Do Arsenal need Cazorla silk or Coquelin steel against Watford?

I have ne doubt that Arsene Wenger will bring the brilliant German international star Mesut Ozil back into the Arsenal starting line-up for the must win Premier League game against Watford this weekend, and I a fairly sure that our summer signing from Borussia Monchengladbach will be handed the box-to-box role in central midfield, but who will play alongside Granit Xhaka in the centre?

It could be Mohgamed Elneny but I dfo not think it will, especially as he has not been in the best form so far this season. For me there are just two options but there is a big decision for the boss to make as FRancis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla are very different types of players and whichever one Wenger chooses would give the Gunners a different approach.

We could go with the extra steel of Coquelin, which would help to ensure that we stay compact and solid and then we would hope that our more attacking players could get the job done against the Watford defence. With the speed and counter attacking skills of Gunners like Walcott and Alexis Sanchez this is not a bad tactic, especially away from home.

Starting with Cazorla would give Arsenal, we hope, much more control of the ball and make us more creative, but then we would be left a little more exposed at the back and the likes of Troy Deeny and Odion Ighalo have proved that they can hurt teams in this way.

It seems like a pretty starightforward choice for the manager to make and one that is based on how much risk he is willing to take to ensure Arsenal record our first EPL win of the season. What would you do?


Tags Elneny Watford Wenger


  1. I think we need more creativity along side Mesut to crack Watford defence. So I prefer Cazorla. He’ll provide attacking from distance, when Xhaka is shielding at the center. Two deep lying play maker in one team, that should bring us some advantages.

    1. Kinda agree with you on Xhaka..he seems off the pace, maybe he still need to adjust to on how much time he has on the ball in the Epl..On the other hand Cazorla faded badly in the second half last week…So maybe wenger was right in saying that he need until end of Aug to built up his fitness..

      So for me Ozil, Cazorla Coq to start and depending on how the game goes, Xhaka or Neny to come in for Cazorla in the later stage….Xhaka might benefit from coming on in the 60 or 70 minutes as opposition players will be tiring by then and he would have more time on the ball…He needs to play well to build up his confidence…

    2. The reason Xhaka has not looked good is that Wenger keeps pairing him with Coq. And it has not worked at all. Xhaka’s talent did not just suddenly evaporate. The difference is the assignments.

      The pairing should be either Xhaka or Coq in one slot and either Cazorla or Elneny in the other slot. One DM slotted with one more agile/creative player. This is too simple.

  2. My preferred pairing is Xhaka/Cazorla. Hopefully Wenger did not spend 35 mil for a backup to Coq?

    But Coq could easily replace Xhaka and Elneny has shown he can fill in well for Cazorla.

    The only problem is pairing Xhaka and Coq. It does not work. Which may be the reason the stubborn Wenger keeps trying it over and over.

    In any case, Cazorla is a clear starter. No doubt.

    1. The pairing has to be khaka and Carzola because that’s the one that will make all the difference in the title race.

      Khaka is supposed to be the upgrade to coquelin and Elneny, so if he can’t handle the majority of that position by himself with Carzola beside him transitioning defence into attack khaka is a wasted signing.

      We were at our best last year before Carzola got injured pairing coquelin. So khaka and Carzola need to help fast!

  3. I will risk the wrath of fans with some harsh reality about Henry.

    Had Henry stayed with Arsenal and gotten some coaching experience at lower levels he could have worked his way up the coaching ladder. Both he and Arsenal would have benefitted.

    But Henry did not want to wait. He wanted only top level experience. He did not want to put in the hard work of U18 coaching. He did not want to work without the admiration and glory. He demanded the limelight IMMEDIATELY.

    So instead of fulfilling his destiny at Arsenal he will go to Belgium and “learn” under a coach who keeps getting promoted for repeated failures. Sad.

    1. I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. Firstly he offered to coach the under 18s for free to keep the punditry. secondly, he is a human who has his own career goals and aspirations. Who are you to decide how he should get there. Him being a pundit will add to him learning being a coach having to analyse and give feedback the way he does.

      And only Arsenal lose out because henry will get his experience anyway he has to. Arsenal now doesn’t benefit from having the person who contributed to the greatness of this club walk the halls anymore inspiring the kids that probably influenced them to play in the first place. I’m glad he has gone to a national team and not a club team in the EPL. Hopefully the relationship between him and Arsenal hasn’t broke down and he can one day come back home!

