The Michael Jeffares Column
The positivity rumbles on for
another week and it’s great to see the side brimming with self belief in
every game. That said at the end of the Stoke game it was notable that
two of our players sat down on due to pure exhaustion – Giroud and
Ramsey. Two players that have run themselves into the ground recently
and given everything they have in their locker, nothing has been held in
reserve. Thankfully the pair were given the night off on Wednesday, as
5,500 Gooners travelled to The Hawthornes to see a mixture of our youth
and experience win a dramatic penalty shoot out.
I’ll confess, it felt
like a form of torture that we had to sit through an extra 30 minutes on
football but thankfully positive contributions of Akpom, Olsson and
Bellerin sparked us into life, whilst at the other end Mertesacker
pulled off a miraculous last ditch goal line clearance to keep us in the
game with three minutes to go. We’ve done a complete 180 in the last
few weeks, as fans on twitter argue about whether or not last night
classes as a win and does it continue our run of consecutive away wins. I
mean seriously, have a word.
Anyway there’s a big game on
Saturday to prepare for and I wanted to focus this blog on the centre of
our midfield. At the start of the season I thought centre midfield
carried the greatest depth along with left back. If you asked me what
would Wenger’s preferred midfield three have been (if all were fully
fit) and I’d have said:
Arteta – Wilshere – Rosicky
genuinely believe Ramsey would have lost out had Jack been fully fit.
Yet in the space of one month the dynamics of our midfielder has changed
for the better. If you asked me who our midfield three was now, I’d
Flamini – Ramsey – Ozil.
The whole dynamics of our
midfield has changed. Suddenly it looks balanced, it carries a potent
threat and it actually contains a defensive midfielder. What is there
not to love about this sudden competition for places? The current trio
sum up what is needed, balance, understanding and most importantly
partnerships have been formed. They know that our deepest lying player
is Flamini, they expect Ramsey to be box-to-box and for Ozil to produce
the magic. We’ve struck gold with this trio and I don’t see how any of
those three can be dropped in the foreseeable future.
me to my main focal point this week – Jack Wilshere. There are so many
questions with Jack at present and I think it’s time we took him out of
the firing line. He was clearly short off fitness and this is heavily
impacting on his performances. To the extent that even against Swansea,
despite our lack of numbers, I don’t think he merits starting the game.
The truth is we don’t know what Wilshere is yet we it comes to our
midfield three and when you go through the process of elimination his
best fit is most likely the role currently filled by Aaron Ramsey.
has of course been floating out on the ‘wing’ but as this average
position map posted by @orbinho, he is still pretty central.
was nearly as further forward as our striker and Özil (who can be seen
hiding just under Giroud). So you look for productivity and this isn’t
just relating to Sunday, he doesn’t have a final ball and he restricts
himself in front of goal due to being heavily one footed. There was an
opportunity on Sunday in the first half to smash a shot at goal with his
right foot but he waited and waited and the opportunity disappeared.
There was also a classic example at Bradford last year – the window of
opportunity to score a goal doesn’t stay open for long.
introduction of Özil has seen Jack take somewhat of a back seat.
Previously he was the future of this team (and he still is in many
respects) but the craving for him to feature constantly is easing off.
Here’s a couple of stats from the last two Premier League games.
numbers are good in terms of possession but he is dwarfed somewhat in
terms of how he commands the ball. In fact since Özil’s debut at
Sunderland, Wilshere sees just over half of the amount of the ball of
our new cult hero does.
The fact of the matter is – he needs to up
his game. He also needs to stop rolling around as well. He makes
himself a target for the opposition, I estimate he’s been on the deck at
least twice in each of his appearances this season and 99/100 he gets
back up. Why he feels the need to leave changes of direction to the last
minute is beyond me. He welcomes late tackles and if he isn’t willing
to adapt his style of play then he is always going to be susceptible to
those types of challenges and ultimately he will get injured.
in summary, our shining light could well become a bench warmer some time
soon, his performances certainly don’t merit a place in the side that’s
for sure but whilst the side is playing well and he isn’t maybe he can
return to form when we need him most.