Will Gnabry get a chance on the right wing?
More Support for Cazorla – Better on-field Leadership – Sort out the Wings.
Just because we have seen a rat swimming in the sea, it does not mean the ship is about to sink. Arsenal played so well in recent away games against Liverpool, Man City and West Ham that we have no reason to despair as yet, even though our performance in and against Norwich was woeful.
Having had time to analyse the game in a bit more detail, I believe there are three urgently needed improvements Arsenal have to make for our game against Schalke 04 on Wednesday.
- More support for Cazorla in the centre of midfield. In our current system the lynchpin position is absolute key in terms of giving adequate support to Arteta – our more natural protector of the back four – and supporting Cazorla – our creative midfielder. Especially against teams who park the bus against us, we need a player who is good at defending, who can switch over to attack very quickly, can pick a good through-ball, and is confident with the ball in tight spaces. They need to be good passers and receivers of the ball and able to take on a player if possible. We have two very good players for this: Diaby and Jack, and two very decent players: Rosicky and Ramsey. All of them can also play in Cazorla’s position. If Jack is fit, we should play him against Schalke. If not, it will have to be Ramsey again. I thought he struggled against Norwich and he will have to step it up significantly if he is to make that role his own any time soon. Against Schalke he might get his last chance for a long while.
- On-field leadership needs to improve significantly. Some of you might recall my recent post about the perceived lack of leadership coming from Thomas Vermaelen. I reckon TV5 is struggling with the organisational and communicative tasks of leadership within the team. He leads well by example; although he often makes rash decisions – offensively as well as defensively – which put the rest of the team on edge, and in danger. I don’t think Thomas is a natural leader and he appears to be struggling with the new weight of responsibility on his shoulders. The sooner Arsene releases him of the captaincy responsibilities the better. I reckon Mertesacker would be a brilliant captain.
- Arsenal need to sort out the wings, if and when Giroud is being played in the middle. We need to stop being lop-sided towards the left, and have proper wing play on each side. It is either Giroud with proper wingers or no Giroud in our current system. Podolski is not a proper winger but a CF who can be positioned on the wing. In our ‘fluid-three’ system, Podolski does really well; especially when Gervinho is played in the middle and either one of The Ox, Theo or even Ramsey is played on the right. I prefer the fluid-three system at the moment, as it gives us far better movement up-front and it makes us a lot more unpredictable. But I would also like us to use Giroud more. However, playing Giroud with the Pod on the left and Gervinho on the right is not working at all, and I would be very surprised if Arsenal will use this combination again for a while. With the Ox probably out for Wednesday and Theo also a doubt, Arsene will be limited in his options. Podolski also appears to carry a knock and might be a doubt for Wednesday. Therefore, I would not be surprised – and also welcome it – if we were to start against Schalke with Gervinho on the left, Giroud in the middle and either Theo, The Ox, or Gnabry on the right – depending on who is fit enough to play.
I am sure the leadership thing will linger on for a while, as Arsene never seems to care that much about who is our captain. But the other two areas really need to be sorted out urgently in my opinion, if Arsenal want to return to winning ways.
Keep the faith fellow Gooners!