How Arsenal benefit from the ‘Walcott threat’ and the ‘Ozil Zone’

Henry vs RedKnapp – How to defend against Theo – ” The Fellaini Effect” By GS

Its funny how people can watch a football game and have a completely different view of how the game should be played and what football teams should be doing. But that is the beauty of football as we all have our views and opinions. I am one of the few Arsenal fans who have had the guts to say Ozil was poor when he was poor. But when Ozil is playing in the way in which he is playing, I also have to put my hand in the air and say “you are fabulous son”.

Many fans went home saying Walcott didn’t do enough yesterday. But they probably didn’t watch the game very well. Walcott is having what I call the “Fellaini effect”. What is the Fellaini effect? Its a situation where a football team defends completely differently to to how they normally do just to nullify the threat of one player. I remember last season all teams didn’t know how to defend against Manchester United. Mourinho went as far as playing Zouma in midfield just to nullify the Fellaini threat by man marking him all day.

What does this have do with Walcott? My point is that teams no longer know how to defend against Arsenal. Yesterday saw the clash of idea’s between Henry and Redknapp. Henry said the Watford center-backs should have compressed the pitch and got close on to Walcott. Redknapp completely disagrees and says with Walcott’s speed, teams have drop about three yards deeper. For Redknapp it is not rocket science. If you play high against Arsenal and press as if you were pressing Giroud, then one pass from Cazorla means Walcott is gone. Stoke City and Leicester were good examples.

Now comes Mesut Ozil. Most teams have decided to follow Redknapp’s advice by dropping three yards behind Walcott. What happens is that the “Ozil zone” becomes bigger. By the ‘Ozil zone’ I mean the space and the gap between the opposition midfield and the defence. Ozil is just in dreamland. He can’t believe the space he is having. Against Manchester United the defenders got scared and dropped back due to Walcott exposing David Blind. Ozil had so much space it was total chaos. The Walcott threat just makes opposing teams panic. They have to defend completely differently.

Ramsey and Sanchez are the two of the most hard working players in the team. Ramsey has made the most sprints of any player in the league. That is 560 sprints before yesterday’s game. This is a footballer with the lungs of an athlete. He has also covered the second most distance in the league, just behind James Milner of Liverpool. With Sanchez’ power and enthusiasm on the left hand side, it means Ozil is fully protected by the team and he can do what he does best.

Ozil is given total freedom to float all over the opposition half and make the key attacking decisions. With the ‘Ozil zone’ getting bigger and bigger with every game, expect more chaos in the opposition half. United and Watford have experience it already.

How do you defend against Walcott? Do you press and compact the pitch like Henry was proposing and let yourself get exposed by Theo’s pace? Do you drop the defensive line a little deeper and give a bigger gap between the midfield and defence, “Ozil Zone”, and Let Ozil and Cazorla take you apart with their quick and slick passing?

Happy Sunday everyone. Before I forget , shout out to Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin. What an upgrade from Andre Santos!
By Galen Sona.

Tags Fellaini Ozil Walcott


  1. OT: Against BM, I hope Wenger go for pace and counter attacking game:
    Bel Kos Gab Monreal
    Coq Ramsey
    Ox Cazorla Sanchez

      1. excellent article galen was fed up reading last one, must have been written by a 10 year old about playing 7 defenders . Now to the article I would like to add that while sitting back the teams also give much space to our full backs and after manu match some guy told bellerin is making his own position of right wing right back he is so true as bellerin overlapping runs have increased and he has created most no of clearcut chances this is the effect of playing wallcott as a striker also monreal seems to improve his attacking play now even if we lose balls it give more times to our player to track back and snatch the ball as we have bellerin le coq who has also good pace in him .

      2. I really enjoy your articles. Well written and it makes a lot of sense. It explains why we al rave about Ozil right now.
        One question though. Having Ozil zone bigger does that means that our full backs can use it as well? I am asking because Monreal and Bellerin are to be seen high on the pitch in the last 3 games.

