Cazorla/Le Coq better than FlamBo? Enter CoqRam as DM-pivot!

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.

By TotalArsenal.

39 thoughts on “Cazorla/Le Coq better than FlamBo? Enter CoqRam as DM-pivot!

  • Excellent piece, TA. 🙂

    Le Coq-Rambo is a no-brainer for me with a note: Elneny’s could put Rambo out of central midfield (possibly even out of starting eleven) as he looks better than Rambo in terms of passing, has a similar work-rate to Rambo’s and his long shots could be an asset for our attack.

    Our match against Barcelona in Champions League is coming closer and we might see something like this:

    Reality Čech

    For Whom The Bellerin Tools Boss Pretty Gabby Tasty Nacho

    Le Coq Block Mo El Nino

    Dennis Özil

    Rambo Dat Guy Sex-Alexis

  • Yes top marks T A am in total (excuse the pun) agreement. The team struggles without Le Coq. I don’t think he is a great player yet, but he has two things which stand out for me discipline and courage. Unfortunately this does mean that he is going to spend time nursing wounds. It’s a real shame we didn’t buy cover for him sooner’ but such is life.

  • Great one T,
    I’ll leave the question about what to do when Cazorla and Rambo are both available, because i dont expect it be any time soon enough to influence the outcome of this season. And anyway, when it happens eventually, it will be Ramsey in right midfield again. As long as Arsene is picking the line up. And to me our stongest team sheet has coq, santi, ramsey, Alexis and theo at cf with olivier coming on late.
    By the way, i think Arsenes favorite choice to play rw if santis is out and Rambo is cm will not be Joel, not Ox, not Theo….. he will choose welbeck. For industriousness, size, speed threat.
    We are so difficult to break down with that group.
    But for now, we are in the process of throwing away our title hopes, and need to go on a very productive run. Im not sure what the solution is, but we’ve already missed a chance to be ahead of man city and spuds by 6-8 points, conservatively.
    Disappointing. But I’ll continue to hope that returning players bring our play to another level, that i know we can achieve.

  • TA, lovely forward looking post.

    A team is like a delicate instrument. Alter one point and one might need to adjust several other points to restore the balance. I will articulate my valuations of the combos by given marks to each.

    Out of 10:
    Flambo – 5
    Coqbo – 7
    Coqflam – 6
    Cazbo – 5
    Flamcaz – 6
    Coqcaz – 9
    Flamel – 5?
    Elbo – 6?
    Elcaz – 8?
    Coqel -7?

    The valuation takes into consideration how each pairing affects the performance of the rest of the team. For example Carzola makes Ozil play better, because Santi being a creative player diverts some of the oponent’s attention from Ozil which then affords him more space. Our CD are also better composed with Santi around because he is brilliant in receiving and playing the ball out from the rear.

    While we await Santi for the 8 or 9 marks combo, we meanwhile should be utilizing the 7 marks combos of Coqbo or Coqel, the latter demanding that Rambo takes over from Campbell.

  • Hey TA…I gotta do stuff this morning so I’m one and done, I think… It seems to me that you’re back to your best so you won’t be needing my post… It was good for me to write it, however… I can send it your way if your innerested in a long (and as I said, self indulgent) e-mail…

    Admir seems more upbeat as well… He’s back thinking Elneny might be OK, which is a little nutty given his assessment on Sunday… Such is the price of poetic genius, which I will have to spend some time figuring out… 😀

    I know neither of you are very keen on Santi (or even blame him outright when the team has struggled) but I think we’re really missing him, far more than Le Coq, in fact. That’s just my opinion, so dismiss it as you will…

    Rambo is younger, more athletic and lacks the conscience (i,e,, how to work as a true team member) which Santi brings. With these attributes, the only reason he plays at the rear of MF is his fantastic engine, like jnyc says, I think he’ll be back in that free role on the right as soon as possible and hopefully belting in those goals and running away from his teammates as he celebrates them. We’re lucky we have a right back (Bellerin) who can cover so much ground over on that side… (Touch wood, of course, what with Debuchy leaving and Chambers not so mobile in his stead. Jenks, I fear, is done at this level of football…)

