How Convincing Are We As Title Challengers?
Ever since May we’ve been on a real high and as we extend our unbeaten run to 11 games. Since the Community Shield game we have looked fairly sluggish in our play of late however we’re refusing to lose which is a new mental dimension that is welcome to our game, no doubt. I think our problem currently is being unsure of our strongest team, although the first 10 games should shape it…..if injuries don’t do it for us.
We’ve also missed our strongest back four playing together (although Calum Chambers is staking a claim at the minute). I do believe that we need to go back to a 4-2-3-1 formation, though even if it was to come at Jack Wilshere’s expense. I won’t jump on the new trending ‘bash Jack Wilshere’ hype, if anything he’s started the season off pretty solid.
The problem is we don’t transition quickly enough. With our former 4-2-3-1 formation we can play our No. 10’s in their position, you know the No. 10 role…. Arsene Wenger has always had a particular liking for utilising central creative players on the flanks, think back to Alex Hleb, Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky. The majority have been successful for different reasons but Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla will be wasted there.
Santi has been in and out of form ever since his superb debut season and it’s no surprise it’s due to the arrival of Ozil who’s taken up the central positions. I think this means he’d make for a better impact player like yesterday where he put Aaron Ramsey’s goal on a plate after coming on.
What annoyed me about our tactics yesterday was that Wenger ended the game with less direct players than we started with. Olivier Giroud was a good sub but Alexis Sanchez should have stayed on. He was pressing very well and was even gesturing the boys to help out.
If Wilshere was going to come off eventually he should have come off for Giroud. Alexis and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on both flanks with Ozil in the middle behind Giroud would have got us going a lot earlier to maybe, just maybe get all three points.
Of course you’d take this result due to circumstances but against any good organised outfit we’re all over the place and we look just like we always have in the big games, A MESS! Wenger’s never really been a tactical genius in terms of countering opposition threat, (Ozil vs. Seamus Coleman validates this) what he finds success in is putting together a really good team.
We used to boast great balance of power, pace, flair, skill and so much more. Now our whole midfields are clones, great players but do the same thing. The middle gets so congested it’s frustrating.
If Giroud plays he’ll need two direct players either side of him, as would Ozil behind him. Pick any two from Alexis, Joel Campbell and the Ox, then Theo Walcott to come back of course, oh how we’ve missed his goal threat. Just balance the attack really it’s not that difficult to do.
Alexis is also better on the flanks I think he’d thrive coming in off the left but needs a partner if he plays up front even Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero benefitted off partners and you’d think Alexis is of the same ilk.
We are paying an awful lot of money to play our most valuable players out of position. We need to base the team around them rather than squeeze them in somewhere.
It’s a given we need powerhouse of a midfielder, even more so than a striker I’m pretty sure of that. Champions League qualification can’t come soon enough so we can secure the extra funds allowing us to move more in the market. Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini just do not dominate.
Flamini is incredibly good at telling other people what to do as opposed to doing his job himself, a top DM would have also flew at Romelu Lukaku who had all the time in the world to either set up a shot or provide the assist he did to Steven Naismith.
We also need a new CB for sure, I hope this Kostas Manolas chap is decent because I think we need someone good enough to potentially displace Mertesacker. Per is brilliant and very solid but unfortunately quicker teams expose his severe lack of pace. If we could maybe switch it up for the bigger games we’d have a greater chance.
Mertesacker denies us the opportunity to press teams high. As you saw with Germany, they successfully rotated him regarding opposition, so yeah we kind of need to do this too.
In conclusion I’d say we’re good enough to float around the top for an extended period like last season but two players (good CB + powerful DM) short of looking like challengers, three players (+ top CF) short of looking like favourites in my opinion.
My biggest concern however, is Wenger’s reluctance to tactically adapt to decent opposition, which sees him outwitted by more adept coaches.
Unless we change our approach in the tricky away ties I think we might just fall short with this current team, but we look mentally stronger in the way we keep pushing for the whole 90, it could help us pick up points we’d previously drop, after all we probably would’ve lost this fixture last season, in fact we did whilst starting off in similar fashion to this one.