Alexis, Mesut, Jack and Aaron the new Thierry, Dennis, Freddie and Robert?

Alexis CF, Mesut nr.10… with Jack and Aaron ‘Mid-wings’: Discuss! 🙂


Regular readers know that I am a great believer in Giroud and that I do not see a need to buy a CF anytime soon. Giroud allows others to shine and he carries a strong goal threat himself. Ollie is the complete package in the modern game, even though he is not the best classical centre forward Arsenal ever have had by any stretch. For me it is clear that Arsene wants our attack to be unpredictable and multi-dimensional, and Giroud offers a great base to operate from, especially if and when we play park the bus teams. His stats are great, his work rate good, and his total contribution to the team is simply fantastic.

I also like Theo, who offers speed and keeps defences close to their goalkeepers, often allowing our midfielders to boss the midfield. This works especially well against teams that like to attack us/ do not park the bus. With Theo we are at our most dynamic, especially once we have regained the ball and can break forward.

I love it that we have these two options for attacking different opponents, and I reckon Giroud and Theo will get plenty of chances to shine. But there is a third option for us, and that is playing Alexis as our CF. He can do hold/link up play, he is fast, he has energy and a great threat from outside and inside the box. He can dribble and take defenders on, and he also has a decent through-ball in his repertoire. He also is a great finisher and a predator with relentless energy and hunger. The total ‘pure’ CF package, if you ask me…

I would love Arsene to try Alexis as our CF, but I guess he will not do it until he has a good alternative on the left wing. With Ozil in the hole and Alexis up top, we would not be that far from what Bergkamp and Henry had to offer a  decade or so ago.

What we also need is good midfielders on the wings that can work in tandem with their flying full-backs: Bellerin and Nacho. Rambo and Bellerin have formed a very strong partnership in which the FB is the real winger and the midfielder is both an attacker and co-defender, and I reckon we need to buy a good left winger/midfielder to make the Ozil-Sanchez partnership really work.

But then I thought about Jack coming back in the new year. I see Jack in either Cazorla or Ozil’s current role, but both have been playing very well and it would be wrong to force either out. But what about playing Jack on the left wing for a while? Nacho and Jack would be able to work a fine partnership ala Aaron and Bellerin, and Jack can do on the left what Ramsey does on the right. Both would also be allowed to move about and interchange with Ozil, as to keep it all fluid and unpredictable.

This is how it would look like:

Midfield heaven

Of course we would need Coquelin back, which will take a while now, and Jack would need to be fully fit. But once everybody is available, this could be a very strong team in my opinion. Jack and Rambo could develop into our new Ljunberg and Pires… And with Theo, Giroud and Danny we would have options to vary this approach.

What do you think FFGs? 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

15 thoughts on “Alexis, Mesut, Jack and Aaron the new Thierry, Dennis, Freddie and Robert?

  • We don’t have a HENRY , Alexis is more a mix of freddie and pires. Ozil is the most simular to Dennis though still not at that level i feel. Ramsey is quality and a good comparison to freddie. Wilshire is always injured and doesn’t really fit the wide role, he is a combative midfielder whos good on the ball but not a winger. The OX when fully fit is a better option in that position i feel. Alexis is our best player now and maybe should play up front as Giroud offers very little.

  • A very interesting article TA!

    I agree wholeheartedly that Sanchez is Arsenal’s best centre forward option and I really like the concept of Wilshere and Ramsey on the wings a lot! Whilst I believe Wilshere fails to offer a genuine goal scoring threat, Arsenal typically don’t play with two conventional wingers. As we have seen this season one of the winger (namely Ramsey) has been given a free role to link with the likes of Ozil and Monreal (on the left) or Ozil and Bellerin (on the right) to create overloads on each flank and subsequent enable goal scoring chances to be generated for the likes of Sanchez and Walcott. That’s a function and position within Arsenal’s system which compliments Wilshere’s skill set and attributes in my opinion. Similarly with Ramsey’s possessing a natural goal scoring instinct, good passing skills and sensational engine, I think he could adjust to what is effectively striker role on the opposite flank.

