Mesut, Aaron, Jack, Santi, Tomas: ideal cure for PTB.


I don’t know about you but when I have to do tedious tasks, like completing spreadsheets, peel potatoes or listen to MotD analysts, my mind often wanders to Arsenal moves and goals as a coping mechanism.

Our second goal against Pool-victors Hull, for example, serves as the perfect tedium killer. Every time I think of that goal a smile forms in my face: the way the Hull players wanted the ball over the line, the perseverance of Nacho and Ozil, the sharp combinations between Ramsey and Ozil whilst moving constantly, and the beautiful, beautiful measured ball into the box by the Welshman to the German, followed by  a fast, precise, deadly finish by Ozil. Stuff of day dreams.

Watch it again, from about 58 seconds onwards:

Arsenal currently have five fit, multi-talented midfielders who can combined so well in tide spaces that we seem to have finally cracked the Park The Bus approach of some of the teams coming to the Emirates. Of course it helped that we scored an early goal against Hull, but it was also clear to me that they just could not deal with the movement and passing of our midfielders on Wednesday.

And if the movement and passing is good now, just imagine what it will look like in the future. Ramsey and Wilshere maturing further, Ozil settling properly into the team, Santi in his best form again, Rosicky coming in to replace tired legs at the start or during the games, and Ox returning fit and hungry to the team. Add to that the super talents of Eisfeld and Zelalem, and one or two others, and you know the future is bright.

It does make me think, though, what sort of football Arsene and Steve are aiming to play mid to long term: is this it or will we see another dimension added to our game?

I mention Steve Bould on purpose as I am equally impressed with the current defensive shape and discipline of the team. What initially seemed an awkward relationship between two strong-willed and passionate characters has slowly developed into one of great strength and depth. In recent seasons, there often was an obvious split in the team of the ‘defence seven’ – GK, defenders, and two defensive minded deeper laying midfielders – and the attacking four with the a limited amount of integration between the two ‘blocks’.

It worked for us when we needed to get results, but it was often hard on the eye, and was always going to be an interim measure as long as Wenger is ultimately in charge.

Now, after a summer of stability through keeping all our key players (except Gervinho, who I reckon we should have kept at least another year), and adding the extra dimension of Ozicle and the steel and extrovert leadership of the foxy Flamini to our talents, Wenger and Bould have evolved the team to the next – yet I feel not final – stage.

There is a lot more fluidity to our play and our team no longer look like two autonomous, task-orientated units. Only when we play the bigger teams, we still struggle a bit with playing as an integrated, holistic defending and attacking team. This is something the team will get better at the longer the players are together, and our two games against the Oilers will show us how far they have come.

We can look forward to the likes of Santi, Jack, Mesut, Aaron, Alex and Tomas becoming more and more a free moving, all conquering midfield attacking machine this season, with Flamini or Arteta offering defensive support behind them and Giroud being the pivotal, holding attacker up-front. On top of that, they get constant support from one full back at a time. There is growth in Gibbs and Jenkinson, and Nacho and Sagna are solid, safe pairs of hands for us.

Mid to long term, other than adding some strength in depth in some key areas (CB, DM, RB, CF), I can see us getting a top quality 24/25 year old left midfielder/winger. He would add another dimension, especially if and when combined with Theo on the right. That for me would be the next stage of growing our team into an all conquering machine again. It would give us variety in our approach to opponents and style of play.


We have not been lucky with our purchases for the LW/LM position in recent years; in fact, it seems to have some sort of curse ever since the one and only Pires left us, with Reyes, Arshavin and Gervinho, and to some extent Podolski, all failing to properly make it there. Let’s hope Arsene’s can find the final piece of the jigsaw in 2014 – either in January or the summer – and this team will become even better.

But what do you think fine fellow Gooners:

  1. Have Arsenal found the cure for PTB teams now?
  2. What style of football would you like Arsenal to play and are we there yet?
  3. Is the LW/LM an area in need of real improvement (rather than adding cover as in the DM, CB, RB and CF positions)?
  4. Who would be your nr.1 choice for the LW/MW?
  5. Who would be your nr.1 priority purchase in January?

Let’s have a heated debate! 😛

Written by: TotalArsenal.

