The combination of Flamini and Rambo – FlamBo –Ramini – FlamRam – has been criticised by more than just a few over the last few weeks. This has been accompanied by a somewhat romantic longing for the pairing of le Coq and Cazorla – the Wall of Coca. There is a view that we played better and more compact when CoCa was owning the midfield, with stronger defensive coverage of our Back-4, a better passing game in midfield and better linkage with our attack.
Flam is regarded as not athletic and mobile enough and Rambo not disciplined enough to really make the double DM pivot work. I reckon there is scope for improvement for the FlamRam combo but in general they performed very well. We are lucky to have Flam as back up for Le Coq: he is experienced and passionate and can still be a pretty good DM on the day. However, he can no longer do this on a constant basis and we have asked too much of him recently. I am hoping that Elneny can also play as our DM and then we should have enough coverage for this pivotal role.
Rambo has been playing in the most difficult position in the team for the last few weeks. The B2B midfield position requires a great set of skills and athleticism as well as a gigantic football brain. I think we can all see the potential of Aaron in this role, and he is not far off from claiming it as his, but he is still performing under par at the moment. His runs into the box are great, his industry next to Flam and in front of the back four is exemplary, and his thrust forward is inspiring: he makes things happen. However, his decision making and passing are still a bit off and his eagerness to go forward is not always balanced by his anticipation of the apparent risks of doing so – leaving big gaps behind that got exploited on more than one occasion.
There is a consensus that Le Coq is the clear numero uno DM over Le Flam. So when the younger Frenchman is fit, he should play, and luckily he is back in training and getting close to a return in the first team.
But what if Santi and Rambo are both fully fit: who should play next to Le Monstre de Coq?
Santi is better at protecting and passing the ball and picking a pass from deep; Rambo is better defensively and can take the ball with him from defence into midfield and attack – he also can make those box to box runs a lot better. Both Santi and Rambo need a good left midfielder and left full back to play at their very best. It is fair to say that the Welshman had to play with a far less effective passing player in Theo, rather than Alexis, on the left in recent games. The return of sexy Alexis is good news for all, but especially for Rambo and Ozil, and I reckon we will see a big difference in the performances of both players from now on (compared to most recent games).
I am looking forward to Santi’s return, but, in the meantime, let’s see how the Coq-Ram combination works out once the Frenchman is ready to play. I have a feeling that we will see a step improvement in our midfield AND attacking play, especially now that Alexis is also back in the team.
It would look like this:
————————- Le Coq —– Rambo—————————-
And once Santi is fit, we can use him as a super-sub for a number of midfield positions, or put him in the B2B role and move Rambo into Campbell’s position. All would work for me and makes me feel confident that we can field a winning team in the remaining big matches in PL and CL this season.
On top of this, we can look forward to seeing Elneny in action and make some early judgments what his best position might be. The next FA cup game against Burnley comes at the right time in this respect and let’s hope we will see him and a few other fresh faces on the pitch.