his time at Bayer Leverkusen seeing more frequently deployed in midfield before Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel opted to utilize him as a striker on a more regular basis following his move to Chelsea.
However, his new role under Arteta has required the German to hone a more defensive side to his game, something which he is relishing under the Spaniard. Working alongside the likes of Ødegaard and Rice has created a whole new dynamic for the Gunners, with his comfortability on the ball blending nicely with Ødegaard’s flair, while Rice keeps things stable at the base of the trio to allow the two attacking midfielders to really shine.
With a deeper role though, it means Havertz has had to find different ways to influence the attack, with his late runs in particular proving to be an effective method that has only improved through his change in position.
While talking to Sky Sports, he claimed “I’m a player who always wants to attack the box, wants to make those runs and I think it’s always important to sometimes, not even get the ball, but to create space for other players. So I like to do these runs and I think they are always important to our game.”
Moving into a deeper position allows him to learn how to time these runs to perfection, and has seen an upturn in form as the season has progressed.
Despite this, his goal tally can improve – as mentioned he has scored just four times in the Premier League this season, five in all competitions, and his lack of consistency in front of goal is something he is aware of, along with the way people judge offensively-minded players especially solely on the numbers they are putting up in terms of goal contributions.
This doesn’t seem to faze the former Leverkusen man though, and while he is keen to improve his contributions in front of goal, he also knows he can influence games in other ways as well.
This bodes well for the Gunners, who currently sit just two points behind league leaders Liverpool, although Manchester City do have a game in hand on both, but will see Arsenal looking up rather than down in their title hunt.