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.”
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.
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.
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?
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