Ozil and Cazorla cannot play together…. You is wrong!

4-1-4-1: Wenger’s Total Harmonica Football Formation?

Victory Through Harmony.

Victory Through Harmonic Harmony.

 

It is interesting to listen to the TV and keyboard pundits praising Arsenal and Wenger for the disciplined defensive performance against Citeh. They all seem so genuinely relieved we played with a defensive set-up and smashed the Northern Oilers via breaks and set-pieces. It is not the first time we have played with this approach: for example, the games against the Chavs, at home last season as well as at Stanford Bridge this season, were approached exactly in the same way. It is fair to say, it is not the Arsenal way of playing a game, but Wenger has demonstrated once again that a) he does have a Plan-B, and b) he knows how to make tactical changes to get a result from a game.

In general he prefers to play a system of football that is set up to conquer all and does not need much, if any, tactical tweaking for each and every match. This desire will never change as, in the end, he loves free flowing, attacking, total football too much – and don’t we all? It is also the reason he could manage any club in the world, except the Spuds of course. 🙂

On the other hand, the 4-1-4-1 formation seems to offer formational and tactical flexibility during the same game.

Like a harmonica it can squeeze in and out: becoming solid and compact – 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 – when we need to be, as well as very attack-minded and multi-dimensional up-front as per our normal, default system of football: 4-1-2-3/4-2-1-3.

In order to do this successfully, we need: tactical discipline, on-field leadership (especially in midfield) and brilliant, multi-skilled midfielders.

We only have to remind ourselves about the first ten minutes of the second half against Citeh to realise that varying the styles of football and formations within the same game is not easy. We lost our compactness and defensive discipline and spaces opened up everywhere during this phase, and we almost paid for it. Luckily, it was us that scored the all important second goal of the match, and after that it was relatively easy for us to revert back to our original, far more defensive formation. Citeh, without Yaya and Nasri, were unable to give Silva much support in creating gaps and thus opportunities; and we also defended the wings fantastically well.

It was great to see the team having such fantastic discipline for the majority of the game. Coquelin got a lot of praise, and rightly so. Playing compact suits him very well, and the same goes for the defence. Defence orientated players hate space around them, and especially behind them. If there is little to no space around our defence then everybody starts looking so much better, and that includes our DM.

The Chavs’ Cahill, Terry and Matic are no better than Mertesacker, Koz and Arteta/Flamini/Coquelin, but, as a starting principle, they always ensure they play compact and avoid risks at the back. That’s what makes them look good and our lot regularly not so good, often being left over-exposed by their (too) attack focussed colleagues.

What is absolutely paramount for a solid defensive team display is the role of the four midfielders/attackers in front of the DM, and especially the two central midfielders. They need to curb their attacking instincts to a large extent and be able to both support the defenders and build attacks from a crowded, highly pressured back.

Both Ramsey, and especially Cazorla, mastered this very well, and Ox and Alexis also offered superb defensive and ‘get out of jail’ support throughout the game (and so did Rosicky once he came on for a tired Ox). And with Ozil and Jack, we have two more central midfielders who can do this very, very well. Arsenal are blessed with such players which is a great reason to play a ‘harmonic’ 4-1-4-1 system of football.

When we play fellow direct competitors for silverware away, and maybe also at home, we should more often position our team deeper and more compact, in order to give ourselves a good chance to get a result and avoid painful mega-losses (as per last season).

But, with the right players, we can gradually become stronger and stronger at playing a harmonic 4-1-4-1 formation. Key is to have all our players fit and play together regularly. Another prerequisite is a solid and mobile DM, who will also be strong when our team is stretched forward. Arteta suited this part reasonably well, but I have always felt a need to improve in this area to move us to the next level (and so have most fellow Gooners).

Coquelin is looking really good and I hope we can sign him up to a new deal, and we need to sign one more quality DM to provide depth and competition. Key is that we add real leadership in this position; and, in recent games, Coquelin – finally escaped from his chrysalis – showed he might be able to offer this going forward as well.

But the most important and exciting part of all of this is who we will play in the two central midfield positions of the second ‘4’ of 4-1-4-1.

We can pick, in no particular order, from Rosicky, Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere and one or two youngsters. I can see Ozil and Cazorla play together there, especially in games where we feel we can play more attack-minded and advanced. The likes of Alexis, Theo and Giroud (Ox, Welbeck etc) will be licking their lips at the anticipated service they would get. The idea that Ozil and Cazorla cannot play together is therefore wrong.

I can also see Jack and Aaron play there and rock the place; and we all know how valuable Rosa still is for us. Arsenal are blessed with super quality in these positions and are no doubt the envy of many, if not all, PL clubs with regards to this.

Cazorla, and Ramsey despite his rustiness, showed how well and disciplined they can play in this formation, and it was their ability to squeeze in with the defence and out with the attack that made a huge difference on Sunday (supported by the ‘mid-wings’ of course). Our transition worked really well, given the pressure we were under; and with more practicing, our 4-1-4-1 harmonica could become an all conquering system of football. It will even allow us to play Cazorla and Ozil together – or eventually my favourite combination: Wilshere and Ozil. 😉

Happy, harmonic times could be around the corner. 🙂

 By: TotalArsenal.

