We Want Our Midfield Back: Start Willock, Ozil and Move up Luiz

Mancini to the rescue as Southampton looms….

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 There is so much apathy in the Arsenal world but we know how quickly things can turn in football, like Poche’s sacking! Three consecutive wins in the EPL will get us dreaming again. Southampton at home, Norwich away followed by Brighton at home look a good bridge across our troubled waters.

Emery has been slammed from all quarters for poor performance but, if he had the Invincibles as his team, a lot if not all his short comings might have been hidden. Maybe we have a collection of players who are not as good as we think. Or it could be that we have a team that is a poor mix of good players in which case it’s back to Emery.

Manchester City, under Mancini, were underperforming at the Etihad in a certain match they were expected to win easily. Just after the hour mark with the match still goalless, Mancini pulled out one of his forward men for a midfielder to the chagrin of supporters who were thinking oppositely. He won the match. When quizzed he admitted that the problem was not with the striker he pulled out but with the supply line that was supposed to be feeding his forward men. It was clear to him that what he needed do was fix the midfield which he did by strengthening them number wise.

We concede too many attempts at goal and achieve low numbers of attempts at the opponents’ goal. That’s an indictment on our midfield. It is their job to prevent the ball from getting into our defensive third as well as to progress the ball into our attacking third when they have it. If Emery is half as analytical as Mancini he’d know what area of his team first needs fixing, but with a thousand things always swirling in his brain he’s built a reputation of regularly missing the obvious. At this moment the bet is that he is busy acquiring in depth knowledge of Southampton which he would use to manufacture new pigments that would only put his team off colour.

If I were him, I would beef up the midfield and that means the concept of the PALs on the field together is put in the cooler. I would look at the PAL asset as providing us with options that leaves room for adaptation to tactics, to form, to injury and to the super sub. After all it is a privilege a club of our size should posses. Three of them on the field starved of the ball is the real misuse of the huge asset they represent.

Emery should throw away his volumes on Southampton our opponent come Saturday. I know it’s his addiction but he just has to stop thinking about adapting to every team. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be to hell with every team that come visiting at the Emirates. The onus should be on visitors to worry about us. I doubt Emery understands how big a team Arsenal is. Sorting out his team, starting with the midfield, should be his sole preoccupation. If he needs a helping hand from me, Willock must always be in the mix. Not that he’s up there yet but none of the others have his roundedness. For example he is able to show up in both boxes which is not saying much of the others.

Our players are so preoccupied with tame sideway and backward passes. Why? They are afraid to lose the ball. They know they are very vulnerable without it and that’s another indictment of our midfield which should be the core for repossessing the ball. We need better ball winners there. Our team defending that commences near the edge of our box has to stop. Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Henderson (Liverpool midfield trio) fight hard so that the ball does not get into their defensive third, making it easy for VVD and co. This is a job (saying it for the umpteenth time) that Luiz can help the team with more so as he is quite good at through-balls from deep. He is not exactly a Fabinho (who sits there for the Brazilian national team) but he is good enough and more pertinently the best in our ranks.

Against Southampton for example I would like to see this team:

—————Leno————–
Bellerin. Mustafi. Sokratis. Tierney.
—–Willock—Luiz—-Guendz—–
—————Ozil—————
———Pepe——Auba——–

That midfield three with Ozil in front of them has enough to aid both defensively and creatively. Look again at that line up panoramically and you’d see how those four letters L U I Z fit the arrangement. It’s a position he is conversant with having played there before. If Mustafi at central defense is stomach-churning for you, Chambers or Holding could step in.

Isn’t this the balance we’ve been looking for? Let’s keep shouting, Emery at wits end might just hear us. What’s your say.

By PE.

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28 Responses to We Want Our Midfield Back: Start Willock, Ozil and Move up Luiz

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers PE for a good read.

    Luiz in midfield sounds attractive and why not try it? I am not sure he has the stamina/fitness anymore to play there but we would have to see how well he would do. I much prefer the midfield of Xhaka, Torreira and Willock/Guendouzi with Ozil in the hole but, with the Xhaka situation being mismanaged so badly by Ems, I guess he will have to try something different.

    Leaving out Xhaka may further annoy the squad and from recent games it is clear that they are not behind the manager very much. This is a massive problem but so is the lack of balance in midfield. We will let it all come to us but the signs are not good, even if a Mancini moment were to happen.

