How to win on Saturday: Alexis and Ozil behind Welbeck-Giroud-Perez

Last Tuesday’s unexpected setback against the Hornets hurt us, but not as much as it could have done. Virtually all our competitors for the title also dropped points, so in the end not much damage was done. Of course, it was a golden opportunity to close the gap with the league leaders and put more distance between us and our other title rivals, but the team were poor in the first half and then could not make amends in the second half, despite a valiant effort.

Of course this is just what football is like sometimes; how many times have we experienced such a game – in which we lose to the underdog – in our lives?! It is also what makes football exciting, even though it is nasty to be on the losing side. But we Gooners are just so desperate for success that losing a game is always experienced as a catastrophe, and our response is seldom philosophically: we need victims and we want to see changes. And ideally somebody gets sacked. What about using adversity to galvanize the troops: change nothing other than our focus and passion for the next game? That is what good managers do. Show believe in your team and utilise the available energy to get back to winning ways.

Well, Wenger and Bould will not  be feeling great right now, but the last thing they will do is give up, blame some of their players, or totally change their philosophy. As per 17HT’s fine comment yesterday, the real challenge they are facing is sorting out the double DM pivot. Yet most fellow Gooners, here and on other blogs, are desperate to see Giroud benched and us to go back to speed and mobility in attack. I can see where you are coming from but scoring goals is really not anything for the management to worry about right now. We produce many chances and score plenty of goals, much better than last season.

No, the real issue is making us more compact in defence and far more impenetrable from the midfield area. Le Coq and Rambo have not been a successful combo in the DM pivot in recent games, and it looks like Aaron will be out again for a while. Wenger could opt for the Ox but that would be very unwise in my opinion. Playing against a third string Saints is very different from playing the Chavs at the Bridge. The ideal man, and in my opinion the most modern and allround defense-minded midfielder in our squad, Elneny, will unfortunately not be available. Santi would also be pretty ideal but is not available.

Wenger could either go for Ox, or a more robust but less experienced option in Maitland-Niles, or he could opt for moving Debuchy, Gibbs or Monreal into midfield. This would add defensive steel but would deprive us from extra attacking power from midfield.

It would also indicate to the rest of the team and our opponent that we are scared of them. Fact is, we need to win to get our title challenge back on track and reunite the fanbase.

So let’s go for all out attack, I say. Allow Coquelin to sit deep with the CB’s and play 4-1-2-3, which often looks more like 3-4-3, or even 3-2-5. I would like us to attack the Chavs with conviction and not sit back to play them on the break. Only then I reckon we have a good chance to win this six-pointer.

This is the line-up for it:

Yep, Alexis and Ozil behind Giroud to work with and off him and to force the league leaders deep back into their own half. Welbeck and Perez to add fire power and close ball control from the wings and in the box, and press the Chelsea FBs right back where they belong. With Giroud, Alexis, Perez, Ozil and Alexis we have total variety in attacking ability and power, and with Nacho and Bellerin we can offer additional width. Yes we will be vulnerable to counter attacks, but so be it. We have the speed, athleticism and strength in the team to deal with it. But most importantly, we take the game to them and never let them breath until the job is done. We can play like this and what have we got to lose. Let’s play football the Arsenal way.

That’s what I would like to see. What about you?



33 thoughts on “How to win on Saturday: Alexis and Ozil behind Welbeck-Giroud-Perez

  • I like the lineup. Best use of the attacking options ever, but we might be too attacking minded there.

    But is this some kind of counter post to the Ollie naysayers?

  • Interesting line up TA. Very interested to know how you think Arsenal would create clear cut goal scoring chances and defend with that set up?

    For the Chelsea match the starting 11 I’d like to see is:

    GK – Cech
    RB – Debuchy
    CB – Mustafi
    CB – Koscielny
    LB – Monreal
    CDM – Coquelin
    CDM – Ox
    RW – Perez
    CAM – Ozil
    LW – Walcott
    CF – Alexis

    With that setup, I’d like to see:
    – defensive pressing from Arsenal’s front four
    – a compact and disciplined defensive display from Ox, Coquelin and the back four
    – reasonable separation between Arsenal’s back six and front four when we are defending so that we are better equipped to play on the counter attack as we would have multiple forward options already in advanced positions when attempting to transition from back to front
    – Arsenal relinquish some possession to draw Chelsea out of their half then force turnovers and quickly transition the ball to their advanced attackers
    – a slightly withdrawn creative performance by Alexis
    – accurate long passes from Coquelin and the Ox beyond the opposition’s defensive line and targeting the diagonal off the ball runs of Perez and Walcott.


