Arsenal’s 2014/2015 season in many ways has flirted with stability and merited praise.
Aside recording back to back cup success, it has ensured sustainability in the team’s form, which sprung to life in the wake of the 2-0 win at the Etihad in January.
This could be down to the change in approach (from controlling possession to counter attacking) which gave rise to the emergence of Francis Coquelin in defensive midfield and Santi Cazorla in the deep lying territory.
More so, it could also be down to consistency in the final third, as we witnessed an unprecedented decision by Arsene, with regard to the Frenchman’s team selection, since he arrived at the club in 1996.
15/16 another midfield season for Arsenal.
In the last two months of the past season, the creative triumvirate of Ramsey, Ozil and Alexis combined excellently with each other as the fluid three behind the striker; an understanding which climaxed in the first half at Hull.
Behind the aforementioned trio, Santi Cazorla looked like the stand-out player on several occasions, and should remain with the core. The Spaniard has flourished in his new role and looks like he’ll enjoy playing deeper better than Arteta does. The healthy competition the ex-Malaga man will face from Jack will also keep him fresh and sharp and vice versa.
Considering we also didn’t get to see such similar competition between Nasri and Jack (due to the Frenchman’s exit), having the English midfielder rival Santi Cazorla for a central midfield spot enhances the team’s creative depth and build-up.
Ironically, both Jack and Santi had their best games against Nasri’s Manchester City. Jack looked close to his best when the Citizens traveled to the Emirates in September, while Santi brought all his qualities to the fore at the Etihad.
However, for different reasons easing, it is ideal to exercise caution on the usage of both players heading into the new season. While Santi has been in excellent form for over a year, the Spaniard has been involved in over 50 games in such a short space of time. For a midfielder already in his thirties, it is ideal to keep him fresh and call on his expertise on the big occasions.
Meanwhile, despite Jack looking sharp and raring to go, Arsene almost certainly will ease him back into the fray and I believe we all know why.
In the case of Arsenal’s most complete midfielder, Ramsey’s exploits at right wing has made him even more indispensable. Acting as a cover for Bellerin, while also giving the likes of Alexis, Giroud and Ozil an added attacking option, the Welsh International provides balance, not only in his favourite box to box role.
Meanwhile, there’s also the project called Oxlade Chamberlain. Having played more games at right wing than anyone else, it will be interesting to see how Arsene shuffles (or partners) him with Ramsey, bearing in mind that Ox was a regular when Ramsey was deployed centrally.
Now there’s also the interesting fact that Jack and Ozil never played centrally together, last season. This of course could be down to the serious injuries both sustained during the course of the campaign, but it must also be noted that when the chance presented itself, Arsene refused to stick both in through the middle, even in a ‘formality’ game such as the final day fixture with West Brom.
While I also advocated for Ozil to remain out wide shortly before and after returning from his three-month spell on the sidelines, the German has produced a couple of world class performances from a central role, where he has a broader view of the pitch.
The Cech Point.
“There’s talk of Arsenal signing Petr Cech and, if they do get him, he will strengthen them for sure. He will save them 12 or 15 points a season,”
John Terry on Arsenal’s new no1.
It’s hard not to feel for Ospina. The Colombia International has quietly gone about his shot-stopping business and would feel he had done enough to cement a place in Arsenal’s goal, since his call to first team duty in January.
However, an ambitious trend seems to be brewing at the club and a few shortcomings (that could have been worked on) of the 26-year old meant he would be the one on the wrong end of Arsenal’s new found ruthlessness. He certainly has shown in the Copa America that he’s up there with the best and deserves to be playing regularly at a top club.
The fact that Arsenal deemed a Goal Keeper a priority this summer also shows recognition of the Gunners’ defensive shortcomings in the last few years.
In the last five years, Arsenal have lost the league to Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. Of those three EPL title losses, the Gunners twice finished 12 points behind the eventual winners…
Now, that by no means suggests we would secure the title with Cech brought into the fold. However, considering how uncertain we’ve looked in that position on the domestic and International front, the club were right to invest in genuine quality, and shove potential to the back seat, in a bid to succeed and stay at the very top of English football.
Despite contrary claims by many, Cech’s acquisition also leaves his ‘rival’, Wojciech Szczesny in a win win situation. In what is perhaps his last chance at the club, the Pole has a world-class mentor to screw his loose nuts.
Additionally, if the signing of the Czech International doesn’t pan out the way the club envisaged it would, Woj would grab the chance to be reinstated as the club’s no.1, knowing its win or burst in his dream return in-between the sticks.
In the recent title challenges Arsenal have mounted, the team have relied heavily on one individual (Nasri, Ramsey, Alexis) to bail them out for long stretches in the season.
When these players suffered the customary (injury) deep in form at some point in the season, the Gunners looked short of inspiration.
Now with a potential half a dozen core of Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Wilshere, as well as the recent acquisition of Cech, the 12-time F.A. Cup winners are now at a point where inspiration is no longer generated by one talisman.
Arsene once again has taken advantage of clubs not completely appreciating best legs. Cazorla, Ozil, Alexis and Cech are the main characters at a club ready to give they and their home grown teammates the respect and recognition they all deserve.