Arsenal tactics – Why Xhaka and Ramsey can make us Dare to Dream

Arsenal Tactics Talk – Swapping positions v Defined Roles. By Galen Sona

On paper, it was a partnership that ought to have worked. Ramsey’s best performances for Arsenal had come in 2013/14, when he was regularly paired with Spanish playmaker Mikel Arteta. Xhaka seemed like a natural successor to Arteta: a deep-lying distributor who would be prepared to hold his position while Ramsey roamed forward. 

Ramsey’s constant injuries and Wenger’s confession of what Xhaka is has been one of our biggest problems. at the beginning Wenger said he sees Xhaka as a box to box midfielder. The biggest problem arises from Wenger-ball which explains why so many of our midfielders do  struggle when they have gone  to different teams. Wenger-ball usually allows midfielders to swap roles which makes it so difficult for the opposition player to mark. You look at Song, Cesc and Wilshere and it was difficult to tell who the defensive midfielder was. It was a similar story with Diaby, Arteta and Ozil or Ramsey, Arteta and Ozil.

While managers like Pep or Van Gaal want players to have very defined roles and be only in particular area’s “Zones” of the pitch, Wenger constantly allows his midfielders to swap and move. There have been times Cazorla has been so deep and Coquelin is higher up the pitch and you are wondering what’s happening. This is a clear ploy by Wenger to deceive the opposition with the swapping of roles and movement in the middle of the pitch.  

Wenger trying to convert Xhaka into a box to box midfielder at the start of the season, so that his swapping of roles can go into full effect, backfired. Two months later he corrects himself and says he sees Xhaka more like a Deep Lying playmaker. 

Ramsey and Xhaka have now clicked as a partnership, due to defined roles and responsibilities and, Arsenal’s switch to a 3-4-2-1 system. Although the primary benefit of the new formation has been offering extra security to the centre-backs, it’s also had a liberating effect on Arsenal’s new-look midfield. What has changed for me is the fact that the players have clearly defined roles. there is no Wenger-ball swapping of positions. We are playing them to their strengths.

Xhaka is allowed to stay deep, using his brilliant distribution to control the tempo of games. Ramsey has got one of the biggest engines in the premier league. To be at his best he needs fitness, and with a run of games we have seen him travelling the pitch and going end to end from box to box with ease. While Xhaka can just stay in front of the back four and do his thing. 

I hope the 3-4-2-1 is not just a quick fix. I hope this system is here to stay and we could switch to a back 4 with certain games at home . Arsenal’s central midfield has been their biggest problem all season, and we have now edged towards a solution. It’s taken way longer than we all anticipated, but Ramsey and Xhaka are finally getting the chance to show what they can do in tandem. With the support of a back three, the results have been good. The cup final will show us more of this partnership of Xhaka and Ramsey, and they must continue to develop this burgeoning understanding.

By Galen Sona


  1. ks-gunner says:

    You speak of Ramsey as he would be some kind of Bale and not the Ramsey we know and love

    1. Galen says:

      @KS Gunner
      are u saying that there has bn no improvement in the Ramsey – Xhaka partnership? I know we love criticising players but come on, let’s be honest and objective . Ramsey is playing very well at the moment , at least, he is to me.

      1. ks-gunner says:

        Raise your expectation to what is good mate, thats the main problem we have as fans at Arsenal. We are overrating our players, manager, heck the whole club beyond reason

        This partnership has nothing provet yet… Nadaaaa

        1. Ddog says:

          when did supporting your players become a sin? it’s not like we aren’t quick to criticise when they’re doing badly.

      2. HA559 says:

        The reason it seems he is playing good is that he isn’t playing CMF to give sideways passes. He is actually leaving Xhaka to go ahead and play with Ozil and Sanchez, sometimes even infront of them, which is something we have need from players though.

        He will get a chance if he continues playing like this, lets see if he takes it in the final.

    2. Durand says:

      Well put, you beat me to the comment. Ramsey is severely overpaid bench player. Imagine if we had a good to great midfielder with Xhaka. Tolisso or Seri would be awesome, hope there is truth to the rumors.

      How many goals did Ramsey score this year? He had a good few months out of his Arsenal career so far that’s all. Wilshire and Ramsey need to be sold so that money and wages can be put to good use.

      Then again, Ramsey and Coq can be Europa League midfield, Giroud up top with Onyekuru and Iwobi playing behind him. Xhaka can partner with Tolisso or Seri for premier league matches. Otherwise go back to stale 4-2-3-1 formation, no tactics, hope for top 4.

      Before you thumb me down, please wait and judge me in May next year.

      1. Galen says:

        @ Durand
        I would like one of Tolisso or Leon Goretzka. I completely agree with you . But Injuries have not helped Jack and Ramsey. For this reason we should get another midfielder. If Wilshere and Ramsey are fit then we have even more competition which is a good thing .

        1. Muffdiver wants change...not for arsenal...for.the vending machine, I'm thirsty as f### says:

          Bloody Bernardo silva is 22
          43 mill isn’t worth a shout??

