Early Euros Lessons and Thoughts on Summer Purchases!
These Euros are all about teams with conservative, compact defences versus teams that will camp in the opposition’s half with 10 players whilst scratching their heads, and other spherical objects, on how to break through the double parked buses. It often does not make for good viewing and there is a dreaded vision that all football, including at club level, will become like this. BAH! 😦
At Arsenal we are of course used to this, as we are often the one facing unambitious, defensive teams who hope, not without good reasons, that they can get something from the game by playing on the counter and/or from set-pieces, often leading to nerve-wrecking, sweaty and frustrating spectator experiences…. especially at Ashburton Grove..
I can understand that inferior teams reckon their best option is to sit back and absorb pressure rather than go out there and play attacking, adventurous football. Turkey wanted to play football against the Spanish and they got severely punished for it. Conversely, the conservative Swiss – some may say that is a tautology – or even minnows Iceland, have a good chance to do a ‘Greece’ in these Euros and win the tournament by being defensively sound and therefore hard to beat, with the odd goal here and there to get all the way through to the end.
The quality teams are all struggling to punish the conservative teams. Spain needed a late, ‘ordinary’ headed goal from a defender against semi-defensive Czech Republic to get the three points from their group opener (with bad memories from the World Cup two years ago still haunting them); the Germans could not crack the resolute Poles; the same goes for Portugal against the stubborn, and ever-so-lucky Austrians and Icelanders, and; the French just could not create much against the Swiss.
The best football is being played by the Welsh and a few other nations like Spain and Croatia. Chris Coleman has his team play with structure, discipline and desire and our man Rambo is firing from all cylinders. He is reveling in his free role behind the striker and it is making me think that Arsene should consider moving Rambo up into the hole for next season. We need goals and assists from our ‘nr10’ and Aaron could deliver on the former especially.
What would happen with Ozil, I hear you say. Mesut can be our floating nr.10, playing on the left of Rambo and continuously interlinking with him. If we play two defensively minded midfielders in the double pivot, say two of Elneny, Le Coq and Xhaka, we can afford more to give Ozil a free role on the left. Effectively playing with two nr.10s – Mesut and Aaron – would give us another dimension, as it did to a large extent when we combined Ozil with Cazorla last season.
We can play Alexis on the right and Ollie up-top, or even opt for Alexis to be our CF and play another all-round midfielder, like Jack, Santi or possibly Iwobi on the right. Adding Mahrez to the squad would also make sense, as he can play in various positions and appears to be the sort of player who would fit Arsenal like a glove. And on the right we really have space for a quality player.
I reckon we need to change a bit to get the best out of Rambo, but also Alexis. Is it time to make the Chilean our CF? Well you know how I feel about Ollie but I reckon if we play Rambo in the hole centrally, we have a good player to shield and hold the ball in front of the D, which would provide us with a strong attacking pivot, with whom both the midfielders and the CF can link up with and feed off from.
What we have seen from Xhaka is that he plays deep and orchestrates the game in front of the defence. His long balls and accurate passing remind me of a young Ronald Koeman: a cross between a defensive midfielder and a CB. Elneny is the athlete who fits the b2B role like a glove and together they could really make the difference in terms of finding the perfect balance between attacking and defending and giving us the perfect platform to make our attackers shine next season. I am really excited about the combo of Elneny and Xhaka, and even if we do not buy any new attackers, I still feel we will improve further because of them. We needed a more solid midfield pivot and with Santi, Francis, Mohammed and Granit we now have options to suit every game/opponent. This, my fine fellow Gooners, is progress.
Wenger clearly is after another attacker who can play centrally as well as on the wing, but it looks like Vardy is too scared of the big city and the bigger fish tank that is The Arsenal. Fair enough, and the sooner it is confirmed the better. We need quality that can hit the ground running and I am sure Arsene will find it. Mahrez would be very nice but I am still hoping we can get self-confessed Gunner Reus to complete our set up. Both would be even sweeter.
So here is a team formation I could get very, very excited about:
Jack, Santi, Giroud and Iwobi would play regularly in this team, and who knows even Theo and Ox might fight themselves into our starting eleven over time. And once Danny is back he should also have a good chance to push into the starting eleven.
If we get Mahrez and/or Reus, or good equivalents, I will be looking forward even more to next season. And even if we don’t, with Xhaka we really have added a great, and much needed player, to the first eleven. It will allow us to play Rambo in the hole and move Alexis centrally, and those could be just the changes that will make all the difference.