Posted on August 22, 2017 by ADMIN

Why Ozil and Xhaka don’t fit into Arsenal’s new formation

No place for Xhaka and Ozil in a 3 at the back system? by Nothings Changed

Each system requires different roles from the players. Not all players can play in multiple systems or tactics for that matter. Do you want to play a high defensive line? Mertesacker’s lack of pace will not do well. Do you want to play Barca or Bayern on the counter? Giroud’s lack of speed will not do well. Do you want to unlock a defense by bombing crosses into the box? Giroud is your man and Sanchez is not (as a central striker).

Now that it seems we have switched to 3 at the back as default system I don’t think there is space for Khaka and Ozil.

Here is why; 3 at the back relies on 5 defenders when on your own half and out of possession. You can still compliment these 5 defenders (3 CD and 2 wing-backs) with 1 defensive midfield player giving you 6 defensive players. Add a second defensive midfield player and you are compromised going forward with only 3 attacking minded players or forwards. This means that the defensive midfield player needs to be a proper DM, ie good in the tackle, closing speed to fix errors, sniffing out problems before they develop. Xhaka lacks the ability to tackle and lacks closing speed. This means he needs a defensive midfield partner which only works with 4 at the back and 2 defensive midfield players. So no room for Xhaka’s skill set in this new system IMO. He can not function without a defensive midfield partner and Ramsey bombs forward and leaves him exposed.

The way Wenger likes to play his 3 at the back is with Xhaka and Ramsey as a midfield pairing. This leaves room for 3 attacking players. Last week against Stoke those 3 were Welbeck, Laca and Ozil. This puts Ozil as a right-winger. He is not good enough as a right winger and doesn’t take on defenders to get to the back-line. In addition, he is also supposed to be our creative player which means he roams out of position to the other side of the pitch if need be, leaving the right side without a bite or exit option when we have possession. In our new system, you need two proper wingers who can score, take on defenders and make it to the backline and put in good crosses. Ozil is not that player.

Ozil’s right of existence IMO would be if we had a proper DM (Gilberto, Kante, Matic etc) Ozil could take a central role behind the 3 forwards. But put Ozil next to Xhaka would be a disaster defensively and put him on the right wing and you get neither a proper right winger nor an omnipresent playmaker.

So without wanting to be tough on Xhaka and Ozil, I don’t see how this system has room for them.
Finally, the 3 at the back system relies heavily on pressing hard as soon as we lose the ball in the opponents half, not unlike we did so well against City and Chelsea late last season and in the FA cup final. The moment you stop pressing in the opponents half your system of 3 at the back becomes a defensive liability because it leaves you exposed to be overrun like we were on the Stoke goal. So if we are not going to press and make our midfield hard to penetrate the system switch won’t lead to fewer goals or better results.

If you disagree with my view of the 3 at the back I am looking forward to your explanation.

Nothing changed (but the system has)

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38 thoughts on “Why Ozil and Xhaka don’t fit into Arsenal’s new formation

  1. Kim

    Xhaka simply dont have the quality needed. Xhaka have been involved in all conceeded goals this season. Two terrible passes against Leicester, and with a little effort he could have stopped Vardy scoring his header. Xhaka just watched Vardy run 30 cm in front of him.

    Against Stoke Xhaka again made a terrible pass. He then tried to correct his error. By leaving his defensive position and putting preasure high up on the pitch. We all saw how great that turned out…

    We could have Sol Campbell, Tony Adams and Fernando Hierro defending behind Xhaka. They would look like absolute sh!te. Getting penalized on at least 5 counterattacks in every match. All caused by Xhaka. If we are to play Ramsey in middle. Maybe Coquelin is the player needed. He don try to be Pirlo. He is on the pitch to destroy the opponent. Players we need on Arsenal nowadays.

    1. X

      Thanks man, at least there’s someone remembering Coquelin as a DMF. It’s amazing how easy it is for us to forget someone like that. Guy gives his all, I think it’s time for him to step back up.

