On a night when eleven South-Americans made Chile Con Carne of a disjointed and uninspired England team, Jack stood out as the only one with ‘football intelligence’. It keeps amazing me how not a single national manager has been able to get a particular style into the England team since many a year, and Hodgson is also failing in this respect.
Chile are a decent team but not more than that; yet, they made England look poor on the night. They put pressure on England all over the pitch and never allowed them to have a sustained period of pressure on their goal. And when the Chileans had the ball, they passed it round so much better and with so much more purpose and penetration. It was a lesson in modern football for the English boys and a clear indication they have a long way to go.
Despite some committed performances by Rooney and Lallana, only Jack was able to break the stranglehold of the Chileans and then move the ball forward intelligently – leading to the (few) best attacks on the night. Yet, it is clear that Wilshere is nowhere near 100% fit and in form, and we really need to hope hard that this will change rather sooner than later, both for Arsenal and England.
This brings me to the discussion of who should play in the hole for Arsenal, both short and long term. There are various candidates but nobody has totally convinced me they have all that it takes to perform all the required tasks for this position to a high level.
I reckon in a 4-2-1-3 formation the one in the ‘1’ – the one in the hole – is the most important player of them all. He should:
- Instigate our attacks
- Help out defensively in midfield
- Give shape and structure to the team
- Produce a large number of assists and ‘penultimate assists’
- Score goals regularly
For me, the player who embodies these five qualities in a 4-2-1-3 formation better than anybody else is Cesc Fabregas. Our former maestro has it all but is currently wasting it away at his other boyhood club.
I reckon Cazorla is good at 1, 4 and 5, but his defensive abilities are not great and neither is he able to give shape to our team very well as he lacks the presence and physical strength to boss the middle of the pitch. He likes to wander off and move where there is space, rather than hold the fort in the middle.
Ramsey is growing into a great player now and offers a lot towards the above five points. He has started to score goals and produce assists, and his defensive abilities are impressive as well. He also has potential to give shape and structure to the team and instigate our attacks, but this is not showing a lot yet. I reckon he is best positioned in the box-to-box role right now, but could be considered for the AM role in the future.
Rosicky adds drive and purpose and is great at instigating attacks. He does not score anywhere near often enough and neither does he produce a great number of assists, but his defensive abilities are great and, most importantly, he also gives a lot of shape and structure to our team when played through the middle. When Rosicky plays we often play our best ‘Wengerball’ football.
But for me, there are two candidates for the ‘man in the hole’ role: Ozil and Wilshere.
Jack is a natural midfield general and remains the best candidate in the mid to long term imo. He loves to stay in the middle and boss the area, he can defend and pick those defence-splitting passes, and he is starting to score goals now.
However, something is not right with him at the moment and it is more than a lack of form – and nothing to do with confidence as some believe, as I reckon Jack is a very confident person. No, something is not right with his body and fitness levels: it is to do with his running and feeling in his foot, and it all seems to stem from the operations he has had on his foot in the last 12 months or so.
I really hope he will come good and that we, the supporters, honour our role and support the guy through thick and thin (taking into account that he is still very young and what we were like around his age….).
That leaves me with Ozil, who does very well with regards to most of the above mentioned required qualities. He instigates attacks really well, produces a lot of assists and scores goals regularly, and his defensive qualities are okay but not great.
The one area where I still have doubts is in his ability to give shape and structure to our attack: to really boss the midfield.
Fabregas was brilliant at this, and I would like to see more dominance and presence of our record signing going forward. Some believe that Ozil goes missing at times, but this is only true in a ‘shape-giving’ sense, as he will always give his all during the match. Mesut is just a clever player who constantly is anticipating what will happen next and how to maximise on this (similar to Fabregas), and he will keep doing this as long as he is on the pitch.
It might well turn out that Ozil is best positioned ‘on the wing’ – in a free role; a bit like Santi in a way. But I would like Ozil to link up better with his fellow midfielders and to start owning the centre of the midfield more; to drive the team forward and to give more shape to our football and attacking play.
And I hope Wenger will get him there gradually, just like he did with our former El Capitan.
Or maybe, Wenger still has a space for our prodigal son? 😉
Written by: TotalArsenal.