LIVERPOOL, WALCOTT AND THE ARSENAL ATTACK by Uche
Hello everybody and a mighty big welcome to Mohammed Elneny, aka El Daddy. I have got to say that if his reputation is anything to go by, we might have finally found the heir to Patrick Vieira. Tall, tough, great technical ability, good on the ball, a slick passer, tough tackler and can hit a mean long range shot. These are just some of the qualities associated with our new midfield general. While I don’t expect him to just slot in seamlessly into the team with no preseason adaptation, he will still chip in meaningfully in the second half of the season.
Anyway, onto my main subject of today, that was a cracker of a match against Liverpool, wasn’t it? From the eyes of a neutral, that was English football at its attacking finest. I was a little sad we drew after leading for quite a while but I enjoyed the game still. I think I am learning to really just enjoy games this season without feeling entitled or cynical. No matter how well you plan for a game, quality opposition can sometimes find the chink in your armour. That is just life. Liverpool scored three quality goals. What can I say? We replied too and nearly won.
Depending on who you talk to, Arsenal blew it and Wenger got it all wrong with his two substitutions. I disagree with all that. This was a top quality game against a top quality team being managed by one of the best coaches in the world. When you put two and two together, it is not hard to figure out that a draw is a decent result. Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United and Liverpool all drew their games too and it wasn’t because they didn’t try hard enough to win it. It just goes to show how tough winning games has become in this league.
If Coquelin and Sanchez were fit to play, Wenger will surely not be bringing in the aging legs of Arteta to kill a game and stall Liverpool’s attack. He had to do something. They were all over us in the last fifteen minutes. In fact, if we had stolen all three points from Anfield, these same critics will be hailing Wenger’s substitutions as a stroke of genius. That volley from Joe Allen was a stunner just like the strike from Yaya Toure in our 2-1 win against Man City in December. Enough said. Liverpool have flashes of Dortmund in them already. Klopp’s teams tend to play like they are on steroids and you have got to give it to him. The man knows how to drill a team to attack with the ferocity of a swarm of bees.
So it was a good game and a fair point. None of the teams deserved less. While we had misplaced passes and were cut open time and time again, we held our ground to a certain point and remained efficient upfront. If I am not mistaken, almost every shot on target we had was a goal. That is impressive. This Arsenal team is managing to find goal scoring solutions in every game in spite of our ever changing attack and limited means. This brings me to the subject of Theo Walcott and our other wingers. He has been noticeably quiet since he returned from injury and fans have not been hesitant in showing their displeasure, which is understandable because he is capable of much more than this. But I have a theory on why he has not hit the same heights he did at the beginning of the season. Walcott is a winger – but he is not a left winger. Alexis Sanchez is a left winger. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain plays his best game on the left as well. But Walcott is a right winger and not playing in that position has diminished his threat upfront. So he goes missing in games a bit like Podolski used to do.
If you are thinking that all wings are the same, I beg to differ. I was once reading a piece where Wenger was analyzing the game of Gunners legend Robert Pires and he said something I have not forgotten till this day. Wenger remarked that on the right, Pires was an average player but when he was switched to the left, his vision changed. Everything suddenly clicked for him and his game was elevated to produce the world class performances we all came to witness. Beside the issue of being left footed or right footed, some players see the game better and react better from specific positions on the field. That is just a fact. It is not a coincidence that Ozil has been unstoppable ever since Wenger quit his experiments and started playing him centrally. The same goes for Aaron Ramsey. Put him out on the right like Wenger often does when Cazorla is fit and Ramsey is totally lost. Move him to the center and he becomes a totally different monster. He is scoring more goals than all our other midfielders and will lumber and bleed for this team for ninety minutes.
So I reckon that Walcott will improve the moment Sanchez comes back to reclaim his spot on the left, shifting Theo out to the right. Walcott has served Arsenal well as a right winger for a decade. That is a terrain he knows too well. If he does not play as striker, at least put him back on the right where he has played beautifully all his life, and we will start to see the best of him once again. We can alternate him with the ever improving Joel Campbell. Imagine Walcott on the right with fellow speed demon Hector Bellerin? Our opponents will pee in their Jerseys and will limit attacking us from the right for fear of being hit by a bolt of lightning on the counter. By the way, Campbell is a gem. Whatever we do, we must not sell that boy. Peace.
Lagos – Nigeria