Jack and Alexis raise bar, Welbeck impresses, Defence….: Match Review

Despite being peripheral to much of the action Alexis Sánchez provided Arsenal's winning goal.

Saturday’s game against the Champions was a good opportunity to gage how much progress we had made since last season.

The verdict in a nutshell: our defence – including our sole DM – not solid and composed enough, our midfield now bursting with quality, and our attack/ability to create chances and score goals in the biggest games has also improved significantly.

Unlike last season’s visit by MC, when they were happy to play for a draw, this time round our opponents wanted the three points badly. The Chavs have started the season well as expected and the totally unpredicted loss against Stoke, have put a lot of pressure on the Champions to keep up. The same goes for Arsenal of course, who managed once again to qualify for the CL in August, but had dropped two valuable points in and against Leicester and found themselves four points adrift from the league leaders before this big game.

MC were missing Yaya Toure who was replaced by lost-looking Lampard, and Milner was put on the left to protect the vulnerable ex-Gunner Clichy, mainly by kicking the proverbial out of Debuchy. Fernandinho was also clearly instructed to put his boot in every time Jack or any of the other midfielders threatened to get past him – because that’s when Arsenal are at their most dangerous – and the awesome Silva, very effective Navas, and efficient Aguero were there to produce the attacking football.

Arsenal had opted to start Welbeck (with Sanogo not even on the bench: was he injured?), play four mainly attacking midfielders behind him, and protect the back-four with our best option as DM, the willing but wilting Flamini. It looked at times more like 3-1-5-1, as our ‘LB’ Nacho was almost constantly situated higher up the pitch, functioning as a fifth midfielder.

First half

After a couple of minutes of MC pressure, Arsenal took over with our four midfielders (in our 4-1-4-1) formation dominating play. Jack led the charge with energetic and aggressive play both at the back and the front. Early on he produced a brilliant diagonal ball over the top of the MC defence and the alert Sanchez almost got there to head the ball past the quickly anticipating Hart. Welbeck is lively and constantly moving, never allowing the experienced MC back-four to settle. It is clear that he wants the ball in behind the defensive lines, but our midfielders expect him to play in front of the opposition’s defence ala OG, and a few balls go astray.

Arsenal v Man city

Then, unexpectedly, the stuff of dreams – or nightmares – happens. A nonchalant ball back from midfield to his defence by Silva, is quickly anticipated by Danny and he gets a free run at goal with just the keeper to beat. He produces a Bergkampesque lofted ball over the beaten Hart and everybody thinks it is going in, but it hits the woodwork and the keeper can collect. So close, and what a goal it would have been for the newly arrived attacker.

The near miss is a pivotal moment in the first half. MC wake up and appreciate their lucky escape and the crowd and Gunners experience the heavy realisation that this missed opportunity might cost us dearly in this game (similar to Ozil’s missed penalty against Bayern). Our inexperience of beating fellow top teams is still weighing heavily on us, and every time we miss a very good opportunity it sets us back, it seems.

Welbeck does not seem to be too much influenced by the miss though: he continues to be a nuisance to the MC defence and starts to play better when receiving the ball with his back towards goal. The first quarter of the game is for us: good dominance, one big chance, we are enjoying our football; but, it is fair to say, we do not come close enough to the MC goal to produce clear-cut chances.

Monreal offers great drive going forward and partners well with the industrious, and also defensively sound, Alexis. Every time we regain the ball in our own half we break well, with all midfielders playing their part, but especially Alexis and Jack the most driven and composed. MC’s pre-planned answer to this is to foul our midfielders as soon as they can: cynical but effective. Luckily the referee is handing out yellow cards for this and it only seems a matter of time before one of our breaks will lead to a good goal scoring opportunity.