    But. Santi is the past (Same as Flams, Rosicky and Arteta) and Rambo–and Elneny and Jack (if he ever gets fit) with Chambers (very young) as not the worst fill in–is the future… For me, it’s wishful to say that we (I) won’t miss Santi, because I (we) do… Again, just my opinion… Santi, I think, is the better defender AND the better creative attacker AND the better teammate (user of the pitch, other players) over Rambo, at this time, but he’s not available and (very likely) his powers are on the wane. Rambo *should* only get better…and he certainly seems an ambitious sort. Hopefully he can help his teammates do likewise and do what he can to help the team above all else. Players like Santi and Ozil seem very keen in this area, Rambo I’m less sure about… PE has it spot on about combinations and parts of the puzzle. Maybe Theo would have done much better in his out of position spot filling in for Alexis with Santi in MF?…

    IMO, we didn’t need to buy cover for Le Coq so much as not have quite such a poor run of fitness from some of these guys. The gamble on Arteta’s fitness, in particular, is one which backfired spectacularly, even if he’s had a few more minutes than Rosicky & Wilshere… It wouldn’t hurt either if the Ox could start making good decisions (and then executing them) on the pitch to match his (prodigious) skills… Rear of MF probably isn’t the Ox’s best position but he seems equally out of it no matter where he plays…

    So, the injury crisis kinda caught up to us but maybe just as bodies are coming back. This run of poorer results means AW is maybe freer to do some experimenting as does this FA Cup match. As I wrote at the bottom of the last one, even a replay could be seen as just such an opportunity. Who knows?… Lots of pressure on the next few matches, but this group seems (for the most part) able to rise to the challenge as they did back in early December…

  • @17 – maybe you didn’t understand my rant from Sunday. I don’t see how Elneny can do worse than Flamini so he should play for The Flame. Only worse option than Flamini is Arteta.

  • Saw some Opta stats the other day showing that when Coquelin plays, opponents average 10 shots on goal. When he doesn’t play we concede an average 15 shots on goal. A lot was made of the amount of points Cech gains us in a season (and rightly so). . I don’t think I would be far off the mark if Le Coq received a similar credit. I love Wenger but he missed a trick when he didn’t,bring in cover for Le Coq. With decent cover I think we would have pulled clear of the pack and to be honest I think the majority of supporters knew this six months ago. I think we can come up with any number of combos as long as 50 per cent of it is a Coq.

  • Johnnie,

    Interesting choices for strongest eleven: good for Theo that at least you and the fellow from the West Coast of America still believe in him. 🙂

    I am not so sure whether Wenger will go back to Santi next to Coq when he is finally fit. The future is probably two of Le Coq, Wilshere and Rambo, so Santi might find it hard to reclaim his spot (as first choice). With Santi’s lack of thrust and speed, do you believe he is B2B material?

  • PE 🙂

    Let’s ignore your last four combinations as we do not know what Elneny will be like. High praise for the wall of CoCa but I think you will change your mind once we have CoqRam in place 😉

  • 17HT 🙂

    The idea that we have been missing Santi more than Le Coq is pretty novel and deserves a post from you! I dare to say that we were blessed to have had Rambo next to Flam and not Santi in the last two months, as we would have done a lot worse imo.

  • I also don’t agree regarding Rambo being less of a team player than Santi. Santi was a very selfish player until he was asked to play deeper (where he has to cooperate with his fellow players because of his shortcomings), and Rambo is taking responsibility when it comes to add goals from midfield, which are now unlikely to come from Santi, especially in the deeper role.

  • If Elneny has an impressive debut vs Burnley, then pairing him up with a fit Coquelin is an interesting option…

    Ramsey may not have liked playing wide right, but I thought we were at our best with him in that position, whilst Coq and Santi took the central roles…

    An Elneny/ Coq combo could be the way to go?

  • TA, Sorry to have missed you before bedtime… 😀

    I jjust look at things a bit differently, with perhaps a stronger emphasis on the use of intellect out on the pitch. Santi, IMO, has it–to go with his ball skills–because he’s just not gifted with size nor pace and he’s had to develop other aspects. Rambo has always been the fittest guy on his team–a huge asset and advantage–so running with the ball–and being hyper-confident–makes sense… Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything about who is the better team player… Still wish he’d go for a big team celebration when he scores…If he scores more, maybe he’ll start mixing it up…

    I think it probably just comes down to preferences… A much as you hate seeing Santi doing the poop dance, I cannot stand seeing Rambo do it, even if he was the only one of our 10 men the other day with enough stamina AND it helped keep possession for us. Different strokes for different folks and that’s about as negative as I choose to be about our players…Sicky and Jack represent hopeful options too, but the same issues apply as with Arteta and Santi… (past it or out injured…)

    Admir, you seem revived with a bit of hope but it’s still just very negative for my taste. Elneny couldn’t be worse than Flamini… (Only Arteta could be…) is false logic. Of course he could be… 😀 😦

    I dunno, I like the ‘hope game’ better than the ‘blame game,’ but in the end it all seems extremely subjective…

    Which then we can back up with stats, like the shots on goal with Le Coq… It gets even tougher and more subjective when evaluating combinations… In the end, the stat most people care about are results.