    2. Windsor Bob

      Xhaka and Ozil in many peoples opinion should be the first names on the team sheet. Xhaka is the tough man we needed and Ozil is a master at splitting defenses with his passes. They are unreplaceable

    3. Joseph Paul Saleh. Aussie Gooner from S.A

      Nothings Changed,
      100% correct, Xhaka and Ozil need to be dropped, square pegs round holes Wenger needs to play players in their position and stop trying to turn players into something else. Ozil needs to be in a midfield 4 in the Cazorla role next to a player like N’Zonzi and the front 3 have to be Alexis LW Lacazette Striker and Welbeck or Wallcot or maybe a new signing at RW . It’s the only way forward

    1. Arsenal_Girl

      Yes. We could go back. Mahrez on the right, Alexis on the left, Ozil CAM and Lacazette up front

      We can use 3 at the back when we are short on top players up front

  2. Joel

    This being the case Arsenal need a defensive midfielder to be brought into the squad.This doesn’t look like it’s going to happen!…Otherwise the team must press in the way they did in the Cup Final…Ozil included…and Ramsey must not be allowed to wander upfield whenever he fancies…But for some reason this has not happened either?
    Well…actually…we know the reason…Most of the Arsenal team seam to do whatever they want on the pitch because there is no discipline and no leadership and presumably no direction from the Manager!?

  3. BuddReloaded

    I have this funny feeling that Wenger will change it to 4 at the back. Don’t know why.

    1. gotanidea

      He will do that at someday in the middle of the competition, because many teams have already prepared for the 3-4-2-1. Some of them also use 3-4-2-1 now, like Stoke City, so he has to counter it with other tactic.

      He can change the formation as many as he likes, but it will not change anything, as long as he keeps using his old system. Currently there is no player in the team able to dictate the tempo and control the flow.

    1. gotanidea

      Agree, great analysis, but Wenger will not read Thierry Henry’s analysis, let alone a fan’s article. Arsenal just copied Chelsea’s recipe without having the ingredients.

      In the last season, Chelsea were successful with their 3-4-2-1, because they have great wingers in the front (Hazard and Pedro) and great hardworking midfielders in the center (Matic and Kante). Ozil and Xhaka are not like those players.

      Arsenal were supported by Sanchez’s tenacity and skills, but they need more players like him. I reckon Ramsey could be a good squad player in the center, but Arsenal need more players like Pedro and Kante.

      1. dennis10bergkamp

        Copied? It was done by Van Gaal with Holland first.
        And many others used it.
        But Wenger should not do it, his greatest success was with 4-4-2.
        OX and Draxler on the wings with Sanchez and Laca in the middle.
        And de CM’s will be Xhaka and Ramsey or Seri if we sign him.

        1. Nothing changed

          To be 100% correct it was done first by Koeman with Feyenoord after which Van Gaal stuck to it for the World cup.

    1. Joseph Paul Saleh. Aussie Gooner from S.A

      We need a new owner, manager has become a product off his environment. Don’t get me wrong I’m one off the biggest W.O.B’s out there but I have now realized that so long as Kroenke owns our club don’t matter who is out manager it’s going to be same old same old. New owner new frontier . If the manager still ain’t no good with proper investment then an owner with balls will get rid off him and get someone else .

  4. Uzi Ozil

    I read an article last season (when we changed to 3-4-3). It reads XHaka fits into the new formation. Something like that.. .

    I don’t think it’s all about Xhaka. Yes, he has made some errors already this season but I also think Wenger should access the team properly.

    Xhaka needs to learn and improve. I know some games last season where hailed him (FA CUP final notably against Chelsea). I have faith in him(sounding like Wenger lol)

  5. AndersS

    In general I agree.
    However, the real problem is not the individual players. Rather the problem is, it has never been a Wenger philosophy to require the midfielders to work hard in pressing or in general defending. Under Wenger, we allow the opponents much too much time to control the ball, and to run or pass in midfield, so no matter what system, our defense gets too much pressure, and eventually we leak too many goals.
    True, we saw signs of improvement, when we switched to 3 at the back. But in reality that only came from having a more crowded midfield, and now opponents are prepared, and we are leaking goals again. In preseason we have kept one clean sheet (against Sydney FC), and in all other matches, we are giving goals away. In fact we have had 7 goals against us in the last 3 home games. It is utter useless, and the problem is not the system, nor the players. It is the philosophy, which doesn’t cut it in modern football.

