More or less a quarter of the PL games have been played this season, and slowly but steadily we can start making some conclusions on how the mighty red and white are doing.
The big, obvious conclusion we have to make is that we started the PL season slowly, dropping five points in the first two games, but then recovered very strongly to now be joined top with Pool and Citeh after nine games. This is some achievement we can be really proud of. With Citeh winning game after game, it looked like we were in a bad position until a few games ago, but Pep’s team has lost its fizz, and the Gunners, bar a tired game against Middlesbrough, have lately been firing from all cylinders.
I will post a number of early-season-conclusions over the next week or so, starting with Wenger upgrading our approach to creating and scoring goals to a multi-facetted and disciplined attacking machine.
Conclusion nr.1: Wenger has turned Alexis into a lethal mixture of Giroud and Aguero
Last season we struggled to average two goals per PL game – in fact at the end of the season we only managed to score 1.7 goals per game – but this season we are finding the net at about 2.1 goal a game – 2.4 before last weekend’s draw. It is great to get goals from a variety of scorers: from Koz to Xhaka, from Santi (penalties) to Ozil and from Theo to Alexis, etc. There are also a great number of assist producers, and what this all does is that it makes us unpredictable and highly effective. I love this more than anything else.
The big change Wenger made here is replacing Giroud with Alexis. Regular BKers know that I am a big fan of the bombastic Frenchman, but I can also see that Alexis as our main CF is an improvement for Arsenal – especially when teams allow us space rather than park a bus full of stubborn defenders. Actually, I suggested last season on more than one occasion that if Wenger wanted to have ‘an Aguero beast of a CF’ he did not need to look further and just move the Chilean firecracker to the middle.
What I like about Wenger, who is, contrary to what many like to think, always reinventing the ultimate ballgame, is what he did with Alexis this season. He did not turn him into a ‘pure’ Aguero after all; he made Sanchez better than his fellow South-American. Arsene turned Alexis into a total, multi-disciplined and dimensional attacking machine, who also offers the work rate, constant willingness to occupy central defenders, and ability to create space and key passes for others that Giroud has to offer.
Alexis already has four goals and three assists and produces 2.1 key passes per PL game; Aguero, who to be fair played less PL minutes than Alexis, scored five but produced no assists and only manages 0.9 key passes per game. The Argentinian is a top quality predator-finisher who needs to be serviced and brought into striking range constantly, whereas our South-American wildcat takes and gives in equal amounts, thus allowing the likes of Iwobi, Ozil and Theo to not only support the goal production efforts but also be at the end of them.
Alexis revels in the dirty work of chasing defenders and never letting them rest – he is such a hyena; Alexis also has an eye for a pass that kills a whole defence in one stroke (Mesut is still licking his lips from the Chilean’s diagonal Bergkampesque ball over the top against Swansea – see above); Alexis has the composure and technical ability to finish from anywhere in and near the opposition’s box, and against any opposition; and Alexis has the engine to keep going, and with his energy and passion he motivates the entire team from game to game. He has simple added another dimension and more intensity to our attacking play, and for that I applaud both him and Wenger.
There are still some doubts whether Alexis is also our best option if and when we play stubborn and ultra-disciplined ‘park the bus’ teams like Middlesbrough last weekend; and once Giroud is fully back to fitness we will have to see who will get the CF slot for these sorts of games. But there is no doubt in my mind that Wenger’s move to play Alexis as an all round, multi-disciplined CF has made the whole team less predictable and more deadly up front. And long may it continue!
21 thoughts on “Wenger has Turned Alexis into a Lethal Mixture of these two PL Giants”
interesting post T A, Alexis has indeed been reinvented and I think it will be of huge benefit when Giroud adds plan B to the cooking pot. I find it very frustrating having to listen to matches on Arsenal player and as well as not really knowing what is really going on. I was getting the sense that in the last few games, Alexis was having to drift further back to try to get into the action, which negated him somewhat. What an interesting thing stats are, suggesting that he makes .9 key passes each game. You could almost in a pedantic make a case that he makes one 9 out of 10 key pass each games (I know I am talking a load of old cobblers)
Hope the Ox continues to thrive and get chances. I have always liked him, but he has in the past been prone to poor decision making. Problem is once someone gets labeled with a tag it tends to stick. I suspect its a confidence thing on his part.
still don’t think we are firing on all cylinders, but then again nobody else is at the moment. We have been in similar situations at this stage of the season on a number of occasions over the past few seasons and normally manage to hit a wall around this stage of the season. Hopefully with the additional attacking options we now have it will get us through.
