Orgasmic Giroud, Iwobi makes us forget Ozil, Solid Perez, Two Players MOTM: 8 Positives Arsenal v Palace

Well that was a lot better from the mighty red and white boys. Except for a couple of minutes in the second half, the team was in control of all areas on the pitch. Slim Sam Shady will not have expected much and his new team were poor throughout the game, but we were set up to beat them properly and so we did – even though a couple more goals would have been nice and most definitely deserved. With all our main competitors for the title except Man City winning this weekend, and the despicable Spuds leapfrogging us earlier in the day as an added concern, Arsene knew that we needed to win at all cost. This sort of motivation is ideal for a festive season home game and the boys were clearly hungry for a win.

Olivier Giroud twists to score his superb opening goal for Arsenal against Crystal Palace

Eight Positives from the Game and my MOTM:

  1. Giroud’s back-heel flick was of course the outstanding moment of the game. Alexis should have done a lot better with his cross for Ollie as there was little pressure on him after a finely worked counter-attack by the team, but Giroud improvised with the most sexy back heel ‘dink’ you will ever see and that will have had Bergkamp’s highest approval, no doubt. I used to do these when I was seven all the time but the team manager, an old idiot, told me it was way to fancy and should stop doing them. So to see Giroud reach backwards with his heel to still make something of Alexis’ poor pass and then beat the keeper with an unstoppable, other-worldly loop, was a total, orgasmic joy. He clearly was still a bit rusty and the team seem to find it hard to switch between playing with Alexis or Giroud as our CF, but it was still good to have him back in the starting line-up.
  2. The Elneny-Xhaka DM duo was awesome. They both totally dominated midfield with their energy, intelligence and healthy aggression. Xhaka is a beautiful player to watch and he quietly choreographed proceedings from the back like a true general. Elneny never allowed opponents time on the ball and his reading of the game was very good; and we all know how accurate his passing is. Together they were my MOTM.
  3. The Wing Backs were fabulous. Wenger had clearly instructed Monreal and Bellerin to bomb forward and provide the much needed added width to our game against these sort of teams. CP had no answer to our wing play and as a result we had a lot of fun stretching their defence and getting right behind them. The final ball of both can still improve, but they played an integral role in our pretty aggressive and constant attacking play (22 shots by the whole team but only seven on target).
  4. Iwobi managed to make us forget Ozil for big periods of the game. Don’t get me wrong, though: had Mesut played I reckon we would have scored six today. But Iwobi is still learning and playing as a nr.10 is the equivalent to being top dog in astrophysics. However, you can see how he plays with his head up and wants to play the best ball possible, and he was our most creative player on the pitch with great touch and some very fine passing. What is also good to see is that Alex has a lot of physical strength and the older he will get the more beastly he will become. I loved his goal too: sheer determination to get us over the line (and we desperately needed that second goal today).
  5. Alexis did not have his best days in terms of finishing off the few decent chances that came his way, but his energy and presence were once again very important. He missed his creative twin, Mesut, today but he still played an important teal role for us.
  6. Perez was a breath of fresh air. He missed a little bit of sharpness up-front but his wing play was pretty solid throughout the match. He was always an option for his colleagues and helped out very well at the back. On top of this, he is a safe pair of hands when receiving and moving with the ball, and I would love to see him played more regularly from now on.
  7. Koz-Gab combined healthy aggression with maturity and excellent tactical understanding between them; they never made me feel uncomfortable, which is a lovely state to be in! 🙂
  8. Cech: is there a better goalkeeper in terms of being present when he is called upon? It is all about making the right decisions during the few moments our defence is breached, and Petr did this impeccably. Top man.

By TotalArsenal

Happy New Year BKers!

Let’s hope light will keep overcoming darkness in 2017. Happiness, health and love to you all. 

Boom Boom Giroud is Back, Alexis Sanchez Baby, Coq-Elneny our New Wall? Sunderland – Arsenal Match Review

Oliver Giroud celebrates after he scores his second goal and Arsenal’s third.