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46 Responses to Ozil and Cazorla cannot play together…. You is wrong!

  1. JM says:

    Our 3 new holders of the creativity baton and their areas of influence (heatmap) on the pitch (recorded as of last season). 1 starting is good; 2 starting is great; 3 starting is unbalancing though:

    (No.11) Mesut


    DF:9, MF:46, FW:45

    (No.19) Santi


    DF:12, MF:55, FW:33

    (No.10) Jack


    DF:12, MF:38, FW:50

    Ably supported by:

    (No.16) Aaron


    DF:17, MF:51, FW:32

    (No.7) Tomáš


    DF:7, MF:63, FW:30

    and shielded by:

    (No.8) Mikel


    DF: 22, MF:62, FW:11

    (No.20) Mathieu


    DF: 20, MF:66, FW:14

    (No. 34) Francis (similar to both Mikel and Mathieu above)

  2. retsub1 says:

    Nice write up and agree with pretty much all of it. I don’t think there is a person on here who hasn’t at some time or other suggested that we play this way against the big sides. Ok we may have used Flamini and Arteta together on occasions, but if memory serves me well it only worked on occasions and in some games meant our attacking force wasn’t up to scratch. Once again I am going to sing the praises of Coquelin. He just concentrated on protecting the defence and letting the city players know he was there. The gap between defence and midfield was effectively closed up and the likes of Silva wasn’t given the space the thrives on. I don’t think Arteta or Flamini could have produced such a display.

    The only downside comment I would have, is I don’t think Wenger should get too highly praised for this. He should have done it many times before. I am sure with a decent DM in place against the big sides last season we would have been champions… Even with Szs in goal (just kidding)

  3. tony says:

    hi total
    I can see the future in that,l’d go for ramsey and ozil as my two central mids.which could revert to a 4-2-3-1 easily with ramsey as a box to box and ozil as a number 10.

  4. Gerry says:

    Mmmnnnn? I am not sure I should even begin a reply TA, without having a respirator on hand.
    😀
    The title is an assertion, which the facts don’t fully support, imo. Of course they can both be on the field at the same time. One can be brilliant, the other less so. Or they can both be so-so.

    Th key is in the different styles of play, particularly with Rosicky and Ozil. Rosicky is a north south player. He likes the direct runs forward – not exclusively, but that is what we like to see. Ozil is more a lateral player, and makes the ball do the vertical stuff – I am simplifying it.
    The problem is, Cazorla is a ball carrying lateral mover, with short bursts forward.

    Does it not seem strange that the best we see of Cazorla is now, when there is no competition for the lateral space? Even on last season’s form, Ramsey is one who can also do the vertical stuff with both Ozil and Cazorla, it worked better than with other personnel?

    Then you come to the real fly in the ointment, Jack Wilshere. He is another vertical player, but vertically central. No evidence that JW can work effectively with Ozil and Ramsey on past showings? Plenty to the contrary.

    Then there is the defensive aspect, JW, AR, and SC can all do a ‘physical’ job back in defence. Ozil cannot. So then you are left with trying to make it work by having Ozil as second striker, in the hole, as No 10, call it what you like, but forward, not dropping deep defending. Which is fine except it loses the space for those defence-splitting passes. Jack is better in that tighter area with short passes, one-two’s, etc.
    But this is an area that Santi likes to work towards?

    Much as the front players will enjoy the service these excellent players can provide, there are only a few combinations that work well enough that allows all 11 players to perform at their best. One such combination was in the Stoke game. Another variant, which will be better when Ramsey is on the top of his game, against Man City. Hopefully another will be on show at Brighton when Ozil struts his stuff with Ramsey.
    All of these combinations should maintain the balance and collective approach that has been successful. I think we will have to wait and see if any others can be anywhere near as as good.
    I have my doubts.

    I won’t bother with the idea that Coquelin should now start undoing what has made him such a success, ie staying disciplined in front of the back 4, that you want to destroy our shape by having him venture forth …

    It is what you expected TA 😀

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Even with Szs in goal hahaha 🙂
    Retsub, you devil! 😛

    The praise is deserved, because many believed that Wenger could not do it. I have always said it is by choice and not ability. Wenger wants to play beautiful winning football but he realises his team is not ready for it yet. The 4-1-4-1, with the quality mids we have, could, however, make a structural change; and that is what we should be excited about.

    Agreed on Le Coq: a very strong display, but if you watch the game again you will also see that Rambo helped him a lot, and he made some key interventions too.

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    Tony 🙂

    Rambo-Ozil would also be very strong. Key is to be disciplined and worked as a team of three.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    It is indeed what I expected, Gerry. And on the Day of Democracy I am going to let you have your say without rebutting it. 😉

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Holy moses, JM, those picture take up a huge space.. Nice as they are though 🙂

  9. retsub1 says:

    TA totally agree on Rambo, he certainly added some energy.

    Don’t you think though if we had signed a decent DM last season (I know they don’t grow on trees) we would have won the title?

    I am a big Wenger fan, but I believe he made a similar mistake a few seasons ago, when he persisted with an error prone Almunia and a very nervous Fabianski as back up. had he signed someone like Schwarzer it might have made a big difference. Interestingly enough it was a young Szs who eventually steadied the ship.