  2. My opinion is, its better to press high and work the offside trap perfectly, because dropping deep gives more space to Ozil, Ramsey and Sanchez and they will attack relentlessly. working d offside trap (of course with ur fingers crossed) is a more positive move, u can win d ball early n counter. But then a drop of d shoulder from Ozil, Sanchez or Ramsey will beat d press and an accurate pass to Walcott game over. This just shows that wenger being the genius he is has made Arsenal impossible to defend against. So our opponents now have to choose between stopping walcott or stopping Ozil, Ramsey and Sanchez. Not to even mention cazorla n Bellerin. Shows on our day without red cards n bad refreeing we will beat any team. COYG

    1. Teams dat drop deep are unable to attack when they win the ball back, even if they attack their transition has to be very quick so as not to loose the ball immediately, doing so energy is expended, that means in the second half they r ineffective cos they will be tired eg Watford. Then they wont even be able to cope with fresh legged substitutes and stamina laden players like Ramsey, Cazorla, Sanchez or The Detective. COYG

    2. @ Tekena
      Thats a very good explanation. But playing a high line and depending on offside trap is a dangerous game all together. Yes Walcott had bn offside a few times but it won’t happen over 90 mins. As players get tired and their concentration levels start dropping, sooner or later one of the fullbacks or CB is gonna be out of the line.
      Its a very tricky situation really. Am also glad you mentioned Bellerin. Top top player the kid is.

  3. Now imagine if you had Theo’s pace and Sanchez’s pace on the sides of a target man to win possessions and to provide an aerial threat on any cross or set piece that comes in.
    It should be 17 14


  4. Nice article. The shame with Ramsey is he’s not the quickest player out there, so most times it’s Bellerin providing the width on the right. You can really see him struggling down that right hand side. By the way, anyone saw the Ramsey cross to Walcott? Beckhamesque ?

    1. Let’s forget danny and david and try Daley for a while, what say? Because danny and david both are in our squad.

  5. Walcott make our attack more direct With his speed (if not the fastest)
    Giroud is from the best in the world in holding long balls to gain position (if not the best)
    I don’t want a striker who is the best in the two departements but i just need a striker that can the two just well
    But i.must admit that there is no much choices out there in the transfer market for the striker position

    1. Yea true if we had a player that can combine Walcotts speed with Girouds hold up play Arsenal will be unstoppable. I like that you admitted that there r not many players in d world to fit that profile. But lemme burst your bubble by saying Genius wenger already has a player to fit the billing. Just like wenger preemptively had Le Coq in d side years b4 we felt we’ll need him and has done with Bellerin, Ox, Walcott etc. The only player in d world that can possibly combine Walcotts pace and Girouds hold up play is Danny Welbeck (yea I said it). Genius Wenger already knows this and has solved it years ahead, though welbeck has to work on timing his runs n finishing, trust Wenger to get all that sortes when Welbeck has an injury free season.COYG

      1. danny boy will one day come good the will the dedication the determination all are there he just need the belief and no one other than le prof can give him that better.
        I think he will be our next great goalscorer
        thnx vangall ur loss our gain
        ur loss our gain
        danny boy will prevail

      2. WELLBECK lacks composure in front of goal, a BIG minus for a clinical finisher. Its not just to have speed and hold back you need composure to finish in tight situations.

    2. Anyone see that giroud has become the 2nd highest premier league goalscorer over the last 3 seasons? He has now scored 34 goals only aguero (49) has scored more.

    3. mate u have to wait because there is only one striker who mixes the strength aerial ability and holdup of giroud ,movement speed and dedication of Theo also he has technicality of someone like Suarez and we will face him on Tuesday I hope we beat Bayern in both games and again at some point in current UCL (once if we get through our group) then he might consider joining us other than him no one is there WO can offer so much

  6. The threat of Fellaini … Jesus u gotta b kiddin … Man utd have only started to come good when they have dropped the guy .. And pace is only a threat when you know how to use it Walcott was caught offside endlessly yday so I don’t see where the deep defending theory comes from other than idiotic British football pundits … Where was the panic in watford defence for an hour ??? Let’s just see how the krauts panic Tuesday night for a better sense if this theory

  7. I think watford did a wonderful job yesterday, in trying to contain arsenal, eventually we wore them down and from the work they put in, they were truly tired at the end of the 90.