Our style of play needs goals of course, as we are constantly taking risks with playing Nacho so high, leaving space behind him for the attacking three of MC to pounce on us. And that is, unsurprisingly, exactly how they scored their first goal. The ball breaks to midfield and Flamini’s tackle seems to be well-timed and effective, which it needed to be. But Navas, in a Marc Overmars reminiscent way, manages to collect the ball before it goes out, and runs like a hare towards goal. Nacho and Koz hesitate to make a tackle, allowing speedy G to put the ball into the box. Flamini and BFG seem still in control, but the Frenchman allows Aguero to run past him and score a simple goal. A very disappointing moment by all players involved, but especially Flamini who, with his experience and the role he is playing in, should have done a lot better. 4-1-4-1 without a proper, athletic beast of a DM, seems to ask for this sort of punishment…

Getting behind, combined with the strong sense of a missed opportunity earlier on, now make us weary, both on the pitch and in the ground. MC sense this and start playing the better football, disrupting our play with more and more ease. Ozil and Wilshere try to get it all going but we are not using the width with even Nacho not sticking to the by-line, and Debuchy being held back by Milner. It is all too intricate and easy for MC now, and Welbeck is not getting much involved at this stage. The consistent fouling aimed to disrupt constantly our flow of football continues, and we do not create anything worthy of mentioning anymore during the first half.

Second half

We start good: energetic and with purpose and bite. We get the ball into the box now but the well-drilled MC defence holds strong. Ozil gets more involved in the direction of our play but his passes (and shooting), especially over a longer distance, are not sharp enough to trouble the Oilers. The same goes for Sanchez’s final ball who does all the hard work to get near the box, but then just does not deliver the perfect through-ball.

After ten minutes the game seems to balance out, which is not good for us as we are behind. It needed a moment of inspiration, and it pleases me tremendously that it was Super Jackie Wilshere who delivered it: and in some style!

The ball was won in midfield and quick combination play between Jack, Alexis and Rambo, allowed the Welshman to perfectly guide the ball into Jack’s feet in the box. There was still a hell of a lot to do, but a quick shimmy got him past the opposing defender, and with his head held high, looking for the best option at a moment when the adrenaline is pumping like crazy, he is still able to adjust his feet to fool the MC players as if he is passing it with his left foot, to only use his right foot, daftly kicking it high and measured past the beaten Hart.

What a goal: it needed something special to crack the Oilers’ defence and Jack delivered it. Wilshere the new Fabregas? The new Pirlo? Or the new Bergkamp?! He has got it all! hahaha 😉

After three quarters of the game, soon after our equaliser, Dzeko – the ‘Giroud’ of MC – comes on for Aguero: a change which almost undid us towards the end of the game. But Arsenal now take proper control and Welbeck is everywhere again, after a quiet start in the second half. Fernandinho is lucky not to get a second yellow for bowling Welbeck over off the ball, when the Englishman is about to run into the box, or after petulantly kicking the ball away after another foul is committed on the fabulous Alexis.

Then the moment of total ecstasy arrives.

Arsenal apply pressure and a ball into the box is headed away by the fine warrior Kompany, despite being challenged by Welbeck who gives the colossus a friendly nudge in the process (; The ball ends up with Jack, just outside the ‘D’: he has the full play in front of him and instantly sees that Alexis is free. His cushioned header reaches the Chilean Master who volleys the ball high in the air and with deadly precision under the bar, past a fully beaten Hart. What a clinical, top quality finish! Alexis had been working so hard all over the pitch and he really deserved that goal. What a signing!

We had the Oilers rattled and had two choices: sit back and see out the game as best as we can, or attack for the third goal. Both are risky approaches and we all know what happened next.

We had one great opportunity to score the all important third goal – ‘two goal cushion goal’ – when good link up play by Welbeck, and fine combination play between Ozil and Jack let to the latter clipping a masterly ball over the now tired MC defence. Ramsey did well to anticipate it and beat the MC defence, but his finish lacked the control his fellow midfielders had been demonstrating earlier. Three moments of total quality were perhaps too much to ask.

MC were adamant that Jack handled the ball in the box before our attack, but if you look closely, you will see that Jack’s arm was tucked back by a MC player which then sprung it forward towards the ball. Never a handball. 🙂

Then came the near sucker punch. A simple corner, badly defended: a free header for Demichelis, followed by a ‘nearly safe’ by Szczesny, or even Flamini: 2-2. Our ecstasy levels dropped immediately and the emotional roller coaster was almost completed. Giving away the hard fought for lead so soon, just as we did against Leicester before the interlul, was a painful experience for all.