  • TA, I wouldn’t affix my seal to that document. Chelsea would simply sit back, frustrate us and kill us on counters.
    We should try to “stalemate” the game by putting an extra body in the midfield (4:3:3), banking on a fast front three to get the Chelsea defense scampering every now and then. A front three that is not only fast but also capable of high press. That weeds Giroud and Ozil out. Ozil in the middle three is again displaced by Ox who has the athleticism and the will to participate in defensive duties, not to talk about his exceptional forward surging runs and fairly impressive ball distribution. A strong case must be made for Ozil’s absence, I know.

    What I’d like to see:


    Sub: Ospina, Gab, Gibbs, Iwobi, Ozil, Perez, Giroud.

  • Honestly the only thing I’d change from that lineup is swapping Giroud (to come on as a super sub) for Alexis and slotting the Ox in next to Coq. With 5/6 of our midfield unavailable, I’m afraid Wenger doesn’t have much of a choice.

    I’m absolutely DESPERATE for a front three of Lucas, Alexis, and Welbeck/Walcott.

    Re Gerry’s thoughtful comment– while the formation may be a bit hopeful, don’t be surprised when Wenger lists his squad with 10/11 of the players named above. Hardly a “childish joke”..?

    I am curious though, Gerry: what line-up do you feel gives us the best chance of winning on Saturday?

  • Gerry, Frozen didn’t get what you meant, or what TA meant. After reading half of TA’s post I wandered off too.

    Apparently TA’s post got off on quite a serious note, but until the end it seems like he is joking.

    Read between the lines Frozen 😉

  • Waldo, we would defend the Man City, Barcelona way… from the front. Give the Chavs no time on the ball and dominate them… it’s nothing new really, and we have the players for it.

  • Frozen, you understood the post well, and I could live with that adjustment (even though I have reservations re the use of Ox in the centre of midfield, it would be good to see how he would cope in such an attacking set up I.e. 4-1-2-3).

  • TA, ok, my bad. There is a point worth talking about in your post.

    By moving Matt, Nacho or Gibbo into DM, as they are rampaging full-backs, they are more aligned to bridge defense and attack.

    Matt is similar to our former captain in the sense that he has a very cool head. Le Coq and him could work well together, and, no, it will not be a too-defensive partnership.

    Regarding your lineup, what it says is that we can afford to go for an all-out attack and if Chavs counter, we are literally a sitting duck with only Le Coq to defend the back 4. This season somehow Le Coq ventures too forward, with little time to sprint back. I think you were thinking of this when you put Alexis and Ozil right in front of him.

    What we actually need is someone to close down the angles and prevent the midfield from playing long balls against us. One way is putting Welbeck in the middle, and Alexis out wide, and drop Iwobi. Another way is to put Alexis up front, ghosting in between defenders, and use the pace of Theo and Perez, and play 2 ultra-defensive midfielders who eat up all the balls coming at them, and Ozil to supply the pin point passes.

    I know that Wenger will chose the latter, but somehow it does not mean that he does not have a plan B in hand. Just that we need to start off strongly and winning the balls first-time to have any chance of winning the game.


  • Thanks TA. I can understand now where you coming from a defensive perspective. How though are you envisaging Arsenal would create clear cut goal scoring chances in the set up you’ve proposed? I’m assuming your thinking beyond just forced turnovers close to the opposition’s goal.

  • Good points 84. We pressure them so much that they will not have time to cross the ball and/or run onto those crosses. Plus with Mustafi, Bellerin, Nacho, Koz and Coq we have players that suit this sort of game. They are fast and ferocious when having to track back and deal with runners.

  • Waldo, we press them and play the ball round and find gaps. With Giroud we always have the threat of a high ball to a target man; with Perez and Welbeck we have players to make runs behind the defence and/or dribble themselves past defenders. Most importantly, they are comfortable with the ball and have good close ball control. WIth Ozil and Alexis we have players who can find one of those attackers and/or make a run into the box for a throughball and/or interchange passes with our ‘holding CF’ Ollie. We have multiple options to surprise the Chavs’ defence, which is key to breaking any park the bus defence imo. What this approach does is it takes the game to them, rather than doing something we are not good at and do not have the players for right now (as per the post). As it really is a must win game, I reckon we have to go for it this time round.

