West Brom – Arsenal Afterthoughts.
Saturday’s victory against the Baggies was hard fought and, in many ways, a joy to watch. We looked a lot more organised and better structured and were in control of large parts of the game. It is hard to say what exactly is making a big difference: is it the return of Koz at the back, or our holding striker Giroud up-front, the combo of Flamini and Ramsey, or the nr.10 performances of Cazorla, or is it playing with two wingers now?
Let’s just say we will wait a bit before we pull our conclusions, but I am really glad we have our shape back in the team. We looked a lot more solid and like we are playing football with a plan now. Of course, we rode our luck a bit with the offsite decision early on in the second half, as that could have been a potentially costly goal against us. It is also true that we need to get our three ‘CFs’ up-front to work better together, and we also need to improve the service they get from midfield and the flanks (FBs especially). But if we play solid at the back and in midfield, then the front four (including Cazorla) can really get to know each other a lot better and still score enough goals each game to claim all three points. And at some point a team will get properly spanked with this highly attacking approach.
With the return of Giroud and Koz, and Ramsey slowly hitting a bit of form, we should be able to play the same style of football and team structure for a while. Soon, we will also have Theo and Debuchy back, which should further strengthen our ability to play in the same way time and again.
Key is that Giroud plays in the holding striker role, albeit fluidly, which means he will interchange with both wingers on a regular basis. This will make us unpredictable and yet there is structure to our play, which has been missing for so long. Giroud is the one to hold on to the ball and get either Ramsey or Cazorla involved in the attack, or his ‘CF colleagues’ Welbeck and Alexis. With Theo and Ox we have two very good alternatives for the wings; and Welbeck, Alexis, or Sanogo, can also play in the ‘Giroud’ role. Ollie is my favourite for it and then comes Sanogo, who is a naturally born holding striker imo (even though he still has a lot to learn).
Ramsey is also key. Now that Wilshere is out for a long time, Aaron is the one to be our beast of a box to box midfielder again. He needs to find the balance between helping Flamini (or Arteta when he returns) to keep it tight in front of the back four AND providing the four attacker with key passes and supportive runs into the box. IF Aaron can find his form again, we could have a very good remainder of the season. There were glimpses of him getting there on Saturday.
It is also important that the back five (including goal keeper) now find a defensive rhythm again and become more and more solid. There is potential for this with Koz now back and Debuchy returning soon. Chambers has played himself into the defensive super-sub role, and Nacho (hopefully his injury is a small one) has also developed a broader skill set – although the Spaniard still seems more at home on the left flank. Gibbs staying fit is also very important as this should be his proper breakthrough year. Two clean sheets in a row is something to build further on.
We know we need to strengthen in defence and the DM position but we cannot be thinking about this at the moment. It is now about getting this team to play better and better together and start collecting three points on a regular basis. The games come thick and fast and with a bit of momentum we could be third or even second within no time.
From what I saw against Dortmund on Wednesday and West Brom on Saturday, we might just be turning the corner now. But bigger tests come this Wednesday and then away to Stoke at the weekend. Bring them on – Time to get into sixth gear and trust the system and shape of the team! OGAAT! 🙂
Written by: TotalArsenal.