RAMBO IS AN INTERESTING STUDY, OZIL TOO. (TACTICAL MUSINGS).
Rambo is an interesting study. Though a versatile player, it has been difficult identifying a best role for him. Ramsey must do the late runs into the box, irrespective of the role assigned to him. Nothing can ever stop that. Nothing. He is a maniac as far as wanting to get at the end of every offensive move is concerned. Against Lincoln, from the midfield, he had the highest attempts at target (tied with Walcott at 6) and walked one of them into the net. That’s his orgasm.
Is he a pain in the neck? Absolutely, if he has been given a role that is undermined by such runs. Are deep runs into the box necessary? Absolutely, because they cause sudden overload that catch the defense flat footed. Clearly then Ramsey can be a great asset or a liability in equal measure depending on the role he is playing. Unfortunately, roles are so interdependent that one wonders if there is a place in the team that can accomodate his intractability.
Rambo has a monstrous engine. He is technically very gifted, but lacks speed and agility. He loves to be involved, never one to hide but gets too sucked to the ball at the cost of spatial awareness particularly in the defensive phase of the game. He is like a precious stone that has defied polishing. Should it be thrown away, locked up in the safe, or hung on one’s neck with pride? Little wonder opinions are so split about him. He is good, he is bad, he can be ugly.
Rambo has little regard or discipline for structure, and a guy like Pep Gourdiola wouldn’t tolerate him, but in fairness to him he compensates mightily with his huge lungs. Ozil operates best in freedom, but his freedom exists within a tactical framework. Rambo’s boarders on licentiousness and to be forgiven, he has to pay with tons of sweat. And does he?
Rambo is an enigma who divides opinions but even for those on the negative side of the divide, there remains a vague sensing that there must be a right role for him. Obviously not #10 as Ozil is there already and Aaron doesn’t quite fit the description of the man in the hole. A member of a midfield three? Or does he pair as a double #10 in which one is a creator, the other a jack of all trade with a penchant for getting at the end of things? What about a hybrid of all of them? A midfielder, a creator, a goal scorer. Frank Lampard who was the very best of his generation comes to mind. He was a midfielder who was always there in the box banging in goals. Lampard is the all time leading goal scorer for Chelsea and has a career total of 193 goals. No midfielder had ever scored more than 150 goals. Lampard is a precedence that gives hope that Rambo’s box runs can become an invaluable asset to the team. Clearly a double pivot does not provide the security for such unfettered runs. A three man midfield does.
Rambo’s presence in the middle 3 of a 4:3:3 is particularly interesting because of the energy in his will for upfield verticality, which his special lungs are able to sustain over the course of a game. In comparison, our 4:2:3:1 offensive capacity (i.e. 4 attackers) is not compromised number wise because Rambo invariably joins the attack while our defensive shape remains uncompromised as there are still two midfielders manning the spaces.
However, the 4:3:3 has its ripples. The #10 role vanishes. The centre of the front 3 is the striker, and that’s not a role for Ozil who likes to play with men in front of him. Move him wide right, and Walcott is displaced. Move him wide left and he becomes an orthodox winger which amounts to a gross misuse of his creative talent. What then? Is he out of the team in a 4:3:3? It is pertinent to note here that when Wenger played 4:3:3 against Bayern, Ozil was indisposed. Again against Lincoln, Ozil was on the bench. Can £42.5M be sat permanently on the bench?
In the Lincoln match Ozil came in to replace injured Oxlade in the 27th minute and almost instantly the team started playing more intelligently. Did we revert to our more accustomed 4:2:3:1? Wouldn’t that have been too risky, even against lowly Lincoln, with Rambo in the double pivot role? Ozil played deeper and in the process gave cover to Rambo’s upfield “pilgrimages”. Ozil actually played in a midfield three!
Ozil cannot tackle. He is not at home with brawn and power. But defense is not all brawn, it is also brains. He knows how to quietly take care of the abandoned spaces housing the opponents attacking corridors and passing lanes. That, technically is an important part of defending that would be lost on many but a few with keen eyes. Ozil’s ego never on parade on the field sets him apart. Sometimes when am watching a match, I see just egos scuttling around the field. Egos that come in different shapes and sizes but non that I have seen amongst them goes by the name Mesut Ozil. One of his most amazing quality is his paranomic view of what is in front of him. He is able to see the whole as well as its details in one flash of a vision. The more of his men in front of him, the more dazzling his creativity. Maybe one of the errors in our formation this season is in pushing Ozil further up the field in the attempt to turn him into a goal scoring #10. We wanted him to reflect our own egos, to be made in our own image. This is why he is being nailed to the cross. Nobody understands him and everybody is asking a different of him.
Likely too, one of the reason that might have also informed pushing Ozil further up the field is his inability at aggressive defending. The irony in this is that in today’s football, the final third of the field is the area for the most aggressive defending (high pressing) while the middle third tactically requires the least aggressiveness and therefore best suited to Ozil’s more passive style of defending. Everything seems to be pointing to Ozil playing a deeper role.
Ozil and Ramsey together in a midfield three, demands that the remaining of the combo 3 should be the deepest lying. For sure that’s a 4:1:2:3 formation, with Rambo and Ozil being the 2. While Rambo moves vertically up and down his default position, Ozil, more or less, adjusts horizontally to the dynamics of the game. This arrangement tallies with what Arsenal played when Ozil replaced Oxlade in the Lincoln game and quietly, without any high drama, brought back intelligence into our game. Throw away all the formation models and the gist here is Ozil plays in a position where he has more of his mates to targets and where at the same time his presence frees Rambo to make his box runs.
This arrangement does not exclude other combinations of our midfield players but Ozil deeper than where he has been playing this season is the cue, irrespective of the label assigned to it.
By Pony Eye