Speculation on the Jamie Vardy on/off move to Arsenal if still rife and will continue to be so until he makes his decision. For me the player choice is interesting as much for what it could suggest about Wenger’s plans for a style of play as much as the individual concerned. Even more so really as one would hope that having learned from previous windows who have back up plans for a similar player if Vardy decides to stick.
It is no secret that that I have hoped to see Arsenal once again play with a two striker attack. For years I was told that 442 was dead, which I never bought but in recent years there have been many variations used and with success. Of course at present in the English media we are debating with England will play with a 442 Diamond that would feature Vardy in the attacking 2 or whether Hodgson swings back to 433 and this might feature Vardy wider or not at all. The Online Sportsbook will no doubt be offering odds on whether Vardy starts and if he does I would love to see him with a partner.
I feel the same when thinking about Arsenal for 2016/17 and for most of last season found myself thinking about a 4312 formation. The drivers for this are multiple and all valid in my view. However the 2 main factors for me in thinking along these lines were to keep Ozil at 10 and to get Alexis closer to goal. I am not tied to Mesut being a central play-maker, as I know many are but it is my preference. The only reason to move him nominally wider is to accommodate Ramsey as Spurs have done with Eriksen to allow Alli is attacking central berth. It is a possibility but with 4312 not required.
I first wrote about this formation when I saw it was how Chile had played for the most part in their Copa triumph. Now, without being too simplistic, if Chile can win a competition which boasts the crème de la crème of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil with Eduardo Vargas as Alexis’s partner then the system must have merit. Vargas, then at QPR only managed only 4 goals in 21 Premiership games and subsequently he has managed only 2 in 24 for Hoffenheim.
At Arsenal Alexis has been tried centrally on a few occasions, with no partner, by Wenger in the current 4231 system and it would be fair to say it has not really worked. This may have led to Gunners thinking he cannot play the striker role but some players would have benefited from a partner to shine centrally. Poldoski in recent times would be another perfect example although Alexis has the additional work ethic over the German finisher. The Chilean adds so much more in and around the penalty area whist still being the most natural finisher at the club, as Podolski was in his time.
For those questioning a potential Vardy signing by suggesting he would not suit our style or the way teams play against our style I just think maybe Wenger has considered this already. There were a few games at the back end of the campaign where Alexis was further advanced and Iwobi tucked in and this might indicate a change in philosophy. Even if Giroud, in interview thinks he can play with a Vardy I feel most fans would rather see 2 quick and mobile finished ahead of Ozil’s vision and pass execution. Vardy or and equivalent player with Alexis would scare any defence with pace and intelligent running given the Number 10 sitting behind them.
That leaves a strong 3 man midfield and in my view width provided by attacking energetic fullbacks. Given our strength in the central midfield area this allows Wenger to play 2 of Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere and Elneny with Xhaha and Coquelin as stand in for our new Swiss signing. Cazorla and Jack are comfortable on the left and Aaron and Mo on the right so we have perfect balance. Indeed it is the addition of Xhaka and the reported interest in his friend and international team mate Ricardo Rodriguez that has strengthen my feelings on a pending change to Wenger’s approach.
Firstly from what I have read and seen of our new Swiss midfielder a particular strength of his is accurate long passing. This is something that without Jack and Santi for the most of 15/16 we have been lacking and next season should have in abundance. Accurate and fast long range distribution gives Arsenal a whole new dimension to their play and we have seen Vardy thrive on this at Leicester of late. Whether it was Vardy and Alexis or dare I say it even Walcott and Alexis, fast, mobile strikers making intelligent early runs can be found by Xhaka and others next season.
Secondly, I was initially quite dismissive of the need to sign Rodriguez, given how accomplished and reliable Nacho Monreal had become in the past 2 campaigns. I thought selling Gibbs and recruiting a young talent like Ben Chilwell to learn from and then replace Nacho made more sense. However if you piece together the jigsaw, at least the way I am, if the plan is for 2 up top and 3 in Central midfield, or even a diamond, then the fullbacks role will change. There would be huge onus on the 2 fullbacks to be providing the width but also have the energy and pace to work back. We have that player in Hector Bellerin but maybe Wenger feels Monreal is more defensive and perhaps does not have the youth and vigour for the adapted role in a new system.
Lots of logic in my thought process, at least from my perspective but equally just as likely to be the musings of a fool who is biased towards a 2 striker system! If this interest in our Armenian friend from Dortmund is real it may hint at 433 and is so I may revisit but that’s all for now barring one last note.
For those who feel a 2 striker system has no place in the modern Premiership just think Sturridge and Suarez in 2013/14. Barring a slip from Stevie G their goals would have and should have fired LFC to the title. 68 between them in all competitions and 59 in the league from memory suggest a two striker system cam work extremely well as Leicester have shown this past campaign and In that 13/14 a veteran Steven Gerrard, playing primarily at the base of a diamond laid on 13 assists; many with long accurate through balls hit early. Imagine what Xhaka might do for us from August.
Until next time @gooneerdave66
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