After a two hour drive through foggy hills of the very sparsely populated west-to-east very north of England, we ended up in sunny Sunderland with an hour to spare. After parking the car close to the seaside we made our way to the ground via the beautifully named Roker Avenue. The street had seen better days and the level of  littering was quite a surprise (thought those days had gone), but it is always nice to see local supporters of all shapes and sizes wearing the home and away shirts, slowly making their way to the ground.

Sunderland is a football city, let there be no doubt about it, and the Stadium of Light is a pretty perfect football ground, especially when the sun is out and sparkles everything into bright colours and the playing service looks like snooker-cloth. You would expect there to be a lot of unhappiness given the miserable position in the league table and the dire football on display, but the Black Cats supporters are thick-skinned and used to being in this position. They clearly were looking at this game as a bonus of some sort, already anticipating that bigger – my Sunderland supporting ex-colleague even used the word ‘harder’- games lay ahead for them. With that they mean games that they are supposed to win if they want to survive in the PL this season.

I said to my father in law that the warm weather is a blessing for us as it will make the game significantly less ‘up-northy’ for the players. In fact, the north east had about the warmest weather of the whole of the UK on Saturday afternoon and the Gunners were red hot from the start. After a minute silence, immaculately observed by both sets of supporters which in itself gave me a warm and teary-eyed feeling, the game was kicked off. Sunderland set back and tried to disturb our flow of passing but also tried to hem us in in our half by playing a high line at times.

We became sharper in our passing as the game went on and Alexis was steeling the show with his energy and creativity. He set the scene for us in the first minute by chasing the keeper down and getting the ball wacked into his face from close range. The Chilean is our dynamo, our first soldier in attack, who gets everybody going. It was no surprise that it was him who opened the score, even though it was with a Giroudesque header from a classical, speculative cross from around the corner flag. When the Ox put the cross in we did not expect anything else but a clearance but when you have the energy and anticipation levels, combined with bottomless confidence, of the Chilean, anything can be turned into a goal. How he got in front of the defender I still don’t know, but his header was brilliantly directed into the far corner leaving the keeper with no chance. We all went berserk and 5000 or so supporters sang the never tiring ‘Alexis Sanchez Baby’ song. Sunshine and smiles everywhere.

To be fair to Sunderland they did not sit back totally after that and tried to breach us on our left side. Everybody in the world knows there is no way through on Arsenal’s right side of the defence with Coquelin, Bellerin and Mustafi bossing the area, but on the left side we have shown vulnerability time and again this season. Wenger is giving Gibbs a chance now whilst our fantastic Nacho man is nursing a ‘Wenger-injury’ in his head. Fair play to Kieran who looked really up to the task and for the first time I saw a man on the pitch rather than a promising talent.

Kieran got some support from the regularly alternating ‘mid-wingers’ but it was Eleneneny who became his closest defensive friend, next to the beastly Koz of course. The beauty about Elneny is his awareness of space and filling the gaps intelligently with his runs and presence; and when he has the ball he is calm and passes it on with simplicity and efficiency. During the first half we still had some defensive breaches on our left but we looked less vulnerable than in other games, and during the second half we were very much a solid defensive unit. The combo of Coquelin and Elneny might not be as sexy as it can be to many, but it was perfect for this game. They bossed the midfield and kept the Black Cats in their own half most of the time and they fed the attackers with simple and efficient passes constantly.

Unfortunately, Arsenal did not push on enough for the all important second goal. Ozil could have had another hat trick yesterday and others, such as Iwobi and Ox, missed composure and technical control to kill off Sunderland for good. Nobody cared too much about Ozil’s wastefulness as the supporters’ favourite song on the day was without any doubt ‘Mesut Ozil, Mesut Ozil, I just don’t think you understand….’. We were missing another regular/natural goal scorer with Theo out and Giroud bench-grooming his beard. Luckily the latter was regularly warming up along the sidelines and the away support warmed him up further with the ‘Nananana’ song, which he really appreciated.