    The only issue with that forward structure is whether it’s Arsenal’s most potent or effective combination. Personally I don’t think it is. I really believe Walcott up front with Sanchez on the left and Ramsey on the right is Arsenal’s best forward combination. Walcott offers Arsenal a speedy outlet and possess a natural goal scoring instinct when deployed in the centre forward role. Whilst Sanchez can similarly offer those attributes and more, Sanchez’s skill set and attributes make him more suitable than Ramsey or Walcott to performing the wide striking role in Arsenal’s system. Similarly Ramsey’s skill set and attributes (particularly his natural goal scoring instinct) make him more suitable than Wilshere to performing that free role on the opposite flank. So personally I think Arsenal’s best forward combination is Walcott up front with Sanchez on the left and Ramsey on the right.

    In terms of where Wilshere best fits into Arsenal’s current system of play, I think that with his skill set and attributes he could effectively perform in that free role wide role (in rotation with Ramsey) and/or Cazorla’s deeplying playmaker role (in rotation with Cazorla). I genuinely believe that given Wilshere’s close ball control and dribbling skills, exquisite passing range and defensive tenacity, he would be best suited to Cazorla’s deeplying playmaker role.

    Of Arsenal’s first team players this is where I think their skill sets and attributes best fit within the club’s current system of play:

    GK: Cech; Ospina
    RB: Bellerin, Debuchy
    CB: Chambers; Mertesacker
    CB: Koscielny: Gabriel
    LB: Gibbs; Monreal
    CDM: Coquelin
    CM: Cazorla, Wilshere
    CAM: Ozil; Rosicky
    Free Wide Role: Ramsey; Flamini; Wilshere;
    ST: Sanchez; Walcott; Ox; Welbeck; Campbell; Giroud
    Wide Striking Role: Sanchez; Ramsey; Walcott; Campbell; Flamini

    First team players considered unsuitable to Arsenal’s current system:
    Arteta (a great professional and off field influence on the playing squad but his playing career, at least at Arsenal, has come to a close)

  • Flo8,

    Flamini as a stand in DM beast is second option to him as a free roaming winger. He is good in the double defensive pivot when Le Coq is injured.

    I myself will like to hire MS if he is ousted by LVG, which i see him as a manager which does not give the players any freedom.

    Schweini is a Rambo type of player, so i would only get him if someone in the midfield leaves.

    Jack is currently too broken to be of any help, but i believe if he can change the way he gets into challenges he will be better injury wise, and can be a good left winger if Alexis goes up top.


  • TA,

    I love post that get us cracking our brains and often unshackling our thinking. You’ve done it once again.

    Somehow Giroud keeps scoring, somehow I keep being unconvinced. Against Zagreb we got to know that Giroud has an incredible final speed. But that’s not what a striker needs. The short bust is more crucial. In the box time is measured in split seconds. Damn too short for one who seems to wake from a deep slumber, yawn and stretch and yawn again before taking the first slow step. But he keeps scoring and I keep looking and searching to see how and why it happens. Do l just go with the numbers? I am programmed to seek to see the ” heart of things”.

    Sanchez as a striker? Without doubt it is an option and the best option when the buses are parked. His reaction time is the quickest. Great cut back from Campbell, but not many outside Sanchez would have scored that goal v Zagreb. Also Sanchez’s style provokes chaos which can help breach the lines of packed buses.

    As for Wilshere, when he comes back and back to form – my bet – there is a place for him. He is so incredibly gifted that back to form some great player must give way.

  • Great comments guys, especially Freddie’s comment is food for thought and touches on a lot of key issues. Am busy this morning but will get back later today. 👍

  • Alexis upfront is something needed against Norwich this weekend.

    Rambo is back so he can be on the right while Flams back up le coq.

    But then, who on the left?


