Wenger settles on perfect system to play Ramsey and Wilshere

I'm with you skip!
I’m with you skip!

There are many questions being asked by Arsenal fans at present with two of the common themes surrounding the arrival or otherwise of a new DM and how that impacts our new captain and also Jack Wilshere. Now I cannot pretend that I did not want a new deep lying midfielder and regular readers will know that I have wanted Schneiderlin to be that addition for about 18 months but my guess is that addition may not now arrive.

My thinking on this is only guided by Wenger’s own comments and not by any particular knowledge other than a hunch. The hunch however has been steered by a few actual statements, recent events and decisions and of course by the naming of Mikel Arteta as the new Club Captain.

So let me list the factors and observations first and then I will explain a possible conclusion we night draw:

1)      The Community Shield selection and player positions, notably around Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshere.

2)      The selection of Mikel Arteta as skipper.

3)      The initial position on the right of Alexis Sanchez.

4)      The position Ozil in the latter stages of the victorious World Cup campaign.

5)      Wenger’s statement on Jack – At the top-level you need to be consistent with your presence. You can play six, seven, eight games and rest one or two but you have to play six, seven on the trot. I think he will be capable of doing it. He prepares well. He has no ankle problem anymore. It could be his year.”

I have new plans for you Jack
I have new plans for you Jack

So how does this random and varied mix of factors, events and statements lead to anything other than more confusion and questions?

Well stick with me and allow me to suggest how my thinking has lead me to one possible conclusion as to how we might blend the players that most of us want to see starting games more often than not.

Looking at the deeper midfield combination at Wembley we saw Wilshere and Arteta which was a rarely witnessed pairing in 2013/14. Now it might be easy to assume that this was only selected as Ozil was not available to play at CAM so Ramsey was pushed forward for that game. This is reasonable and logical given that Arteta and Ramsey was our first choice pivot pairing last season.  On the face of it most I suspect most of us thought the deeper pairing would be Ramsey and a new DM and not an aging Arteta and Ramsey once more.

However cast your mind back to when Cesc departed it was clear that Wenger had Ramsey earmarked for the CAM/No.10 role. Certainly he played that role for quite some time in advance of Song and Wilshere and behind RVP, until his confidence and form suffered and Rosicky came in. The Aaron Ramsey of 2014 is not the same guy who floundered in that role in 2012. He is far more at the Cesc Fabregas level, contributing assists and numerous goals now he has matured and in hindsight piling pressure on him was an error. Most will assume that Ozil will step straight back into the CAM role and that Ramsey will revert and Wilshere will drop out. I myself would have thought this but The Arteta armband confirmation and the Wilshere quotes could hint otherwise.

Is it possible that Wenger is looking to a more Chelsea/Brazil approach with two genuine deep sitting CMs and giving fuller licence to the 3 attacking player behind the central striker? If this is the case it allows the young legs of Wilshere to compensate for the only real deficiency in Arteta’s game. It worked supremely efficiently against City and allowed Ramsey full licence to do what he does best, with less defensive duties. This midfield 3 allows Arsene to play Wilshere and Ramsey which surely has to be in the best interests of Arsenal’s future. This set up would offer more protection for the back 2 and give considerable attacking freedon to our full backs. A licence Wenger gave them, in particular to Sagna last season and this cost us on occasions.

Allows both to play - The future
Allows both to play – The future

So this leads us to the question you are all asking which is what of Mesut Ozil? Well here is where I think we might learn from the German World Cup experience. As is often the case a good manager will experiment and adjust until he finds the winning bland and this is precisely what Jogi Low did in Brazil.  He began the campaign with Ozil in his customary central attacking midfield playmaker role and but the return of Schweinsteiger and then Khedira led to a re-think and Low pushed Kroos forward and far from dropping Ozil, as the German media suggested he moved him to the left. He afforded Ozil a drifting playmaker role from the flank and history will tell us that his adjustment paid off. So convinced of the merit of this system and selection was Low that even after an injury in the warm up to Khedira befire the final itself he refused to  move Kroos and Ozil back to where they had commenced the tournament.

Ozil on the left against his new team mate in WC
Ozil on the left against his new team mate in WC

Now I wrote a blog last summer suggested Ozil should play on the left for which I was roundly criticised. At that time it was because I preferred Cazorla centrally but as I think this through now it is based more on having seen him work in that role so well for Germany, whist still being given freedom to roam. An adjustment that Wenger must be contemplating allowing Jack and Mikel to play in tandem one complimenting the other, providing too additional protection of the back 4 and both with a wide passing range to springboard counter attacks.

Given the relative pace of Ozil and the extreme pace of Sanchez and the ability for Ramsey to join the striker at will I could envisage this sitting quick minded double pivot with excellent distribution making is a superb breaking team. Indeed I think we saw evidence of that at Wembley and the most exciting Wenger sides always had that in them and we have lacked it for a while now.