And then came the expected unexpected… we gave away a penalty out of nothing and the score was level. We should have had a penalty a minute earlier and it took an uncharacteristic mistake – was it a slip? – by the German man-hugger Mustafi, to somehow let them back into the game, but we did it to ourselves… and that is what really hurts.

Luckily, the ‘here we go again ‘glass half empty supporters’ favourite train of thought was quickly derailed with a blitz-krieg brace by super-sub Ollie. First he resolutely connected with his left thunderbolt foot with a fine wing-cross by Gibbs from around the edge of the box to put us in front, and a couple of minutes later he put the game to bed with the finest, almost delicate, of diagonal headers over the scrambling keeper from a fine corner by Mesut. 1-3 to the mighty Red and White North Londoners, and then Alexis added another with some very cheeky close control and finish right in front of the goalmouth.

The Sunderland support had enough and we wished them a good homecoming with the ‘cheerio’ song. The added ‘your f*cking sh*t’ song lacked collective levels of empathy and wasn’t for me, but there you go. We should have scored more after that but 4-1 was a pretty fine result that sent us top of the league, which we reminded the most loyal Black Cats supporters of with gusto of course.

On the way back, my FIL and I listened to the radio and were amazed and well pleased that both Spuds and Manure did not manage to take three points from their home games. The return of the fog around the hills did not dampen our spirits one iota. It is quite telling that those who some see as our biggest competition for the title, Citeh and Pool, also managed to thump their opponents with four away goals. Still early days of course, but after ten games we are joined top of the league with those two teams and have a very similar goal difference: are the three of us, all committed to good, attacking football, going to fight it out for the title?

This week we have two more big games to play. Away to Ludogorets FC we will need our full focus to get three points and probably qualify for the next CL round – a not to be expected but never impossible loss there, is to be avoided at all cost. And then of course we play the NL derby for a six-point gab opportunity and to go into the November interlul break with the warmest of feelings. Ooh to be…

By TotalArsenal.

El-Super-Neny MOTM, Giroud-Welbeck the Future, Alexis’ Last Game? Arsenal v Norwich Afterthoughts

Happiness is a warm, yes it ihihihiss, Gunner!

Mohamed-Elneny-Arsenal

While for some, especially the lazy side of the media, this was about ‘the protest’, for many others we were playing a crucial game for staying in the top four and secure Champions League football once again.

I have nothing against fans protesting and demanding change as long as it is done appropriately. Doing it in our very own stadium and when we need to win is, in my opinion, not appropriate but at least it was done in a tasteful way. I am also aware that there are not many good opportunities to protest, so I understand why it was done yesterday, even though I don’t agree with it. The sense of a lack of progress and seeing patterns being repeated every season has made a lot of fans hungry for change. However, I never doubt Arsene’s and the players’ passion to win and give their all to win silverware, and as long as that is the case I will back them all.

Would I be adverse to a new manager for next season? NO, but I am just as happy to see Arsene try to get us the shiniest silverware once more. After four cups in two years this is a disappointing year, but let’s keep things in perspective…. we are still a very, very good team with tons of potential for improvement from within as well as cash to spend to add super quality. There is no need for despair.

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The game was predictable as in Norwich parking the bus and us trying to find a way through with blood, sweat and tears. What is worrying is the number of chances we keep giving away even though we dominated possession and were in control of the game for large parts. Teams seem to counter easily against us and a bit of pressure on our defenders often leads to defensive mistakes and embarrassing moments in front of our goal. 69% possession only led to three shots on target (out of 14 shots) – the same as Norwich (from 12 shots). We won 1-0 but it could easily have been different, and that has been the story of our game since the start of the new year.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are struggling to break down the PTB teams due lack of cohesion within the attacking team. I cannot put my finger on the exact reasons for this. The lazy, one-dimensional supporters just want to point their fingers to Giroud. If only he was replaced by Aguero, we would be winning the league by ease, they keep telling me. For me it is more complicated than that. Ollie is definitely not himself at the moment, but he also is getting quite poor service by his fellow players. Furthermore, fellow attackers are not playing near enough to Ollie to benefit from his hard work to make space for, and connect with, them. He may be Wenger’s number one CF but some fellow attackers may see it differently; at this stage of the season, we should see a lot more joined-up attacking play between Alexis, Giroud, Rambo and Ozil but it looks like they are four talented individuals not conversing in the same footie language.