  • With Arsenal evidentially in need of suitably skilled and physically able competion for Coquelin I’ve been looking at defensive player stats (namely the average number of tackles and interceptions per game by midfielders) to try a identify some potential candidates. As a barometer I’ve used Coquelin’s 2014/2015 per game interception (3.7) and tackling (3.2) stats to narrow the field of potential candidates. Based on players 2015/2016 per game interception and tackling stat these are who I see as potential transfer targets:
    – Lars Bender (26, Bay Lev): 4.9 interceptions and 3.7 tackles
    – Kante (24, Leicester): 4.2 interceptions and 4 tackles
    – Cabaye (29, Crystal Palace): 3.9 interceptions and 3.5 tackles
    – Kankava (29, Reims): 3.6 interceptions and 3.3 tackles
    – Garcia (25, Eibar): 3.5 interceptions and 3.5 tackles
    – Krhin (25, Granada): 3.5 interceptions and 3.2 tackles
    – Gueye (26, Aston Villa): 3.3 interception and 3.5 tackles
    – Bargfrede (26, Werder Bremen): 3.2 interception and 3.3 tackles
    – Yacob (28, WBA): 3.2 interception and 3.2 tackles
    – Illarramendi (25, Real Sociedad): 3.1 interceptions and 3.5 tackles
    – de Roon (24, Atlanta): 3.1 interceptions and 4.2 tackles

    To put the above into further perspective Coquelin’s comparable stats so far this season are 2.7 interceptions and 3.2 tackles.

    For me I think it’s imperative Arsenal have two high quality options in each position. Currently Arsenal don’t have that in the central defensive midfielder role. For that reason and the players fantastic statistics I can see the logic in Arsenal pursuing Bender of Bayer Leverkusen. Though with Kante, Cabaye and Gueye all joining rival Premier League clubs in the summer transfer window and posting good defensive statistics and Yacob, already an experienced Premier League campaigner, again showing himself to be an impressive defensive midfielder, there is a lingering feeling of regret that Arsenal could have already secured a suitably skilled and physically able competitor for Coquelin.

  • Hi fellas… Late to the party here with the big cooking and eating holiday in my area… Sorry.

    TA, this is an interesting post and it’s evoked some good comments. To me (as you might predict…) I find it wildly, but quite pleasantly, ironic… After we were ‘doomed’ with our personnel losses (not to mention the 3 points…) after WBA, ‘we’re now right back in it’ with those 7 goals (to none) vs the lesser teams in our CL group… Similarly, here on the BK at least, we went from a mild round of hand-wringing over (fairly poor) choices for replacing Le Coq at DM, to finding our solutions for our best 11 while taking out one of our healthiest (or at least our most strapping…) attacker, big Ollie… Wowsa!

    Also, funny, I think, is that AW had just such ideas in mind when Alexis first came to the club. That match early last season up in Everton stands out. Alexis started up front, we flailed and fell behind by two goals. Then Giroud came on and we scored two (to salvage a point) but the big fellow, on the last kick of the game, went off with his broken leg. Even w/o OG available, Wenger never really went for Alexis as the number 9 again… Welbeck was brought in at the deadline and played the position, although, as always, there was plenty of interchange amongst the attackers. The team, however, really struggled until Ollie came back…(BTW, I think PE makes a well expressed point about Ollie’s top speed vs first few steps, probably the main reason he will never be a ‘clinical’ striker, let alone every Gooners cup of tea…)

    By taking OG (and Theo… Welbeck didn’t even get a mention…) out we’re really talking about a bit of a 4-2-4 or even a 4-6-0 where the attackers are free to move and fill and, ideally, create a mesmerizing buzz of an attack. Defenders will then be forced to stay static or follow our individuals at the peril of their formation. It’s all about execution. If we get the balls through the lines, look out. If we pass (or run into) defenders, they’re off on the break and–esp if our back line has pushed up–we’re in trouble.

