No Jack, Rambo or Giroud? My ideal starting 11 for 2015/16
Think I can speak for the general population of Arsenal fans that I am genuinely optimistic about the team going in to the 2015/16 season. The squad is the finest it’s arguably been in my lifetime – not even the Invincible’s had the quality of squad depth we have at the moment.
Nevertheless with impressive squad depth comes a new dilemma, just who is in my best starting line up? Optimists might say this scenario is a luxury, pessimists will tell you that it is a burden but it is a conundrum which Arsene Wenger is going to have to try and figure out. It does seem strange that some fans are crying out for new signings all the time, surely the squad has enough variation and depth as it is – let’s enjoy that fact!
The boss man has probably got a lot on his mind as he rallies his troops to finally fight for the coveted Premier League title once again, so I’m going to provide my view on who I think is our strongest starting eleven, just to help him out. Some slightly controversial choices but what is football without opinion eh?
Goalkeeper – Petr Cech
Perhaps the easiest decision on the team sheet these days. Still cannot believe that he is ours, a world class keeper, a true match winner, never thought I would say those words again about an Arsenal shot stopper. I feel a bit for Ospina but he was never really the long term answer and as for Scz, well I wouldn’t mind seeing him perhaps go out loan for a season to help re-build his confidence and maybe help him kick that habit that Mr. Wilshere seems to enjoy too.
Right Back – Hector Bellerin
The rise of Bellerin last season was nothing short of miraculous. How a young Spanish teenager plying his trade in England can go from looking so far out of his depth against Dortmund it was criminal to being one of the division’s finest full backs is beyond me. His meteoric rise was helped by the injury-prone Debuchy but the defensive discipline Bellerin was displaying towards the end of the campaign was simply outstanding and pace wise there are very few better. Oh and he also chipped in with a few goals – including the opener against Liverpool at the Emirates – a true talent if ever I’ve seen one.
Centre Back – Laurent Koscielny
The aptly named ‘Bosscielny’ is possibly Arsenal’s finest defender for many years. His pace, tenacity and leadership qualities have been instrumental to the club and he seems to keep on improving. As long as he is fit I doubt Arsene will ever leave him out of the line-up but the real question I think now is who should partner him, a controversial debate.
Centre Back – Gabriel
In a previous post I gave my thoughts on who I think should partner Koscielny. I chose Gabriel simply because I believe the time has come for Mertesacker not to be considered an automatic starter. Gabriel for me is the ideal modern defender and his style of play I feel is something which suits Arsenal perfectly. His ball recovery statistics were hugely impressive in La Liga and if he can implement these in the Premier League I think Arsenal would benefit hugely – food for thought.
Left Back – Nacho Monreal
Never did I think I would see the day that Nacho was the undisputed choice at left-back. After an Arsenal career which started with heavy doses of criticism he has improved immeasurably to become Mr. Dependable. He may not be the most spectacular full back in the world but his discipline and positional awareness have proven vital for Arsenal allowing the players in front of him, mainly Sanchez to flourish – kudos Nacho.
Central Midfield – Francis Coquelin
Ah the Renaissance man, who’d have thought ‘Le Coq’ would have become irreplaceable in our team? Not me. His sudden emergence after being recalled from a loan at Charlton was arguably the main catalyst for Arsenal’s impressive unbeaten run which pretty much secured Champions League football for us. A true winner, a man who loves to do the dirty work and someone who has become truly priceless, finally we have a proper DM – an issue well and truly solved.
Central Midfield – Santi Cazorla (Captain)
This may cause some debate but I believe that the duo of Coquelin and Cazorla is one that will only further improve Arsenal. Coquelin requires a distributor next to him as he is not the most capable passer ever and in Cazorla he has one of the best in the business. Wilshere and Rambo for me do not possess the discipline or passing abilities to perform this role as well as Santi does and that is why I think his position in the team should never come under question. Oh yeah and being possibly the most ambidextrous player in Europe helps his cause too, oh and so does 11 league assists.
Right Midfield – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Ah we’ve arrived at the point in the article which I am certain will cause the most debate. I am full of praise for Ramsey’s adaptability last season when he was asked to play on the right and did perform to a high standard. But in my humble opinion is there anything more exciting than seeing the Ox running towards defenders? A truly fearless talent who perhaps isn’t the finished article but unquestionably has the potential to reach the very top. Pace and power have never been truer descriptions of a player – on his day he is unplayable – just ask Manchester United in the quarter final of the FA Cup. Let’s just hope that injuries do not continue to plague our Ox and we might just see the start of something special, someone who will terrorise full backs across Europe.
Centre Attacking Midfield – Mesut Ozil
Erm yeah if anyone disagrees with this option then do the club a favour and stop supporting them. What we have in our Arsenal ranks is possibly the world’s finest playmaker, the man who makes everything easy and adds a touch of class every time the ball arrives at his mesmeric feet. I once described him as the ‘artist in the shadows’, feel free to use that one if you must. The joy I have that he is now no longer operating in the dreaded ‘LW’ position is enough for me to feel optimistic that we can achieve great things. We never needed Cesc back at the Emirates and if he had the chance Mourinho would take Ozil in a heartbeat, then again most sane managers would do the same.
Left Midfield – Alexis Sanchez
Has there ever been a better debut season in Premier League history? I’ll make this easy for you, no there hasn’t. Our Chilean superstar is one of the best in the business and at times dragged Arsenal through what was an inconsistent season. Spectacular goals and unbelievable work ethic are just some of the characteristics which have arguably already made him an Arsenal legend. I feel myself running out of superlatives to describe Alexis, let’s just say that he would probably make it into most teams in Europe, therefore his inclusion here was merely a formality.
Striker – Theo Walcott
Yes I love Giroud and yes I know Theo’s successful games as a striker can be counted on one hand with ease so far, but I feel his impact as a striker could help the team thrive. His finishing ability even during his days on the wing was always impressive in my eyes but what I like most is how fluid and flexible our attack becomes with Walcott as the focal point. The passing and movement in the FA Cup final was the best I have seen from an Arsenal side in years and I believe now is the time for Theo to reach the levels his potential always pointed towards. He looks sharp, determined and above all dangerous, all the signs say to me that 2015/16 could have Theo Walcott written all over it but I have been wrong before.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to the debate!