36 thoughts on “Mesut, Aaron, Jack, Santi, Tomas: ideal cure for PTB.

  • 1st Cockie 🙂
    Well it is all looking really good at the moment, the reason i say that is because on the injury front they seem to be all fighting fit and not getting injured. Everyone is nearly back the main players still out OX and Sanogo Podolski is back in training so this to me means we will only be getting stronger and adding strikers to out formidable team 🙂
    So on that note bring on Everton – Napoli – Chelsea and City we are ready for them!
    Now to read the post ha ha ha

  • TA – I think this is a good reflective post, which might not be so easy to carry off in just over two weeks time? But yes, I have to agree the fluidity with the midfield is getting better with every game. The one doubt that hangs at the back of my mind is;

    ‘Does it all depend on confidence?’

    Not only of the individuals, but the team as a whole? I think we will find out shortly I guess. But whatever happens, a couple of signings in January might be all it needs to kick in again?

    So to the questions:

    1,- Beating the parked bus? It is not just the quick passing, and movement, it how much that it achieves going forward. Pulling defenders out of position is one thing, but getting in before they can regroup is what opens up the space for shots on target? The two things are very interlinked, and is why we are getting to play the non-formation game better. And yes, when played well it can defeat any defenses.

    2,- Style? The above, played to perfection.

    3,- I am not sure that the requirement is a LW, and we have a couple players who could play LM, Apart from Gibbs, who does that already? Podolski does the wide left AM/SS, as could a fully fit OAC? But of course the much touted Reus/Draxler import would put great pressure on both? But if you are talking for January, then there are young pretenders being ‘talked about’ as we speak? But at the expense, in the case of the two named above, it most certainly would be, of other areas of need? Then the answer is No .. but if a cheaper gamble should fall in our lap … AW’ s special area of expertise might just come to the fore again?

    4,- Who? AW’s selected. Yes it is a cop out, but I don’t do names if I can avoid it .. and I’ve just avoided it.
    5,- Striker supporting Giroud, if suitable candidate is available in January? CB – ditto
    I do not think you can separate the two positions in regards to need, and if Sagna gets successfully ‘chatted up ‘ in Naples then add LB to the list. But it comes down to availability and suitability, and hopefully not all eggs in one basket.

    Well that’s my entry, off to study the racing. Have fun ..

  • Great post TA,
    I basically agree with all you have written, i too defo feel we should have kept Gervinho his dribbling skills were great and it is fair to say his final ball was not up to scratch at times but that was not a hard thing to correct the dribbling is much harder.
    I think Podolski can still make the LW his position i have a great deal of faith in his talents, for me he is the man for the job he just neede to be fit and when fit play the full match . Then hopefully when he is playing 90 mins week in week out his match sharpness will hopefully all snap in to place I believe in Podolski.
    For me the 1st position to buy for still has to be that quick skillfull poucher striker, Ian Wright style, though if Wenger does not buy there then i will assume that he is fully backing Sanogo. Though i know and so does Arsene that sadly Sanogo injury record is very bad. I hope so much that Sanogo can get fit and stay fit and forefill his potenial but i think he has to splash out on a world class striker anyway if possible.
    Steve Bold has clearly done some very important work on our defence him and Wenger are looking like a great partnership.

  • TA,
    On the style of football i would say in this day and age keep playing the way we are. With Flemteta we have good defensive options now for the harder teams by playing both of course .
    Moyes = Legend!!!! He has killed united and i love him for it! All we need now is Martin Jol to sign for Chelsea and Ian Holliway to sign for man city ha ha ha ha ha

  • Thanks Gerry and PG

    Gerry, yes of course confidence and being on a roll make a big difference. But having watched the Mancs this afternoon, you can see how good our midfielders are in keeping and passing the ball compared to them. The fact that our boys are producing assists and goals constantly is also v important. It’s a big difference with last season and long may it continue. 🙂

  • PG, agreed on impact of Bould. I can see why you want a poacher, but our style now requires a strong Holding CF. Would Theo or Pod not be a good poacher?

