And if Theo only wants to sign if he is mainly played as a CF; it is time to let him go!
Watching Arsenal play against Aston Villa without a proper winger on either side, made me realise once again how much we need at least one in our current 4-3-3 system. Almost in every game in which Arsenal have fielded a front-three without either Theo or Gervinho, we have struggled to hurt our opponents.
We just look so toothless and one-dimensional when we play Pod on the left wing and Ox or Ramsey on the right wing, and Giroud in the middle.
Pod, Ox and Ramsey are not even proper “inside-out” wingers – who regularly cut inside their full back in order to pass or shoot with their stronger foot – although Ox could still develop into one.
Podolski has been played on the LW for most of the games, and although he scored a decent number of goals and produced some good assists, Arsenal only seem to produce a decent threat from the left wing if and when Gibbs is able to play as our LB. Without Gibbs combining with Pod as our overlapping wing-back, the German carries very little threat on the left wing.
With Ramsey, or even Ox on the right, we also seldom or never witness effective wing-play, and Gervinho is also far less effective on the right than on the left – and this is regardless whether we play Jenkinson or Sagna as our RB. The result is that Arsenal are often far too narrow and predictable by focussing too much on breaking the opposition open through the middle, rather than equally using the flanks in order to carry an additional threat.
Of course, Arsenal have not been helped by our best left (wing) back and right (wing) back being injured for so long. If Arsenal can keep the combos of Gibbs-Pod and Sagna-Theo fit for a while, we should see a step-improved in our ability to use our wings to full effect.
Today I watched Chelsea and ManCity produce an equally boring 0-0 draw as we did against Villa yesterday. Here are two teams who have spent together in the region of £2bn in the last five years or so, in order to desperately ‘win’ some silverware; and play attractive football along the way. Both teams played for most of the game without proper wingers, although Milner at least tried to get to the by-line from the right wing occasionally. As a result the game had very little flow to it, and was hardly watchable. What a waste of money!
Unless a team can reach the levels of midfield dominance, possession, passing, and pressing football of Barcelona, it is going to be very hard to play attractive and deadly football without proper wingers. And very few teams have quality wing-backs like Barcelona have.
Although, Gibbs and Sagna are decent wing-backs, they are not world-class and we simply are not in a position to play without any proper wingers in our team. I would personally play Gervinho instead of Podolski on the left wing, as he is far more effective as a left winger; but I can see why Wenger wants to persevere with the Gibbs-Pod option. The biggest problem with this is Gibbs’ proneness to injury though.
When Theo plays on the right, and he is disciplined enough to stick to dedicated right-wing play, Arsenal carry much more threat. It does not mean he should never be allowed to move towards the middle, though. Theo forms a fine partnership with Sagna, which should allow him to move inside occasionally; and he can also profit from effective wing-play from the left, by presenting himself as an additional striker in the box.
So we need Theo to stay out on the right wing and if he does not want to do that, Arsenal will need to replace him with an orthodox, dedicated, experienced and highly motivated right-winger, in order to get the full use out of our 4-3-3 system.