Arsenal u21 head coach Mehmet Ali has confirmed that they were using Fabio Vieira on the right wing on instructions from the first team.
Arsenal summer signing Fabio Vieira made his first appearance for the club with the u21s on Wednesday, featuring for 45 minutes in a Premier League Cup win over Swansea City.
One of the notable aspects of the performance was the position Vieira was playing. We know he played all over the pitch for FC Porto, and with no appearances yet for Mikel Arteta, it’s been guesswork figuring out where he might end up.
As a result, it was interesting to see Vieira lining up on the right-wing with the u21s, and Mehmet Ali confirmed that was agreed with the first-team staff.
“Yeah they wanted him to play on that side of the pitch,” Ali told Football.London after the game.
This runs contrary to the previously-held belief that Vieira was likely to act as an alternative to Granit Xhaka at left-central midfield.
Arteta himself had suggested that was a possibility, saying: “Granit has certain characteristics, but we can develop other characteristics because he has the ability to do it.
“When Fabio Vieira plays in that position he will have a different role because his qualities are different, and it’s the same with Martin.”
Perhaps it’s not impossible Vieira ends up providing cover in both positions in different matches. Analysis of his performances for Porto suggests he likes to get around the field anyway, regardless of his starting position.
But if Arteta intends to use him on the right-wing, that suggests he’ll mainly be providing an alternative option for Bukayo Saka.
With Nicolas Pepe edging closer to a potential loan exit, Arsenal do need alternatives to Saka on the right-hand side. Vieira is one option.
Yet that now raises the question of whether Arsenal need to sign another midfielder as an alternative to Xhaka.