    I only mention these because it seems to me that everyone knows what was needed. I don’t profess to have a tiny element of Wengers football knowledge, but is he just a little to stubborn for his own good sometimes?

  10. retsub1 says:

    Apologies have drifted off topic a little

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Retsub, agreed agreed. You will find many posts here from me begging Wenger to get a proper DM. Whether we would have become champions we just don’t know, but it could have made a big difference. But style of play is also important in terms of defending well, especially against the top teams. If we had played Coquelin on Sunday on his own without disciplined protection from Ramsey and Santi, who both have limited to non defensive skills, we would probably not have won. The instructions to keep it tight and venture forwards carefully were key in my opinion, and so was Le Coq’s brilliant performance.

  12. jnyc says:

    TA, you have always been the master of these tactical posts. .
    As i read it, it strikes me how much talent we have for these positions when even just mostly healthy and available. .

    One way to keep our guys happier and get the best from them is not simply rotating more, which wenger probably won’t do anyway… but by another which he probably won’t do …. though he has shown signs of a slight change along the lines that we have all wanted— earlier subs.

    Imagine giving santi a well deserved rest, and starting ozil. The perfect situation would be to get him off as he becomes less effective at about 60, 65 mins… and if we are more closing shop, using a flamini or another fb… but if we are chasing, or are feeling we can score more to add to a lead, giving a good fresh 30 minutes to a cazorla or rosicky, who would have added defensive skills also to add as a bonus.

    This type of situation also keeps more players happy and involved, also less rusty. Ozil in particular looks the most gassed at 70 mins.

    Though I’ve always been hoping for more rotation and earlier subs, as you know.

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Johnnie 🙂

    How cold is NY right now?

    Rotation is easier when all are fit and the team is doing well, but yes Wenger is not so keen on it, it seems. Early subs could be the answer, but I am hoping Wenger plays different combinations of midfielders depending on the opposition, which should keep everybody happy AND healthy.

  14. PA Gooner says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter…
    While I agree with much of what was said in the post, I simply have to disagree that Ozil can offer “superb defensive and ‘get out of jail’ support throughout the game.” He has never shown the willingness or ability to do so. As much as I love Ozil’s skill going forward, he just doesn’t have the engine that Rambo or Santi showed us on Sunday. Maybe Alexis has inspired Santi, and maybe he can inspire Ozil to work harder too. I am hopeful, but so far in his Arsenal career, he simply hasn’t shown us that he can track back and put in a good defensive shift.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    PA Gooner, welcome 🙂

    We know that Ozil clocks up a lot of miles but I am pretty sure he is not asked to support the defence deep a lot. Can he do it? Why not, we only have to ask him, I reckon. In those games where we play more forward, Ozil and Santi press high up and do not need to help defend deep too much anyway. But he could do it, if that is the instruction.

  16. St. Henry says:

    Fascinating question TA (or assertion as Gerry says) ! 🙂 I do believe that Ozil can support the defense adequately. Not sure if he would throw his body around, but he has never been that type of a footballer. It certainly looks like Sanchez is having a massive effect on the team off the pitch and in the work rate on it. No reason to think that a fully fit Ozil wouldn’t be similarly influenced. And he has pretty good speed as well. Having Ozil and Santi together would, I feel, may very well be needed against teams that park the bus and perhaps in the Champs League as well. What a good problem to be having! 🙂

  17. steve says:

    Hi guys, ive been having surgery in hospital for the last couple of days, just about got to see the City match but hated not being able to comment on it straight after.
    I’ve just got back to the island so i am crashing straight out i’m afraid but just a quick MASSIVE THANKS to you guys for keeping my mind off of shit whilst waiting to go into surgery (free wifi in my room), made a big difference to my state of mind to be honest and managed to keep my concentration where it should be – on the gunners at all times! 🙂
    Obviously i was too drugged to write any decent comments, and still am now to be honest but i look forward to chatting with you guys again when i come round tomorrow some time – In my own bed again!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  18. Retsub1 says:

    Hey Steve
    Welcome back certainly missed your comments. Just recently you might have been better off on drugs watching some of the games…. But not this one

    Welcome back and wishing you a speedy recovery

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    St-e(le)ve(n), really good to hear you are back and I hope that the operation was a full success. 🙂

    Sorry to hear you are still feeling drugged, but yet, you seem in high spirits. You are making the blog a very nice compliment and this is one of the reason I have been keeping it going, as we have a good community here and bloggers look after each other. Keep rockin’ buddy and catch up with you soon. 🙂

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Exactly, St H. 🙂

    There are many games, especially at home, where a combo of Santi and Ozil, with a DM behind them, would work magically. No need to play compact and deep against many a team in the PL, as long as the central attacking mids realise they still have to help out and make good judgements when to do so. Ozil is also good in releasing the pressure as he has great ball control and dribbling skills; and if Santi can do it, Ozil can do it.

    Against those teams in which we need more defensive support in midfield, Ozil might not necessarily be first choice, but I have no doubt that in yesterday’s game he could have played in Santi’s position if he was fit enough.

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    Watched the Liv – Chavs game today and the Oilers were lucky to get a draw. You have to give it to Pool for the way they attack and keep the tempo very high. The finishing was below par, as clearly they are lacking good finishers in the team, and they let the Chavs off the hook. The much rated Matic looked vulnerable and ordinary at times, and so did their CBs. Nice.