  • Yeah Theo could well do it, Podolski too is very good in the 6 yard box. But i would still play them on the wings i just still think we need a striker i dont know if i should have said poacher but i do think i should have said Ian Wright type if we could find Wrightys DNA clone then that would be perfect 🙂
    If city and chelsea draw then we beat them both next week oh we will be flying 🙂

  • I am a Giroud fan and Bentdner is very similar so i just think we need 1 of the other types , but as you said as as i typed all these messages Theo does always creep in to my mind he could well be that man , i am pretty sure he will be in the future its just how long i think if we can get someone in to do a job for us for the next 2 seasons then happy days. That is why i really wanted David Villa. he would have been near perfect for a couple of seasons.

  • As you would say TA the oilers are beat . Southampton and Stoke lol, i watched the Chelsea game and it was no fluke they deserved to beat them . There is no easy game in the Premier league and we are top of the table 4 points clear witha game in hand happy days. Lets hope Spurs lose or draw tonight to for a near perfect day of results all apart from Liverpool.

  • I think he will pick the strongest team anyway Martinez is a good manager and is not to be underestimated they are nice and rested for this 1 to, your right what an opportunity lol

  • Plus just for bragging rights over all the glory hunting united fans a win puts us 15 points in front of united there fans will find that so painful anyone under 25 years old has only ever known the fergie years where they have won the league about once every 2 years . Them glory hunters world has caved in. lol

  • Just a little stat we have got the best defensive record now with conceding 10 followed next by Everton with 13 , still they have not played us yet but an interesting 1 i thought.

  • ManU lose at home, Chelsea lose at Stoke and ManCity draw at So’ton…3 pts tomorrow would be very nice indeed…

    It will be interesting to see if we can continue our dominating play against tougher opponents. I’m enjoying our emerging style of pressing while always maintaining shape. There seems to be a pace to our movement and our passing and a feeling that the chances will come meaning less urgency to make the killer pass–the type which can slice both ways. I’d still like to see even more one-touch football but I can’t complain too much. We’ve controlled the matches well…

    In our last 7 matches we’ve conceded a single goal and that was from a set piece. I’m not sure if we can attribute our better defense to Steve Bould or to the maturation of our players and the fact that they’ve had a chance to play together more steadily. I agree that the more vocal organizers with a keen eye to positioning have been key (Per, Flams and Szcz as well…) but the pressing from the front also shouldn’t be underestimated. There seems a strong collective desire so everybody is contributing…

    These 3 matches in 6 days will be a real test. Continuing mistake free is the way through but how we react to any hiccup will be the true measure of the squad. We’ll know more in a week.

  • Disappointing response, but PG you have done well to keep the messages going.

    Yes, the results today do make it all the more important to take advantage. Mind that applies to Everton too?

    I am a great fan of our fluidity. I am also a great fan of Giro. What I do not see is the one depending on the other. Our play can move from side to side without involving Giro’s hold up play. I see the striker we need is one that is quick in movement and sharp with the assists and goals. Another piece of fabric in our fluid tapestry if you like.

    You saw what Jack did in the goal against Norwich. It was brilliant what Giro did on the one-two, but that could have been done by any of our midfielders. and Jack’s part could be done by this ‘alternative’ striker, who could equally be given the one-two by Giro, or any of the midfielders, Jack included. The point being, it could happen more often?

    Giro had no part in Ozil’s first goal either, as that too went down the wing, Sagna to Ramsey, cutting back to Ozil. The latter two parts could be done equally well by a fleet -footed striker that I would like to see. I think this supposed dependence on a hold up striker is as dated as our 4-3-3 formation is. But I am not for one minute suggesting we ditch Giro either.

    I think the Everton game will be the toughest of the three, excluding the CL because if we simply don’t lose that, then we are through. In fact their full strength side mirrors ours in many ways:
    Goal keeper playing very well.
    Settled and strong back four.
    Solid pair of DM’s.
    A big, strong striker up front.

    Where we come out on top is quality creative midfielders. If Wilshere or Rosicky start I will feel a lot happier. It is all very nice having a very slick gearbox, but you need an engine with plenty of thrust to power forward?

    Right, as this is the part of the evening when most people are not around, so I shall disappear again shortly.

