The year is 2017, Alexis is a Striker and Ozil is a Trequartista
One would be forgiven for thinking the title is the end of the story but it’s really not, in this article you’ll find out why.
First things first what is a Trequartista when it’s up and out of bed and not fit to wear a shirt? Wikipedia tells us “In Italian football, as creative, technical, advanced play-makers are known as not to be reserved to a single position, they are often described as the “fantasista” or “trequartista”. Ok well that’s as clear as mud, basically it means the Trequartista plays as a withdrawn forward or play-maker that plays between the lines of midfield and forwards. Their job is to link play between midfield and attack. Importantly the job of this player is to roam free of defensive responsibility, so the rest of the team have to carry his weight a little so he can focus on using his energy to be the creative spark.
In Italian football, as creative, technical, advanced playmakers are known not to be reserved to a single position, they are often described as the “fantasista” or “trequartista“. … Diego Maradona and Zico are notable examples of attacking midfield playmakers.
From day one Mesut Ozil has said he is a number 10, which is obviously different, it means he plays a bit further back and tries a bit harder to track back in times of need.
In all his time as a player Ozil played his best football in teams where he was also asked to pull his weight, in fact his best ever season was for Jose Mourinho in the 2012/13 season at Real Madrid, he scored 10 goals, got 24 assists, hey he even got 8 yellow cards, all in the space of 52 games. If you were to see clips of Ozil during that season of course you’ll see dazzling skills and amazing creativity but the thing that sticks out is that he’s always running, there is so much effort, so much energy.
Why is Ozil a Trequartista now? Well for every high energy coach like Jose Mourinho you have, the current style over substance Arsene Wenger. Granted in the past Wenger’s team of ‘Invincibles’ were energetic athletes, but those days are gone. Arsenal teams now are seen as low energy tippy tappy pretty style players. There are obvious Hulk shaped exceptions when it comes to athletes but on a whole it’s all about pretty football and less about hard graft. Because of the current style of play at Arsenal it means Ozil is either being exclusively used as a Trequartista or just Wenger is a bad influence on him and this is his way of adapting to the English game.
Now for the simpler story of Alexis Sanchez being a striker, oh you don’t think it’s that simple?
Well let’s go back to last season, Alexis made 25 appearances as a striker scoring 19 and making 11 assists. Yes I know it shocked me as well but the fact is he’s better when he is playing in his preferred role as the main man up top. It also makes more sense to use Sanchez as a striker because he has little to no tactical discipline, he will constantly run around like a headless chicken for the ball doing his own this thing. In some situations it can be good to have that in a player but when he is on the wing it leaves the full back exposed and open to opposing attackers on the counter etc. It leaves the middle of the park even more exposed in the new system also, which demands at least 9 on field players working very hard.
In the game against Chelsea last week some were shocked as Alexis was brought on for Striker Alexandre Lacazette, but it may appear that Wenger now sees it the way forward to use only one of the two in the team with Alexis used in the forward role.
In conclusion following on from a comment I made in the former paragraph, the current formation means that at least 9 on field players need to be putting high energy performances in for it to work. With all that’s been said it means Arsenal need to make a choice at least in big games of which player to use Ozil or Sanchez and for me I go for the more tactically aware Mesut Ozil.