  • Thanks TA, lot to like about Giroud, Alexis and Ozil all operating in central positions and the suitability of that high press strategy to Coquelin, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal. The only change I would proposed would be Ox for Perez on the right wing and Iwobi for Welbeck on the left wing. My reasoning is two fold:

    1. As we’ve saw in the match versus Watford and on numerous occasions this season when Arsenal dominate possession of the ball deep in the opposition’s half, they compress the available space for the likes of Walcott, Perez and Welbeck to make off the ball runs into. So I think those players would similarly find their off the ball movement and consequently their goal scoring proficiency effectively neutralised if they were deployed on the flanks and Arsenal’s offensive tactic was to compressed the play to outside of Chelsea’s defensive third.

    2. While Welbeck and Perez’s ball control and passing is good neither player has demonstrated over the course of their professional careers that they are effective or prolific at dribbling at and passed their opponents. Ox and Iwobi on the other hand have demonstrated that dribbling at and passed their opponent is precisely their strength. Furthermore both Ox and Iwobi have good close control are quality passers of the ball and Ox has the added bow of being an excellent crosser of the ball. That profiency at crossing could be particularly advantageous with Giroud in an centre forward role.

    So switch Perez for Ox and Welbeck for Iwobi and I think your proposed team selection and tactics compliments each other and fits with Arsene Wenger’s philosophy nicely.

  • Sorry TA I meant to say “inside” as opposed to “outside” of Chelsea’s defensive third in the first point of reasoning.

  • Those are all valid points, Waldo. Iwobi and Ox have that dribbling advantage over Perez and Welbeck, I am just not so sure whether this is really important against a park the bus team. Ultimately, it is often too busy there for dribbling, unless they have the skills of Messy… 🙂 Quick passing and clever running off the ball and into the box are what really makes the difference, I reckon.

    The benefit of playing Welbeck and Perez is that they are more prolific up-front, and also that bit more intelligent/experienced than your options. Having said that, I could live with going half way by swapping either Danny or Lucas for Iwobi or Ox. 🙂

  • And see another 6-0? Unlikely that we’ll see that lineup. I prefer a 433 with Ox playing and Mesut playing deeper/ on the wings. Why? The weakness in the Chelsea system is with the wingbacks. When Chelsea push their wingbacks forward, they leave space behind them. Who better to exploit space than Ozil? And Lucas seems to be very good at exploiting space and capable of hurting them also. Conversely, when Chelsea drop into a back 5, spaces open up either side of the 2 midfielders. Ox with his engine and experience as a winger could exploit that flaw. That said, Chelsea seems to concede most of his goals from crosses. Giroud could prove to be vital.

  • My lineup would be 433
    Bellerin Mustafi Koz Gibbs
    Ox Coquelin Mesut
    Walcott Alexis Welbz

    Reasons for Alexis upfront is because he tends to be the deepest of the front 3 when playing as a CF. his passing will be our key to unlocking Chelsea. Also, Koz as our CDM anyone? Just a thought

  • Whatever system and line up Arsene picks, our players need to shake themselves out of their lethargy at the start of the game and give him a performance and do it off of their own bat and stop hiding behind the manager.

    Arsene may not be perfect, but he provides our players with a wonderful working environment, it’s about time they did something for him, while he’s under so much pressure…

    Good post TA, can’t agree with Giroud, sorry mate, Sanchez up top for me, Ox in midfield, our 3 forwards pushing up on their three defenders and doing a ‘Watford’ on them…

    It’s up for grabs now….

  • Hi TA… I like the post… I also like your solution to the outrageously rude and condescending first comment which has now been deleted. It could be argued that anybody saying anything about his (or her) football team on the internet MUST (already) be joking—and/or that they must be immature (childish). As such, to call out ANY post (or comment) in such a manner is over the top and extremely lacking in self-awareness and humility. So, IMO, you’ve done the right thing. Now, if I could only get back the countless hours I’ve lost trying to follow other comments by the same fellow…

    On the post itself… Again, I like the ideas you are putting out. There is, however, a contradiction between what you say at the top and the formation (and player) change ideas below.