  2. Admir says:

    A few notes:

    -Mancini as a club manager is, I fear, finished. He did well at Lazio, he did a solid job at Inter but it was only thanks to Calciopoli that he had won the league a couple of times. The Hideous One did a better job than him at Inter and won everything. He did win things with Man City but was always moaning for lack of spending even if he was given a superb team that literally any decent manager would have brought to the top. He lost the title race in 2010-11 for playing cowardly away from home.

    His Italy have done well in the EURO Qualifiers but don’t get misled by the results – Finland, Bosnia, Greece and Armenia were shit most of the time.

  3. Robert Baker says:

    I’ve been saying for.ages about luiz in midfield. We need to get rid of Emery now. I think pochi would do really well at the.emerates.

  4. Ed says:

    It’s true Poch would be a massive improvement over Emery … and with his past record in the pl I dont think it would take him long to sort out our shortcomings. You never know but I cant see this happening tbh
    Luiz playing deep lying midfield could work as long as he was properly schooled on not leaving us unprotected in defence, that said hes good at winning the ball and his distribution is excellent. Why not try it ???
    Would you field Mustafi over Holding or Mavropanos ? Having 2 players who have a likely major error in them on the field at the same time I think could lead to disaster (possibly on a weekly basis) I’d be looking to bring 1 of those 2 young CBS in and give them a chance especially thinking of Saliba joining in the summer

  5. PE says:

    Yes TA ……. the Xhaka issue is already looking intractable. He appears a very a strong willed man who’d hate to be booed again. Obviously our games without him have shown that he is not the reason (or the only reason) for our failings. If things have gone beyond repair my hope is we get a good price for him Jan.

  6. Crispen says:

    Xhaka may not be the only problem but he is definitely one of the problems. If we dump him and then get rid of Emery. We are on our way to being Arsenal again

  7. PE says:

    Admir …. your notes on Mancini is full of the things he had won yet the summary is that he’s no good. Am a bit confused. I wouldn’t swear by him but that day he got his tactics right. By the way am not saying we should go for him. I’d love to know what Calciopoli means …. you’re an amazing compendium of football subjects. 👍👍

    I’d love to get your opinion on our midfield.

  8. Sid says:

    I was with you all the way on your article. But then you lost all credibility once you put back Mustafi in an Arsenal side
    Football credibility down the drain with the addition of Mustafi. Who is the, goal for the opposition, once he is on the field.

  9. Admir says:

    @PE – was in a hurry, sorry. 🙂

    Midfield – I was suggesting Luiz in the midfield two months ago. His passing ability and height are virtues we might use there. Also, he wouldn’t play as a CB which is a major plus. Now, who would I partner him with is a bigger question. Only one partner is OK as I want Mesut as our No. 10. If I go with Xhaka, I get a midfield that is too slow yet has height and passing. If I go with Torreira, I get a proper balance of height, pace and tackling yet passing from 8 to 10 won’t be good enough, never mind switching sides. If I go with Guendouzi, I will get drive and tackling yet passing from 8 to 10, switching sides and positional discipline will be foreign words to my midfield. If I go with Ceballos next to him, it will leave us with a possible lack of pace yet all other boxes will be ticked. If I go with Willock, he’ll get the ball forward somehow and he will run onto second balls but I don’t know how well he would connect Luiz with Mesut.

    Mancini has won things but, like I said, circumstances worked his way. He got ballers like Silva and Nasri, he got Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli and Džeko in the attack, he got Yaya Toure on the record salary…while United lost Ronaldo, Vidić got injured more and more often, De Gea was still too raw in his first season etc. Chelsea were going through transition, Arsenal were going through transition from Cesc-o-centric team to something else… Once United got Van Persie, he cried he didn’t get him. A bit like a spoiled child who has all the toys yet cries when he sees a single toy in another child’s hands.

    The only time I can recall Mancio had punched above his weight was in his first season with Lazio, back in 2002-03, when he led cash-strapped-yet-star-studded team to Top 4 and eventually won the cup in 2003-04 but failed to reach Champions League. I think he is too much of a cheque-book manager

    Also, I forgot to answer to someone who claimed Pochettino should get aboard. He has collected fewer points than Enemy in the last 50 games. That’s a major underachievement. He has never won a trophy. He sees cheating and diving as a legitimate tactic.

  10. Admir says:

    Calciopoli – big scandal after World Cup 2006 when Juventus got strapped of their two titles and Inter were awarded one of those two. Juventus also got relegated to Serie B so Inter, managed by Mancini, bought Vieira and Ibrahimović from them and won the league with ease as their biggest rivals were in Serie B and second biggest (Milan) got points deducted. In Champions League, he couldn’t make it unlike Mourinho.