After that, we somehow held on for the draw as the Oilers smelled blood. The woodwork and an excellent low safe by Szczesny, both from goal efforts by Dzeko, saved us. At this stage our defence were pulled all over the place, as Citeh combined with menace and intent – attacking a lot better now that Dzeko had taken over the central attacking position from Aguero and Silva could move closer to our box.

A draw was a fair result in the end. Our midfielders and attackers worked hard to get us in front but our soft underbelly of a defence/DM unfortunately cost us once again. Debuchy’s horrible injury did not help, but I expected more organisation and leadership from our experienced CBs and DM in the latter stages.

There is little time to learn lessons from this truly fantastic, yet educational game, as Dortmund await tomorrow, which will be another top-level encounter for everyone involved.

But the two big positives are that Jack is starting the hit the form many of us knew he is capable of, and Alexis is the sort of all-round attacking player we have all been hoping for. On top of that, Welbeck had an encouraging start to his Arsenal career, and once Ozil and Rambo start to hit proper form we will do some serious damage to our opposition. Let’s hope this starts on Tuesday night.

Written by: TotalArsenal.

64 thoughts on “Jack and Alexis raise bar, Welbeck impresses, Defence….: Match Review

  • Yes, a very fair summing up TA.

    The biggest problem seems to be we are not firing as a complete unit yet. This game showed improvement going forwards, even if the finishing was not strong. But the defensive shape is the same as before the Interlull?
    I have yet to see what Per has to say on ‘The key to zonal marking’ – I suspect it will be everyone doing their job?
    The other half of the coin is, they could have had help from fresh legs in front of them?

    Fortunately it is early days of the season, and were are still unbeaten. But as you say, little time to dwell on what might have been, with the Dortmund game following up tomorrow night. Not to mention the need to alter the line up now?
    That is not a major problem in my eyes. Chambers has looked quite accomplished in games so far, and returning to RB should be no problem. We will of course miss him as the utility player on the bench, but if Monreal drops to the bench, we have cover for both CB and LB if Gibbs gets the nod. Hayden would relish a start if Kos is out, and we have fresh bodies in midfileld, with Ox Arteta, Rosicky, and even Coquelin could cover LB and DM slots. Up front I think Sanogo might get a recall. No reflection on Welbeck, but he might benefit coming on late when defenders are tiring? Perhaps a rewarding few minutes for Campbell too?
    It is then up to Per to knock the defence into shape?

    Sorry , I’ve strayed into the future …
    Keep the faith.

  • No problem Gerry. It took me ages to write it. Somehow lacking energy at the moment, but also wanted to do this epic battle justice. I reckon we play the same line up with Chambers for Debuchy and yes Gibs for Monreal…. Maybe Arteta for Flamini.

  • Debuchy will be a miss- very impressed with him and his haircut. Im surprised Campbell isnt getting more game time. He has to be better than Sanogo- There must be something incredible that boy is showing for Wenger to trust him as much as he does.

    Looking forward to seeing us click as a unit- Surprised our Defence is doing so bad, I think its a lack of playing time.

    @TA- I hail from the often raining part of Edinburgh. I hope this Referendum malarky wont impact my ability to come down to the nice part of North London.

  • FYI I think that Ramsey plays better with the beard- Something very Pirlo about him, he just oozes class

  • SG, Gerry reckons Campbell is expected to get fitter before he starts matches regularly. Agreed re playing time for our defence. I also think we are missing Sagna and Giroud in our defence of set pieces.

    Edinburgh is great. Been there many times during my sabbatical in South Lanarkshire.

  • Nice piece TA,
    I totally agree about OG we miss him on set-pieces badly. He would defo he attacked that header for the northern oilers 2nd.
    It was a great point, but our league position looks a bit worrying.Our next 3 EPL games are Villa, Spurs and Chelsea. So we need good results in all 3 to get up to the top spots. No easy task but a good chance to make up some ground, we just need to start winning the big games and i am sure we will.