  22. AwayGunner says:

    Great post, as usual TA.. Also, good to hear you’re on the road to recovery Steve. Welcome back.

    One of the resounding analytical points from the weekend was about our control of the “dangerous” space throughout the midfield. Rather than dogged pressing, tough tackling, or devoted back tracking, the collective effort to greatly reduce available space in the dangerous areas through disciplined yet fluid ranks forced City to operate on the fringes or drive to dead ends in the middle. They played (for the most part) where we wanted them to.

    Mesut Ozil is by all accounts among the very best if not THE very best in all of world football when it comes to spatial awareness and his position relative. Offensively that’s a given, but I’ve always felt he’s actually quite superb (and unsung) when we don’t have possession in terms of channeling the opposition to less dangerous areas through his own movement. He’s not a tackler, he doesn’t pretend to be. The issue is that sheep herding (so to speak) is not effective unless the collective reads the situation and reacts accordingly (everyone is on board). If we continue to adopt a disciplined approach in certain situations (big away matches?), I think we’ll see this talent of his showcased in the near future.

    Successful team defending is more about collective strength of mind than it is of body.

    His sometimes subtle, but CONSTANT movement is what makes him such a difficult player to defend against and why he looks like he just ran a marathon come the 70th minute – Because he just did..

    I imagine that Santi and Mesut can come to an understanding over time, and very successfully play together in the same 11 (at least when a bus is parked illegally and requires towing) but for now I would prefer to have them regularly sub for one another thereby leaving us with fresh creative class on the pitch at all times. I’m not convinced that is going to happen though as we all know AW loves making room for his number 10’s..

    IMO,

    AG

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    Very good comment, AG and thanks for the feedback and insight of Ozil’s movement and reading of the game, as well as the importance of defending collectively and owning the available space: all agreed. 🙂

    Until now we have played one of Ozil or Santi on the wing when played together, and especially Santi is less effective there, even if he has a free role. Just imagine Ozil and Santi playing as the ‘Iniesta-Xavi duo’ with a proper DM behind them and three lethal attackers next and in front of them. I reckon Wenger is preferring the 4-1-4-1 for the very reason of having two nr.10s together in the hard of our midfield, and there is really no reason to believe that Ozil and Santi would make an awesome duo imo. Let’s hope we will soon see them play together, so we can judge it properly. 🙂

  24. Xavier says:

    Hey i totally Agree with AG about Ozil’s movement and ‘spatial defending’. Thing is, when people started talking about how he doesnt defend and doesnt put in his own share of the defensive shift I started watching him a little more. He does a lot of that Sheep herding. Moving them to areas of the pitch that he deems less dangerous. But like AG said, Its something that would work when the collective sees the vision too. Like against city. Ozil is not the Tracking back tough tackling high count interceptor midfielder you expect from him. He probably would never be. But if anyone in the arsenal team understands space its Ozil. Personally I dont see how he and Santi cant play in the middle duo in a 4141 but I also understand the sentiments of others who dont see it. Truthfully its kinda been a failed experiment so far. But like TA i believe thats why we are evolving to a 4141. Its really an everchanging formation when defending, when attacking or when holding possession. I dont think Ozil santi is a combo that should be used to regularly though. Subbing one for the other would make more sense in majority of the games. That would also allow for rotation in the other midfield spot between jack, ramsey, rozza, et al.
    My 2 cents anyways. I dont know how much sense it makes. I now see why HT has such long posts. These rants can go on forever. Lol

    Good post TA. Thought provoking as usual. 😀

  25. Gerry says:

    Oh Stevie, and there was me thinking it was alcohol induced coma 😀

    I am doing my best to keep some of your ideas flowing, albeit for a different reason regards Ozil. But we differ on that. Mind, as you slowly get to rejoin the conscious world you can watch endless repeats of the ‘historic’ Mancs game … even though for a little while you will not believe you are back in reality. I can assure you it really did happen … Arsene with a Plan B!
    Get well soon.

    AB and AG – I can fully agree with what you are saying. I too, think Mesut Ozil will come alive in his second half of the season. Fresh, having not missed his winter break, and a potential top class line up in front of him. I said some time back, when Mesut was criticised for not tracking back, or probably more not ‘tackling’ back, that I did not want him to. Although he is normally pretty good at avoiding injury, it is not what he should be doing. His value is creating the space for others to work in, and seeing they get the ball when they get there.
    AG, I know what you are saying with the ‘sheep herding’, it is like what he does in attack by his movement that draws players to him, but in reverse. Not by physically tackling, but blocking the route of passes that he would like to make if he were the attacker. Subtle but effective. Which is why I think he should be able to play at his best, which is in the middle?

    We have seen the difference that, when given the freedom, it has made to Santi’s game.

    I think Arsene knows that the key piece missing in order to split defences wide open, is a proper left-sided attacking mid. Reus, Draxler, Dyabala to name but three. Any one of these working with Santi, Mesut, Jack, Ox or Crowley or Zelalem down the line, would complete the picture? Right now the only one like to come is the man in pink, but even that chance is slipping away rapidly. If we sign even a young prospect for less money, if he is not left sided, then the same problems will continue.