    I think, perhaps, that we can agree that different roles are needed at different times and that some players appear more suited to those roles and those moments. Whereas Santi (and Arteta before him at Everton) were solid #10s in their teams, Rambo now looks very promising for that sort of role which seems ideal for situations when we’re really after the full points. Flam-Ram after all, looked very good against all but So’ton, Pool, Stoke away and Chavs at home, all very tough matches where a draw (in each) would see us two points ahead of where we stand. Maybe it got a little iffy with the Toon at home, too, but that was as close as I’ve seen our pitch to being unplayable due to moisture. I think JNYC and A-kev speak sense when they say keep Mr. Ramsey with more forward-lying responsibilities…

    Finally, while (most) everybody agreed that we needed cover for Le Coq in the last window, I think we need to think more deeply about just how easy such cover is to find, esp. relative to the resources at hand. Is Schneiderlin happy on the bench at Man U? Maybe, maybe not. (On $100K/week, he probably is…) Would Elneny have been ‘ready’ by the time Le Coq hurt himself? What other options should we have jumped upon? It’s all too easy, IMO, to mix and match parts, fantasy team style, building a team in the real world, I think, is a something tougher…

    Anyhow, my earlier post, which I won’t be sending (as it will be useful at a later date, I’m sure, and, besides, you’ve expressed no interest in it…) was about the nature of the Arsenal blog-o-sphere. I have little interest in trying to convince people that we’re gonna miss Santi and that unless he gets back soon I picture a trophy-free season (a reason I ducked the prediction-thread, and, obviously, I hope I’m wrong…) I did have a thought for a blog subject but it has to do with Costa, Chelsea and corruption in football which might also be something people would prefer not to think about. If we don’t envision a level-playing field then we can’t take results for the absolutes they seem to represent (for most observers)…But maybe we should take this whole discussion off-line… 😀 Shoot me an e-mail if you have the time, buddy… In the meantime, sleep well…

  • Rambo is more box to box, Santi more deep lying playmaker. Rambo defends more with tackles, Santi defends more with positional intelligence. In summation both are good, but backed by Coq I’ll choose Santi ahead of Rambo because he makes the team play better. Santi’s presence kind of oils the moving parts of the team.

    When our opponent is relentless through the center, demanding from us a disruptive combo, something tells me le Coq and El would be the best fit. The El keeps intruding into my thinking. Hopefully this weekend we will begin to know the real man as against the phantasy man. I pray they look like identical twins.

  • PE,
    Yes. Coq and Elneny will be the best fit, but still Elneny and Flams or Rambo will do it just as well, with Flams or Rambo running the midfield and Elneny dropping deep to defend the back 4.

    Regarding the Flams staying in a more forward position, I feel that there is already Alexis and Campbell and Theo, including Ozil, so i feel that him staying in the Santi position is better for him in the long run.


  • Kev, let’s give Elneny a chance to settle in. At least this season he will be back up, especially with so many midfielders returning. Ramsey is a complete midfielder and can play anywhere, and he did okay on the right. When we need to keep it tight in midfield, mostly against the bigger attacking teams, it’s a safe option to put him there. But he is the quintessential b2b and with Coq next to him and Alexis on the left wing, I reckon we will see how good he is.

  • 17HT

    We have missed Santi and I will look forward to seeing him back in the team. We just differ in terms of the importance to the team Santi has. 😃

  • Cheers PE. I think you underestimate the importance of Rambo’s runs for our attacking play. They are a huge asset for the attackers, especially Ozil and Ollie, and with Alexis playing again I reckon we will see a big improvement in our game once more. With Santi laying deeper, Ozil often needs to come deep for the ball, whereas with Rambo in the b2b he can stay a bit higher, where he is most effective. However, when we are forced back by the bigger opponents, Santi offers good qualities as the deeper laying ‘playmaker’.