  11. jw1 says:

    One shoe– Jose to Sp^rs.
    Other shoe likely Poch to ManU(re).

    “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right…
    Here I am, stuck in the middle with The Unaibomber…”

    jw1

  12. PE says:

    Admir … how are you able to recollect in detail all these facts? I like going through a lot of football stuff but in the end it’s the stuff that goes right through me.

  13. PE says:

    Sid … you should have gone half a line further. I provided for you (Holding/Chambers).

  14. PE says:

    Admir … I like how you handled the midfield. Home truth.

  15. Admir says:

    PE – thanks.

    Well, I’ve been watching football since 1989 when I was six. I had had my notebook in which I wrote down results and scorers a full year before I started with primary school. I still recall of the results in UEFA Cup between Juventus and HSV I wrote down as well. World Cup 1990 was my first and I was even given a nickname Schillaci after the Italian striker who won unlikely Golden Boot. Look at my parents’ face when my friends would pop out on my door to ask if “Schillaci can come out and play with them” was priceless.

    Mancini was one of the first players I adored as a kid. He was a pure baller with some of his goals coming out of the Dennis factory. He played for Sampdoria when they won CWC in 1990 (how many chances he spurned against Anderlecht!) and Serie A in 1991 respectively. Mario Stanić was another hero of my childhood. Ian Wright would become the reason to support Arsenal right after the war.

    During the war in Bosnia I had been cut off a bit but I did my best to stay in touch with football results. I used batteries my parents bought to hear the latest news and followed results from European football venues instead. It was some experience – Serbian artillery was bombing my city while I was trying to find out how the second leg of the Serbian Cup Semifinal between Partizan and Zvezda had ended (Partizan went through, 3-1 after a 0-1 defeat in the first leg).

  16. Vikjtaar says:

    David Luiz in midfield sounds good, but does he still have the complete qualities to play as our CDM? No doubt he has the passing ability and height, but I can’t see any other person in our midfield complementing him well, if it is not Torreira.

    Guendouzi will leave him exposed. The free role given to Guendouzi and not Ozil is a problem to the Arsenal midfield. Guendouzi plays good football, but he seems to expose whoever plays with him. He is no Cazorla. Torriera as the CDM is the only best possible solution, if we were to play Luiz in midfield.

    In fact, we need to get a solid CDM in January, sell Xhaka (as the situation surrounding him is slowing having a negative impact on the team; evident in the last few games he wasn’t played) and get a good price for him. We need commanding midfielders; we need a balance.

    How we concede a lot of shots is not what should be, if we would make it back to the top four. Emery is a problem for the team. First, it was Ozil, now it is Xhaka. The team as a whole is not blending; we look loosed.

    MY TEAM TO FACE SOUTHAMPTON WOULD BE:

    Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Tierney;
    Torreira, Luiz; Ozil; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang (4-2-3-1).

    There are ball movers in the midfield up there. Torreira needs to be played in his favourite position to complement Luiz who offers height and better passing ability; while Ozil should be given a free role.

  17. Simba says:

    All these positional switches shows lack of quality & direction in key areas. Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Mustafi, Luiz, & Sokratis are experienced but simply not good enough. Gendouzi is a media favourite like Pogba but unfortunately does not seem to be a specialist in any midfield position (a very bad trait). A defence of Bellerin Chambers/Mavropanos/Saliba/Holding and Tierney is better than those old fellas. Ceballos hasn’t justified why we must opt to buy him. He is not the player to take us to the next level. The worst thing about Arsenal from the last Wenger years and Emery period has been selling the better players and keeping or replacing them with lesser quality. Imagine if we still had Carzola, Giroud, Coquelin, Monreal, Gabriel, & Ramsey. With Ramsey & Carzola as captains our team will be much better with good leadership. Even Koscielny in his last season was still better than Sokratis and Mustaffi and even Luiz. Walcott and Ramsey used to contribute lots of goals and assists from midfield. Now Xhaka and company are not even giving us half of that. Apart from Lacazette and Auba its only the young players who are showing quality win games but the lack guidance and mentorship from the seniors. We can only fool our selves but the team is lacking the necessary levels of quality and drive. Players like Nasri, Fabregas, Flamini, Song, Carzola, Coquelin & the Ox although never won the league used to be tenacious and always married their quality with a drive to win. It is really disturbing. Although Emery is not what we need, these players are earning millions which must show in their zest. Teams like Bournemouth, Burnely, Leicester, & Sheffield Utd have achieved more than what we expect because of their willing to run for the badge. Lastly a team of Arsenal’s stature must never change philosophy and tactics because of fear of opponents. We are supposed to face even giants like City in our way of play and let them also have headaches on how they can counter us. A coach who always changes formations and players because of fear of opposition (even weak teams like Watford) is not confident of any one winning formula and set 11 players. That coach is not good enough. That coach is Emery.