  6. Adams Halfvolley

    An astute and fair analysis this morning. I pretty much agree with all points. The only way Ozil fits into this system is if you invert the front three.
    So instead of playing two wingers and a central striker , you play Ozil as a traditional no.10 and then go two up top. The strikers would then have the requirement to help close down fullbacks as they would in a 442.
    I think the solution to this issue will depend on whether we get Lemar/marhez. If we do they are competing with Ozil for the role on the right in a 2-1 front three. If we do not I think we are best served going 1-2 up top. From a combo of Sanchez, Laca, and GIroud.

    But the issue in the middle of the park is a no brainer. We simply must play a disciplined and capable DM . The best we have is Elneny. My choice alongside is Ramsey. but having dropped out of the top four it is clear the current players are not cutting it. I would have liked to see Calvarho and Barkley come in to form a partnership. Both 6 foot plus and young with experience. Both available.

    We shall see. Chances are there is only one more arrival due, if any. Let’s hope the manager realises how to balance this formation and then has the gumption to bloody well do it!

  7. Twig

    What exactly is Xhaka’s position? He’s not quick enough to be a box to box player and he doesn’t tackle enough to be a defensive midfielder. Maybe we should try him in defence???

    1. Nothing changed

      I see him predominantly as a good passer but for a midfield player with defensive responsibilities he lacks the pace and tackling skills needed. Which means he needs a dedicated player next to him to fill those roles. The question then becomes, is his passing of such quality that it warrants dedicating a player next to him to look after him? Given that Ozil also needs a dedicated player once we lose the ball because he doesn’t do much defensively that means we sacrifice a lot for the short comings of Xhaka and Ozil. Ans IMO it is not like they are Messi or Suarez who are so valuable going forward that you could sacrifice any defensive weaknesses they might have (but both Suarez and Messi do more defensively than Ozil and produce more going forward).

  8. Zad

    good article and analysis
    i have seen Ozil played deep midfield for Germany and he was really good
    alongside a DM he can roam freely in the middle and make the through passes. he doesnt function at the wing. with the current squad, i would suggest to bench Ramsey and Xhaka and play with

    Bellerin Holding Mustafi Kos Sead
    Ozil CoQ
    Ox Laca Sanchez

    1. Adams Halfvolley

      OZil deeper makes a lot of sense. He could be the new Carzorla…But again the DM has to compensate and we really don’t have anyone good enough to do that.

      1. Twig

        It’ll only work if you play him with Wanyama, Kante or Matic. Not with any of our current crop of midfielders.

        1. Nothing changed

          We could really do with a “complete player” as DM. Xhaka has the passing but not the tackling and closing speed, Coq has the tackling and closing speed but not the vision and passing.

    2. Nothing changed

      It would be worth a try because Coq is a real DM who might be able to support Ozil who could then function a bit like Santi did and we all know how much we miss a Santi and there is no doubt that Ozil’s skill set comes closest to Santi in terms of passing and strength on the ball.

  9. Atid

    What a difference a week and 1 defeat makes. After our cup final win and the 8 wins from 9 last season everyone was saying xhaka had finally come good. Last week all the media were saying he was motm. Now after one stray pass, he should be dumped?

    I have no argument about ozil, he is showing nothing in this formation. But the person showing the least ability is once again the manager himself. 2 left backs in a back 3? Players playing in positions they are not comfortable with? Goals being conceded straight after your half-time talk, suggests your inspiration isn’t just fading, it has gone out completely.

    So by the time we face Liverpool we could be 6 points adrift and it won’t even be September, cue a panic buy, to try and appease the fans. It’s groundhog day and it’s all so boringly predictable.