Enjoy Sunderland, the game, not the town. At least this one is on TV.
Cheers Retsub, the fact that Alexis produces a lot more key passes on average than Aguero, more than double, is the key fact really. But I know what you mean.
I think we are playing pretty much at a high level now. The competition is strong and every game is a battle for three points now, so I reckon we will see more of the same with an occasional big win… and an occasional bad result. There are areas that need improvement but that is for another ‘conclusion’ post hahaha 🙂
All agreed re Ox and let’s hope he will break into the team this season. I have my doubts but really would love to be wrong as he is a great lad.
Yeah looking forward to the game. Will be my second time at the Theatre of Light (or Shite as they say in Newcastle) but hopefully we will do better than back then… which was a 1-0 loss. Are you planning going to any of the games in November?
enjoy the game T A
i have a friend who has two club level tickets and when ever one become spare I always took him up on it, typically 5 or six games . its a pretty expensive exercise for him, i think they are in excess of £2000 each. it also says something that i sat next to different people every game. Corporate I guess. anyway to cut a long story short he didn’t renew this year. so at the moment no plans.
Sorry to hear that, Retsubster, and then just when it is starting to look we will win the league this season… 😦
I remember putting up a post a couple of years ago about never having seen Arsenal win anything live. So its probably a good thing I haven’t got a ticket. I’m going to guess I have been to between 500 and 750 games over the years, mainly before the advent of the season ticket. 4 cup finals including Swindon no less. Shut out at Tottenham the night of the 71 double. the list goes on and on.
interestingly i have taken my daughter twice. An FA cup semi final v Sheffield United at Old Trafford. David Seaman made a truly fantastic save and we won 1 – 0
The other game was an FA cup replay against Leeds, when Thierry Henry made his comeback and scored. Brilliant night
In summary If I get a ticket I should probably give it to her.
You is superstitious! 😛
I can get away tickets easier than home tickets, so if you are okay to travel up north we can watch a game together in future. The benefit of this is that we will be with the away support which is usually fantastic.
night ‘all’ 😀
Good write up TA. Definitely agree that Wenger moving Alexis to the centre forward role has improved Arsenal’s attacking effectiveness. That said I think it’s the more so the combination of Walcott as the RW, Ozil as the CAM and Alexis as the CF role and each of the players complementing the others’ strengths that has led to the improved attacking output.
That combination of players seems to better compliment one another, than last season’s combination of Giroud (CF), Ozil (CAM), Alexis (RW) and Iwobi (LW). That said the Ozil, Walcott and Alexis combination is presently missing another Walcott style player on the LW. Ox and Iwobi have demonstrated that they are not the solution but I’m hoping Perez can fill that role.
The composition of Arsenal’s squad at the moment essentially means that Arsenal have two sets of attacking combinations they could deploy to effectively complement the differing CF strengths of Alexis or Giroud.
1) Ozil/Iwobi (CAM), Walcott (RW), Perez (LW), Alexis (CF)
2) Ramsey/Alexis (CAM), Ox (RW), Ozil (LW), Giroud (CF)
Personally I think option 1 should be the default option with the option 2 being used in the event of injury, squad rotation or to exploit particular opponent’s aerial weakness defensively.
Interesting post TA.