    See what the preview has to offer tomorrow …

  • Gerry,
    Thanks and i do agree the only other position that i would add another would be at CB, but i think that would possibly make TV think about leaving plus we have him who is a great player, he is like for like with Kos imo just maybe the understanding between him and the BFG is not as got a pairing.
    You did kind of add a player you wanted in Draxlar which reminds me i didn’t. lol
    Suarez aint coming liverpool will never sell to us no matter how much. But Real have been watching him very closely and the gossip is to fund the deal they may well offer us Benzema, same situation as the Ozil -Bale senerio.

  • Good post TA, yes these questions keep going round, and will do so until we (hopefully) win the league. As posted before, when we look at our current squad, add in players to come back from injury, and then look at the talent about to come through, it does not add up to many gaps – in my opinion. Wenger will not (usually) risk a player’s development for the sake of short-term utility, so he will only buy SQ where a) we have a real failing, or b) it comes at exceptional value.

    Looking at the squad I don’t see a pressing need for a LW, though of course Wenger will always be looking for such players. I still want to see a fit Pod have a season’s play and see what he can deliver. I don’t want us to find there is no space in our team for Santi. And I want us to have space to play Ox and Gnab where there is the opportunity, albeit probably as subs. And of course we always have the option of Gibbs and Nacho doubling up. That said, if Wenger believes that Draxler is of similar quality to Ozil and can get him at a price that is not prohibitive, then we might just do it anyway despite all the options we have.

    I’m increasingly with Gerry on the striker front, and what I wonder now is whether Wenger will really try Walcott again up front, as he has more than enough options across the midfield, and the range of opportunities such creative players could give someone with Walcott’s pace and improving movement could be quite something. We don’t yet know what Sanogo will offer, and Akpom is probably at least a year off serious contention but, as above, I don’t believe Wenger will buy a contingency player (Remy for instance) – the explored 1 year loan for Ba would have been perfect though.

    My areas for strengthening (for next summer) would be a) depth at CB – agreed we don’t want this as a replacement for Verm, but a young 4th place who can cover/grow into BFG role, and b) SQ at DM given age and injury will tell in coming seasons for both Arteta and Flam. Do we need to buy in January? Unless we have injury to a key player (BFG most of all), or we are able to buy a truly extraordinary player, then I don’t really think we do. It would be great if we bought early for next summer however.

    I approach tomorrow’s game with a real sense of optimism, albeit some caution. We should be proud and confident in our team, however good Everton’s results have been. If we perform to what has been our par, we should win. 3 points and no injuries for me please, and keep the consistent level of effort going. With that, even taking OGAAT, we have cause to hope for a memorable season. COYG!!!!!

  • Hi 17 🙂

    Good response. I reckon we will not continue mistake-free as fatigue will set in a bit. Everton will prove a big test and so will Napoli, and MC are the hardest one of them all. A win tomorrow means we can afford to lose against the Oilers. Not that we want that, but potential tiredness might cause us trouble and we have to line up our strongest team to have a decent change. The Napoli game will be tricky too, unless we score early of course 😉

  • Gerry:

    “I think this supposed dependence on a hold up striker is as dated as our 4-3-3 formation is. But I am not for one minute suggesting we ditch Giro either.”

    I think you should write a post about this. You know that I disagree with you on this one as I am convinced that if Giroud gets injured now we will not win the PL. Of course we are scoring goals in which Giroud is not involved DIRECTLY, but that is missing out on the bigger picture imo. Giroud is the pivot in attack and because of him our midfielders can do so well. Even if he does not get involved, he is always occupying defenders and thus creating space for others.

    Let me say it differently: If Chelsea had Giroud they would be were we are now: that is the difference he makes right now.

  • AB – good points. Do you believe Pod will ever be fit for a long period…. I am not sure he will. Agreed though that he could be really good on LW if fully fit for a while.

    My gut feeling goes towards Reus joining us in the summer, and no doubt in my mind he would be the best option on the LW compared to current options. Cazorla can play everywhere so I would not be worried about him ending up on the bench because we bought a LW.

  • Agreed TA, Pod is unproven. But same was the case for Gir at the end of the last season and, with his international record, there has to be potential there, if Wenger can get it out of him through his coaching and deployment in the team.

