New Signings New Combinations: this German-Swiss Combo will Improve Arsenal

With no more Gunners in Russia except the peripheral Danny-boy, Emery will soon have all his players back at the home of club football. There are a number of new combinations I cannot wait to see in action, such as:

  1. Xhaka-Torreira (if indeed the signing of the Uruguayan gets completed);
  2. Sokratis-Mustafi (or will Chambers or Holding get the nod?)
  3. Leno-Sokratis/Mustafi (if indeed Leno gets the nod ahead of Cech)
  4. Nacho-Auba/Mkhi on LW (not strictly a new combination but one that should develop further under Emery)
  5. Lichtsteiner-Ozil.

Licthsteiner-Ozil combo

As the regulars on this blog know I am a great fan of Granit Xhaka. I rate highly his technical/strategic leadership and ability to give shape/structure to a team. I love these sorts of players: Fabregas had a similar shaping influence on previous Arsenal teams, as did the one and only Pirlo for his previous teams.

Xhaka, who is still only 25, was the anchor of the Swiss team as he controlled the game from deep-midfield. Unfortunately, he was less effective against the Swedes, and this was not so much due to the Scandinavians denying him space and time to operate in, as some analysers suggested, but the injury to his new fellow Arsenal mate, Lichtsteiner.

For Xhaka to be as effective as possible from an attacking sense, a team needs very effective wing-players, whether they are traditional wingers (a dying trade) or gazelle-like wing-backs. The Swiss had really strong wing-backs during this WC, and would they have had a quality CF they could have gone very far this time round. The Milan-based Ricardo Rodriguez really impressed on the left (would love him at Arsenal), but it was at the right where Lichtsteiner and the rejuvenated Orc, Xhardan Shaqiri, formed a formidable attacking duo; and from that area most of the Swiss’ quality attacks were instigated.

It is relatively easy to eliminate one dangerous element of a team but it becomes a lot harder if there are two or more elements a defence has to deal with if these are grouped together. Shaqiri and Lichtsteiner had a great understanding of each other and offered something different from the right wing all game long; it was hard for defences to deal with them and they paid for it time and again.

But Stephan Lichtsteiner was suspended for the last-16 game v Sweden and Shaqiri looked a bit tired too. As a result, the Swiss right flank was far less effective, even though the ball ended up there a lot – and this had an impact on Xhaka’s game. Stephan’s replacement, Lang, did not have a good game and weakened the Swiss’ attacking threat considerably.

This made me think about Arsenal’s situation on the right flank. I have been critical of Bellerin’s final ball and general lack of attacking intensity last season, even though he did improve quite a bit in the latter part. The partnership with Ozil was okay but nothing more than that.

Bellerin remains a work in progress and I do believe in him, but I am also very, very happy that we signed a master of a wing-player in Lichtsteiner. Both defensively and in attack Stephan played very strongly for Switzerland, and for one or two years he will be able to strengthen our wing-play and help us get Hector up to the required level,

And having watched the Lichtsteiner-Shaqiri combo being so effective, I am really looking forward to the German and Swiss combining on the right-wing and forming a continuous potent threat from our right wing. We have missed this, even though the ball, not entirely a surprise to me, ended up a hell of a lot of time in that area last season. A lethal thread from both wings will be required to be successful next season, and I am very hopeful that Lichtsteiner and Ozil will turn our right wing in one big assist (and goal) machine.

By TotalArsenal.



55 thoughts on “New Signings New Combinations: this German-Swiss Combo will Improve Arsenal

  • TA, do not forget that Ozil’s major flaw is tracking back. If he is to work better with the right back / right wing back, we need him to be playing with a defensive midfielder on the right. Meaning; Xhaka / Torreira.

    The first Swiss game they had a major disadvantage on the right due to the lack of understanding between Lichtsteiner and Shaqiri. The person that did the dirty work in between them is Behrami. We should focus more on how that person in between Lichtsteiner and Ozil can help the transition of the ball.

    You are right about Bells, and it was a bad move by the board to let Debuchy go for more playing time. Now the board bought Lichtsteiner due to this, and they are really looking at giving Bells better players to train with for the right back position.

    Lichtsteiner, being the captain of the Swiss team, will no doubt give us more steel at the back, and we will see how his partnership with Ozil will come to fruition. It is sad that I would not see the both of them here in Singapore, but it is quite exciting to see how Arsenal will play under Emery this season. Hopefully more of the same Wengerball with some tweaks here and there.

  • Good comment, 84. I am looking at a right wing of Licht/Bels – Xhaka – Ozil. Don’t worry about Ozil’s tracking back.

  • TA, good post.

    As I se it, Lichsteiner at 34 is recruited to be a back up to Bellerin. Maybe recruited to be also a psychological leader in the team. If he has come as first choice, Bells who is quite marketable would have opted out.