    In the meantime, we have what we have. So in order to get the best out of the best is going to be Arsene’s biggest problem.

  26. geoffchase says:

    TA

    I’m going to agree, if only in hopes of seeing Steves drugged up answers! 🙂 (glad to hear you’re well after it tho!)

    Specifically, I think we are thinking too simply about this. Offense or defense. Player to player. Defense, to repeat long ago beatings is not about taking the ball. It’s about making them give it to you, and, in the meantime, restricting the number and quality of their opportunities. Always offering the least opportunity. Taking and tackling are he high risk, as fail, and you’ve created numbers for them going forward. It looks nice and inspiring, but…

    So, it’s really about the beginning about the opposition attack. Transition! There are two to three main things involved:

    A. Restrict outlet, contain. Alexis and OG do this a lot. Cut off passes, slow the ball force or allow passes sideways or backward.

    B. (This allows) numbers to get back in front of the ball. Thus, there are now more defenders than attackers, dramatically limiting the opportunities dramatically. It slows the ball and doesn’t give them the quick run before being set that I turn allows openings to be created by those still trying to get into defense

    My point? Ozil doesn’t have to track back and tackle.. He has to contain and restrict. Something he does do well. It is no less valuable, tho many do not value it in the least. Without it, all the hard effort and tackling won’t stop goals. Don’t do step one and step two doesn’t happen enuff and that is goals in the long run. Goals against…

    Thus, they can play together, but we will be different than with other combos.

    Finally, recall that even vs City on each City attack, OG and others of the mids contained, but no more than three back quickly, the fourth coming later, if at all…

    That too is structure and precision.

    Just my 2p — jgc

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/30854083

    Cheers guys 🙂

    Not much time today, but I just wanted to copy in this brilliant Amy Lawrence article about one of the best CFs ever and his fight with stress in football management.

  28. Gerry says:

    Geofff – When you have the time, I would love an expansion on the line:
    ‘…thus they can play together, but it will be different’

    I ask, because the obvious conclusion most of us can come up with, is that either one player plays in his ‘preferred’ position, and the other doesn’t? Alternatively, one plays a deeper role, while the other is in an advanced position, but both having the freedom of the middle and wider areas on different horizontal planes?

    The only point I have been making is part of the reason why Cazorla has been in such good form has been because Rosicky moves into spaces that Cazorla leaves. Ramsey too, when he gets forward he goes for the space. Obviously, Ozil could operate in a similar way, but the difference is that Rosicky is not naturally drawn towards the middle. Ozil and Cazorla are, and Wilshere more so.

    From most of the comments agreeing with the post, there is an implied ‘they ought to’, rather than, they have repeatedly played well together and that is what their judgement is based upon.

    Just saying …. 😀

  29. steve says:

    right i have a bit off catching up to do and its going to take a while as you simply cannot imagine the insane body position i am typing this in atm lol

    Firstly the City match, yes i’m talking about that still – unlike you lucky bastards i did not get to verbally ejaculate into the comments section straight after the match over a truly incredible performance. So instead of a night long back and forth i will have to make do with just quickly giving my take on it and congratulate the rest of you lot on an excellent set of comments that i had the pleasure of reading through.

    The city game:
    It was exactly what every epic lads night out in a different city is like, we strutted our stuff, pulled off a few moves on the dance floor (santi), had a few close scrapes (Koscielny’s last ditch tap out for a corner), and of course what night out would be complete without…………
    Getting your Coq out and pissing all over the City!!!! 😆 😆 😆

    Everyone to a man did exactly what they were asked to do, not such an easy thing in the modern game.
    Grioud needed to be strong, get stuck in and close down like Welbeck has been doing – he did!!
    Sanchez and OX needed to focus more on their midfield support and defensive duties even at the detriment of their forward plays – they did!!
    Ramsey (having been picked over Rosicky which was the only thing i had originally disagreed with) needed to hold back on those forward runs and concentrate on his defensive and creative play in the midfield – he did!!
    Cazorla needed to become Super Santi, reminiscent of some kind of extreme Japanese cartoon level up to a new power, i could almost see the yellow pulsating glow and arcs of electricity that a cartoonist would have drawn round him as he played – needless to say he did!!
    Coquelin needed to become the Flamteta combo in one man and add even more vitality and mobility – he did!!
    The back four although not over worked due to the immense work ethic ahead of them needed to be strong, compact and close to the midfield – they did!!
    Ospina needed to take command of his position in this first big test – he did!!

    I ask you fellow gooners, what more could you fucking ask for! simply excellent!!
    Its a very brief summary of course as you lot covered everything i wanted to point out about the game but i had to add something, i was feeling left out lol.