  • We could do with a good thumping win like a 5-0 or 6-0 win to strike more fear in to the opponents like united did, v a terrible QPR performance though.
    Big game tomorrow, that would great to get a good thumping win in.

  • All hard games, PG. Villa will have their tales up after defeating Pool and Lambert will have a plan against us. I expect it to be dirty and physical. But one game at a time…. OGAAT! Die Borussen are next. 🙂

  • Agreed TA,
    A 2nd in the league Villa will be a tough game, one we could get a very tough game in or possiblly get that Thumping win in that i want. The key would be scoring early.
    But first the Germans, a game which i want our Germans to find some top form in and show there class in. They should be eager to do just that with this game likely to be there only club game in Germany this season and being the world cup winners playing in there country after winning the world cup. 🙂

  • I have just looked at the team pictures training for the Dortmund game. Plenty of Alexis and Joel. One small glimpse of Serge, but absent photos of; Sanogo, Chambers, Ozil, Hayden, and Flamini? Interesting one of Per shaking hands with Hector … congratulating on his upgrade to the first team perhaps? But the travelling party looks sure to include Arteta, Cazorla, Coquelin, as well as the usual suspects … on and off camera?

  • PG & TA – Just remember they are missing key players in Reus and Hummels, and they were only playing Freiburg at the weekend.

  • I don’t believe there is any general pattern TA. The jersey tops are not quite what they seem. The absent ones may or may be not cut out deliberately.
    However, a lot can be read in their faces if they know they are not playing. Sanogo on Friday looked as miserable as could be. Campbell today looks quite chirpy? Podolski you wouldn’t know if he had been fined a week’s wages for exceeding the ‘selfie limit’ 😀
    I’ve just remembered, Ozil did the walk looking relaxed. Kos was training, but it may be to see if he has any reaction.
    But the favourite to get some game time is JC?

  • Oh, don’t read too much into Alexis looking a bit ‘out of it’ in the team photo. He only flew in from South America the night before, and was probably suffering jet-lag with the early photo call/

  • I have just read Monreal is out – explains his absent photo?
    Gibbs to start, but Bellerin will be in the squad. I read he can play either wing. Useful to know?

    If he is an unused sub, he can stay over for the Under 19’s on Wednesday

  • Gerry, TA
    What’s your opinion on Coquelin ? Do you think he can ever step up ?
    I have always been a big admirer of his
    His only weakness is he dose’nt have the passing range but do we really need it right with Jack, Ramsey, Ozil n co already in the side
    He has the lungs to run and cover the wholes , in short he maybe a faster form of Flamini with a little more which is exactly what we need right ?

  • Neeraj – I think part of his problem is lack of confidence, and that is affecting his judgement.

    A couple of seasons ago he looked to have it all, including accurate passing. How his loan spell in Germany went is another thing. He got injured, then got a red card, and barely figured after that.. One good performance could make him a very happy bunny, but right now he does not inspire a lot of confidence. In theory, he is the ideal partner for Arteta. May be if he gets some game time, here, at the weekend, or in the COC, it could be a turning point. But as I said in my review of the Under 21’s, time is running out for him?

    His best bet might be to take a loan spell in a League 1 club, and help them get promotion?

  • TA , excellent review. Shame about debuchy, I love him as a player. We will have a great run at some point this season, just have to get through this next patch in decent shape.

    One thing I have always said, never start jack 2 games in 1 week. Now that people see his value, dont want to re aggravate his past injuries. His worst patches of last year were when he played twice a week.
    Disappointed with our results so far, but we will be an exciting team this season, just get back to last seasons defense and set piece work, we had it under control pretty well.

  • jnyc – Ii think AW is trying to tell us Jack is over his injuries that made him susceptible last year?
    Mind you, with Villa coming up you may be right?

  • That is 1 tough draw for the first round of the COC though Southampton , it’s at home which is lucky but an unlucky draw.
    We have 6 tough games coming up 8 if like me you include Hull and Anderlecht .
    On le Coq I rate him highly, he has a lot to offer , he is still young but he is at the age now when he will start to get to his best.
    I believe he could play anywhere in the back 4 and DM . His time away will also make him appreciate his place at Arsenal more as well, all good things, I am looking forward to seeing him play for us again.

