IN ARSENE’S WORDS – ARE WE TO ASSUME THERE IS A NEW PATTERN ON THE HORIZON? by Nicholas Oyoo
Every Arsenal fan must agree this was a winter window like no other. We brought in three players. Two in attack and one in defense. But it was the players that we moved out in the attack and brought in in that department that raised eyebrows. We sold – Walcott, Giroud, Sanchez, Coquelin. We pursued Johny Evans from West Bromwich Albion but everyone watching could see that it was not a spirited as we pushed through the arrival of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. In Aubameyang’s case we had three officials in Germany to push through the deal which almost did not go through.
Basically, we lost players in the Defensive Midfield department and we were not keen on making additions. We added in defense but not really for first team and we knew we wanted another defender but we seemed not very desperate to get someone. But in attack we were relentless and if rumours were to be believed we searched far and wide and players like Malcom Filipe from Bordeaux, Lucas Moura from PSG – Now with Tottenham, Cristian Pavón of Boca Juniors, were routinely featured as possibilities.
But perhaps the most telling is these words attributed to Arsene Wenger that tell the story behind the highly ‘Attack reorganization’ Window purchases.
“The danger is when you are an attacking team that you don’t score and then of course you create your own problems,” Wenger told the official Arsenal website.
“We don’t necessarily need relief but we want to be more efficient on the football pitch because when you say we’ve conceded too many goals, I think we don’t score enough goals.
“That’s our basic problem. That’s not only defensively but offensively, we don’t score enough goals.”
(Attacking) “That’s our DNA. We are an attacking team,” he added.
“That is why we have to work on that and find the balance.
“Without destroying our offensive power, we have to find the balance so we are better defensively.”
On this statements I agree 100% with Arsene Wenger’s assessment. I hope he finds the balance to keep our DNA intact. I suspect he went into defending reorganization and spoiled the team’s cohesion instead of reorganizing the defending in a manner that it carries more attacking competence and ensure we can keep teams from scoring. Perhaps Wenger thought of Ozil-Sanchez partnership as Maradona, Messi, Cristiano, Berkamp and Henry all rolled into two and would survive the removal of one attack-minded player who was transferred to defense in the latest 5-defender setup with three in the back and two wingbacks who could also add in attack. In this game, he must have realized the wingbacks are normally isolated and dealt with easily if not specialists in the wings so the CBs were invited to come over and assist in attacking too. Then perhaps the leaks in defense began and therefore everybody was invited to defend and attack at the same time. The game must have lost rhyme and ended up with Arsenal taking too long building up, taking wayward shots and not converting enough shots taken. On the defensive end we soon were being caught out more often. Keeping clean sheet used to be routine but lately, Cech may just fail to get that 200th clean sheet he seeks so much.
If Arsene is seeking the great balance, there is actually a pattern that can deliver just that. Balance in attack, meaning it can accommodate our super attack terror from of Lacazette, Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Aubameyang – LMOA. The pattern promises more. It can draft in Ramsey and Wilshere too.
However, the pattern involves dropping Granit Xhaka (a player Wenger has not dropped yet but his performances indicate he should be dropped) and pushing Kolasinac somewhere in there too. The pattern is 188.8.131.52.1.
There is concerns that if Lacazette and Auba play together, there will be no one coming from the bench for Giroud-like rescue. People are forgetting there is Welbeck, Iwobi, Reiss Nelson, Edward Nketiah who can sit on the bench and come in when one of the two needs to rest and so one does not have fears that after using the two there no one popping from the bench who can play super sub… If Auba or even Lacazette is not able to play, you would be surprised at Nketiah and Nelson…but even Welbeck and Iwobi playing with another attacker may just become very good players that we might have not noticed about them before. Walcott is already firing in all cylinders at Everton suggesting we didn’t see the best of him.
It would be a bold line-up if Arsene went for it but look at the advantages. Lacazette is aready showing great link up play with his colleagues and can play the second striker. Aubameyang at the CF role but biased to the left so he can take advantage of the width in the left to initiate attacks and stretch the defenders, Lacazette plays second CF but biased to the right so he too can stretch the defenders. Ozil and Mkhitaryan play a rear but potent attacking Mid-fielding duet, and can proceed to take chances and score. Ozil has already shown he can get the goals.
Kolasinac and Ramsey provide the width but can cut inside and offer assistance to Wilshere in the Anchorage role. There will be no need for Bellerin and Monreal to spend too much time attacking and can stay back to defend 80 percent of the time. Xhaka should be retrained in the new Arsenal pattern and must find his way back in, by displacing someone, not sure who.
In the summer, with this pattern in mind, Koscienly and Monreal are past 30 and beginning to be too injury prone. They need replacing with 23-24-25 year olds capable of performing in the same level. Ramsey is ever hot and cold and maybe we need someone more consistent. Maybe sooner rather than later Ainsley Maitland-Niles will pick the spot from him. If we let Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott go, we can let Ramsey go too, yes we can. In the defensive midfield, we can go for a player in the mold of Jean Michael Seri from Nice to push Wilshere for that position. Of course Petr Cech needs to be replaced sooner rather than later and someone like Sergio Rico for Sevilla would be wonderful addition.
If there is a new pattern, what do you think it would be and what would be your dream pattern.