    Again I believe the wide right forward position is going to be manned mainly by Mkhi so we would be considering more of the Bels/Mkhi combo followed by the Lichsteiner/Mkhi.

    I expect Ozil at the central attacking role with freedom to roam. But I must confess that it’s so difficult for me imagining Ozil effective in gengen pressing. It’s possible the team can be reshaped to provide an effective role for Ozil. With a terrier like Torreira around hiim can he become a deep lying playmaker? Truth is, am simply struggling to find an effective role for him in a high energy play.

  • Cheers PE, having seen Lichtsteiner for the Swiss, I reckon he is the better player and I would be surprised if he does not get to start a lot of the games next season.

    Mkhi on the right is interesting; it’s not how he was used under Wenger, and I reckon he is more comfortable when he can come in from the left and shoot with his hammer right foot.

  • Jk, to your question in the previous thread, since Brazil got knocked out (being my favourites for the cup), I’ll have to say France; even though I will be happy for England to win it just to see how many puns they come with in the headlines; and of course, to see Kev, retsub1 and other English men on here, happy for Country. 😉

  • Good post, TA. I feel Lichsteiner will fit in with any of our prospects for the right side, simply because he runs that side of the field like a boss, anyway. He looks a defender who can do it all by himself and even better, if he gets support from either of Xhaka or Torreira (safe to assume he will join now). The way it worked under Wenger, Ozil on the right will cleverly stray inside just to leave some space for Bellerin to bomb forward, before switching out again to lend him offensive support or an outlet, if needed. It can work the same way with Lichsteiner.
    The contrast is seen in how Alexis appeared to clash roles with Monreal and later, Kolasinac. Monreal will run beyond/behind Alexis, looking for a well weighted pass to match the run, only for Alexis to cut back to his right foot and seek to go inside, at which point if he loses the ball, our left back side is open to be exploited. Between Ozil and Bellerin, such runs were never wasted, which sustains us being on the front foot. Loss of possession in such scenarios leaves options for chasing down the ball.
    As for Xhaka-Torreira combo, it is the most likely now, as things stand, with Ozil and Ramsey taking turns in front of the two deep lying midfielders. It will depend on how Emery wants us to play. If Xhaka is allowed to roam free, we may not require Ozil in front of them and more likely Ramsey, who likes to go in behind defenders or arrive onto a cross, suddenly.

    While at it, read that we are likely to sign that youngster foretold by the ITK reporter (David Ornstein). His name? MatteoGuendouzi from St. Lorient and a France U-20 midfielder who Emery seems to like a lot. Will he play a lot in the coming season, as he’s used to doing for second division, Lorient? We wil, find out soon.

  • Cheers Eris and all agreed re Alexis’ unwillingness to work closely with Nacho or Kola. Good point about not losing possession when the FB(s) is(are) committed up-front.

  • Eris–
    Seeing how the last guy through door from Lorient turned out not-so-bad, eh? 🙂


  • Am a bit worried about Ozil and gengen pressing. Most of that press takes place in the opposition defensive third. The structured press usually has stopped if the opposition have worked the ball into the middle third. That’s why am envisaging a deeper role for Ozil. In good company eg Torreira or a midfield three I can see Ozil flourishing as the attacking brain of the team from a deeper position.

    Emery must be full of permutations and combinations. The good thing is that most of them should be viable.

  • Motivation, psychology, competition, all on the mind of Hector Bellerin who’ll be hopefully thinking deeply about his position in the team and his future at the club since the arrival of Lichtsteiner, who actually had a good World Cup and will be ready for the new challenge.
    Two full-backs fighting it out for a starting berth is no bad thing, this club isn’t just sleepwalking anymore, there is a real feeling of ‘let’s get this show back on the road’ – transfer business done and dusted, everyone bar Welbeck at the training ground, almost everyone will be available for August 12th, fit and fully integrated.

    It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, top fours coming home…. 😄

  • Kev, …. yeah let them fight it out. I expect Lich to be used against tougher oppositions or against teams that are potent attacking fron their left. But by the end of the day, all things equal, I expect Bells to have played more games.

    Our World Cup players are not back yet. They are entitled to one month (?) leave. That’s what gives us the edge in our first match against City who had 16 of their players involved in the World Cup.

  • Eris, ….. interesting article. I love some of the things it says about him:-

    ” He is the one who corrects the spaces …..”
    “After Sergio Busquets he is tactically the strongest midfielder in Europe ..”
    “He was likened to former Pescara playmaker Marco Verratti…..”
    “He is a computer in the middle of the field ….”

    The article tells me that I haven’t yet met him. Am still seeing a 5ft 6in lad instead of a giant that he is. I bet that soon I would next to him looking up!