    1. Mobella

      spot on mate. People can blame Xhaka, Ozil all they want but the person who deserve the blame most is Wenger. He always set up our team to loss. That is why when we win i gave the credit to the players and absorb them much of the blame when we loss. Where was Ramsey, the suppose partner of Xhaka in the midfield when the ball was with our defenders. Where was Oxlaide? Were fullbacks not suppose to be are extra defenders when their team was being attack. We can have 11 defenders on the pitch with the way Wenger set up this team we will concede goals.

  10. Gunnerphyte

    I dont know what the author has been watching, but what I know from last season is that Xhaka and Ozil started playing better the moment we switched to a back 3. Infact the whole team looked more dangerous with the back 3. In the course of that transition, the Xhaka-Ramsey midfield pair was our best. Contrary to this article, I dont remember us conceding goals because Ramsey had “bombed” forward, infact we would GET goals because of his forward runs at times. I have seen Kante “bomb” forward all the time and he never recieves this kind of critics.
    As for those that doubt Xhaka’s quality, I am really disappointed. Yes his 1st 2 performances this season were poor, but tha was uncharacteristic of him, he only costed us because he was sloppy in possession. That had nothing to do with the so-hyped lack of pace or inability to tackle. What Xhaka brings to this team in terms of his passing range cannot be undermined. His ability to string those dangerous long balls from his own half means that the creation of chances is no longer on Ozil’s shoulders alone.

    1. Kim

      Not to forget his beautiful crosses to Albrighton in our first match. And lately against Stoke. But smart as he is. He then tries to follow up his lousy pass with high pressure. Leaving a higway on the midfield for Stoke. One thing is a poor pass. But then totally loose his head and leaving such a higway on the midfield. From my point of view. That is two stupid mistakes within 5 seconds. He almost single handed lost our Leicester game. And made the crucial error that lead turned out being a loss against Stoke. There is a lot of players that didnt deserve their paychecks against Stoke. But Xhaka simply don`t have what it takes…

    2. Nothing changed

      I have been watching us. This was not an article meant to dish Xhaka or Ozil. It was questioning their fit in our current system. Neither was I trying to single them out as culprits for our poor start.

      Obviously, it all begins with team selection and that is all on Wenger including the puzzling decision to play Monreal in the center of a back 3 whilst we had Mert on the bench, and to play Bellering as left back. And to me, it was also puzzling to demote Holding after one dodgy game. Holding is our future and you can expect a young player to have a poor game. To demote him after one so-so game nothing for his confidence.

      The reason we did so well in some of our games late last season was that in the big games, like the FA cup final, we pressed as a team which makes the system work. This season in our first two games we have stopped pressing and are found out of position too often for my liking. At this point, players like Xhaka and Ozil become magnified liabilities IMO.

      It is typical for Wenger’s Arsenal to play a few brilliant games, all including Barca and Bayern style relentless pressing of the opponent as soon as we lose the ball, only to revert back to a lazy undedicated team whose effort is out done by the opponents.

  11. Who said Arsene can't do grime?

    To me it seems like bad coaching and prep. Which system does Ozil play well in because he was not really playing consistently well in either of last years two systems.

  12. Victor victory

    Where is the money wenger wanted to spend on mbampe? Monaco is willing to sell lemar now. Spend the cash old man.

  13. Frank

    Arsenal need a defensive midfielder more than any other position. Of all the players I think Coquelin would play better with a defensive midfielder. But if we had someone solid in front of the back three, Arsenal could use Coquelin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Cazorla or Ox in a midfield of three and two strikers, Sanchez, Lacazette or Giroud.
    Sorry but I’m done with Özil and Welbeck. I would prefer to see Nelson given a go.

  14. Turbo

    I agree Xhaka is not fitting well with the formation so far, but he could if directed to be a disciplined defender for the match in question, or otherwise sit down Ramsey (haha, like Wenger will actually do that consistently) or put Ramsey in Ozil’s role (haha, like Wenger will actually do that at all consistently either), have Xhaka play more B2B-ish style, and have Coquelin or new addition or perhaps Elneny take Xhaka’s current spot.

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