    I am not a Ozil fan, i still do not think he is actually needed, but i will say he played well yesterday, Ramsay continue losing the balls trying something fancy or slowing the play down when we have an advantage, i am hoping since he has got the goal he has been searching so long for he will settle down and do the work required. Its rather a shame that Ox confidence in the defensive third is not there yet, i fear that is may be why he is not first choice. Big respect to Cazorla and Coquelin, they are ever busy in midfield breaker up and starting plays.

    Ok, on to the walcott situation at no time should walcott be considered our number one striker, but should be considered as a strikers option, he makes space for others but is one dimensional, Wenger says Walcott his proving him being right not buying any forward in summer( so what is been said in the papers about all the forwards link to arsenal was a smoke screen). if you notice the matches he has been brilliant in is highline defenses, what happens when the us is parked, giroud is a option but should also remain an option for striker

  8. By the way, LoL at the “Fellaini effect”. I can just picture Fellaini rolling his eyes on seeing this article 😀

  9. OT,

    Would still love to see Sissoko in an Arsenal jersey.
    Wasting away in Newcastle sadly, would bring an added physicality and pace that is still needed in this squad imho.

    1. If you are watching Sissoko, then you may have observed that equalizer at 1-1 was his fault of not tracking back…

      1. Cant discount him switching off there but he was creatively responsible for all three goals in the first half and was a menace all game going forward. A more athletic, powerful Ramsey imho and yes he can actually play the right side.

        But I forgot Ramsey always puts in a shift…..

  10. Just imagine us having another Sanchez on the right. I am not happy with Ramsey playing on the wings. Not that i he doesnt do his job, but we can do much better with having a Griezman there.

  11. @galen

    First of all top quality post from u. Really refreshing to see such on this site, hope we get more as d season unfolds.

    Secondly, i know its difficult to keep Walcott offside for 90mins, but highline n pressing is d only option that will enable the oppposing team attack also, else dey will just be undet relentless pressure and wont b able to get out of dia half or eighteen yard box even.

    Thirdly, opppnents in previous seasons cud sit deep comfortably knowing that Arsenal players r poor finishers n dont shoot from distance. Currently that is not d case as we hv deadly finishers, and distance net busters eg Cazorla, sanchez, Ramsey, Ox. So it is a loose loose situation for opponents whichever tactics they apply.
    Twill b interesting to see Peps answer to all this.

  12. am waiting for that day when we will have a front line of Alexis,Walcott & Welbeck with the 2 magicians behind them..surely,it looks so dangerous for any defence form in epl to cope with.

  13. To stop walcot I wld go wid rednap’s view as its no roket science. As 4 d ‘Ozil Zone’ _if d defence shifts 3 yards back, d midfield shld also shift 3 yards back nolifying d ozil Zone, d opponent’s attack cld press high on our diffence line(dat work 4 wadford for about 60mins;boy dey cld hav actually gotten wat dey wanted. Tnks to our resiliant attack). Walcot is best wen d oppnent is keeping a high line. I feel he is gaining experience points against teams like wadford in d central forward role. He shld work with winger and Henry to add another dynamic to his game; wen d opponent defend deep he should get into positions within and a bit outside d 18 yard box to take outside shorts with good techique and position him self to receive a low cross, high cross or cut back. Also he has to practice how to be a Goal poacher in d box 18 so as to have high rebounds(any ball dat comes of d bar or keeper paries, wally will be there to stick d ball in d net). I feel walcot can triv as our cf. I love his off ball movement e.g against man u;1st goal-i was jst rewatching his movement and how it caused problem for man u’s defence without touching d ball-manu were rearrenging to cope wid his movement dat let sanchez off d mark. I also like d fact we have giroud who brings another type of ingredent diff from walcot. Against d bavarians I wld go with walcot, cauz its expected dat bayern wld want to Dominate play, dey wld push forward , we hit dem on d counter sanchez and walcot wen d chance present it self. Giroud wld need about 5 players arround bayerns 18 to score but walcot can go for it him self jst one good pass from midfield or defence cld b d game changer- u cld ask Madrid !

  14. This is a great analysis, but if they DO stifle Walcott, Ozil may have more room but how will Theo get on to a pass? Bring on Giroud?

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