    Near the top you write: “What about using adversity to galvanize the troops: change nothing other than our focus and passion for the next game? That is what good managers do. Show believe in your team and utilise the available energy to get back to winning ways… Well, Wenger and Bould will not be feeling great right now, but the last thing they will do is give up, blame some of their players, or totally change their philosophy.”

    I think that is spot on and exactly what they will try to do. So, while I’m intrigued by the idea of a more attacking formation–and some of the players you’ve chosen to include–I cannot see it being the choice of the manager(s). Instead they will probably stick with the formation the players know, using the bodies that are the most fit and most able to fill in the gaps. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a little tweak or two, maybe getting back towards the group that beat Chelsea 3-nil in the reverse fixture.

    But now I’m overplaying my hand… and I need to keep something in reserve if I’m going to write a match preview. That first (now deleted) comment really sucked away my desire to write one but now that you’ve done the right thing (by deleting it and banning the writer) I can probably motivate myself… Be warned, it may come out on the later side (my afternoon, your midnight)…

  • All preceding comments noted; along with predicted lineups. I shall just go ahead to state the differences I expect to the line up put up in the article by TA.

    Agree with it all except in the forward areas. I feel it will be Alexis up top, flanked by Theo and Iwobi. To start the game. Late on (and barring substitute forced by injuries), Welbeck, Perez and maybe, Gabriel/Gibbs to come on. This is based an acceptance of how Wenger sees these games and the limited options in midfield. Theo generally scores in these games while Iwobi will be needed to keep (Nigerian team mate) Moses busy and pegged back as often as possible, with occasional support from Alexis. Theo and Bellerin should be able to keep Alonso and Hazard in check. My two pence on starting 11.

  • 17HT, all good points. Wenger will NEED to change a few things because Aaron is injured now. So, although I believe in the idea of not changing anything or much after adversity and just simply focus on the mindset of the players instead, I do think he has to do something because of a lack of alternatives for a Rambo-like player (as explained in the post). I see a need to go to and I reckon Arsene may go for something similar. He could also opt to play Maitland or Jeff next to Coq, and it may work. But if I was him I would go for my formation; the situation requires it.

  • njk84- I’m sorry, did I offend you in a past life? Funny to hear your change of tune, though. I thought there was nothing to discuss.. Maybe if you had finished the post instead of trolling around like Gerry’s lackey and stoking the fire with your needless comments, there would be no need to back pedal so desperately?

    Moving on.

    Looking forward to your preview, 17. What part of the US are you based out of?

  • Hi Frozen… I’m in Lake Tahoe, California…

    I’m hopeful I can do a preview here but the power is out as another storm is moving in. I know I can’t using just my phone…

  • Cheers 17HT, hopefully the power will come back on soon. If not, let me know what your predicted line up is and why and I will write something around it for you… 🙂

  • Frozen, please note that 84 does not have English as his first language and probably did not fully get what the post was about/ how to respond to it this time round. He means well but it does not always come across like that.

  • Ah, one of the lucky ones (minus the outage). The Pacific Northwest has seen its fair share of snow this winter as well– I thought we were past it here in Bellingham but, of course, a fresh batch arrived just this morning. Its this very reason I left Alaska in the first place.. I suppose you can never truly escape your fate.

    Noted TA

  • Hi guys… I’m back on my computer borrowing a little office space from my wife…with the intent of writing a preview…The storm here is right on the border of rain and snow (plus wind)–just the kind of stuff that can pull down power lines or trees that fall into them…

    Frozen, where are you located?… It’s been awhile since we’ve seen you around here, right?…

    On that note, it’s also good to see Shrill posting too…

    You will see TA, that our ideas are not that far apart as are my thoughts about how Wenger will play things. I think he’ll keep the changes a bit more constrained but much depends on late fitness tests that he said were in order for both Giroud and the Ox. Frankly, I’ve always believed that Arsenal (more than other clubs) use formations in looser terms to begin with. As such there is hardly a difference from the 4-2-3-1 (as the telly and I choose to lists things) to your 4-1-2-3 (or 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 or whatever)… In my opinion, of course…

    OK, off to write said preview…

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