    Agreed also that the MC game looks the toughest of all; whatever the results in between we will be exhausted. Tomorrow’s game key to give us the margin where we can drop points, as well as keep the confidence levels at top pitch.

    I have no issue with Giroud; he has been outstanding all season, and many of the goals our midfield have delivered are the result of his pulling defences all over the place. But we don’t have to only play with a big striker, not with all the pace, movement and creative passing we have now; I’m not sure we need to think of either a like for like cover or someone to play alongside him, but look at quite a different line.

    Yes, Reus or Draxler or that calibre; if we can get one, at a price we can live with, then we have to buy – just as we did with Ozil. There have to be questions around cost – I’m not sure either would come at a price we would pay. But what has changed (and I hope continues) is our profile and potential, and therefore attraction to top players; we are starting to look again like a side on the up, playing top football and looking like winning medals now and in the future. It will be fascinating to see what this effect is in terms of the calibre who will want to come to us.

  • TA….here is my take on the questions you pose about thecurrent and future squad development and selections

    1) They have indeed but its not just their tactics, its their ability to score using players from almost any of their starting 10 (Szcezsny is not a goalscorer….yet!). No team can defend against every threat and we are fast becoming a total threat from defense to strikers.
    2) Whatever style defeats their opponents…currently it is midfield rotation, solid defending and excellent hold-up play.
    3) You do go on about that LM/DM non-issue. Ramsey, Cazorla, Podolski, Wilshere, Ozil can all play in that position….what more do we need?
    4) Take your pick…we can’t do better than those 5 above.
    5) Someone to replace Sagna until Jenks can reach Sagna’s level…if he ever can.

  • 1. Maybe, buh me thinks we’ve just found out a recipe for winning games regardless of what the opposition does.

    2. Invincible football, Not just yet, buh we are well on course.

    3. Not really, Podolski and Chamberlain are good enough to hold down that position for the time being.

    4. Podolski (that hammer of a left foot)

    5. Luis Suarez, whatever it takes.

  • TA – I think AB and I at one with the Striker issue. And for that matter, the CB case.

    You make it sound like we would be playing with 10 men if we had a different style CF. If the player is quality and scoring goals, he would have to be marked, and so draw defenders with him. If he is a player with pace and dribbling skill, like the afore mentioned Gervinho, but also has the nous to find space to receive the ball, like Thierry Henry, he then becomes part of that midfield fluidity.

    Different, and a different approach required … the fabled ‘Plan B’?

    When I say a support for Giroud, I actually mean attacker that can play anywhere across the front five postions i.e. wide on both wings, either side of Giroud, but most important, as required, replacing the central striker.

    When it is seen like that, you immediate#y see the limitations of Walcott and Podolski. Walcott does not cut it in the middle in every situation. Podolski is the best we have, but predominately left side, and not enough dribbling skills for the left wing. His strength is a quick burst of pace, directness, and powerful shot. Which does bring me back to my ‘hobby horse’, Serge Gnabry? Again, perhaps not the true pace of a winger, but certainly one for next season, or before if we do not sign anybody in January, beyond Nicky B.

    On the CB front. I nailed my preference for this signing very early on. As luck would have it, his team are doing quite well without him and so could become available in January, with a bit of luck?
    And like AB has said, I would see this signing more of an encouragement for TV5 to stay. As it stands at the moment he is understudy to Kos. But if he had new partner to play alongside, and they worked well as a pair, then we might be in a position to rest both our first choice CB’s more often?

    At RB, the best option is find a way to keep Sagna, which should, as OMG put it, give Jenks the breathing space to develop. Or beyond him, Bellerin? At least that replacement, should it be necessary, will not happen until the summer TW, as I cannot see Bacs wanting to leave whilst he has a chance for medals with Arsenal?

    Sorry TA, I cannot see me making a post on this subject as I have just said virtually all I can. I do have a post in mind though … ?

  • Hi all..
    Nice one TA.. It’s a worted waiting post.. hehehe..

    Tonight game again Everton is very important in our way for PL trophy.. If We win.. as I’mure weWe will.. than We can beat City and Chelsea also..
    Napoli game maybe not so important than this one.. Well.. We won’t lost fir more than 3 goals to Napoli.. especially without Hamsik.. what can they do..?? And Dortmund wont be easy win alswithout Bender and Sahin.. So the CL is done.. We will win the group..