  • It will be strange watching Alex Song playing for the hammers in a little while, i was just wondering if we should have taken him on load like West Ham, but would he really be much of an improvement on Flemini or Arteta. I dont think he would.

  • Hi

    Watched game later on viewer here downunder… My thoughts largely match yours. I think overall we had slightly the better of it tho stats show slightly less shots on goal and time in possession. However, I thought we were the slightly more dangerous.

    Thus, a few comments based on other commentary around the game and what I saw. Counterpoints if you will:

    a. JW played very well. We will see if he keeps it up or not. He needs to do so this year and become more consistent

    b. AR, not as bad as off form as others say. He was well involved throughout. With more better players we will likely see less dominating performances from just one like we did last year. This, I think, is a good thing. But …

    c. Ozil. I thought and the stats thought he had a good game. Several key passes, often in the mix in creating the first passes, that led to opportunity 1-2 passes later. Very smooth. I would like to see him drift in more but so it goes… All the negative commentary is likely to make sure we have a 42M failure in a year or so, which is horrible for the club.

    If there is one gaping problem it is the inability of AW or others to even think about a formation that favors his strengths as mixed with the rest of the players. Equally so for JW or AR for that matter. AW seems to try to put the most talent on the field in his formation rather than in one that best suits them. We will, to put my very rare “doomer” hat on, lose many points for this. His contributions elsewhere, used very differently, show Arsenal are definitely not making the most of him.

    JGC-damus sees Ozil leaving next year because of the increasingly extreme negativity that surrounds him and the lack of understanding by the team and many fans of what he does, and how he does it. We favour sweat and grit more than results it seems.

    Oh, and Welbeck was excellent. Better also than the pundits would have you believe. Equally, if we expect him to OG and take ball to feet all the time rather than behind/through, then we are asking for another “failure”. Play to the players you have …

    — jgc

  • Geoff, I agree with you on the Ozil point. Pep has already put his ‘stirring oar’ in the mix, with the leaked bid of £35m? He did a similar thing with JW last season. But as you say, if this trend is to continue, with AW not making the best use of him, then Bayern could be lucky?

    I also think one of the reasons why AW keeps repeating this ‘mistake’, is his desire to keep both JW and AR happy. I thought, briefly, he had found a way around it with a potent attack mode of; 4-2-1-1-2. Broken down: back 4, with; Flamini, Ramsey(the pair); Wilshere(CAM1); Ozil(CAM2), Alexis and Welbeck(strikers).
    In defence; Back 4, with; Welbeck – supporting full back, Flaminii – cutting off the inside runner, Wilshere – cutting off passes to lone striker, Ramsey – cutting off the inside runner, Alexis – supporting full back,; Ozil – high blocker, and outlet ball for counter.
    Same personnel, different line up.

    The big problem revealed by the 4-1-4-1 system, is the real lack of an energetic DM to play that system. You may remember, my top transfer wish was not a striker and a centre back, but the ‘perfect’ duo of AR(PSG) and WC(SpL). With that JW would never have to worry about being a DM ever again. They would also complete the more desirable 4-2-3-1/1-3 formation.
    It would have a fallout, naturally, if Alexis and Welbeck are first choices, and Ozil as first choice CAM, it would have left Walcott, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, and a host of others fighting for one starting berth, or playing second fiddle to the main orchestra?
    If AW cannot force himself to choose between Ramsey and Wilshere, I cannot see him juggling the bigger problem?
    If he goes for a 4-1-4-1 tonight, with Arteta as DM, I think the chances of us topping the group are going to be very slim at the final whistle?
    Solution, away from home, – CAUTION.
    If that is heeded, then I expect the line up to be thus:
    _______________________Szczesny – poss. Ospina(CL experience).
    Chambers _______Mert_____________Kos________Gibbs

    Bench: GK; Bellerin, Hayden, Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla, Campbell
    Likely use at 0-0 on 65 minutes; Campbell for Welbeck; Cazorla for Ozil. Defensive sub as and when required, or 85 minutes, whichever comes first.
    Wilshere to make very few forays forward. Chambers likewise. Gibbs a little more freedom, but only on the counter. Good old fashioned 4-3-3, with plenty of interchange with the front three.
    We might just sneak it with a Campbell special late on?