    2. No. I am sorry but you offered nothing in your response to refute my contention. You offered another viewpoint, which is fine, but it did not put a dent in my assessment.

      Having said that, there is nothing wrong with your assessment. I just think you are wrong and a bit naive. The egos of big sports stars are often massaged to the point where they cannot operate outside of admiration and attention. This is very common. This is not limited to Henry. He is just a human.

      But you are not “ridiculous” just because you offer a different viewpoint.

  4. Xhaka and Cazola to start for me with Coquelin as back up. Ozil of course is a must as is Sanchez.
    Walcott on the other wing and, at this stage, Giroud will get the nod in the centre. So, my starting eleven would look some thing like: Chec, Bellerin, Musctavi, Kos. Monreal, Xhaka, Carzola, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud and Sanchez. Coq, Oz, Perez, etc on the bench seems to be the best we can offer.

  5. Xhaka must play in order to adjust as fast as possible to the PL. Coquelin is a liability, EVERY game we risk staying with 10 men as he usually picks his first yellow within 20 or 30 mins into the game. That’s brainless. Xhaka + Cazorla for central midfield in my view.

  6. Arsenal have a big problem in that their whole ethos of the game is based on creativity and flair and now we have become encumbered by this.

    We need a more solid base as the focal point to our game as opposed to relying too heavily on the flair. We’ve got too many players that want to be creative such as Carzola, Ozil and Ramsey, Sanchez and even Giroud to some degree. And even with all that creativity all we do is over pass, huff and puff and still fail to penetrate the oppositions defence and score.

    We’ve seen Ozil, Carzola, Ramsey and Sanchez all do some brilliant things at times but we’ve also seen them overplay and do very little when having the ball for large periods of the game. The opposition know what they’re about and know they’re going to hold on to the ball for longer than is necessary, double up on them and stifle them…….from that point on, we aren’t creative but just predictable allowing the opposition to use their guile and physicality against us.

    If the rest of the premiership relied just on a creative base then Arsenal would be romp the premiership but the other teams aren’t they’re much more coordinated and much more direct.

    Arsenal as a whole need to beef up especially in midfield being more forceful and direct. It’s not that we don’t already have the players to do really well but more of a case that we have to employ them at the right time.

    Look at other teams like Man City and Chelsea in past seasons. They have the right amount of flair and guile perfectly balanced and not shy to over cook it with the guile just to give them the edge. City would have Toure and Fernandinho providing the steel with wingers either side of them that could beat their man and get the ball to a striker that’s always in the box to score.

    Chelsea would do the same thing (as much as i hate Mourinho) he would not allow his team to become a circus just providing eye catching entertainment and made sure he would always sure up his midfield with players that would have just enough skill to get them out of trouble as quick as they got into it but whose game was more about physical endeavour and forward momentum and used the likes of Ramirez and Willian to great effect whilst allowing only one player, Hazard to have creative freedom and even then he warned him of just how much he should do and when he should do it…keeping him in check.

    We’ve got the reverse. Too many creative players who are looking to do one trick too many, always looking for the killer pass, don’t want to do all the dirty stuff in the game like hassle and harry. Couple that with a striker who’s never in the box himself and wants to get in on the creative act it’s not wonder we can’t win games.

    We used to be able to keep the ball so well that, even if we weren’t making headway in opening up defences eventually the opposition tired in the second half of the game and spaces would appear to allow the creativity of Carzola, Ozil et al and we would win the game as a result……a narrow win sometimes but a win nonetheless.

    Nowadays teams have cottoned on to the fitness regimen and are much more resolute and have more staying power than before. Ordinary players like Mark Allbrigthon and some the others at Leicester will run all day stifling our so called creative midfield because they know we aren’t going to make one or more direct 40 yard passes to our so called strikers nullifying the Leicester midfield but, make 79 two yard passes to gain 5 yards of tight space on the sidelines. And even when the opposition is out of puff, they regroup in their third to get a second breath and invite our creative players to enjoy 20 minutes of passing about to each other making no headway…..even with our creative players.

    It will be pretty much the same at Watford today, maybe a little more open as they try to play football themselves but, they’re not going to stand on ceremony and allow themselves to be awestruck by the likes of Ozil and Carzola. They’ll get in amongst them, pick their pockets, make three or four passes getting the ball forward in record time to their strikers only for our defence to bail out the midfield once more……unless Watford score that is.

    Anyway, the short answer to the original post is ‘No’ arsenal can’t rely on the silk of a creative to win games, let alone major titles !

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