  • Wanted to offer a blast from the past I’d witnessed:
    Last night, Houston Dynamo CB Phillippe Senderos’ brace, each from a corner, led his team to a 3-0 win over Minnesota United FC in MLS play. Senderos headed in the first from just outside the 6. The second, redirecting a header, first-time, into the roof of the net from even closer range.

    Nice to see him playing well– and for our local MLS club. 😉


  • So, Jack’s move to west ham is official. Wish him luck; it’s been a tale of what might have been, with him at Arsenal. Here’s hoping he gets to fulfil potential.

  • With you on that sentiment Eris.
    It’s a hard thing to accept– when you are young– that you aren’t bulletproof.
    Never got the impression that Jack ever stopped forging through to reach his potential.
    (As much as the tabloids wanted to convince us otherwise.)

    And once more I’ll state– I’d wished he’d accepted the challenge to stay at the club. I do think it was a challenge to him, made by the management team. The contract remained on the table for a very long time. There is, once more– enough talent at the club, where many players’ abilities will now be accentuated. New depth Jack could have been part of. IMO Wilshere had a far better chance of continuing his climb toward his potential here– than at West Ham.

    I’m guessing? The move was an attempt to keep a balance in his life.

    Jack did indeed stay in London. Close to his children.
    Keeping it in perspective? Football’s important for all of us. Living vicariously through the game. But you shouldn’t lose sight of other important things in life either. Even players. Especially– when you have choices. Strip away the fame, the cash, the ability? Comes down to doing right by others.

    C’est la vie Jack.
    Hope you are great! Except when we see you line up across from us.


  • Eris, I would have liked to see Jack go abroad to Italy or one of the other major leagues but his fitness record and finance probably scuppered that.
    Turkey is an interesting place to live and the fans there are fanatical, but maybe it was just too far away from family.
    West Ham on the face of it is a step down, but Pelligrini is a great appointment for them, Allardyce he is not, so expect some sparkling football from the Hammers. I hope that Jack can stay fit from now on and enjoy the rest of his career, I think that he’ll do very well in East London and after all the injuries he deserves a bit of luck.

  • I feel you both on Jack, Kev & jw1. He probably allowed the Southgate snub affect his decision making seeing how patriotic he is with the England set up. Must have felt reduced playing time in the league lowered his chances of being called up (which was eventually, the case). I agree Pellegrini isn’t a bad manager to play under so, who knows? Jack may just find his mojo back.

    Nice collection of stories from Jeorge Bird’s blog there, Kev.

  • Yaaaay! Now we can have a taste of Uruguayan “Garra Charrua”. Welcome to Arsenal, Torreira.

  • Cheers Eris, Torrieira is a great signing, let’s get the French lad through the door.

    Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus for a whopping……… £105 million.
    It’s a mad mad world.

  • Just saw that Kev– beat me to it!

    Now the dominoes will begin to fall.
    Kane, Salah, Hazard, Aguero?
    Someone will be moving South soon.


  • I can’t see the Spuds selling any of their big hitters this summer, unless someone comes in with a mental bid, say £250m for Kane?
    Trippier must be a money box for Levy now, but I’d guess that most of the Spud players will want to be part of the new stadiums inaugural season.

  • That French lad, Matteo Guendouzi is another great buy. He has the football personality of somebody destined for the pinnacle. He excites me to no end. I rate him higher than Adli Yacine. The SIRE are thinking smart and thinking big.

  • Am suprised the Spuds are still able to hang unto Kane, arguably the best striker on earth. The sad thing is that it is a win win situation for them. They lose him and they hull home lots and lots of money.

  • I agree Kev, but France seem to have a winning mentality. I can see us beating Croatia, but France will be a tough nut to crack.

  • Croatia is going to be a really tough game Retsub, hopefully the extra time they played last time out, will see their legs go?

    Watching France vs Belgium I just thought, nah, even if England get through we’re not beating either of these. But I’m gonna enjoy tomorrow whatever the result.

  • Kev, it’s all Southgate’s fault for not playing our sole representative. Play him in the semis or let him go for his holidays?

    As for Torreira, i see him as a like for like replacement for Cazorla. Very good player imo, but will not get to see him in Singapore. Sad.

  • Cheers, Jync. PE, that’s a good article explaining the Uruguay concept of “Garra Charrua”. Torreira shows it and one can only hope it is infectious.

    On the game today, Belgium may have had a lot of the ball but sometimes, the will to win is seen in the collective approach of a team rather than the show of individual flair or dominance. The French just wanted to be in the final and it showed. They didn’t want to concede first, so they remained compact and when they got their goal, you just knew Belgium won’t be coming back from that. Mbappe, Giroud and Griezmann were helping out in defence and were selfless. France looks good for the cup (now, I agree, TA 😔).

    Good luck, England but Croatia won’t make it easy. You can bet on a tough match.

