Author of A-M essays 📚
I go back and forth on this issue, honestly.I still have doubts that a supporting cast of ESR-Saka-Ode will have enough end product to have us finish 5th though. Much easier to score/assist in transition, we may need a bit more against set defences but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
I've always tended to be a ESR-Ode-Saka guy because I just love the balance and the potential for interplay and generally feel that behind a 30 goal striker like Auba it's okay if you trade a little bit of end product for more creativity, combination, fluidity, and also control (which in theory having an interior attacking midfielder on the left should give, as well as a winger that could almost be classified this way facing the play on the right in Saka).
A comment from a poster I really like in @AW49 along similar lines as yours about how there just might not be enough goals in that team, Pepe's run towards the end of last season, and ESR's play (in reality against lower blocks he doesn't seem to boost our creativity / fluidity that much more than Pepe, and most of all I don't see that he affects our ability to control matches that much; for being an interior attacking midfielder he drops into possession to give us an extra man in possession and combine and allow overlaps much less than you would expect, he disappears and plays like a typical winger a bit too much for my liking) had me changing my tune at the end of last season and at the very beginning of this.
Now I think I'm reverting back to my original position. In big part because I think Saka just has to be on the right facing the play. And because whether ESR is doing the things I want to do in that position more or less than I like that is Arteta's job to make him do so and work on him in that position, and I think our potential as a team is just higher that way.
In the end Pepe has come good more or less but I think the death of him is that Saka is just a bit better in that RW position. Depending on how well ESR and Martinelli come on this season (hard to see how Martinelli really comes on, unfortunately, without European football there just aren't minutes for that kind of emergence to happen) something to continue raising our level as a club would potentially be selling Pepe and making an offer for Sterling at LW. Buendía or Joao Felix are a couple others that might be upgrades on ESR on the left and be more like for like with him. The dream would be Gnabry long-term, maybe after he wins another CL with Bayern and gets into his later 20s and wants a new challenge.