Time to Bench Alexis and Give Perez the LW position

Robert Pires left 11 years ago but has still not been replaced.

I am in the city of the red and blue Mancs enjoying a fine 10oz steak with chips and three vegs and a beautiful pint of Peroni. All this for just £12, but I have to put up with hearing that winchy accent everywhere around me though. 🙂

If there ever was one player of the red Mancs I wanted to play at Arsenal, it would have been Ryan Giggs. The only time I ever applauded a MU goal was when the Welsh wizard scored the winner in that unforgettable FA Cup semi-final, almost twenty years ago. Bergkamp had missed a penalty and we should have won the game, but there was Giggs with a mazy run and an unstoppable bullet past Seaman in the top right corner very late on in the game. It did hurt to be eliminated but that was some goal he scored to secure a place in the final for our nemesis. I could only stand up and applaud it.

Luckily, Arsenal have had their own fine left wingers, and Bobby Pires gave Giggs a run for his money every season they played in the same league. RP07 was such an elegant player, not necessarily the hardest working Gunner on the pitch but very efficient with the ball and capable of scoring the most beautiful goals (62 goals in 189 appearances).

Since Bobby left, Arsene has struggled to find a quality, solid replacement for him. Initially, there was Reyes who looked the total part but he got homesick and returned to Spain within no time. Then came a period of austerity due to moving into the new stadium, but Wenger still managed to get another very exciting prospect for the left wing position with the very, very last minute January transfer window arrival of Arshavin. Initially, Andrey looked like a top quality player, and who can forget his four goals at Anfield for us? But I reckon he also suffered some kind of homesickness and after a season and a bit he gradually became less and less effective due to a lack of form, confidence and passion.

For some reason the LW position was cursed, as everybody who was tried there failed in one way or another. Gervinho was exciting to watch with his dribbling skills and fine runs, but also he did not make the position his, mainly due to a lack of finishing of often very easy chances. But then finally, Arsenal got a fine left winger with a fabulous background and enough hunger to devour an entire defence all by himself. Alexis Sanchez was a very good buy and it looked like we now had a LW of the pedigree of Pires.

But no!!! Wenger had to try Alexis in the central CF position at the start of this season and now he does not want to play there anymore, it seems. The versatile and willing Iwobi played more than well in the LW position but it is far too early to say whether he has it in him to become the new Pires. Of course we can also play the now hopefully recovered Welbeck on the left but it remains to be seen whether he is best used there.

It has become  clear that Alexis is now fully set on playing centrally and on top of that it looks like his heart is no longer in playing for the mighty red and white. In our four most  recent PL losses, Alexis has looked at best unable to change the game round for us, and at worst uninterested to give his all for the team. The latter is of course unacceptable, but it could just be a body-language thing.

Wenger will have to try something different to get this team going again, and maybe it is time to rest Alexis for a while and give Welbeck and Perez a chance to shine for us now. An attack of Perez-Welbeck/Giroud-Theo/Iwobi could give us wings again. Perez cannot become our new Pires; he just lacks the coolness and style of Bobby. I have already called him the new Ljunberg so it would not make sense anyway!! 🙂 But with his contributions through fine assists and important goals, he could make a real difference for us. That man knows how to work and how to play for the team, and that goes a long, long way.

Time to freshen things up and a period of Perez on the left might just be the tonic the team needs right now.

By TotalArsenal.


16 thoughts on “Time to Bench Alexis and Give Perez the LW position

  • I agree T A, not sure Alexis will though, he seems to take things very personally. But back to Freddie and Bobby, what a class act those to were. They fiormed part of the best Arsenal team I have ever seen and an absolute pleasure to watch. I may be wrong but I can’t remember either of these two holding out on contracts etc.

    Really do want to see what Perez can do with an extended run in the side. He is certainly not afraid to shoot, which I feel some of other players seem to have an aversion to

  • Nice one, TA, and I will be agreeing with you–at least for the Hull City preview… To my mind Alexis must play at Bayern…

    Whether it’s Lucas or DW who fills in is another question. I think it’s more likely to be Welbeck as Lucas (supposedly) had a knock and was left out of the squad entirely at Chelsea.