    It doesn’t bother me, but it’s a high risk situation. Jack (like Theo, Ox, Rambo and Rosicky…) has real fitness issues. To play his (their…) best, he (they) will risk some close calls–in 50-50s–and will need help from the refs. The move to a younger group of whistle-blowers (or whistle-swallowers…) in England scares me… So many of them are just finding their feet and we need to avoid falling back into narratives of “frail, fragile Arsenal.” We thus need to always maintain an eye for keeping a balance between being robust (impervious to never getting the whistles) and technically superior, i.e., quick, silky and small. It can be done, and when it happens it can be nothing short of brilliant. It’s not, however, a recipe for grinding out results–the bread and butter of keeper the supporters satisfied… Giroud, as traditional an English #9 as his fellow Frenchman Wenger has ever employed, will never please all eyes, but seems a big (big) part of this team. Ideally he (reads PE’s critique and) keeps improving and building his confidence. He will need rest and we will need other approaches so (IMO) there’s no harm in looking at alternatives.

    On the other hand, let’s not count our chickens (fit, in-form fellas…) while they’re still in the shell. Get ’em fit, (one by one… AW almost seems to have ‘a plan,’ it seems…) start winning these matches and get back to our rightful spot at the top of table (and in the CL draw), I say… One match at a time, of course… 😀

  • FL08 wrote: “The only issue with that forward structure is whether it’s Arsenal’s most potent or effective combination. Personally I don’t think it is. I really believe Walcott up front with Sanchez on the left and Ramsey on the right is Arsenal’s best forward combination.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head re potency of our attack. That is one of the challenges if we were to play Jack, Mesut and Aaron behind Alexis. We need to average at least two goals a game to have a good chance of winning the league, and although I reckon Alexis could average a goal a game if played as a CF, I am not sure whether we would get a goal per game from the other three, or indeed the entire squad.

    Wenger has been playing two of Giroud, Theo and Alexis at all the games, and I reckon it is simply because he knows we need goals and these three will deliver (although Theo could do with more goals in the PL with just two goals until now).

    I reckon it does not matter that much whether it is Alexis, Theo, Ramsey or Alexis, Giroud, Ramsey. Both combinations work for different reasons.

  • PE, when you think about Giroud, do not compare him with your sexy youth girlfriend, but with your ‘all round’ (figuratively! 😉 ) wife. It is no longer just about the sex but about a whole lot more. Giroud might not be the sexy, 30 goals per season CF, but, as I have said on many occasion, Wenger is looking for a shared responsibility on creating and taking chances, and he does no longer want to be overdependent on the one individual to score the majority of the goals. As such, Giroud has it all. But if we want a Thierry Henry, or indeed an Aguerro kind of CF to be our main focus point and goal scorer, then I reckon Alexis could do it. And part of me would like to see whether I am right re this. 🙂

  • Fl08,

    A new DM would be very welcome, but I reckon nobody of the players you mentioned above will join us, IF they have to compete with Coquelin for the deeper DM role. So we have to get somebody who is happy to take a place on the bench, at least initially, AND is still better than the internal options we have. Personally, I feel that Flamini can do the job but not for a whole season. I reckon he will be good cover for Coquelin between now and Feb, as long as we give him a rest now and again. Chambers or maybe even Bielik could use this opportunity to get closer to the first team.

  • Enjoy your Thanksgiving 17HT 🙂

    I am not sure what you mean with the seven goals – as far as I know we only scored three?! 🙂

    It is a discussion post, so leaving Ollie out is allowed – and yes Welbeck does get mentioned – see last sentence! 😉

    I reckon Arsene did not try Alexis as our CF properly until now because of lack of scoring options on the wing. Do we put Alexis central and Danny or Giroud on the wing… would not make much sense. But you could well be right that Wenger will not try Alexis as our CF ever again. In my view, we would definitely be talking about 4-5-1 rather than 4-6-0 or 4-2-4. Sanchez would make the clever runs ala Theo but also available to do hold up play ala Giroud (mainly on the ground though).

  • TA,

    Shared goals does not exclude having a goal machine. Thierry was a goal machine, yet Robert, Freddie and Dennis each contributed handsomely. Arsenal needs a twiggy, goals galore.

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