Obviously all this is conjecture and theory but given Ramsey’s supreme self confidence I have no doubt he could carry of the role long term.  With this formation we also see Wilshere flourish, hopefully in the role best suited to his attributes whilst complimenting his skipper’s lack of pace. Having 2 disciplined deep central midfielders rather than one deep and one box to box might dampen the fears that are still obvious around the non-purchase of a new defensive midfielder. I suspect it would allow us to get the best out of the attacking prowess of Gibbs and Debuchy at the same time.

Obviously I am hopeful of more rotation and formation selection from Wenger given the wealth of options he now has at his disposal.  He would still have Ox, Cazorala and Rosicky capable of rotating with Ozil, Ramsey and Sanchez and Flamini and Diaby to rotate with Arteta and Wilshere.

None of this even begins to address the exciting prospect of Theo Walcott returning but I think that may well be a cause for sleepless nights for Giroud or Sanogo this campaign. We can cross that lovely bridge when we come to it.

Food for thought?

Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter – http://twitter.com/goonerdave66

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  1. First off Dave i think Ozil is not suited to that left side birth. We saw it at the world cup, his best moments came when he drifted into the middlein the final and that great game he had in the first game against Portugal where his best moments came when drifting inwards, he did poorly when he had to drift left against bayern too (and i know he was injured). Ozil looses his touch when on the flanks why play in there putting spare pegs in round holes. Ramsey tenacity means he was leading our tackles last season and was doing a good job defensivel. Jack doesnt have that tackle success rate heck when he tackles you always feel a card in the air same with Arteta plus wilshere isnt even good with interceptions either. Playing Rambo as CAM will free him of defensive duties and i do belive Ozil is the better player in that CAM role. If anything which isnt even right its Jack who should play as the CAM. Also with what Sanchez showed against City, he and Walcott on our wings will be deadly why spoil that by shifting Ozil there. Lastly i am of the belief we need a proper DM. size doesnt matter that person should just be defensive minded & be more concerned about clean sheets than us scoring. He doesnt need to be someone running headlessly flying in tackles here & there he must just be concerned about us maintaining our defensive disclipline basically he should be defensive minded cause the last DM we had who was defensive minded was Gilberto. The rest were all concerned about bombing forward not their defensive duties whiles Arteta waa more disciplined, he not defense inclined due to playing many years at CAM. With ozil who cant track back , our very attacking fullbacks and not necesarily defensive inclined duo of Arteta & jack we might just break our goals conceded record

    1. You are probably right although I disagree about Ozil playing wide, Most are happy with Santi out there who never stays there so I see Ozil as no different. The best 45 mins I saw from Mesut was the 2nd 45 against Saints away when he played wide on right.

      1. My issue with Ozil on the left hasnt necesarily got to do with his attacking games as Santi last year also used to drift inwards so did jack when he played on the left. My worry is our fullbacks especially Gibbs at left back are too attacking and Mesut isnt good defensively. Last year on many occasions Gibbs was ahead of all our midfielders and level with giroud upfront. He offers good width there but with Ozil also playing there i fear our left may be overly exploited especially by the better sides like happened vs Bayern at home

    2. Ozil suit left side perfectly. Ozil was one of the tactical key to keep the ball always even in the highest pressure Oz keeps the ball. Joachim Löw knows tactics that others didn’t know maybe even Wenger didn’t know. Löw uses Ozil as his own neutralizer that gives teammates a perfect opportunity to play beautiful football. Löw told Fifa to protect Ozil Schwein Lahm from Brazilian brutality. For Löw Ozil is one of three asset to succeed WC.

  2. The suggested formation is supported, however, we can still have this formation with a Specialist DM who has more speed than Arteta and Wilshere. Yes, Arteta helped us a lot, however, we need to cope with the top clubs in the EPL and the Champions League. I am not certain that Arteta will be able to cope with fast paced one touch football storming down on our Central Defence. If we are sincere about trying to win the EPL at least, then we will require at least a specialist DM and a proven CD.

  3. Interesting article and an interesting subject. I think we can all agree the best solution is too just buy a bonafide defensive midfielder. However this system did seem to work in the Community Shield and could provide us with a perfect solution if nobody is signed.

    I do disagree with your description of the different roles of the players and the formation itself. You make a comparison with Chelsea/Brazil but those teams play with a bonafide 10 (Oscar) while Arsenal wouldn’t play Ramsey as a 10. Personally I’d like to compare this midfield trio with that of Juventus. Arteta would be the less mobile holding midfielder (Pirlo) while Ramsey and Wilshere would work as 2 box-to-box midfielders (Vidal and Pogba) doing the running and more physical work.

