The BIG problem for Arsenal next season – Ozil, Cazorla and Rambo

Ozil, Cazorla and Rambo. The Arsenal problem. The Arsenal Way. by Galen

The big question for next season has been how are we going to fit Ozil, Cazorla and Rambo together. Rambo has made it clear that he has spoken to his manager about it and the manager has said its a temporary situation. There has been a lot of talk about formations. But LVG says the problem is never the formation. the problem is the philosophy behind the formation. Barcelona may play the same formation as Arsenal. But the philosophies are completely different. At Barcelona the players stick to their positions while at Arsenal the players are free to roam. At Barcelona the players are disciplined while at Arsenal the players are given more freedom to express and break away from the tactical plan.

Cesc Fabregas was heavily criticised at Barcelona and Pique defended him by explaining the differences. “At Arsenal You have more time on the ball; midfielders, especially those who move between the lines, have more space. There is more freedom to move around, and it is enjoyable as a midfielder,” the Barcelona defender said. “But I can see how going back to a positional game can be difficult if you have had the freedom to play according to your intuition instead of a collective order. I can see how Cesc would like to have more freedom as he used to have at Arsenal, but you have to play according to where you are, of course.”

Barcelona have operated on this disciplined philosophy with managers like Pep and Van Gal. Herrera was asked about him being on the the bench at Man United, and he said: “Van Gaal loves possession and doesn’t like to risk [losing] the ball. He wants long possessions and to keep the ball, because he believes you create spaces staying in the right place, because the team have the quality to find you. “At the beginning he used to tell me off because I always looked for the ball, I wanted to have it, and I must wait for it.”

Arsenal have got loads of freedom. if you look at Ozil’s heat map after a game you would be surprised. Sometimes he is barely at the number 10 position. Always roaming and looking for solutions for the team. Our freedom to roam and positional play cost us big time in the 2013/2014 season. We conceded 18 goals against Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool. We were always open to loads of counter attacks as our players were never in positions. We were just not disciplined enough. We pressed very high up the pitch and that cost us big time.

2014/2015. Wenger decides to bring a deciplined 4-1-4-1 formation. But fans were critical saying the formation is meant to suit Jack and Rambo, while Ozil will be forced to play out wide. Our best performance of the season was Man City vs Arsenal away. We had a midfield 3 of Coquelin, Rambo and Cazorla. Coq took a lot of credit but the work of the other 2 central midfielders in Rambo and Santi deserve a lot of credit for the shift they put in. They were disciplined, they never roamed or tried to score goals. They stuck to their positions and we were hard to beat.
Ox and Sanchez are key to our game because they have pace and skills, and give protection to the full backs. Then the transition from defence to attack was so much quicker. City away and United away (FA Cup) are perfect examples. In both games we had one of Ozil or Rambo on the bench. The teams was much more balanced.

Ozil’s return from injury and what I call the ‘The Ozil, Cazorla and Rambo problem’ began. We had a very good run but when the big test came we failed in all of them. Monaco at home. Chelsea home and Man United away (league). The first half at United away was the worst feeling. It was as if United played a division 2 side. It was clear that Ozil and Cazorla in the middle, and Rambo out wide, was not balanced. We had no pace in the team and no width on the right. Yes we won the FA cup and we are all very happy. But home games like Swansea at Home, Sunderland at home and Chelsea at home will repeat themselves next season if we don’t adjust the overall balanceness of our team.

Should Ozil Calorla and Rambo all be on the pitch at thesame time? Am talking about the big games. can we play real madrid with Ozil cazorla and Coquelin in midfield? I think Coquelin needs ramsey energy to help in the middle of the pitch . Can the manager sacrifice one of cazorla or ozil despite their form? Playing Rambo outwide reduces our fast transition from defence to attack and with lack of pace and dribbling in the team it becomes easy to defend against Arsenal as we rely so much on our passing. Swansea Sunderland and Chelsea came at home and Knew we had no pace. They defended and cut the space in between the lines. With all the great play makers we couldn’t break them. The technique was there. But there was no pace.

Is Ozil Cazorla and Rambo a problem? Should anyone of them be droped for the sake and balance of the team? Am talking about the big games in particular.
By Galen.

Tags Cazorla Ozil Ramsey


  1. Our formation should be based on best fit to current philosophy, team we about to play against, form and fitness not bias and favorism…for example against chelsea we can play coq and ramsey at d base of d mldfld and ozil alexis and walcot or ox
    Against a liverpool we can play carzola and coq

  2. I Personally don’t think that we should change formations to accommodate players…..we should play the way the manager wants us to play and use the best formation needed to get the win….I believe the better players there are around you, the better player you will become because they will push you to realize your potential…..Having said that I would also like to add that Ramsey is one of my favorite players, but the same applies for him as well

    1. yup. i’m glad the prof actually has this kind of a headache.
      can’t say the same about the spuds. we all know what we think of them right? 🙂

      1. I do like Ramseys energy levels but i must admit that compared with Cazorla Ramsey goes much further ahead of the ball and much more often. Sometimes he can look a second striker, occasions that can be good but also times can be bad. Cazorla is disciplined, he stays close to Coq and he has surprised us all with his tenacity.

