How much more fun it is to watch England play these days with one, two or sometimes three Gunners making a real difference in the team!
I thought the criticism for Hodgson’s selection choices against Ireland were too harsh. There was a good structure to England’s play and Rooney performed admirably in the hole, linking up really well with Ox and Theo, especially in the second half. Carrick and Lampard could perhaps have been a bit more adventurous, and England continue to have a problem in the CF position, but there was a good shape and structure to England’s game and enough chances were created to win the encounter with the Irish.
Like all other Gooners, I have really enjoyed watching the Ox play with such thrust and enthusiasm during the last two games.
AOC, maybe because he has not played much this season, has motored on England during these matches, and it is great to hear and read the praise he is getting at the moment. It is also good to see that the only midfielder/attacker of real quality in the England team in the last two games – the man Wenger does not mind to be linked with 😉 – Rooney, appears to have both an appreciation of Ox’s talent and a natural relationship/ good understanding with him.
Ox took his goal very well. Maybe he had noticed that both England and Brazil had wasted a number of chances by not keeping the ball low when shooting at goal. Ox’s effort went in because it was well placed, struck very sweetly, AND he kept his shot low to the ground; otherwise Cesar would probably have saved it.
Arsene will have noticed that Alex appears to be maturing faster in the England team than in the Arsenal team. To me, it looks like Ox should be given a proper chance now in the first team, but the key question is where should he play in our 4-2-1-3 system?
He has played on the right wing a number of times with mixed success. I saw him at the Emirates against Blackburn for the FA-cup and was not impressed with him then. There is directness about the Ox that does not seem to suit the ‘provider’ role/position of the wing, which also requires a lot of defensive discipline.
Wenger has been working hard to make AOC more of an all-round midfielder – including improving his defensive awareness and discipline – and good progress has been made. We saw him recently getting 60 minutes in the double-DM pivot and he did well there.
Could he be our answer to the box-to-box position in our current formation, or is he not strong enough defensively (yet)?
Or should he get a chance as our most advanced midfielder?
He has the thrust and dribbling skills to make things happen, however, I am not sure yet whether he has enough ability to find and produce the through-balls in this pivotal position. But then again, his goal against Brazil was not just a fine finish. He started the attack by moving with the ball towards Brazil’s box, linking up with Rooney, and then boom: goal. It was quick, inventive and deadly: something we have often been crying out for at Arsenal in recent seasons.
To play him in the hole would be a massive gamble by Wenger, especially now he has, supposedly, a lot of money available to bring in a more experienced and proven creative attacker/nr.10.
But Ox needs to play and he should get a proper run in the centre of midfield. Maybe, Arsene should get back to 4-5-1, often operating as 4-1-2-3 (when attacking). We would need a beast of a DM in the ‘1’ to make this formation really work, but let’s park that for now.
In the ‘2’ both Jack and Ox, or Ox and Cazorla, or of course, Jack and Cazorla, could play. This formation would give Wenger a chance to give Ox a lot of games in the middle, as he can give either Jack or Cazorla regularly a rest. Ramsey, Arteta, Coquelin and maybe even Eisfeld could be tried as well in the ‘2’.
Part of me desperately wants us to play like this next season, but another part is weary that it will leave us too exposed at the back…
What do you think fine fellow Gooners?
Written by: TotalArsenal.