    While I’m a fan of this set-up I do think there are some potential problems in terms of personel. The only 2 players (besides Ramsey and Wilshere) I can see perform the same roles are Diaby and Oxlade-Chamberlain. And we all know how tricky it is to trust in these player’s fitness levels.
    Furthermore it would create an overload of players available for the 3 more attacking positions. This system means Özil and Rosicky would have to play further up front. Those 2 along with Cazorla, Sanchez, Walcott, Campbell, Podolski, Giroud and Sanogo seems a bit much for 3 starting spots.
    My point is a shift to a 4-1-4-1 or 4-1-2-2-1 would leave us rather thin in midfield while having an overload of players for the 3 attacking positions.

    Please let me know what you think. UTA

    1. I don’t see Oscar as any more of a 10 than Rambo. Yes we do have many attacking options and yet fans still want another CF

      1. Ramsey is very different from Oscar. Playing him as a 10 would be a waste of his defensive abilities. Also pretty odd when we have the likes of Özil, Rosicky and Rosicky who are much more antural in that role.

      2. But then Wilshere has the same defensive ability, Being natural in that role has not stopped AW not using Cazorla there and playing him wide. Helb, TR7, Pires. Ljungberg all arrived a central players and none ended up there for Wenger

      3. Cazorla plays wide because we have Özil at the 10.
        The whole point is with the 4-1-2-2-1 formation we could kill two birds with one stone. Arteta gets much needed additional help with 2 box-to-box players in front of him and both Ramsey and Wilshere get to play in their best position (which is box-to-box).

        Now IF a true powerhouse dm is signed I’d just play 4-2-3-1, shift Özil back to the middle and start only 1 box-to-box midfielder.

        We have options and certain games require different formations. Hopefully we don’t struggle with injuries again.

  4. Nice little piece here, mate. I think playing the wembley trio would be better for tough away games against the big teams – Jack/Diaby ,Rambo and Arteta would be pretty solid both for attacking and defending. Ozil will have to play outwide, wenger does like pairing a outright winger with one that drifts inside anyway.

  5. I will strongly continue to say what I have been saying, as one who play and love the game, if Wenger fail to get a good replacement for Vermelin and a strong perfect natural defensive-midfielder, I doubt if Arsenal will see top four. Let us be honest to ourselves, with what happen last season with the team. Injury is always Arsenal’s problem and Wenger should plan towards that by getting in new players in the right places. We lost to the top teams last season, not because we are not strong, but because the defensive midfield holds no ground. Respect to Ateta, he is a good player, but not a natural holding midfielder, Wenger is killing him in that role. Arsenal need player like Carvalho in that possition, as to have a solid team to contest for the league and champions league titles. Gunners 4ever.

  6. I strongly believe that scneiderlin is the player we needed more than pretty much anyone else, and all the better if we could pull off howedes . Wenger has too many wingy midgets in this squad. It remains imbalanced. Theo, Sanchez, cazorla gnabry, ox, will not, on their own, win us the title. Wenger has to focus on the spine, which he hasn’t done for about 10 years.

    1. I wrote an article saying that on 1st March 2013 when no one had heard of him and all wanted Gonalons

  7. Interesting article. Seems most agree with me. I didn’t think Ozil was good wide left in the world cup. He was just necessary in their set up and they fit him in there. I think he even played false 9 during the qualifiers. I think Ozil is best where he was last season and with pace ahead of him. I think Wenger wants Sanchez up front, Walcott right and Santi left. I’m dying for the Ox to play left so we can have so have someone who goes to the by-line but its unlikely Santi will ever be dropped. I also believe a “dm” is necessary or at least a combative midfielder. Arteta plays the Toni Kroos role well + distributes beautifully but he’s poor at tackling/positioning (its not his natural position after all) and his lack of pace is a crutch to his team mates. The possibilities in midfield are greatly improved if we find an upgrade on him.

    1. I think the majority of all the comments would be a stretch but I am just outlining an option Wenger has.

  8. I agree with your analysis. You didn’t factor in chambers though. I think he’ll rotate with arteta slowly but surely. He has all the attributes of a CDM and the versatility to fill in other position if and when required. I think we’ll be seeing more of bellerin as backup RB. He has pace, trickery, stamina.

    I think the only player we’ll buy is a solid backup CB.

    Unfortunately I think poldi will be sold. I like his personality but I don’t see his wages as justified.

  9. Looks like you all forgot about Theo, surely he we come back to the starting lineup sooner rather than later, the what happens?