BTW, I have a thought about BK being amongst the ‘Top Storries’ on NewsNow a short while back, and why it does not happen more often. It came on the back of a series of daily posts. I thought other people may have the same difficulty I have had finding BK, without any reference point. I never got connected when I tried the ‘direct email’ route. BK.com seems to be and end stop. So, short of trawling through the hours of repetitious posts on NewsNow looking for the latest post, I bookmark them. Oh, and if you are wondering why Retsub’s post from last season, v A.Villa still gets daily hits, it is because it is top of a large, and unsorted bookmarks on my small tablet. What I am saying is, if you can produce a series of posts you might maintain a high readership from people who like the uncluttered, free of adverts site, and, for the most part a very good read?
One more digression before I get the topic. My style of writing is ‘Conversational’. I write as I would talk in a pub, cafe, or a pre-match discussion whether on the terrace or in somebody’s front room.
I put in spaces …. like that, so the reader can reflect on what has been written, or a pause in speaking, before continuing the flow. If you see ‘ – ‘, then it is another thought, generated in the moment, and I am going to digress. I am sure some people get this? Indeed the ‘….’ and the end of a sentence is the space for the reader to put in their own comment as they read. It is a ‘conversation’, but one where I get no instant feedback, interruption, or challenge, so it can look a little odd? People are free to criticise and hold alternative views. If I haven’t made my point clear, or I see a misleading argument, I will come back. That is part of the discussion?
If you cannot get on with it, scroll down past it.
But to say a conversational style cannot be a proper place on a blog site, where topics are meant to be discussed and argued about, is overstepping the mark, imo. This is not academia!
Back to the post. I think you are right TA in your summation as to what Alexis brings to side. In his new ‘free roaming’ role he has indeed transformed our attack. The defence still needs the right balance to be perfect, but over all, given the squad we have, I think we know what our strongest 11 plus is?
I agree with Retsub! though, Giroud is a Plan B, not an integral part of this set up,
This brings me to more general point I would make, that it is not about labels; No10, CF, etc, it is about movement. That is what was lacking in the one blip so far, not the packed defence that Boro’ put up. Yes they were very disciplined, and we can expect that in the future too. But we did not help ourselves, either through swift movement from midfield to get ahead of the retreating defenders, or movement away from defenders. Alexis would drag three defenders out of position …. but only when he received the ball. When he is defended like that, it was no surprise that he did not figure on the successful passing stats. Ozil, only 77 touches? To quote AW ‘…they were not as sharp expected’. Without going over old ground, you know my views on that. However, for that very reason, I think it is wrong to use this game in an argument about being the right team to break down PTB sides. With quick movement, they are exactly the right team, imo.
I have not seen enough of a whole game experience to know about Aguero, but what I remember, he is as you describe, an in the box ‘predator’, but I do not see anything about Giroud that compliments Alexis or relates in morph form?
I am glad you put in the link for the Ozil goal, as I have been thinking about this myself. I measure all such passes to the ones provided by Alex Song to RVP, on several occasions. This was akin to one of those. It has to be more than a ‘one off’ for me to raise him to that high level though?
I am still minded he is angling for a new contract, and as such, I worry a little. To borrow words from the terrace song …’He only sings when we’re winning..’ The question I pose, will he be as committed if things go pear shaped?
Time will tell….
Interesting post, TA.
Without doubt, moving Sanchez to lead the line is the biggest alteration to Arsenal’s structural play compared to last season. That’s one of the reasons Wenger appears very keen to give that same group of players as much time as possible for familiarizing themselves with the new pattern. At the same time he (Wenger) is evaluating and re- evaluating the evolving pattern(s) for fine tuning and for developing options. The bottom line is that performance so far is encouraging and it looks right to persist on this journey.
I think I have compared Ollie to Alexis before, and comparing Alexis to the Aguero when he is in form is something flattering to Alexis. He is more like our goal poacher, rather than anyone else.
I just saw a bad news on Perez. 6 weeks out due to ligament damage on his ankle.
We should be able to do it with Ollie and Alexis, and it was only yesterday I said something that I shouldn’t have said. More touch wood perhaps?
Waldo, excellent point about the left side of our attack still needing improvement. I really like what Iwobi has done there until now but we still need more from that position to reach the optimum benefits from this attacking formation. I reckon Iwobi is a better all round player than the Ox but if the latter can find his shooting boots very soon he might still play himself into the ‘Fab Four’. I have high hopes for Perez playing himself into it and then of course there is Welbeck who hopefully gets half a good season to play for us.