  18. jjgsol says:

    In my view, Guendouzi is the problem. He does a lot of running around and achieves nothing whether in defence or attack.

    Toreira is a must, I would also bring back Xhaka as we need his range of passing.

    No Guendouzi please.

  19. PE says:

    Admir … Exciting! Yours reads like me a long long time ago. At 9 yrs old l knew most of the names of the players in my capital city local league. I can still remember some of the head line captions of the next day’s daily newspaper’s report of matches. My much older brother used to
    take me to the stadium (then called the King George the V Stadium at Lagos) for matches. That young I was already involved in tactics, fascinated by the M and the W formations. Then my interest started expanding to include football in faraway lands. Real Madrid captured my imagination with names like Puskas and Di Stefano. Then the thrill of names like Pele, Didi, Garrincha the Samba boys. When Jaizinho scored his first goal for Brazil it was reported that he fell on the ball in the net and started crying “See me poor Jairzinho to score a goal for Brazil’. I nearly cried with him. That was the size of my fascination with football. International football was growing for me. Bobby Charton, Jimmy Greaves, Gordon Banks. Pele rose high in the air. Met a cross with his head, was wheeling away to celebrate but Gordon Bank had saved it. Till today Pele is still in amazement.

    Then Rinu Mitchels. The most revolutionary football mind ever. With him came Johan Cruyff and the era of the Dutch Masters. Arrigo Sacchi widely regarded as the most brilliant football mind ever and so on and so forth until I disembarked at Highbury thanks to the gangling super talented Kanu Nwankwo. It is because of Kanu that I am meeting you. Pleasure, man.

  20. PE says:

    Vikjtaar ….. yes I have my serious reservations about Guendouzi. He does not know the first thing about defending. With the ball he seems unable to give that sudden quick pass that catches the defense off guard. He likes to survey and most of the time that’s critical time being lost. But he has plenty of psychological fight in him and that is something that our team lacks. And that his attitude is infectious.

    Torreira is much better defensively but that doesn’t guarantee I’d prefer him to Douzi. We used to know our problem as poor defending. That has been overtaken. Now our problem is two directional: defending, attacking. In the attacking phase I see Torreira as something of an Elneny, a ball circulator. So to me, it is plus-minus for both of them.

  21. PE says:

    Simba….. Mavro? We hardly know him. Clearly there must be a reason why he’s not being featured. A missing link in his game which he is being made to work on. The Ornacle once hinted of a certain nervousness with passing the ball. I agree with you that Ceballos, so far, has not justified our making his stay permanent. I cant understand why we seem so keen on players who are unathletic.

  22. PE says:

    jigsol … the real truth about our midfield is that we need an ovehaul there. Apart from Willock who looks like he’d develop rightly the others have their baggages

  23. njk84sg says:

    PE, good post.

    The coaches needs to look at each and every player to see the mental state of everyone, as the lads seemed ok during training, but not during matches. Ozil was featured on Arsenal’s facebook page yesterday, some snippets of him during training. We need someone as strong headed as him on the field too. Pepe beside him maybe?

  24. njk84sg says:

    Um, and the title of your post… was it by TA?

    We needed some good momentum from the lads, and it might or might not be fixed just by putting Luiz there. I remember Elneny doing defensive work from DM position 2 seasons ago, effectively becoming a 5-man defence and protecting the back 4 nicely. Apparently currently we have Chambers and Holding that can do the same in protecting the back 4.

    A tall DM that never leaves his post will do good for Torreira, to combine with Ozil and the attacking players. We had a good team of players, but no good manager to use them.

    If we have a good plan, even Douzi with Torreira can do wonders for the team.

  25. Erik the Red says:

    PE. Thank you.

    Ahhh Kanu Nwankwo. Just writing the name makes me smile. I had the privilege to watch him so many times at Highbury and was right down the front of the North Bank when he scored his “dummy” goal. The man was simply a genius.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    Well done PE for getting us out of the interlull and with some fine comments to boot.

    Loved that video, EtR

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