    The Dortmund side still have plenty of fire power, both from midfield, and PEA(Aubameyang, of whom I am a big fan), so keeping it to nil is no easy task.
    Keep the faith …

  • On your other points Geoff:
    JW – Agreed. He does look more professional since his ‘talking to’ by AW, so he may just gain confidence from that game. Which could backfire if he gets too ‘cocky’ with it?
    AR – I think he is trying too hard to get to his top form, partly from his early goals, and this is having an effect on some of his game – shot selection and passing selection and execution?
    Welbeck – Agreed. My only criticism was he got caught out by waiting for the ball to come to him, and this enabled Kompany in particular, to nip in front, or beat him in the air. Playing back to goal is not something that suits him, but he will improve.

  • Nice quote from Bellerin on twitter: Confidence is having all the hard work done.

    Got his head screwed on, that lad

  • Cheers Geoff,

    Wenger has revealed why Jack struggled last season….. Nothing to do with mental issues, as I have always said, but to do with his running style and shooting power in his foot, which seems now to have been sorted. Jack’s performance was of a very high standard and it would be unrealistic to expect this level every week, but yes, I am hoping he will come good properly this season.

  • The dooming points surprise me a bit. Is football all about giving players an opportunity to play in their best positions, or is system key to make a real difference in football? Re Ozil, for example, will he do really a lot better in the centre than on the flank? I don’t think so. If he is not happy to play there, which I very much doubt, then he can leave for me. Would not bother me at all.

  • I disagree TA- ozil is a magnificent player who works best when he has fast runners and space to work. Similar to santi without the work ethic.

    With Alexis and Welbeck in the starting line L, defences will be stretched and this will give him time on the ball. That’s what he needs. When he has to come in from the left it causes two problems.
    1) congested midfield
    2) no cover for gibbs or monreal

    Playing someone like Cazorla who can run to the byline and send in a cross but also track runners and offer some protection, gives us solidarity. This 4-1-4-1 formation is to fit both rambo and jack in the team.

    We need to play our strongest line up in their best positions. Obviously Wenger sees something that we don’t and I really hope we settle soon. Re: ozil leaving. I wouldn’t be overly fussed but I don’t think it’ll happen. If AW had planned to let him leave we would have signed Fabregas this window. I can’t see him allowing ozil to leave after coming out and saying that we have a playmaker in ozil and hence won’t be going in for fab.

    In fact it’ll probably bring me to tears if ozil leaves and I have to witness fab lifting up the premiership.

  • All good points and many will agree with you SG. Many want Arsenal to play like Manure use to do under Ferguson, with wingers and pace etc. But Wenger has different plans, and the idea of Ramsey, Jack, Ozil and Sanchez playing behind a holding striker, who ideally has some pace as well, is very attractive to me. Ozil vacates the middle all the time when he is played there, as he prefers the free role in which he can add value wherever possible (which he is brilliant at). So, he can do that whilst being played on the left, right or middle. But it is also important that we have fighters in the centre who will boss that area, and Jack and Rambo are ideal for this. Just imagine Ozil and Ramsey hitting proper form as well…. We would have slaughtered the Oilers on Saturday.

    The obvious and desperate addition for 4-1-4-1 is a proper, athletic, footballing, beast of a DM.

    Alternatively, we go back to 4-2-1-3 when Theo returns, and Ozil might get another stint in the hole. I would not mind that at all, but I am also excited to see those four in midfield becoming a force to reckon with! 🙂

  • Also remember the biggest strength of Wenger is to play systems of football in which players become better than they ever thought they were. That’s how he managed to qualify for the CL for seventeen years, despite limited resources in many of them. He now can buy SQ players around which he could build the team…. but I don’t think he will change like that. He is not an inductive coach but a deductive one…. Plan and system come first.