Welbeck’s arrival brought new energy to the team and his running hurt the tired Norwich defenders and midfielders a lot. But Danny was also keen to work with Ollie in setting things up and he was rewarded for this by a fine lay off from the Frenchman that led to the only goal of the game, worth a priceless three points. I reckon there is very little cohesion between Alexis and Giroud, and this seems a structural problem; and I would not be surprised to see Wenger start Welbeck and Giroud together in the last two games of the season, as this will give us the best attacking balance and potency.

Alexis, who had another game in which the quality of his passing and final ball is not matched with his enormous energy and willingness to come for the ball, did not have much impact on the game. I had lost count of the number of times he misplaced a pass, which clearly is not his strength, even though he never stops trying. Just a handful of PL assists (4) is not good enough for a player in his position and of his stature, and his lack of accurate passing, especially with his final balls, is probably the cause of this.

Wenger also needed to strengthen the midfield as we needed to get a better balance between going for a second goal and defending our slender lead. To take Alexis off and bring on Coquelin made sense, but Alexis clearly thought differently. This is fine, but given the circumstances of this match it was very poor of him to ignore the beleaguered manager and stomp off for an early shower. I would not be surprised if we see Alexis start on the bench during the next few games and possibly not play part at all anymore. It would also not surprise me if we see Arsenal cash in on the 27 year old Chilean this summer, although I sincerely hope that is not the case.

I loved what Danny brought to the game and I am happy he found the net again. Was he MOTM though? Not for me. The best player on the pitch was Elneny – closely followed by Mesut, Cech, Koz and Danny – who did half of Rambo’s box to box job as well as his own deeper DM role. He hoovers up around his fellow players continuously with unrivaled energy and passion; he keeps it simple yet always wants to move the ball forward when he can and with seldom or never making a mistake; he fills important gaps in our defence but also penetrated the opposition’s box regularly, and was very close to scoring yesterday with a fine, composed effort. What a beast of a player and the thought of him working with a fit Jack or Santi, or Le Coq when we have to play more compact, is mouthwatering. It is early days but this seems to be as good a midfield signing as Mesut Ozil was a few seasons ago.

I was also proud of Ozil, Koz and Petr, and indeed the rest of the team, for their drive and fight during the entire game. Mesut never stopped trying, Koz was beastly in defence and brought the ball forward well and Petr’s saved us a few times when required.

Three points and the supporters doing their job by supporting the team and the manager during a meaningful game and a crucial period of the season. Plenty of positives but also lessons to be learned from our recent games, and getting the balance right against Citeh next weekend will be paramount to where we will end up in the PL table. Let’s give the Northern Oilers a proper game!

Arsene having the final dance? 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

COME ON YOU FOXES!! 😀

 

Time for Change: Alexis CF, Rambo Left Wing, Elneny box to box Mid

HOW TO FIX IT……….RAMBO OUT!………RAMBO IN!………AND WE ARE IN BUSINESS!

Once again the dream seem about to be shredded and Arsenal fans are huddled together seeking warmth from their very cold bodies. The sky is overcast, and dark shadows of doubt are beginning to appear. 11 games to go and many have started looking nervously over their shoulders wondering if its another nail biting struggle for a fourth place finish. “Can it be fixed?” they are asking as they search each other’s faces, eyes refusing to meet eyes.