    I also agree that we need to be careful when we try to figure out what players are thinking or feeling. Like you say, body language can lie…as can statements to the press. (How are we to know what Alexis really means if he throws his gloves down…) Fans go on and on about the team (or individuals) looking like they cannot be arsed or how they dug deep and/or just wanted it more, etc., etc… These statements almost always correlate to results. Luck plays a huge role in the game and the same effort–whether or not it’s rewarded with goals & victories–is what I expect, week in and week out. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt over result-fixated punters: these guys are professionals after all, and they would not have arrived where they’re at if they didn’t work hard. Moreover, I trust our manager (with his decades of experience working closely with the players) to make such decisions–if somebody is truly just going through the motions he would know it better than I…

    Frankly, I was hoping that Alexis would come down with the illness that gave Ozil his little winter break. He was rested at Preston and only came on as a sub at So’ton but some other matches out (Burnley? Watford?) might have been good as well. Of course, if we had gotten bad results in either of them, Wenger would have been lambasted by his critics… Oh, wait, we did (fail vs Watford, at least, even though Alexis played)…

    We definitely need to freshen things, so I say–for the Hull match at least–that you’re at least half right… On the 2nd half, I think Lucas will get his chances but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re on the right as much as the left. He’s awfully left-footed but AW likes “inverted wingers” and Bellerin (once he’s recovered from concussion) is pacy enough to provide a lot of the width and crossing that is required on that side…As much as Alexis and Iwobi have failed–at times–to convince on the left, Theo has done so on the right…

    Thanks again for the post…

  • Alexis likes to play every game but even he will have to agree he didn’t pull his weight against Chelsea and we need to make him hungry again by resting him. Against Hull, he should start from the bench so he doesn’t lose the feel for the game (same reason Wenger must have brought him on against Southampton, to the chagrin of certain sections of the fan base). We need to have him fresh for the Bayern game. We should beat Hull city, so Alexis may learn to trust his team mates can win with/without him.

    Theo should not even feature. Start Welbeck, Perez and Iwobi in the front 3; Elneny, Ox and Ozil in midfield. Also, have Gibbs on for Monreal, just for the heck of it.

    I don’t envy Wenger at the moment but that’s why he gets paid so well and I don’t.

  • TA, that’s thinking the ‘unthinkable’ and how so much I love it!

    Actually I have always been in the fore front of Alexis as a striker but am beginning to entertain some doubts. Alexis at #9 require runners to get beyond him which has not been easy for us to contrive. Without these runners, the box stays empty at critical moments because Alexis’s instincts are more of a creator than a finisher even though he is a good scorer of goals. Alexis would be best as a 2nd striker as he is often deployed in the Chile national team. For the system we use, this means the hole behind the striker and that’s Ozil’s #10 which is basically what Sanchez plays when he plays as a striker. The difference this time being that we now have somebody designated as a striker equipped with a striker’s instinct. That striker would either be Giroud or Perez. Imo, Perez has the movements that tally with our Plan A, while Giroud’s tally with our Plan B.

    For the WL, I’d prefer Welbz to Iwobi. Iwobi is a brilliant midfielder but as yet he tends to fizzle out as he approaches the critical areas. Added to that is the fact that Welbz is a far more effective presser of the ball.

    Ozil displaced at #10 by Alexis moves to the WR position. These days, spaces are such scarce commodity in the central areas and Ozil needs spaces, which are more available out wide, to be at his best. Ozil’s reverse passes and his inswingers are things of joy from the RW position. The down side of Ozil at WR is tracking back to help his RB. But then again, in the central area he fails to press effectively.

    My choice for the front 4 :

    PLAN A

    PLAN B

    With this arrangement it’s easy to rest Sanchez and plug in Iwobi there. Also Walcott for Ozil.

  • Nice write up TA. While I’ve really enjoyed watching Perez in the limited game time he has had, I honestly think Arsenal need to first and foremost rethink its tactics, it’s system of play and the requirement of individual positions within that system before making a call as to which player’s strengths and weaknesses deems them the most suitable to play in particular roles.

    The current possession based attacking approach and limited regard for the defensive side of the game hasn’t and isn’t working. Despite being the joint top scorers in the Premier League thus far, I don’t think Arsenal’s system of play produces enough goals to justify the setup’s lack of defensive focus. That not being derogatory to Cech, Debuchy, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Gibbs or Coquelin all of whom are excellent defensive players individually. It’s more of a criticism of Arsenal’s offence and the system of play Arsenal use to try and score goals.

    Bobby Pires for example was hugely effective (both in terms of goals and assists) on Arsenal’s left wing. This was not only because of his individual attacking qualities but because:
    – Arsenal’s largely counterattacking system at the time afforded him space;
    – Vieira and Cole defensive strengths mitigated his weakness in that regard;
    – his natural tendency to make off the ball runs to the box complimented Henry’s tendency I move from more central positions to the left wing.

    Arsenal’s system of play complimented his strengths and most importantly gave him the space he needed to operate. The same reasoning can be applied to Freddie Ljungberg on the right wing and his combination with Bergkamp.

    Arsenal’s possession based attacking approach, in which we compress the available space in and around the opponent’s 18 yard box and slowly and intricately pass the ball around looking for a killer pass through an 8 to 10 man compact defence, denies our speed based players, like Alexis, Walcott, Welbeck and Perez, the space they need to utilise their key strengths. Starting any combination those players in Arsenal’s front three commits Arsenal team to a certain style, but Arsene has seemed reluctant, post the exhausted Everton and Man City performances (which I blame on a lack of squad rotation) and with the exception of the match versus Southampton, to implement tactics that allow those forwards to flourish.