  • I have high hopes that Wenger has an ace up his sleave in one Abou Diaby. I think Diaby is made for that 4-1-4-1 formation and when fit will add physicality the likes that we’ve not seen for years. The though of Diaby putting the stoke boys on their Arse is one I’m very much looking forward to. With Diaby just finishing 90 mins for the u21 are we crazy to think he could make a cameo with Walcott against the chavs?

  • Diaby…… We can just hope and pray. It reminds me a bit of me chasing the prettiest girl in high school and not having a chance whatsoever… but every time she winked or smiled at me, I became a hoper again… 🙂

  • Haha, Great analogy. I keep thinking back to that game vs Liverpool where Diaby was everywhere.
    I think one of AWs best and worst traits is his loyalty to players. He refused to shift Ramsey on because he knew what he’ll become. The same for getting in a new keeper when we had flapiansky and almunia and a younger rb (really looking forward to seeing bellerin ) I saw him play at the Emirates cup and I was very impressed.

    Point is he’s so loyal he’ll hope that Diaby is ready this year rather than buy someone to replace him. On another note. What a great time to play Dortmund, they still have some excellent players but I reckon we’re stronger than last year, where I think they’re now weaker. Especially so with all their injury problems

  • All good points, SG. Loyalty is rare in football and Wenger does magic with it, but sometimes it works the other way. The balance is still positive though… and had Van Judas and Cesc stayed on for a few more years, it could have become very beautiful indeed. I will be writing a preview of the match tonight soon so will keep quiet re line up for now. 🙂

  • I’ve been reading the comments about Ozil and although i have a huge bias in this area i have to look at this logically and say my biggest annoyance is that we as fans are always left speculating such a simple question that it does not take much on Wengers part to answer.
    It seems obvious (to me at least) that Ozil is under-performing out on the wing but with the combination of a plethora of similar type players (many of whom better suited on the wing) and a multitude of different cup competitions coming up i see no reason why AW can’t put the question on everyone’s lips into practice.

    Play a replacement for Ozil on the wing in the 4-1-4-1 system AW is set on atm (my pick would be OX), then in any of the cup competitions play Ozil where he wants to be as a CAM in a 4-2-3-1.

    If we see a marked improvement in the wing area in the 4-1-4-1 form this change then its obvious you leave Ozil on the bench when using this system – no matter what his price tag is or his credentials.

    If you see him come into his own and really start pulling the strings in the 4-2-3-1 then you know it really does come down to him being a specialist position type player and not that he’s just not trying out on the wing – this would give Wenger a question to answer about what formation he uses as his permanent system but at least we would have our answers.

    Alternatively Ozil may be just as aloof and noncontributing as he is now on the wing once moved back into the pivotal center position, if this is the case then (for me at least) its bye bye Ozil. But give the poor lad a chance, i don’t rate him at all but even i’m willing to give him that chance to prove he has the skills he was bought for (which was definitely not wing play lol).

    Cesc has looked good so far but don’t forget he’s only ever been played as the CAM or the Ramsey position so far for chelski, with winger type AM all round him – a concept i thought was quite rudimentary and accepted in the football community but unfortunately for Ozil not at Arsenal atm lol. So you can’t compare the two players atm without at least playing Ozil in that Cam role.

    Just my two cents 🙂

  • Good comment, Steve, and very much in line with your thoughts about MO11 in recent weeks. I don’t agree with everything you say, as you know, but there is a lot of merit in your thinking. The only thing I say now is that Ozil is played on the left, but not as a winger. Wing play has to come from the full backs, but I am not even sure whether Wenger still wants classic wingplay at all.

  • Gerry – lol, why thank you kind sir

    TA, i get what your saying about his job not being built around what i would call conventional wing play but i also mean the attributes of a winger as well i.e quick, strong, fast to close down and win the ball back and good at tracking back – not just pace running down the outside.
    I just look at that game and really find myself thinking if only we could have another Sanchez on the other wing instead of Ozil – but we do!! we have OX, Rosicky, Campbell even Cazorla (same type of player but with more tenacity) and Walcott and Gnabry to come back from injury, not to mention Bellerin up there on the wing. Ozil belongs in the middle feeding those types of players.