Amazing skys 024

Per is way way safer than Gabby. Raw determination pales before intelligence. I here rest my case on this issue.

Rambo’s will and determination to run into the opposition’s box creating a sudden overload is without equal within our squad. It is a vital attribute treasured in football. Rambo also has a wide range of technical skills as well as a huge engine. Because of these latter qualities we, including apparently Monsieur Wenger, were shepherded into believing that a versatile role ( B2B) hangs perfectly on him. B2B is a role that is delicately poised between defensive and offensive duties. What many of us don’t fully recognize is that defensive ability has everything to do with attitude, almost.

First and foremost a defender must be able to recognize danger to his team, actual or potential. Secondly that recognition must cause energize the defender into a countering initiative. Observe Rambo very well and you will see clearly that energy courses through him when he is pushing forward into enemy territory, but tracking backwards he looks drained of energy. In contrast, think of Bellerin tracking back, or Nacho, or Coquelin, not to talk of the CBs. The difference is stark. In short, Rambo, despite his large repertoire of skills lacks the true defenders awareness and attitude and instead is an amazingly committed attacking beast. Playing him B2B therefore means the balance of the team is skewed very much against defence. We all know that the possible costs of one man less in the defence far out ways the possible gains of one man extra in attack, so that if there has to be any such skewing it ought to be in the other direction.

Is it a glass half full or half empty? Is it Rambo out quickly or Rambo the unfortunate victim of a gross misuse? Just imagine darling Ozil given a huge defensive responsibility or rather don’t try to imagine it. Is Rambo a hero vilified? It’s all balanced on a knife edge. I want thim out and I want him in!?? That’s me of course.

Quite often in solving one problem, another is created. If Rambo is removed who can effectively replaces him in that pivot role, Santi being still unavailable. If he has to be reintroduce somewhere else where is he to be placed and who goes. The latter task appears easier, so I will start there.

I have made reference to Ramsey’s impressive qualities capped by his fairly unique (as far as our team is concerned) ability to cause unexpected overload by his intelligent late runs into the opposition box. He definitely is a good material for a place in our front four. #10 is out because the untouchable Ozil is there. #9 is also out because his skill sets don’t tally with that position. Wide right? Ramsey hasn’t got pace( speed). He also likes drifting inside which leaves the ball on his weaker left foot. The high point of his play is his runs into the box, but having to come from the right side of the field constrains his ability to finish a ball laid to him with his stronger right foot. Wide right therefore does not maximize his huge potentials. The only position remaining (front 4) is wide left but Alexis is there!

Alexis is yet to find his form with nearly thee quarters of the season gone. Or is he actually fully in form but completely neutralized by epl defenders who have wizened up to his game from the wide left position? The defenders know that he would cut in. They also know that they cannot do anything to stop that. So they leave him alone to cut in. Then they pressure him, quite often from all over the places knowing fully well that he is unsighted to give a pass with eyes fully on the ball, fruitlessly intent on forcing out a space to have a crack at goal. This play repeats itself with such monotonous regularity it’s now almost painfull to watch.

Sanchez has a wide range of mesmerizing techniques and it is a pity that he is constrained to operate in a narrow band that has been so well found out. From the center as a front man Sanchez would be able to employ his full range of dazzling techniques. Those tecniques heighten in potency in high pressure areas of in and around the box, and because his style elicits fouls from the opposition, penalty kicks in our favour, amongst other calls, would to be regularly guaranteed.

Sanchez can also operate effectively from the wide right position where he has to employ a different set of skills, that the opposition is yet not familiar with. You have noticed that his sideway-swing footed shots are much weaker than when he puts his laces on the ball with forward-swings. It Is of interest to know that different groups of muscles controls those two different tecniques of hitting the ball, and that one group of muscles might have gotten better developed in him than the other. Cutting in from the right Alexis hits the ball invariably with the sideway-swing footed shot. Striking at goal coming from the right creates better chances for putting his laces on the ball with a forward-swing footed shot. His high shots rate at goal would, most likely, yield more from the right. His crosses that we have seen from that side are also quite difficult to deal with for the opposition.