        2. Durand says:

          I like Goretzka also since we have Schalke’s LW there is some familiarity between the two. I wish Ramsey and Wilshire could stay healthy. But as my Uncle said, “wish into one hand and poop in the other, and see which fills up first.”

          Ramsey and Wilshire have had their time in the sun, now it’s time to move on IMHO. Otherwise, it will be the Theo and Giroud syndrome; waiting 10 years and counting for consistency and health from Theo, and over 20 league goals from Giroud.

          Didn’t Giroud play like 50 games 2 or 3 years ago without competition and didn’t get 25 goals? Let’s not forget the 16 game scoreless streak too, very Sanogo-esque yet he continued to get into starting 11; sheesh.

          I never cared much for Ramsey b/c he abandons his partner and more concerned about scoring a goal than maintaining a balance in midfield. My 11 year old nephew has more discipline.

          At least you took time to think, consider, and write an article Galen, meanwhile I just take couple minutes and respond negatively.
          I’m an Arsenal fan, you know how we do, lol

          1. Durand says:

            LWB I meant. Sean Kol I’ll write b/c I can’t spell his last name. Let him have couple good games and I’ll get a tattoo so I’ll never forget tho,

          2. Confidence says:

            how sure are you that he has sign for Arsenal. let the deal be official before planning for his fit-in

  2. Break-on-through says:

    Some good observation there mate.

    Ramsey and Xhaka have looked the more dynamic lately than any others tried. Though Cazorla and Coquelin might still be a preference for some. In my head I’m not seeing Cazorla and Xhaka as being the best way to go. Xhaka might need someone who, when he gets back, can put allot of effort into trying to stop the other team play, otherwise we might end up looking a little slow or lethargic in that area. Elneny looked good next to Xhaka in that one game a while back, surprised me with his passing, and looked how Wenger might have imagined for Coquelin in a more forward role. I think the best case scenario will be to get a high profile other player in. Better opponents will chip away at Xhaka’s weaknesses along with Aarons sometimes frivolous behavior.

  3. Fatboy Gooney, Too Fat to track back. says:

    The Xhaka & Ramsey partnership has clicked? ?? Wtf! And how many games have they played in this so called ‘clicked partnership’ 1 or 2? ??Typical of Galen, Unbelievably overhyped delusional article and while I’m here, let me tell you that Cech will also miss the final through injury but hey, Never-mind we have the Ramsey & Xhaka dreamers in town.??

    1. Galen says:

      Wow , u went hard on me. I felt as if it was Arsenal fan tv . Lol ??

      1. Fatboy Gooney, Too Fat to track back. says:

        Hahaha ?
        Fam 99
        Blud 11111111

  4. HA559 says:

    Every year after season finishes players come out and say why they didn’t do this and that and what they can learn, but they never do, do they? I mean if they did would they keep getting beat 5-1 v Bayern Munich?

    Bayern are crack head against EPL teams, their easiest opponent is Arsenal. You will see next season if one of the others player them they will give them atleast a good game or two. Only Tottenham maybe will struggle against them.

  5. HA559 says:

    Arsenal will be feeding of scraps of Barcelona in this summer transfer window me thinks, oh no it wont be for a player like Sanchez. Maybe even get deadwood from City.They will get rid of players like Delph, Nolito, Jesus Navas, Fernando, CLichy and Zabaleta already gone, even though he was a good player for them.

    You need to find the next best talent now or be gone, since we can’t compete financially against big teams neither do we have UCL next term.

    1. RSH says:

      what we know for sure, Arsenal will be REACTIVE instead of PROACTIVE as usual. And you always end up with people’s leftovers when that happens.

  6. HA559 says:

    Unfortunately money talks, which is why you see Bernado Silva going to City. Monaco at the moment a better club than CIty, so why go? They’ll tell you because Pep is a great amanager and how they like to play under him.

  7. HA559 says:

    Just wait till Griezman goes to Manu then Wenger will come out and say we almost signed him…well there goes another one.

    Put your money were your mouth is man!

  8. HA559 says:

    Zabaleta is the guy I feel sorry for for those released by CIty. He gave so many years to them. They should keep him as a back up, like how Sylvinho was at Barcelona. Would’nt have mind seeing him in an Arsenal shirt.

    Sagna and Clichy have got the money they wanted now they will be going to lesser other teams. Who know maybe they might be in UCL for Nice. I’m sure they will approach either or both of them.

    1. Galen says:

      Top football clubs dontreally have that much sypathy. players earn loads of money and when they are not uo to it they get moved. Now thats something Arsenal football club can learn. Welbeck Giroud perez walcott? 4 strikers who are all not good enough yet are all at the club.

      A top team would never have done this type of mistakes.

  9. RSH says:

    Xhaka-Ramsey is not a duo that will win you titles. Ramsey should not be a starter for us. And Xhaka still has to prove himself next season. Both of them have had disappointing seasons, and if Arsenal were smart they would be looking for a CM. Wouldn’t be shocked at all if The Deluded One expects Cazorla to stay fit again next season, even though we all know that’s not going to happen.

Comments are closed