        It is a good headache to have. I believe our boss has made the right decision in deploying Santi ahead of Ramsey. It will be interesting to see what he will do about the right wing next season, i believe he will play Walcott and even when some people here where saying how Theo has no future, i was always of the opinion that Theo would be sure starter soon as he regains fitness.

    2. nice article, absolute what I’ve been saying, one person needs to be dropped. playing the whole trio doesn’t seem to work and always frustrating but he seems to stick with it even when we are losing. I personally think its between ozil and cazorla on who to be dropped. Rambo is a workaholic.

      1. disagree,i think Cazorla an Ozil provide more quality,Rambo scores more goals due to his well timed surging runs but i feel in general play Santi an Mesut are quicker in thought an vision

  3. It’s not a bad situation to have to chose between quality midfielders. At some stage each player will need rested maybe slightly out of form. Also some injuries will occur. As long as the players are available who provide balance in the team and every week we can field a well balanced team. In terms of the league the biggest issue for me was having to play Monreal as a centre back for so long & Flamini as a DM not quite up to arsenal standards these days. Also having Walcott & Grioud out at the same time for so long we didn’t have enough of a goal threat at times.

    1. You are right that “sometimes” a pure DM won’t be needed. But that is difficult to rely upon. We have seen Arsenal without consistently strong DM presence and it was not pretty. So operating without Coq would more likely be the exception rather than the rule.

  4. The question I think should be does Coq need to be utilized as strictly as a DM? If a team is playing only on the counter then our 2 CB’s must be able to handle that type of attack. Can Santi Rambo or Ozil take Coq’s place for us to be able to have a 70% possession rate against some teams.
    Ozil no but Santi Rambo and I must say Jack should be able to handle the role of Coq when teams are playing counter attack only.

  5. No.

    Stay rigid and stop this musical positions (freedom football). Keep your positions, and have the manager play the best he can get/or has in those positions – I.e their natural positions in which they have experience and excel (no conversions/makeshifts).

    Fit the best players into the system (and not the contrary) and if there isn’t room for bovril and Santi don’t try to play them both.

    Well drilled positional holding where everyone knows where everyone else is (or is going to be) works best. Proof is in the pudding and although not the only reason for Barcas success it is surely a considerable one.

    More discipline
    More bite
    More ambition please.

    1. I am heartened to read these comments – seems only logical. Wenger, however, does not seem to see it. This season Wenger has shown a willingness to adjust his approach so there is hope.

      1. I’d say that from Rinus Michels total football there was a natural evolution to rotational football where players wandered in an attempt to confuse their opposition. Unless the teams attempting to carry out such a system were incredibly well drilled with sufficiently technical players in the system the team trying to confuse would often end up confused.

        Players would leave holes that their colleagues forgot to fill.

        I’m all for creativity and attacking football but let defenders defend (with the help of a DM) midfielders create and control, wingers stretch and attack the opposition and Strikers – strike and score the goals.

        Of course midfielders have some defensive duties and a CF should hassle the oppositions back four but let’s use our chess pieces (arsenal) in the most effective way.

        Disciplined, well drilled teams with a cutting leading edge win things. But flicks and tricks alone win nothing.

        1. You should read the book first…it’s not about rotational players…too long a lecture. read it and then we can discuss.

          1. What book? The football bible?

            Expressing my opinion not paraphrasing a book (I’m not on commission you know:)

      2. It is good to play players out of position now and then. This allows them to learn new skills. Ramsey on the right was not bad against Liverpool, he was of great thread.

        Also we have this luxury now as we have less injuries. Wait till Ozil or Ramsey have an injury again at least we have some back ups. The real headache will be how do we fit Wilshere in here too once he gets his form back.

        1. I have to disagree.

          Play kids when they’re learning in different positions so they can explore where their talents/interests lie and to give them an understanding of each positions responsibilities.

          But as a fully fledged professional with experience I should be played in my best position (which I have chosen to play in, have competence in) to best offer the team what I am specialist in and consequently improve the teams chances of winning when I play.

          As a manager who wants success this can be the only logical answer!

          The ‘he can do a job there’ attitude means you have sub-standard artillery in key positions that must effect the balance and therefore overall effectiveness of the team.

          It ain’t quantum physics!