    Onto this post – what an insanely complicated post to pick through TA, it explores so many potential concepts that are largely untested but the 4-1-4-1 is the only formation they can be tested in that’s for sure so its a good place to start.
    It has to be the 4-1-4-1 Wenger is looking to evolve Arsenal into, it just has to be – not my personal favourite tbh but it maximizes the potential of Arsenals biggest strength – our large collection of CAM’s.
    In the past i have said do away with the “1” as a DM and rely on the two in midfield to perform well in their defensive duties as well which allows the addition of a number 10 up top behind the main striker in either Ozil or Sanchez. However i have to hold my hands up and say this just would not work, especially in big games (maybe in easy home games) but looking at our midfielders they are very much specialist in the “A” part of their CAM monikers. How to get the best out of them, well as Arsene figured out play a DM behind them for support and to allow them to play their game to the fullest.
    Its not that easy though!
    as we saw in the first part of the season choose the wrong wingers (guys who like to come in field) and you have a mess on you hands which is exactly what teams who like to sit and defend want. This in my mind is precisely why it worked so well at City, OX and Sanchez are the guys who like to come in field, support and defend as well but the difference is we were not playing a team that was sitting back and defending, in this instance it was exactly what we needed, we had 30 some odd possession but made our chances count – exactly what you are looking for in a tough away game.
    To make the formation work and fully capitalize on the double CAM concept in a home game or a game we know we should win then i truly believe no matter who the CAM’s are the real tactic will be selecting the correct wingers.
    To my mind it has to be Walcott on the right and Cambpell on the left and with Campbell still yet to produce in a meaningful way i am beginning to see why we are being linked with left sided attacking wingers/strikers like Dybala – it would be essential on getting the balance right.
    How would the midfield look, well it would be the death of Arteta and Flamini as neither can perform the DM role on their own and they would not be part of the CAM collection. Rosicky and Diaby i would love to see remain at the club as fringe squad players (Rosicky is just class, but i fear Arsene is well and truly sold on replacing him with Ramsey at every opportunity) otherwise its golden handshakes to add to that of Flamini and Arteta.
    Coquelin would remain as he has proven he can provide an excellent choice as DM even if we do buy in the TW he would be on the bench ready in every game, he can also come on to replace one of the CAM’s to add stability and discipline if we need to close out a lead.
    So setting the pieces of the board around the two midfield spots we have (and you may notice a few strange absences);

    ——————Giroud——————-
    —————-Welbeck——————
    —————–Akpom——————–
    Campbell———————–Walcott
    —–?—————————–Gnabry
    —————–New DM—————–
    —————–Coquelin—————–
    ——————-H/C/B——————-
    H/C/B – battle between Hayden/Chambers and Bielek

    I am sure you are asking yourself where are OX and Sanchez, well i see both as CAM’s with Gnabry more than capable of offering the same attacking with midfield support that OX does on the right and a new addition on the left.

    This would give you a left foot / right foot balance in midfield of;
    Sanchez——-Ozil
    Ramsey—–Cazorla
    OX———–Wilshere

    Just look at the midfield possibilities Arsenal has at its disposal;

    ——————————Giroud————————
    —————————–Welbeck———————-
    ——————————Akpom————————
    Campbell——–Sanchez——-Ozil———Walcott
    —–?————–Ramsey—–Cazorla——-Gnabry
    ———————The OX—–Wilshere—————
    —————————-New DM————————
    —————————-Coquelin———————–
    —————————–H/C/B————————–

    OX and Wilshere are still both young prospects don’t forget and do i think both have the potential to grow into the roles and replace Ramsey and Cazorla, most definitely. But the Sanchez and Ozil partnership with Walcott on the right and a on form Campbell on the left would be devastating!

    However that all comes down to what Ozil you are talking about, the one you guys see or the one i see lol. And that (after that f*cking huge load of gabble) is where your answer lies TA, it doesn’t matter if he plays badly there are excellent choices in reserve so could Ozil and Cazorla play together certainly, why not? but should it not work who cares, just mix it up with the other choices.

    What we really don’t want to see is a line of four CAM’s with Wenger trying to include the whole roster of midfield talent he has all at the same time – that shit doesn’t work! no more Ozil or Cazorla on the left wing etc, it just creates a mess. Ox and Sanchez can be used as wingers who like to come in and support midfield if the game demands it (like at City) but unlike the rest of the CAM collective they both offer more attacking direct drive when the opportunity presents itself.

    Lastly – my Brighton game line-up

    ——————————-Akpom—————————–
    Campbell——-The OX————-Ozil————Walcott
    ——————————Coquelin—————————-
    Gibbs——–Koscielny———Chambers———Bellerin
    —————————–Ospina——————————–

    A-M-N for Ox at some point
    Ramsey or Rosicky for Ozil at some point
    Bielek for Coquelin if we are ahead by a large margin

    The start of the show Cazorla gets a night off for his incredible performance at City

    My apologies if this has been a crazy post but i was under general anesthetic not 24 hours ago and have been on heavy pain pills since so be kind lol

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    TA busy today, just as I was yesterday…Too much driving these days–to get to the snow–damn that Szcz and the global warming he’s caused… 😀

    This is a(nother) good post and there are some fine comments in there. It’s so much nicer than trying to hold the sky aloft after disappointment in a(nother) big match. It would be lovely if we could get back into a more regular habit against the richer clubs, you know, you win some you lose some, fine margins and all that, rather than the narratives about Arsenal having these fundamental flaws which require all babies and all bathwater down the drain…

    As we move into this 2nd half of the season and some more tactical battles against teams pacing themselves for their own struggles (in other leagues, against relegation, etc…In other words, not merely looking to play rugby and injure all our smaller guys…) the desire to use our very best players–together, in the biggest matches–will become manifest. As such, Ozil and Santi, not only *can* play together, but will need to, if we want this iteration of Arsenal to be its very best. After all, along with Alexis, they are our best (technical) players. Sure, we cannot set out a team that is all technique; size, speed and power has its place. Still, against teams who have come to play, it is the way…