Cheers Gerry, the problem I have with a ‘conversational style’ is that is quickly very random and it leaves us with a lot to read and somehow link together. I prefer to the pointness….brevity, as in think first and then write. 🙂
Your blog theory is not correct; it all comes down to the title chosen for the post whether it will reach top coverage on NN or not. I am not bothered about this as I do not allow advertisement on the blog (despite regular offers).
You don’t know whether Giroud is plan B or not; it all will become clear if he stays fit and is available. Ollie is a fighter and that is how he got to the very top and with November looming I have no doubt Wenger will start using him more regularly from now on… especially against proper parked buses teams.
Very encouraging indeed, PE.
Keeping touching your wood, 84 😀
Okay TA, I’ll give you a brief sample of how my thoughts are formulated. It may seem random, but invariably there is a connection. Many are developing as I write.
This morning at 4.40am BST, I watched a debate in Parliament from the House of Lords – Yes, a Political alert, but bear with me – A blind peer was setting out a motion on Mobility for the Disabled. He spoke for about 25 minutes without any reference to notes, and without repetition. He spoke about a range of things that need to be improved upon if disabled people are not to be marginalised. In particular, the digital age where robots will take away up to 30% of jobs currently done by disabled people. Serious stuff. Impressive stuff
However, it was the thought of the struggles this individual had to ove come in order to make this speech …
That immediately led me to Abou Diaby. Many will know he has just had another ankle injury as he still pursues his football life in France.
Then to Jack Wilshere, who if he continued his ‘I am not going to change’ attitude, could well be a permanent cripple? Fortunately, a belated sense of maturity seems to be setting in, so he may yet be to continue to play for many years to come.
Thoughts then to Kieren Gibbs. His career has be battered by injury. He, almost the opposite to Jack, took on board the physical frailties of his own body, and exercised to strengthen the areas that needed it. Which is why I got very emotional 10 days ago, when he got his first start of the season. Not only to see him put in a fine display, but to to see him finish strongly and uninjured. Long may that be the case.
A little more obliquely, I thought of the new law in football that came in this year, whereby ‘if a player makes no attempt to play the ball, and that action is considered dangerous, then a red card should be given’
We had a red card for Xhaka, which on balance I agreed with because it was a swing leg that caught the players ankle, and not just a trip. We know that Lucas Perez receive a similar tackle, and the perpetrator get a yellow card. In both cases, the recipient had to leave the field. The heated debate between referee and one of his assistants is all the more relevant given the severity of Perez’s injury?
My final thought was if this law was consistent in Diaby’s day, and had the effect of making this type of lunge a rarity, just maybe he would not be where he is today. And the Ramsey’s of this world would not have to overcome the horrors of his injury. So gently remind people that supporting the need for consistency from referees to try and eradicate these career threatening fouls, rather than argue the toss off was it a red or was it a yellow card for our own teams benefit.
Or should I just say in one line, ‘Red card for all these tackles, they are dangerous, Stop moaning’
I say again, the scroll button is an option
Gerry, that sounds like your emphasis is self entertainment. I do get informed and entertained reading you though, but sometimes I do sweat like I was involved in a dog fight.
Thanks PE. Let us see if this eases your tension? And to quote from the ‘Pink Panther’ ….
My dergs do not bite!
Update on the Fantasy League:
Change at the top:
Doink City lead by 1 point
Clydes + 14 second
Underrated third – top scorer of this group.
Nittany Gunner top scorer of the bottom three.
Got another 110 points on the Predictor too, am I a smug b*****d 😀
Of course I like to entertain myself, It would be no fun otherwise?
I would like to think though, the final point is understood, as well as the journey towards it are of equal measure, and I am not being a smug b*****d here too.
I am contrast to one-liners …
Gerry, am on your tail !!!
TA, chech your mail for a post.
Cheers PE, very much appreciated!! 🙂
New Pony New Post 🙂