    In my opinion the only attacking players Arsenal’s current system of play compliments is Ozil and Ox on the flanks, due to their accurate crossing ability, and Giroud and possibly Welbeck due to their aerial strength. That said, Arsene has, for whatever reason, rarely used that combination. Only in the final 20 minutes when the situation becomes panicked do the team deliver the sort of service Giroud craves. It’s no wonder the big Frenchman have scored so many late goals this season.

  • Welbz as CF and Perez as rampaging winger should suffice for me.

    Perez and Iwobi can click, but if the opposition presses us hard we are still going to lose some points. Welbeck is able to take his chances with both hands and that is what makes him a good player. Maybe play Welbeck, Perez and Ollie?

  • Waldo – “The current possession based attacking approach and limited regard for the defensive side of the game hasn’t and isn’t working. Despite being the joint top scorers in the Premier League thus far, I don’t think Arsenal’s system of play produces enough goals to justify the setup’s lack of defensive focus”.
    Waldo, I agree to some aspects of your post but needed to point out that even our possession football has not been that in recent times. We have long abandoned that style, strictly, and tried out a more efficient approach where we even allow some teams more of the ball while hitting them on the counter. Since then, our sleek possession style has not been evident as the team gets more desperate for silverware, sacrificing its patient style. A clear pointer is in the fact that we hardly outplay teams these days. We used to get beaten by the likes of Chelsea and United in the past but could leave the games cursing our luck because we would have dominated certain periods of these games. Not anymore.

    We do need a complete review of approach, without losing the core philosophy of the team.

  • I know it isn’t the time for it yet but I saw a report suggesting we may be in for Sead Kolasonic (Schalke 04), the Serbian full back, who I only ever watched play last week. If it is true that we are, we must absolutely go for him.

    I watched him in the Bayern v Schalke game and he kept Arsenal Robben quiet while also bombing forward to good effect. He is aggressive, strong, skillful and very quick. He is no nonsense, to my mind, the kind of full back I will like to see at the club.

  • Interesting to see Arsenal being linked to Joe Hart, it could be the usual transfer nonsense of course, but from the perspective of the English quota it would make sense.

  • It is a rumour I can understand, given Cech’s inconsistent showings. But we do have equally good back up in Ospina, Martinez and Sczcesny who may still return.

    If it does happen, however, it will make it easier to sell one of Theo, Jack and Ramsey.

  • Off topic. Reading from various football news sites, I sense that the natives are restless and there is a foreboding of a toxic situation at the Emirates this Saturday as the club engages Hull city. Some elements of the fan base plan some kind of protest move, ranging from boycott to waving white handkerchiefs at the 13th minute; or simply leaving the stadium by the 13th minute (13, being the number of years it may end up being since Arsenal last won the EPL). There is an argument for whatever protest move agreed to be carried out by the 8th minute (for how much, in ‘£m that Wenger gets paid per year).

    Whatever the misgivings, I find it hard to take in the fact that fans of the club can carry out actions which may put the nail in the coffin for whatever hopes we may harbour for a good season. The hatred for the manager is so extreme you get sentiments to the effect that some wish the club finishes outside the top 4, in the hope it gets Wenger sacked. How can fans of the club wish the club to lose? Isn’t it the joy of competition that keeps us happy, in the end? Already, the Emirates is not a fortress for the boys because of the indifference of the fans, so, my feeling is this will only go to worsen the incidence of nerves in the players and staff.

    My view is the board pays the man and, for now, find him the best man for the job; if his employers believe in him, I am not sure the protest of fans would result in his sack (who does that anyway?), which will further cause a bigger rift between these fans and the club. The club is for the fans but, it is owned by one man and controlled by men who have been entrusted with the vision for the club. The club has been making progress, if slow, coming from the austere years, winning the FA cup, back to back and finishing progressively higher on the league table in the last 3 years. Perhaps, that had given the hope that we were due to win it in 2016/17, especially since lowly Leicester won it last season (that must be the crux of the matter seeing as it made nonsense of the myth about the influence of money to win it). It is just February and there is nothing to suggest Chelsea have definitely won it because there are 14 games to go. Any team in the top 5 can still go on a run and shock the league leaders. Why some of the fan base are willing to give all that up and disrupt the flow of things I’d never know. We may not win it, but as long as there is a mathematical chance, the fans should give the team their all and push them as far as possible.

    Any attempt to embarrass the boss is an ill wind that blows no good.

  • Hey Gooneris… I just published my match preview (without noting the protest stuff…) but I think your comment is a very good one and should be seen by everyone. Please copy and paste it over to the new thread… Cheers!

    New Post..

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