    In the end it’s a team game and balance and teamwork are the keys. JGC makes the fine point that defending is even more about teamwork (than attacking). Therefore it is highly simplistic to say that Ozil (or Santi) cannot defend. No, they do not bring the qualities of Kos (or the BFG, or Gabriel, soon to be in red and white, maybe?…) but they can do their part when needed–even if it’s not the bit which shows up on the telly. Television, too much focus on “moments” and end-results (highlights and replays), and the glorification (and its opposite…) of individuals (fantasy football and the blame game…) ALL work to obscure the reality–it’s the best TEAM which wins (sometimes, other things like luck and refs being equal…) and the thing that we’re hoping to achieve…

    But that’s what leads to long posts, as the team can only be described by talking about the parts…Sorry… Also, sorry for wasting so much space and saying nothing in this one thus far… So, to conclude, and to contradict myself, here are some highlights of some serious champagne football from a match last season (in the pre-Alexis era) featuring some great team goals with Ozil and Santi (and Giroud, Jack and Ramsey and Rosicky) at the heart of them… And there’s even Sir Chez shipping one (purely his fault, as they all are and will be forever–even if he’s not playing…) for 007… Enjoy… 😀

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey F11ngers…Sorry for simul-posting over your epic and (likely) creating the effect of making it even longer… Glad that you’re on the mend, working your (drug) therapy and enjoying the Arsenal and the match from Sunday… (In truth, I think we just got a bit lucky there, but it was a pretty good performance too and, perhaps, just maybe…a less twatty than normal tactical approach… 😀 …)

    Anyhow, poor timing…Apologies…

  32. Gerry says:

    Worth waiting for Steve 😀

    Somehow I think you have straddled my view on the mid conundrum, but at the same time agreed with TA, and what we are all agreed on, I think, we don’t want 3 CAM’s together for the sake of it?

    Your Brighton line up is not too dissimilar to mine. I still don’t see the point about playing Ospina though?
    We may not have an option of playing Campbell if he is about to go out on loan?
    I would rather keep Coquelin fit and ready for Villa, unless AW is holding something back regards the TW?
    I will probably go along with your back 4, as my CB alternatives are otherwise engaged. One on loan and O’Connor playing tonight in the Youth Cup.
    Kos or Per for a break? One or the other for certain.
    Subs: Well if Campbell is not available, then let Alexis ‘I want to play every game’ Sanchez start, and if Gnabbers is over his knee problem, then he can sub Alexis.
    Maitland-Niles, like O’Connor is playing tonight, so if you are stating with Ox, then Rosicky is the spare, for either Walcott or Ox?
    Love to see ‘6ft 2”, eyes of blue, but only alongside Flamini, as we should be out of sight with that attack. I somehow think AW thinks he has what it takes, so I am guessing he has been showing good signs in training – unless playing has been written into his contract?

  33. Gerry says:

    HT – I am not sure I saw too much of Santi in that one, before he was subbed for the flexible Rosicky …. and that was relegated Norwich.

    Jack’s one was goal of the season wasn’t it? Nice assist from Giroud too.

  34. steve says:

    haha HT what a contrast in comments, mine is a muddled rambling mess and then straight after theres yours – concise structured and intelligent, lol cheers mate 😆

    Gerry, yep i wrote so much in such an incoherent way i am sure i have covered myself in agreeing with everyone lol, a clever tactic.
    I read on an earlier post in one of your comments that Hayden is out for the rest of the season!!??
    That’s crazy, what a disappointment for the lad!
    Once again thanks for keeping me updated on the injury front as Arsenal itself seem to do a rather shit job of that in particular, i still don’t really know how Gnabry or Diaby are progressing but if you think Gnabbers could be in at Brighton then i would be all for that!
    Its going to be an interesting game at Brighton as for once the guys who are rusty and less on form are the actual superstars lol, so although we are keeping our stronger squad rested they will be faced with the likes of Walcott, Ozil, Welbeck (maybe), Campbell etc – gonna be good 🙂

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Gerry… Santi started the move for the Wilshere goal and ran the break passing wide for Giroud who put the ball on Ozil’s head… I think they are flashing to Rosicky on the sidelines who was just about to sub in for him… My point in playing the video is that it was some very fun footy with a whole mess of our CAM’s…

    What gets lost in all the back and forth (and the point of TA’s post, I think…) is that a bit of tactical flexibility can go a very long way towards success–even if you have players who are (supposedly) being played out of position. If you have an opponent (like Norwich in the vid) who comes to play (as good a tactic as parking the bus, I think, for many of the lesser teams coming to the tougher stadiums…) then dropping back our technical players and springing on the counter can work a treat.