  10. Arsenal needs a proper DM. Wenger can make this team perfect if he gets a replacement for TV5 and a proper DM. But I have the same hunch as Dave has. AW won’t buy a DM. If he doesn’t, the question then would be: what would we do? The name Coquelin still nudges at my heart-strings. I believe that with proper mentoring, the young man is still capable of fulfilling promise. Also I ask myself sometimes – is it still possible for the Ox to be re-engineered into a center of midfield role? Cos with the abundance of wing-talents, I fear now that discontent will grow among some good players at some stage in this campaign. My prediction is that Theo Walcott will eventually seize the attacking mantle from Giroud and Sanogo. By Christmas. Arteta’s contribution to Arsenal will wane considerably by January. His captaincy will then be mostly from the bench. This season will be Wilshere’s make-or-break season. If he doesn’t do well, his Arsenal dream will suffer a sudden death. And he knows it. Wilshire will do well this season. Very well I think. As for how well Arsenal will do will depend on Wenger’s rotation.

  11. I tend to agree with Don that the formation we witnessed at Wembley was a 4-1-4-1 with the central 2 of the upper 4 being more box to box players but also pressing higher. Which is probably our best formation to match personnel when we do not have Ozil in the team. I think Ozil would do great out wide but we lose the scoring threat that a walcott, cazorla, or (less so) ox provide. This might not be that big of deal, though, as germany demonstrated in the world cup. Dave is right that Germany played their best when Ozil was wide with kroos, khedira (more box to box) and Swien (more defensive) in the middle, leaving muller and klose as your true scoring attackers. With all this being said, whether we use a 4231 with a double pivot or a 4141 I really think we desperately need a replacement for Arteta. Arteta still can provide cover for the team but we need a more mobile, defensively astute holding midfielder that, ideally, also has Arteta’s passing range (in the Swein mold). My unrealistic fantasy is that Wilshere becomes this player if we do not bring one in. Without this type of player I feel that our ceiling is much lower and any other solution is poor rationalization when trying to maximize the amazing group of players Wenger has assembled. Keeping in mind the absolute need for a central defender, my best case scenario at this point is that we bring in a defensive midfielder that can play central defense as well (something in the Javi Martinez or Macherano mold). Cavarlho maybe?

  12. One of my main concerns at the moment is at the back. If Gibbs gets injured then we would in serious trouble. Monreal has never looked convincing for me. We seriously need a better cover for Gibbs at LB. We also need an experienced CB since Vermaelen has left. That leaves only Chambers as the only capable back up. Mind you he was brought in as cover for Debuchy.

    One of the best central midfield pairing I’ve ever seen at Arsenal was the combination of Viera and Petit. Viera was more defensive protecting the center backs while Petit was more attacking and spreading the ball around and making penetrating runs down the middle. Arteta cannot play the defensive role. He is too slow and sloppy at times with the ball. if the attacking team go pass him our defenders would be exposed. He cant make a clean tackle. He always concedes fouls when he trys to win the ball. I fail to understand how Wenger even made him captain. I personally think a fit Diaby/Flamini or even Chambers can play better in that position.

    On the wings we have to have pace. When Walcott is fit our starting line up should have Sanchez on the left and Walcott on the right and they can alternate during the match. Chamberlain and Campbell are more than capable replacements for both Sanchez and Walcott on the wings. Having pacey wingers prevents the full backs of the opposite team from overlapping, and that way keep them in their own half. It is not ideal to have Carzola/Ozil/Rosicky on the wings. All three should be fighting the CAM role behind Giroud/Sanogo/Podolski.

    When it comes to who should partner any of the DM. I think it should either be Ramsey or Wilshere. They both have the stamina to join in when we are attacking and also help in defence when we are defending. Having said that Chamberlain had one of his best games playing in this position against crystal palace alongside Arteta and he also scored the two goals making runs from midfield to join the attack.

    In closing, I think the 4-2-3-1 formation is the best for us. When everyone is fit, this is the team I would play:
    Diaby or any new DM player we can buy

  13. I know not many are going to agree but I actually like Ox in the DM role. He has pace, tenacity and upper body strength, and also is really good at distributing the ball. What he lacks in height he make up in effort. Wenger has played him there a couple of times with good success.

    When Theo returns there aren’t going to be many opportunities for him to start either. So this ploy will him to get much needed game time.

  14. You all said well nd a have a good contribution..football is nt abt kipinG a trusT..luk d likes of man C..chelsea..totteham..liverpool!!! DeY all hav box~boX DM anD FB dat are stronG..we nid d likes of carvalho,sheniderlin,in DM..!!! D likes of howedes,hummelS in FB..if we reallY wnts 2 challenge 4 trophies dis season and make d Top 4 in EpL..plaYin oZiL ouT wide doesn’t seems good he lack pace nd cnt defend d ball..it makes anY of our FB geT eXposeD..here is mY fomation 3 2 4 1 plaYin d likes oF metersacker koscienLy gibbs.. DebuchY Carvalho.. RamseY oziL walcott sancheZ.. GirouD up fronT. Agree or disagree

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