  • The signing of Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, both defensive midfielders, has gotten me wondering if Xhaka and Elneny have been earmarked to be sold. Guendouzi, though only 19, is ready for some 1st team role.

    Xhaka, inspite of his great passing assets, would always be dogged by his very slow reaction time exactly the opposite of Torreira. As for Elneny, he is a player who is neither here nor there and if we wish to be up there, that’s nearly not good enough for us.

    Leno, Papa, Torreira, Matteo = £(19+17+25+7)m = over £68m.

    From now on I expect the focus to shift to sales, likely from …. Ospina, Jenkinson, Elneny, Xhaka(?), Campbell, Welbeck, Perez.

  • Just seen a You Tube video of Guendouzi and yes I know that they can make an average player look world class, but he looks a player.

    Dare I say a similarity with Vieira in his leggy style, a great range of passing, surging runs with the ball, likes to have a pop at goal and a hairstyle similar to Petit.

  • Kev, PE,

    Matteo looks like a mixture of Elneny and Vieira. I hope he is used to complement Elneny, and he is only 19, so he looks one for the future.

  • Kev, Eris–
    Tough couple of days physically work-wise– missed the match live. As such, might have eschewed a 1-0 match– for the highlights. But your running commentary was enough to pique curiosity. Watched the game in parts– waking/watching/snoring/rewinding/watching more– several times. 😉

    Overall, and a rarity with WC clubs– these two could place top-4 in the PL IMO. Kind of a fantasy football equation– but true, I think. A treat to be sure– seeing them head-to-head yesterday.

    Props to Umtiti early (and of course for the goal), with last-man efforts on several occasions– getting to balls looking destined to find Lukaku point-blank inside the 6. Free-flowing for most of it, a very physical match as well. Hard not to be with the size of the Belgians. But the difference today– in my mind was Hugo Lloris. Having seen him a lot? I’d never been overly-impressed with him before today. Spectacular. Lifting his team.

    Pleased for France to have won though. Would not have liked to endure dealing with a final culminating with Spuds attackers versus Spuds defenders.


  • New combinations all over the pitch. New style of play. Just a few days till we see the Arsenal take to the field for the first time under Unai Emery. Transfer business likely done in terms of incoming. Need to sort out Ramsey’s contract. And of Reiss Nelson too. But we’re largely good to go.

    I’m still concerned about Mustafi. The little training video showed him mess up a very basic drill.But it seems like he’ll be staying, so he’ll have my full support. I’d like to see Sokratis paired with Chambers as first choice though.

    Licht will be a very good signing for us. But he will be backup to Bellerin. Of this I have no doubt. Bellerin suffered after his concussion. There is also some indication that his vegan diet is having an effect. Far be it from me to tell him or any of the professionals what is right, but personally, I think a vegan diet will affect physical performance. It makes you ‘feel’ better but actually stresses out the body for longer periods. That’s my understanding of it anyway.

    Not sure why you have Ozil playing right when he’s played on the left for Arsenal and Germany more often. I think Miki is more likely on the right.

    You know, speaking of wing threats, I think we’re going to have a great season from Kolasinac. He’s had a year of adaptation. He’s seemingly trimmed down. Emery likes his FBs pushed high up, and we’ve added some midfield discipline and bite to cover for him. He’s going to prove a major threat down our left flank. I’ve just got a feeling.

    Also, I think Lucas Perez will stay. I liked what little we saw of him, and I think he’ll prove to be an important member of the squad.

    I like that we’ve got a big squad. I think we’ll need them all if we’re going to be playing a high pressing game. Lots of rotation will be necessary over the course of the season.

  • Jw1. I think the English section may be quiet tonight. Amazing really when the Gunners are on TV everyone goes out except me and the dog. My son who has no interest in football at all is suddenly lecturing me on tactics etc. Tonight we have a full house. I can’t wstch and type, so may appear at half tome.

    The i still was emember 1966 when once again we had no Gunners on show. I think George Eastham might have been in the original squad,

    I guess there are always players that split the supporters. With England it’s Sterling. Yes he works very hard but he doesn’t deliver results for England in my opinion.

    The player who looked very good was Loftus Cheek. JHope he gets an opportunity to come on.
    If we get through I think the French will be very difficult to beat anyway.

  • Just having my pre-match cuppa before I leave for my sons house to watch/suffer/enjoy the game.
    Not happy with Croatia being underestimated in the media, fortunately the media doesn’t pick the team.
    Southgate will ensure that the England team will afford Croatia the respect they deserve.
    I’m certainly not taking anything for granted.
    Hold onto your rattle Retsub. 🙂
    Cheers Eris.

    84 how about a midfield trio of Guendouzi, Torrieira and Maitland-Niles?
    Power, pace and technique, it works for me.

    JW, we’ll take good care of the Don while he’s here…😉

    Only Liverpool have spent more than Arsenal, PE, as you suggest, time for some book balancing.

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