    Things might actually get more difficult against the teams set out to frustrate. Is the answer then to play more direct, powerful or pacier players? Probably not, if the tactic remains the same. Using width (which, with AW, means the FBs, not the “traditional wingers” which the dyed in the wool English Football fans want…) can work too. The great thing about Giroud is that his attributes of size, work ethic, desire to play 1-2s make up for his so-so finishing. If he can make trouble in the box and we can spread the pitch with the FBs and an occasional cross, a lot of poaching and “2nd ball” goals can happen. Create enough space with those attempts and the more intricate stuff (like Jack’s wonder goal through the middle) is also on offer…

    Giroud, post injury, walks back into the first 11, mostly because Welbeck, beyond the good work ethic, cannot replace him like for like. Ozil, whose game is likely too subtle for many to appreciate (as is–or was–Santi’s)…needs more explanation. Both can get complicated by too much running and trying to carry the team by guys like Atlas, er, Alexis (or Ramsey, the Welsh Atlas)… But those guys are learning too…

    In other words, I guess I reject the notion that too many cooks (or guys who’ve spent their careers as #10s or best players on the pitch or whatever…) spoils the broth…

    Sorry… 😦 😀

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Super comment and good to see that you understand the post as well as the teaser of the title, Steve. We can indeed play with two central CAMs in the middle of the second four, Ozil and Cazorla together is indeed a good possibility, but the crux of the post is that Wenger can mix and match for those two positions to suit the strengths or weaknesses of the opponent. On top of that he will give specific instructions to those players depending on the opponent, and like a harmonica the team shape and formation can change during the game as well. That is the potential power of Wenger’s 4-1-4-1 formation.

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    Haha…Another Simulpost with Steve… Sorry again…

    Nothing but love for you and all your fingers even if we don’t see eye to eye on much re: the topic at hand or the footy more generally… Maybe you could use that extra finger to poke yourself (in one or both eyes…) so you could see things more the way I do… 😀

    Anyhow, I’d love details on your surgery, but, as long as it was successful and you’re on the mend, all is good…

    OK, gotta check for New Snow (none in our forecast, f**king Szcz… but maybe some transfer news…) and I should probably do some work here (around the farm…) while the sun shines and the temps are nice…

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    Fine comments 17 and agreed. Enjoy the snow search and looking after the ‘farm’. 🙂

  39. Gerry says:

    Yep I’m off now ‘cos I’m a morning person.

    Re Hayden Steve. I say ‘the season’, as he has just had ankle surgery by bloke did(for?) Wilshere. So 3 months takes him until April before getting in training. Might make the bench for the Cup final 😀

    By for now

  40. geoffchase says:

    Gerry

    Quick response to your query. I responded about defense because that is the main criticism ofOzil.

    Offensively, he’s a master and so, in his way, is Santi. I am absolutely certain they can play together and not impinge space. I would do it with the two in the center, but one forward and one back, creating really a 4-1-3-1-1 with Ozil up and Santi back but switching as necessary. Equally, looking at heat maps and games both like to sometimes go to the sides from the center, rather than vice versa, and work things there. So, there is plenty of opportunity for them to share.

    Cheers — jgc

  41. James Bond says:

    Hugo Lloris is up for sale – in the summer .

    will be leaving spuds .

  42. James Bond says:

    correction * not up for sale but will be leaving spuds .

    whether he puts in a transfer request, remains to be seen but he’s a Goner (gooner ? ) I wish .

    and yes, Ozil and Santiago can play together but Santiago, Ozil, and Jack wilshere can’t play together as they need a Rosicky in there to speed it up for them . we need a catalyst for the Ozil and Santiago combo to be success and in Alexis we have just the man who can stretch defences and create more space for them to play – Good post @ skipper and couldn’t disagree really .

    Partnerships work fine for me, it’s just the triangles I look at that may or may not make the partnerships tick .

    Santiago and Ozil – with Ramsey and Le Coq = Success if Alexis is stretching defences on one of the wings = perfecto !

  43. James Bond says:

    oh and couldn’t even keep a clean sheet in that 4-1 – got beat at his near post, that’s just embarrassing @ Me amigo

    welcome back Steve, Glad that the operation went well and you still haven’t lost any of your crazy formations 😀

    don’t agree with Gerry when he says that he doesn’t see the point of playing Ospina and needs a 2nd or 3rd choice keeper to be ready and sharp . That’s just utter rot .

    Ospina needs more game time as he has only just returned from injury and hasn’t even played 5 games in a row .

    will give you the Le Coq reasoning though and Flamini will do just fine, other than that, Can’t really see AW changing it too much , considering we only have 2 games in the next 2 weeks .

    as much as giving a break to the guys might look like a good idea but not after what happened the last time he gave some of the guys a few days off – we were terrible returning from a break – the lads need to build on the confidence and keep going – we need a 7-0, 5-0 to further build on the good work !

  44. James Bond says:

    great link that re – Van Basten and stress .

    Managers are also humans and humans being humans are fragile or can be, regardless of what position they hold

    stress is a serious illness and I would be surprised if there were not many many more sports people or footballers not suffering from it .

    we already lost 2 great cricketers due to stress – Marcus Tresco and Jonathon Trott (almost ? )

    it’s just the rigours and pressures of the game – so in a way, you need personalities like AW, Jose.Moron and co to be mentally strong and absorb it all for their team and keep everyone in high spirits as much as possible – it’s a tough job and world out there

    good on Van Basten for coming out and saying it how it was .

    me on the other hand, I get stressed and depressed as in get PTSD when I don’t see GLIC comment 😦

  45. TotalArsenal says:

    fine comments tonight, JB. 🙂

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