    Surely i am not the only one who had that thought lol

  • Steve, I think AWs plan is to keep the full back back on the wing that Ozil is playing on.. to allow him to play in the free role and add value where he can. I dont think this will change and I reckon we need to be patient. Once the four horsemen get going – Ramsey – Ozil – Wilshere – Sanchez – it might be such a force that nobody will be able to stop.

  • I see the tactic TA but at the moment it is having a greater impact on defensive frailty (Monreal being caught up the pitch with no cover) than on attacking threat imo.

    You might as well go for a Stevie special and play with a three at the back 🙂

  • If we are agreed that 4-1-4-1 is not very effective without an athletic DM, and we are not playing with one, why is AW persisting with this format?

    I will again return to the comparison of Ozil, and Zelalem in the Under 21’s last Thursday. In that game you had Crowley on the left, and Maitland-Niles on the right … for the second half that is. Neither of those ‘crowded’ the midfield in the way that, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil, and late runs from Ramsey can do. Net result was Zelalem had space to move into to receive the ball, and could spray passes left , right, and centre, and move along the whole width of the box,? He eventually secure the points with an inch perfect pass for Akpom to score with such a through ball.
    Move that up to this level, and Welbeck would have had a number of chances to run on to a ball behind the defence if Ozil was working in a similar manner?
    It is all very well saying he can, and does come in off the left, but if bodies are already allocated in the centre then it gets crowded. On Saturday, the switch with Alexis helped, in so far as all the action, and key players were to the left of him; Wishere, Welbeck, and Alexis. Debuchy was not getting forward very often, so there was an area he could work in, not to mention draw defenders towards him. But it is a compromise.
    I am no more convinced about JW than Geoff is at the moment. Against City, for the most part he was tackled/fouled by one player? He will not get that luxury very often, so his improvement will be measured more on how much better he can do when defenders double up on him? But in Steve’s generous manner with Ozil, I will say he will be greatly helped if others move off the ball to give him a target for the quick pass, before the cul-de-sac closes in on him?
    And that is another thing. Ozil manages to retain the ball quite a lot when he runs the line, even though he only has two options, forwards or backwards. Think how much more effective he would be in open space?

    TA, from players that we were heavily linked with, Griezeman, Reus, and now Pedro, all suggest that he is linked with pace ahead of the fullbacks, given Walcott does that on the right. That we haven’t got that at the moment is another weakness in playing the 4-1-4-1, because we rarely have a back four defending? The Aguero goal being a perfect example?

  • Steve, I nearly suggested a 3 CB approach to the Man C game … until I realised we haven’t got enough 😀

  • @Gerry – interesting point. Although I think the u21 games aren’t always reflective. If we look at players who’ve excelled at that level only to never make the cut. I understand that tactically it worked but against a top opponent these spaces that zelalem found will be a rarity. I agree with ozil playing on the right, he contributed more. But with us looking at Bellerin playing rb I’m not convinced that flank is balances. I’d rather have Alexis or ox (who does lose the ball alot, but always chases it back).

    I don’t rate the coq, he’s had chances and never impresses me. Reminds me of denilson or a poor man’s song. On that note I’m curious as to why akpom isn’t promoted to the first team. Bags of talent, typical AW striker. I’ve noticed that we don’t seem to be giving youth the chance we used to. Chambers was bought. But bar gnabry I can’t remember us promoting a player from the u21 s for a little while. Apologies for any mistakes. Having to type on my phone as work has deemed this site unsuitable. What Is the world coming to….

  • Gerry, hahaha I love the way you just have to have little doubts about Jack. If only he did not dare to have a fag now and again, you would totally love him. 😉 You and Geoff will come round, it is just a matter of time. 🙂

  • Agreed TA but they have both been given a monumental task, especially against a quick paced team like man city. Poor old Flamini given that that DM job all on his own and for the whole 90 mins without a sub – Still a warrior imo 🙂

    Ive got the Jenko signal ready on the top of my roof, i think i’ll turn it on if we get any more injuries at the back. He said it was only for emergencies but just so tempted to see that huge red cannon with a “J” on it lit up in the sky lol.

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