    Back for tonight.. rumour said Giroud will be absent.. hope not.. but if it is so.. I hope our bigman Bedtner can repeat his well performance again..
    And I think Everton is the hardest among three.. Napoli and City..
    They both will play openwar games.. cause they need to win.. and We can handle that kind of football.. cause We do better in offense.. more than any team.. hehehe.

    I don’t want to answer to your other question about new players.. as you say.. OGAOTAT First thing first..
    Go Gunners….

  • Hi TA

    Will be streaming at work tomorrow! Anyway, good post and we will differ a little here…. Maybe..

    Have Arsenal found the cure for PTB teams now?

    — as much as anyone can. We go thru middle and around the bus to cross with equal threat. Eventually they unravel or lose focus. So, as much a yes as possible. IMO, Martinez and Co have confidence and will come out some tomorrow.

    What style of football would you like Arsenal to play and are we there yet?

    — good team defense and transition equals winning. Yes, most days and minutes we are there..

    Is the LW/LM an area in need of real improvement (rather than adding cover as in the DM, CB, RB and CF positions)?

    — No, IMO, it’s defenders, a young all around midfielder like Draxler! and critically for January SNB, someone not Bendtner… From within (Theo or Poldi) to make room for Draxler or without to (ie a solid squad player) hold a warm space for Reus maybe? I suspect solid squad players is all that will really be available in January. So, I toss out American Dempsey… Thoughts?

    Ie I guess I’d favor most of all someone for Flamini and Arteta to mentor… Of Reus comes all the better but I like Santi there too on the left…

    A longer term or neo star at central defender would be nice… Probably summer tho…

    Oh, and no Song please! 🙂

    Who would be your nr.1 choice for the LW/MW?

    — per above no one. I think we are good and have playing time issues here already without some changes, but… Changes bring other issues as we see with other teams this year if there are too many, so.. I’m ok there even if we could be more dynamic down a wing, I think we can do it differently with Sagna and Gibbs adding more there then some traditional wingers.. IMO of course..

    Who would be your nr.1 priority purchase in January?

    — depends on whose available. A top defense or b2b midfield neo star would be second. First we must have cover at ST, we are one “Eduardo” to OG away from 2008 maybe… And who wants to find out about that maybe… .???

    Oh and jgc-damus has it 2-0 over Everton at home tomorrow! one earlier and one late! AR gets one and Ozil another assist…

    Cheers — jgc

  • jgc – I think you joined me on the fence there, in some points at least.

    At £8.5m Alex Song is a bit of a snip? I could see him being part of the trio of DM’s who can get forward, or alternatively, an advanced destroyer who can also create? That said, squad numbers will be very restricted, and is not certain of too much playing time. But I would not be so dismissive if other options fail to arrive?

    But I’m glad you tossed out Dempsey … so would I 😀

    We must be linked with nearly a dozen strikers at the moment. I suppose the most radical alternative to Giroud would be already in the neighbourhood, flying the Bulgarian flag … another one into the toss pot, so to speak …

    I am not sure we will get an early goal this time. In fact with all the build up of it being an open, attacking game, it could be 0-0 for a long time? But you are the seer, so I hope you are in tune with astral link?

    I await the teamsheet in the hope that there is still the right balance between attack and defence, as well as left and right.

    The scarf will be out in good time though, just in case?

  • Morning guys and girls 🙂

    Match Day!!

    Thanks for follow up comments overnight and in the morning. I am really happy with the team and our 4-5-1 approach right now. Yet, I believe we will transition further next year and the only position I can see us getting better quality in, is the LW position. Maybe Ox or somebody else will fill the gap, or maybe we get Reus, but for me it is the one position where we could add quality rather than strength in depth.

    Re Giroud not getting a like for like back up but a different sort of player – a ‘Eduardo’ – next year, I guess we will continue to differ. Wenger has been trying to play with a holding striker who enables five midfielders to play Wengerball for a long time (started with Chamakh) and I reckon he will build further on this for years to come. I also predict that Giroud will become hard to keep in the next two years.

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