  • Hahaha, Retsubster, that is your typical Arsenal supporter. The fact is when it goes wrong people can always find something to blame the manager over and it will never change… And how could they be wrong, cause we just lost?! 🙂

  • Great entertainment though. They always interview Claude after a game. Perhaps a guest. poster??? Just the thought of it has me in stitches

  • TA,

    Admir is nowhere close to Claude 🙂

    Its true that Le Prof has been keeping Elneny under thick bubble wraps for the last couple of games which we feel that he should be playing him to show the fans how good he is and why Le Prof finds him fit enough to pry him from Basel.

    If he decides to start Elneny against Burnley its good, and it helps the whole squad and the fans alike to have an idea on what he is.

    Anyone have any idea when Le Coq will be back earliest?


  • TA,

    I am pushing my creativity to the limit in trying to find the best way to maximize Rambo’s late runs into the box. So you are wrong in thinking that I underestimate them. In mathematics -1+1= 0. In football -1 (goal conceded) seem to have a larger magnitude than +1 (goal scored). How do we utilize Rambo’s forward runs without unduly expousing our rear? Remember he partnered le Coq in our 1st match of the season that we lost 0 – 2 to W Ham at home. So le Coq behind him might not give all the answers.

    To achieve this +1 without undue expousure to -1, do we go 4:3:3 or 4:1:4:1?
    Or do we use him wide left as his runs into the box from the left have bigger end results than from the right? In which case Alexis is moved wide right for stretching the field which helps in providing more space at the center for our Ozil.
    Or does Rambo become our cover at #10 ( for Ozil).
    Or does his assets outweigh his liabilities as a box to box?

    I love those his forward runs so much, but at the same time I don’t ever want him crucified for that great asset of his, both for his sake and ours.

  • PE, quickly from me.

    Let’s not judge the RamCoq DM pivot on the basis of the season opener. 🙂

    I reckon Le Coq and Alexis will cover the gaps if necessary, and cool Joel is also at hand from the right. All I am saying is give Rams a chance (with the right players around him).

  • 4×21

    Wenger is very good in judging when a player is ready for a start, and we all will agree that a good start is crucial for a new player, so I reckon we have to go with his judgement.

  • Claude? If Claude makes a 3.000-word article that doesn’t serve as either a script for a psycho-thriller or a self-recommendation for a mental institution, then the comparison would be acceptable. 🙂

    The thing is, our midfield area can’t be subjected to analysis without taking into account who plays in the attack, on the wings, in our central defence. 17, in his lazy banters, forgot to mention I criticized our formation


    Rambo Ozil Alexis


    because it lacked width and suffocated Giroud who had been banging goals for fun before that. It looked a lot better with Theo as a central forward (as seen against Bayern and United where Wenger outsmarted Pep and LvG).

    Against West Ham, Alexis didn’t start, Cazorla was on the wing and our right full-back was Debuchy. It didn’t look well.

    Coq-Rambo axis can deal with problems of Flambo combo thanks to Coq’s pace and ability to recover the ball, never mind his lack of ambition to go forward as Flamini likes to do. One issue that would remain is ability to control possession but then again, even Arsene has admitted possession is not what it used to be.

    TA once said that I overrate Welbz but I think his frame, dribbling, pace and work-rate have been seriously missed this season, especially in the games when Theo leaves his first touch and positional sense at home.

  • Hey T, just wanted to clarify., i like the way we play when Theo is at cf. I have seen enough of him on the wing. I had always wanted to see him try the left wing and cutting in.., nevermind that.. #epicfail.

    Its painful to watch him try to bring the ball up from deeper. Gives it away usually anyway. But he did try his best to help defending. So i really appreciate the effort.. but, for me he’s a striker or 3rd or 4th choice rw..

  • I like him too as a CF option, Johnnie, especially when we are playing deep. But you know I am a Giroud admirer. 🙂

    Agreed he tried to help defending but it just ain’t his game. I reckon he also missed playing with Alexis as together they can make a versatile duo..

  • If Monreal and Bellerin are fit, they play.
    If Ozil and Alexis are fit, they play.
    If Coquelin and Cazorla are fit, they play.
    If Giroud is fit, he plays.
    If everyone is fit, does Theo play?
    I’m not so sure Total…?
    I don’t think so…

    Looks like De Bruyne could be out for a long time…

  • Depends on style of play, Kev. I prefer Ollie In 4-5-1 at any time, but Theo is a good option as our CF against the Citehs, Bayerns and Barcelonas…

    Good player De Bruijne. He helped turn the game around but at what cost for the season?

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