Will a Diamond be a Wenger’s best friend?


Yesterday I wrote a speculative piece exploring the possibility of playing Aaron Ramsey in the centre, nominally of the 3 behind the striker. The article was born out of both positive and negative views of the Welshman. Positive in that his strengths are obvious and require him being in and around the opposition penalty area. Negative in that unlike many I simply don’t see him as a partner to Xhaka in a two.

The obvious flaw for some in placing Ramsey behind our striker is that it moves Ozil to the left or right. Even though the 3 positions behind the striker at Arsenal are fluid many simply will not accept that Ozil can be every bit a play-maker from wide. Even though, he has performed there for both his previous clubs and also his country, in winning the last World Cup. It will be interesting to see if Ozil starts at central 10 or in the wider role where he finished his campaign in Brazil and where Low has often used him.

The alternative way to keep as many of Arsenal’s top stars involved might be to lessen the involvement of the wider players such as Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Campbell and Iwobi and accommodate 3 central midfielders, allowing the width to come from the fullbacks. This would allow the utilisation of 3 central midfielders and 2 strikers and offer Ozil the role the most Gooners prefer him to have. One could see this as 4312, which I have written about previously as the Chile formation which allows Sanchez to play up top with a partner. It can also be seen as the ‘Diamond’ that Roy Hodgson have often deployed for England. The 3 Lions are 4th favourites for Euro 2106 with Bet 10 and if this is the way they play, Jack Wilshere is likely to be to the fore.

However the emergence of Eric Dier means Hodgson had a choice to make with Wilshere. Does he restore Jack to the base of the diamond, where he played in the qualifiers or leave the Spurs youngster there and use his fresh Gunner to the left or right of his diamond. Similarly if this formation were to be utilised by Wenger in August as he does not see Jack as Hodgson has, sitting deep and now had bought Xhaka who would be suited to that position.

So if Ozil heads the diamond or is the 10 behind 2 strikers and Xhaka is at the base it leaves 2 positions on the left and right of the formation.  I would contend that Cazorla and Wilshere could easily play on the left of the diamond and Ramsey or Elneny on the right. This leaves Coquelin as cover and competition for Xhaka and Iwobi as cover for Ozil.  All in all, a fabulous utilisation of the squad, with genuine rotational possibilities in all positions.

It also allows Alexis Sanchez a free role to play in and around a partner as he does for Chile, although in this formation, although it could work with Giroud, I am sure we would all rather see a new ad more mobile alternative.

Interesting times….

To read yesterday’s prequel click here


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  1. Don’t want to agree with Jim’s dismissive comment below, but Rambo simply isn’t up to scratch in the big games. He’s alright for the likes of West Brom, Bournemouth or Spuds (hahaha), where lung power and grit are more important than technical ability. However, as we saw against Barça, the poor boy is woefully under par against technical sides that don’t give you a full second to control the ball.

    As we saw repeatedly this season, Rambo on the right is a danger to his defence: either Bellerin has to temper his thrilling gallops down the wing, or Mertesacker (or whoever) finds themselves exposed and a man down. No, ideally he’s best as a box-to-box central mid in a 4-5-1, crowding opposition defences and generally making a nuisance of himself, but never endangering the back four. If there’s no space for that formation, he’s best on the bench.

  2. Re: Ozil on the right, it is worth remembering that Germany was sometimes basically playing a back line of three or four centre backs. So Ozil wasnt required to protect the defender behind him. He was genuinely a playmaker with licence to roam. Arsenal doesnt have that.

    Also Germany doesnt play in the premiership where it is end to end for 90 minutes and even the “minnows” will put a 3-0 hurting on you if you doze for even a slight period in the game.

    Furthermore if you look at the history of Wenger’s teams Pires succesfully played the playmaker role as a nominal winger in a 4-4-2,
    – but in effect that was really a 4-5-1 with bergamp furthest forward. The nominal striker, Henry was often the one who was starting his runs from wide left, with Pires tucked into inside left position. This arsenal team has Giroud, who is best up top
    – And Ashley Cole could handle his business and Pires wasnt required to do much. Which is correct: if you have a player who is world class in the final third you cant ask him to burn all his energy in your own half playing auxiliary full back.

    One thing we have seen repeatedly the past two seasons is opponents targeting our full backs with diagonal balls behind them, because our full backs are always pushed up trying to attack and they have little protections so are often exposed in 1 vs 1 and even 1 vs 2 situations.

    If you have an Ozil in his prime its a waste to be constantly facing 0-1 situations because you havent set up right defensively – and at that to accomodate for a Ramsey who refuses to do his job right.

    Remember furthermore that Wenger turned down a chance to buy back Cesc, because he didnt think Cesc could play the “Arteta”/Xabi Alonso role and he didnt want to play Ozil out wide. So why pass up a chance to get Cesc back – then still play Ozil out on the wing to accomodate Ramsey? Makes no sense.

    Arsenal’s best attacking comes when Ozil is all the way up there on the edge of the box and bursting in i.e. what Ramsey does best….but Ramsey doesnt do it as well. So Ramsey has to bide his time and try to win trophies doing something else – whatever the coach asks him to do.

    It’s not a coincidence that Arsenal has won very little in this era where a Ramsey and a Wilshere turn their nose up at the chance to roll up their sleeves and play a role for the team.

    1. You are quite right and I am just setting out options and not advocating. In essence I am looking at the squad and potential systems and not suggesting one only be used. Also in the diamond Ozil is at the peak.

      Quite right on Pires as a wide playmaker and I felt envious of Leicester with their wide playmaker in the 442

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