You must have already guessed that I want Alexis moved either wide right or center as a striker, and the vacancy at wide left filled by Rambo. Rambo loves the central attacking area of the pitch. So when he cuts in from the left he is moving towards his comfort zone with the ball on his right foot. Furthermore the space created behind him allows our left full back to overlap, and I believe Rambo will interact better than Alexis with that overlapping. Finally and maybe most crucially Rambo’s unexpected runs into the opposition box from the left allows any well placed ball to be finished with his better right foot. Some of his loveliest goals have come that way.

Walcott has been given a long long rope which he has only used to hurt his standing. His overall work rate is so low that only efficient utilization of his opportunities would have compensated adequately. Sadly that is no longer forthcoming and in this last stretch of the race it makes no sense risking using him.

Welbeck has been impressive since his return. People describe him as a hybrid of Giroud/Walcott. I see him more as a midfielder/striker hybrid. With his high pressing energy, he fills in well in any of the front thee positions.

Giroud is amazing in the air both offensively and defensively. His holdup play is sufficiently impressive. Still, somehow, you go home with the nagging feeling that a team aspiring for the very top needs a little bit more.

Back to the nearly forgotten task of filling the vacancy of who plays with Coquelin in the double pivot role vacated by Rambo. Santi is the obvious choice followed by Jack, but both are unavailable. Other contestants in my opinion are Flamini (not a great passer), Arteta (must have lost too much form), Elneny and Chambers. I am yet to put a label on Elneny but one thing I already know is that he is not a DM. He is a tidy pass and move player but I worry if he has got much else beyond that. Chambers deserves more credit for his ball playing ability, but his poor head must be spinning by now having to play in so many different roles. If I have to place my money somewhere, it will be on Elneny with Coquelin mopping up behind him. Thus;

——————Cech—————-
Bel———–Per——Kos———Nacho
————–Coq——–Eln————-
Alexi/Wlbk——–Ozil————–Ramb/Welbk
—————OG/Alexi/Wlbk————

I am seeing shafts of sunlight breaking through the dark clouds. Gunners let us get from you how you feel our day can be cheered.

welsh jesus

By: Pony Eye

Who Needs New Midfielders: Wenger’s Strongest Midfield in 2016

I know  you are all scanning the Newsnow Arsenal news aggregator and other media to find out whether we have finally signed Elneny now or any other new players. I must admit to also look regularly even though I don’t expect Arsene to buy anybody this month (other than Elneny).

The key issue for our manager is not lack of quality in the squad but availability of his players. The loss to injury of Le Coq and Santi made us all worried about our strength in depth in midfield, especially with Rosicky, Arteta (till recently) and Jack also out. However, we coped really well and even managed to move ahead of our opponents during the busy festive season. Flamini has been good, Chambers offers a glimpse of hope as a potential DM and Rambo is getting better by every game.

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Thanking BBC for picture.

If all players are fit there is so much quality available for our midfield that Wenger could give himself more problems than he would wish for by buying more midfielders. Let’s assume that Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini will all leave this summer as their contracts will end then, and that Elneny will finally be signed and introduced to the squad this month. This still leaves us with: Rambo, Jack, Ozil, Santi, Le Coq, Elneny, Chambers, Campbell and the Ox as well as a few youngsters who are showing promise either on loan or in the Reserve Team.

I reckon we have four midfield spots available, assuming that Wenger will regularly play a midfielder on one of the ‘mid-wings’ rather than two more typical wingers i.e. Theo and Alexis. This gives us more balance and defensive robustness, especially against the tougher opponents. Four spots for nine pretty brilliant, either established or promising, talents, and that is excluding the promising youths who are knocking on the first team door louder and louder.

