Do we need a wide-man?
It’s often said these days that we need a winger, or a general wide man.
I can see why this is said.
Last year, we often played sideways football in front of the opposing defence, looking for the telling opening.
However, I don’t think a winger would solve this.
Wenger obviously was failing towards the end of his tenure.
But I’m not going to bash him here. He’s gone, and doesn’t warrant it.
I think a winger is somebody we don’t need, and it would clutter things up in attack.
If looking at the other top six, they often have a main striker, supported by an inside forward who can drift from wide to centre or the number 10 role:
City – Aguero (striker), Sane, Sterling, Mahrez (wide forwards)
Liverpool – Firmino (striker), Mane, Sherquiri, Salah (wide forwards)
Spurs – Kane (striker), Son, Eriksen (wide forwards)
Chelsea – Giroud (striker), Willian, Pedro (wide forwards)
United – Lukaku (striker), Sanchez, Martial, Mata (wide forwards)
None play often with two up top, and most of their width comes from these areas.
Moreover, they also rely heavily on their fullbacks for width.
Tottenham have had their “success” (sans trophies…which is actual success…) utilising Rose, Trippier, Aurier, and Walker pre-17/18 season. Rose played a similar role for England in the recent World Cup.
Bellerin does for us, as does Monreal, and Chelsea under Conte played with wing-backs for the most part (Moses and Alonso).
So width in the classic sense, like a Giggs, Kanchelskis, Overmars, etc. isn’t needed.
The issue for me is a bit deeper than that.
The best example of the modern-day full back though is this guy, who recently lost Ronaldo as a teammate but may well gain Hazard in return:
Ronaldo scored the goals he did for Los Blancos in large part due to the width Marcelo provided him. Most full-backs, if taking the lead from Marcelo as arguably the best in the world currently, are quick, pacy, athletic, and have good defensive and crossing capabilities.
The game as it stands now is not like the 1990s or before, where there were dedicated wingers. Giggs, Kanchelskis, Overmars, Anderton, Beckham, etc. were all classic widemen who were expert at beating opponents and getting in crosses. I believe the decline in 442 as the primary formation has caused this, thus a winger in the old sense isn’t needed.If we got in a “winger” like Martial, then he would play the same way
about player in regards to transfer on twitter at the moment.
Perhaps the prime example is Sanchez. When he was with us, was he a classic winger? He would often start there, but he would also be in the box, or in number 10, or sometimes drift to the right. Alexis if anything typified what the modern “winger” is. It’s far from a player who hugs the touchline and whips in crosses.
Our issue was not in having wingers, but then in our overall tactics and set-up.
Upset the apple cart
At the time of writing, we have the following forwards:
I include Ozil since he plays up top, even though he’s not a striker. Let’s not forget Nketiah, and Perez and Campbell.
With another forward, we have another player to fit in.
Having a big squad is a boon, but it can also be a curse. Even younger players can feel discouraged at not starting, which bigger players would naturally feel.
And given our outlays on PEA and Lacazette, it’s imperative that we start them both. This mean either two up top, possibly 352, or another spot for 433. Ozil may start in the three, but then Mkhi is on the bench. What about Welbz? Views on him are mixed, though he can offer things when needed. Do we sell him?
Another forward player, unless we sell Welbz or even Ozil at a stretch, would be untenable. It’s probable that Perez and Campbell may go, but there needs to be a defined attacking plan if we’re to get in another forward.
We score lots of goals
We score a lot. In the PL last season, only City and Liverpool scored more. We shared third place with our good friends from elsewhere in North London:
The additions of PEA and Mkhi helped things, and Lacazette scored quite a few after he returned from injury.
There was a lot of banter from Man U fans vis a vis Lukaku and Lacazette, and which signing would do better. Lukaku only scored two more PL goals than our boy, and we must remember that our boy was injured for a few months. Had he maintained his latter season form throughout the entirety of 17/18, he would have scored more than Lukaku.
So if we can expect, as a conservative estimate, 40 goals between PEA/Lacazette next season, and another 30 spread amongst our other forwards and midfielders, where does a winger fit in?
It may not be a common view, and but contrarian points aside, think we’re fine as we are.
Scoring goals was NEVER an issue under Wenger. And it never would have been, given his penchant for attacking football. Our issues and concerns were tactical and psychological.
Emery needs to focus on this, and ensure that we get the team to work hard off the ball and in tactical discipline. This is was our major weakness, and of most urgent need of rectifying.
If our fullbacks provide width, akin with Liverpool, City, Spurs, etc., then this could be enough.
I envisage our attack next season as thus:
PEA will probably play like he did last season. This was a nominal left-side position, but in reality was pretty fluid. There is no way he will play as a winger, given his talents on goal. It would be similar to Henry, who often drifted to the left to both score and provide for others.
So if we can adapt our shape, defence, and off the ball structure, our forwards can score, and we can concede less goals.
It may seem a bit simplistic, but for me saying a winger will solve our issues is simplistic also.
It’s as much a case of analysing how teams shape up in modern football, and adapt this amongst the strengths we have in our squad now.