This is a season that has had its ups and downs but currently it seems we are slowly turning a corner. Ultimately this is a season every gooner would like to forget, given the heartache and disappointment we’ve been through; however, it is not without its silver linings. This though, is a story for another day. I would like to focus on the current squad we have and its usage throughout the season, bringing out an issue that I believe has been bringing us down: squad rotation.
At the beginning of the season, we saw our talisman depart for pastures new, and this was met swiftly with the acquisition of Olivier Giroud on top of Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski. This was then offset by the departure of Alex Song. In the end, Song’s departure wasn’t as much of a setback as RVP’s was, because Cazorla has proved that he is a far better player than Song ever will be. Anyway my point here is this, while quality-wise we lost a vital cog in our team in RVP, numbers-wise we began the season much better off than we did last season. Please note that in this article, I will completely ignore the dead weight (Arshavin, Djourou, Squillaci and company).
That said, I will proceed to do an audit of the team. GKS: Szczesny, Mannone, Fabianski –Defenders: Sagna, TV5, Per, Kos, Gibbs, Nacho, Jenko – Central Mids: Arteta, Rosicky, Wilshere, Santi, Ramsey, Diaby, Coquelin – Wingers: Gervinho, Ox – Strikers: Poldi, Giroud and Theo.
If you look at this team, you find that, quality taken into account, this is the biggest squad we have had in a while. The versatility of some players makes this team even bigger yet I do not believe that every resource we have has been properly utilized. Like any other team we have had some of our important players battle with injury, mainly Jack, Sagna, Rosicky, Gibbs and Diaby. This however does not explain why there are some players who have been sentenced to the bench for lengthy spells, when they could have done a job for us.
These players are Koscielny, Coquelin, Rosicky, Ox, Jenko and Poldi.
For some of them Wenger has offered explanations, while others; your guess would be as good as mine as to why they were left out. Koscielny ended the previous campaign as our best defender by miles. This term has surprisingly seen him restricted to the bench. I understand that his situation is a bit complex, being that Per brings a balance and height that makes him a mainstay of the side; and TV5 is the skipper. I will still go on to condemn his exclusion mainly because TV5 has suffered a drastic loss of form, that saw him make errors that lost us games, and yet Wenger stuck with him. The fact that since he was dropped, we have kept 2 clean sheets and concede 1 goal in 3 games, and Koscielny’s performances especially away to Bayern, proves my point even further.
Then there’s Rosicky. This is a player who last season produced performances that saw us finish 3rd during that incredible resurgence. He suffered an injury during his international duties but even after recovery, he was left on the bench. This is another baffling exclusion because his technical and creative prowess is at par with Jack and Santi. On top of that, when Jack recovered from his injury, Wenger promised to use him sparingly to avoid a recurrence, yet he was played almost 20 games on the trot before his first real rest. All this while, Rosicky was on the bench waiting. This particular exclusion stings me the most, because Rosicky is one of our best and most experienced players.
There were games where our midfield was lacking seriously, yet Ramsey was picked ahead of him. The worst part of it was the midfield was guilty of lacking composure, giving away possession too easily, misplacing passes and lacking that extra creative drive that would make the team tick and combine better, exactly what Rosicky brings to the team. Anyway, let’s move on.
Then comes Poldi. He is arguably our best finisher. If you look at his goals to minutes ratio, he is one of the most lethal finishers in the league. Yet, either he was played on the left or he wasn’t played at all. He was played once as our main striker and was anonymous, but if we judged a player by one game, then the likes of Thierry and Pires would have been offloaded before the end of their first seasons with AFC. In fact, with Poldi, I think he has been treated rather unfairly. Theo and Giroud have been given their chances up front but not him. Also, he has been benched without any explanation (to us fans) from the boss. Even when Giroud has been inconsistent, Poldi has been overlooked.
Then finally we have the Ox, Coquelin and Jenko. These three, I understand to a degree, given that they’re in their formative years. They have been victims of Jack’s misfortunes and I understand the boss wanting to protect them. I think he has gone overboard, though. Sagna, Arteta and Theo have been overplayed to the point of loss of form (for Theo & Arteta) and Injury (for Sagna). Coquelin is currently the only true DM we have, a position known to be our Achilles heal, yet he is the least played of the bunch. Like I said, I support Wenger in wanting to protect them but they could do with a little more game time. If not for their development then to share some of the workload their more experienced counterparts have.
In conclusion, I feel that proper rotation serves several purposes. It keeps players fit and fresh(er) over the course of the whole season, given the sharing of the burden of games, and it reduces injuries.
It also gives everyone a taste of the action, making them even hungrier and more determined to do their best to win their positions.
Rotation also ensures that first teamers do not slack off, because they know that any dip in form will see them swiftly replaced.
Rotation allows the boss to play around with formations, combinations and strategies depending on our opponents as every player brings something unique to the side. This keeps us very unpredictable and makes us a harder side to compete with.
So this is an aspect that the gaffer should improve on, so as to makes us better in every way.
What are your toughts fellow Gooners?
Written by: Marcus