  6. This has been a problem for a while now. Even before Sanchez arrival Wenger was always trying to FORCE certain players on the pitch by playing some out of position.

    Wenger has variously tried to force Cazorla, Ozil, AND Ramsey onto the wings just to fit them on the pitch together. He finally realized that it is critical for Ozil and Cazorla to play more centrally and Ramsey has been the recent player thrust to the wing (if only on paper).

    Most often the result was that Arsenal has effectively operated with only one winger. Sometimes it works. Other times it is very limiting.

    The seemingly obvious solution is/was to use a periodic rotation of some midfield positions with the in-form players getting the bulk of the starts. (But Wenger might not do this for fear of having to bench his favorite player – Ramsey).

    The situation might only get worse if Arsenal’s unusual injury good luck continues. Wilshere has looked good. Ox was excellent this season at RW – in fact he is one of the few players who seems to enjoy and excel playing RW for Arsenal.

  7. nice article, absolute what I’ve been saying, one person needs to be dropped. playing the whole trio doesn’t seem to work and always frustrating but he seems to stick with it even when we are losing. I personally think its between ozil and cazorla on who to be dropped. Rambo is a workaholic.

      1. Agree good article thought provoking. These are the questions that the manager has to deal with. As everyone can see a lot of opinions but we place trust in AW because after all we are not on the training ground where the plan takes shape.

  8. Good article. I guess most teams have a structure for the team involving roles and responsibilities for both when they have possession and when not. Again many teams will give one player freedom to roam (usually the number 10). Having license to be unpredictable and to load an area of the pitch often gives an advantage leading to a scoring opportunity. Against teams who defend deep you can either go around them or through them. Playing Ramsey or another CAM wide limits the former. We then get predictable and frustrated against the better and well organised sides.

  9. Cazorla has been excellent in the no.8 role his passing,technique n discipline are invaluable. I feel like Ramsey smtimes tries too much n leaves us exposed tho am nt undermining his contribution

    1. i thought Cazorla was even better in the no10 position tho,like against City at the ethihad or at Anfield against Liverpool

  10. Cazorla Ozil
    Ramsey+Sanchez have
    to play all the time
    because our other 10 AM options
    are injured or on loan.

    1. The only way to have Alexis, Ozil, Ramey and Cazorla ALL playing is if either:
      Cazorla is CAM, Ozil is LW, Alexis is RW, Ramsey is B2B
      Ramsey is RW, Alexis is LW, Ozil is CAM and Cazorla is B2B
      OR Alexis plays up front

      I prefer Alexis playing on Left than right. Ozil is fine on left but much better in centre. Ramsey is okay on right but much better b2b

      I understand your point about injuries. We can only play who is available.

      However if everyone is fit *which is rare, I would go for who ever is on form and

      Coquelin………..Ramsey or Cazorla

      1. Fred!

        You are being Wenger! Stop it!

        Sanchez on the right is wasted, Rambo on the right would be wasted, Bovril on the left wing would be wasted and ineffective to boot.

        This IMO is the problem: too many chefs when the kitchens not big enough for all of them so we squeeze them in anyway and spoil the dish..?

  11. So at the moment, hottest rumors are Cech, Vidal and Martinez, boy if we sign them, we will have soo strong squad, and probably we would have the strongest team in England. Wenger make it happen!!

  12. I tink cazola shld be droped and givin less game time bcos of his age bt shld be well rotated
    OT: I read in a place,that flamini has been asked to find a new club
    Ao tru

  13. Ramsey all around game makes him good at everything. But Santi and Ozil are the best in what they can do, and thats what makes the diff.

    Santis close controll, him being able to use both feet, his passing game, and all of all his football brain are superiour to Ramseys abilties. So him benching Santi in the cm role is impossible.

    Same goes with Ozil. In his natural poz is simple superiour to most of other players.

    Conclusion. Every one needs Shut the f*ck up and play wherever they are told to play. The time where Players could play week and week out, regardles of form and mistakes are long over. Now you need to work hard and deserve the game time in the pitch.

    No more. My pride and players going out to Wenger asking him for explaination. Like why the hell should a manager explain to a player whats best for the team.

  14. point of correction..there are no small games in epl anymore..Wenger must be ready to play players on their right positions other than stick out them all out of position in order to accommodate his favourites…i once said that Wenger is a manager who would go as far as playing a defender as a striker just to accommodate his favourites and was thumbed down.