If all are fit, it will be hard for Wenger to leave one of Rambo, Jack, Ozil, Santi and Le Coq out; yet, he cannot play them all, unless we revert back to 4-5-1-like possession football. It looks like Wenger has changed the style of play to 4-2-1-3 or 4-1-4-1, depending on how you look at it; therefore a return to 4-5-1 is less likely.

It all comes down to what we do with the box to box midfielder position – the one next to the ‘classical DM’. With Santi next to Le Coq (or Flamini) we have a lower team centre of gravity, as Santi is less mobile but very able to connect midfield with attack through making space for himself and playing a great attacking ball in a flash. With Rambo next to the Le Coq or Flamini we have a typical, Gerrard-like and Lampard-like, box to box midfielder who motors up and down to find space and fill gaps, and connect with his fellow midfielders and attackers continuously all over the pitch.

Ozil surely is our first choice man in the hole in 2016. The only one who would be capable of dethroning the bionic German is Jack, but for that he will need to stay fit and get in the form of his life, which we all know is a big ask currently. Let’s face it, a fit Ozil is a given.

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To get the best out of Ozil we need a perfect balance between mobility and anchor points – even though these anchor points need to be mobile as well, albeit it less vertical and more horizontal.

The two anchor points above the defence are the holding DM – think Le Coq – and the holding CF – think Ollie. We could opt to play with a fluid/mobile CF or no holding DM but two all-round central midfielders, and Wenger has definitely been experimenting with both scenarios over the last couple of years. It would not surprise me if we end up without a holding DM or a holding CF as our plan-A eventually, or maybe even without both, but I don’t think we will see this happen in the first half of 2016 at least. What is interesting is that Elneny is described as a holding midfielder who can play football as well, which could be an indication that we are moving towards two footballing midfielders in the double DM-pivot rather sooner than later.

The big question for now is: does Ozil function better with Santi or Rambo next to the holding DM. Both have their merits and Rambo is the most complete midfielder we have in the squad, other than Jack perhaps. With Santi and Jack out injured, Wenger does not have to worry about this question a lot, but when they are all back it will be a challenge for him. We are, however, lucky to have such a quality dilemma to be resolved, although adding more midfielders could really complicate things. Competition is good but too much of it could become counterproductive.

I hear the likes of FL08 say that rotation is the answer to using the available quality as best as possible… and they have a point. If all are fit, it is still tempting to have an established first eleven in which some play almost constantly and others provide an opportunity for resting them. Most managers will opt for this as the benefits of a cohesive and telepathically connecting first eleven are huge. But, given the large number of injuries in midfield and the quality of players available, we really need to rotate more; and then do it in such a way that we don’t lose much, if any, of the cohesion and telepathy an unambiguous first choice eleven would bring.

For the DM role we have: Le Coq, Elneny, Chambers(?), Bielik etc

For the B2B role we have: Rambo, Santi, Jack and the Ox

For the man in the hole we have: Ozil, Jack, Santi, Ox/Iwobi/Zelalem???

If all are fit for say the Barcelona game (which I know is very unlikely), or our likely PL championship decider against Citeh at the end of the season, I would be tempted to play:

—————Le Coq—Santi—————-

Rambo————-Ozil—————-Alexis

—————Theo/Giroud——————

But I would also get excited playing:

————–Le Coq—Rambo—————-

Jack—————Ozil—————-Alexis

—————Theo/Giroud——————

Or what about:

————–Rambo—Jack—————–

Campbell————-Ozil—————Alexis

————–Theo/Giroud——————–

Elneny, (Campbell), Chambers and the Ox, by working their socks off and starting to make a real difference are all capable of playing themselves into our first choice midfield as well, even though I have my doubt about the Ox doing this without going on loan for a while. On top of that, till at least the end of this season we will be able to play Flamini, Rosicky and Arteta too…. if they are fit of course.

Fine fellow Gooners, we are blessed with the available quality and quantity of midfield players and it will be hard for Wenger to choose his first team midfielders when most or all are fully fit to play.

What would be your first choice midfield?

By TotalArsenal.