  15. What do you guys think about this Formation? 😛

    alexis özil OX

    ramsey santi

    Gibbs Kos Bellerin

  16. First of all, if they all can’t play together,rotate one of them with the other.altho I don’t see why not, it’s just a matter of tactics and philosophy.
    If you take a look at Barca,quite the sucessfuL club,playing a better productive version of our formation,you will say it’s the players but I disagree. Their midfield trio of iniesta,sergio,rakitic/xavi is just like ours should be (cazorla/ozil,coq,ramsey).they dont try to force EvEry1 on at d sametime,and iniesta/rakitic are not kknown for there defensive ability so how come they work so I read somewhEre here,its collective defending/attacking and discipline.thats what Gunners nid. Our players are not more creative than them,so why all d freedom when even d best midfielders and attackers in the world aren’t given that freedom. Our players should stick to positions so dere instructions are simple.stop letting dem make up dere own instructions as the game goes on.

  17. I’d prefer using squad rotation.However, the is one way to keep them all on. 4-3-1-2 formation.

    Rams coq Santi

    It may work, but we will be sacrificing wing play.

  18. @ymoola that formation will require a lot of work,discipline….and we know our boys are not disciplined,as for work rate only ram,coq and sanchez,……that might not be enough in the big games,also we are guilty of playing too narrow even when we have players on the wing cos they all like to cut in,only 2 pple can shoot from 25 to 18yards sanchez/santi,we don’t ave technical players to send the ball from wide into the box

  19. Have to stick to 1-4-2-3-1.
    Need player rotation according to best form, injuries and man in possession.

    SCZ/OSP : gibbs/mon, kos, chambs/per/gab ,Bell/debuch : santi/rambo/jack, coq :
    alexis, oz/santi/jack, ox : theo

    This way 2 of santi/rambo/jack/oz start every game.

  20. So it is “stay rigid” and “natural positions only” then. Not sure at all about this. This may be the reason none of us are heading up a coaching academy at a professional football club. If you want to distill the entire history of football coaching, playing styles and evolution of systems and pin labels on each and every player that will dictate where they are permitted to play on the pitch with such a one-dimensional and simplistic proposition then fair enough, it is afterall only personal opinions.

    I won’t go through all the obvious evidence of teams not playing with “rigid” systems. But would ask about this “natural position” idea. Alexis is predominantly playing as a LAM in our system after spending his career at Barca, Udinese and Chile playing centrally or on the right. Do we need to re-assign him? Cazorla has been playing in a new position/role last season, alien to anything he has done previously. Should he revert to his “natural position” – wherever the hell that is? And since when was CDM Coquelin’s preferred natural position? And why is Wenger playing Bellerin at RB when Barca had him inked in as a winger? And if you want to look at our rivals, even the most regimented has uncertainties, variations and converted players. You could write a PHd thesis on Man United but lets keep it simple and look at Chelsea. Where is Fabregas’s best position because his role switches as required and was often used as a false 9 at Barcelona. Matic wasn’t a holding CM at Benfica. Willian was chief central playmaker at Shaktar. Oscar has played in at least 3 different positions for Mourinho. And he likes Ramires for his flexibility and work rate and he provides a number of positional options.

    Lets face it this storm in a tea-cup hasn’t arisen as a “Wenger problem” on the back of horrendous results. It has been brewing since Ramsey has been playing “out of position” and at a time when most of RAM/winger options were either unavailable or coming back from injury. He acknowledges he is doing it for the team for specific reasons not known to anyone outside the Arsenal coaching staff. As I have said before, Bellerin/Ramsey is an obvious sign of intent to firstly try and not lose a game – Bellerin/Walcott is the adventurous option. We slag Wenger for the gung-ho and we slag him for the conservative approach. If we get a disappointing result then everyone looks for the “obvious reason” why that happened – a player “out of position” is an easy target. If Messi and Pogba can get shunted out to the right then so can Ramsey. And whether he likes it not he has done a decent job there too – the lad is the one player we have who could probably play passably in every position, probably including GK knowing him.

    And if I am entirely wrong and we really do need to be “rigid” then at least one, maybe two of Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere need to be sold. Sorry but in the real world you don’t have players of that ability on a rota and polishing their arses for 20-25 games a season. Who goes?

  21. We’ve already hit on the how.

    Coquelin Carzola

    ramsey Ozil Sanchez


    That’s how they start off…watch the shape through the game. Ramsey is just about indispensable.
    Carzola up…Ramsey drops behind. Hector bombs up…ramsey slighly behind the ball and ready for the press in case we lose the ball. Ramsey makes untracked run into the box…he is a freaking nightmare to defend against.

    He is one of the most complete midfielders in the world…along with Vidal (maybe just a tad behind).

  22. Great article. The solution is quite simple. You cannot fit all your players in the starting eleven. Isco and Goetze are both bench warmers in the biggest clubs in the world. To be in a big club, players must accept this except you are Messi or Ronaldo. Rotate Ramsey and Carzola. Problem solved. We will be playing many tournaments as usual so everybody will get games.

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