Hi All, I hope all is well…
It’s Wednesday, hump day and one day closer to watching The Arsenal play again. Bliss. I do enjoy watching England, and when a tournament comes around I get excited about watching the games, but these qualifiers, friendlies during the season just have me panicking about are players getting injured.
Ppppsssssttt…*whispers* we’ve signed Mesut Özil. *very creepy happy smiley face*
I’ve had time to think, which is very dangerous as you all know – I have a question for you all. When everyone in our midfield is fully fit. Who would be your midfield ’3′. Well your ’2′ and ’1′ to be precise ?
I was at The North London Derby and experienced the two sides of our sporadic midfield. Which lead me to think Arsène has a very tough decision to make when game day arrives. I might add, a very welcome one.
The North London Derby had its usual intense rivalry, but it had been intensified ten fold due to our race for fourth place. When me and my brother arrived into the ground. The atmosphere was absolutely electric, and the best I have ever witnessed at the emirates – I wasn’t at Barcelona at home, unfortunately.
‘Where’s your Monkey gone’ rang from block 5 as everyone eagerly anticipated kick off.
The three men who sit in front of us arrived with 5 minutes to go before kick off, which is unusual. Quite shaken, yet ‘pumped’. Apparently they had been jumped by Spurs fans as they where coming out of the pub. After some brief fistycuffs. The police arrived to break it up and they ‘skatered’ and ran to make the game. After the continuous use of the word ‘See-You-Next-Tuesday’ the game started and the aggression was even more intense.
We dominated the first half and took the lead when Oliver Giroud rounded off a fantastic team goal. Our breakthrough came when, Per Mertesacker robbed Nacer Chadli from just outside the area. He stepped on the ball like an elegant giraffe – Well timed is a horribly underrated way to refer perfection of the challenge. Rosicky then released Walcott, who was clear down the right hand-side. His low cross was perfectly placed for Giroud, who exquisitely guided the ball home at the near post. Three points and the bragging rights in the bag for The Arsenal.
It was certainly a game of two halves . Well it changed from the 43 minute – When Flamini came on for Wilshere.
Tottenham were the better side at the start of the second half. Their pressure and ball retention kept us penned back in our own half. However, they lacked penetration and until they started lumping the ball into the box, they didn’t really threaten our goal until the end of the game.
With Jack on the pitch he drove us forward. Our very own metronome. We kept hold of the ball for longer periods, but we where very open at times and Townsend seemed to be getting a lot of joy cutting inside.
When Flamini came on, we where defensively very tight. But our ball retention was very poor. We seemed to change our game plan ever so slightly. When Spurs had the ball, our midfield ’3′ dropped and we made a 5 in midfield. Theo tucked in, which left Giroud very isolated. Leaving the Frenchman with only one option, to graft.
We allowed Spurs to keep the ball. Once they got over the halfway-line, they reacted our ‘trigger point’ and then we attacked them like ravaged dogs. Santi, Rosicky and Ramsey did very well and excelled. With Flamini barking orders, like he was leading his three imps to war.
The defensive side was particularly important for us and in my opinion won us the game. The Spurs midfield had great strength, and there is the obvious risk we could have been over-powered if we tried to fight fire with fire. Instead, we deployed Santi as a forth central midfielder – Steve Bould has said on numerous occasions, that we aren’t good enough to press as team and can only do it in certain areas of the field.
We didn’t dominate possession as much as usual, but we enjoyed more of the ball in advanced positions. Our ‘midfield four’ sole job was to disrupt Spurs and throw the cat amongst the pigeons (or Chicken on a basketball if you prefer).
It’s clear that Jack has such an impact on our team for many reasons, but will Jack reach the dizzying heights he seems destined for without the players he needs around him? Will he just become limited in what he can offer our football club?
Jack Wilshere is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders at Arsenal, but also key to England and amongst the best in Europe. But in my opinion, something is missing from his game and I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet.
So, we have a conundrum. I believe Jack doesn’t warrant a start in our current starting XI. He doesn’t improve the team. I think he actually hinders the team as a whole.
Jack’s breakthrough season came when we played 4-3-3. Jack made his name as a ‘Number 6′. He excelled as one of the trio in midfield. The performance that comes to mind was his world-beating game against Barcelona. He linked the play, feed Cesc, who intern feed our three strikers. He was neat, tidy, accurate, and very direct in everything he did. He was the heartbeat of the team. He just seemed to keep everything ticking over, just perfectly. At that point, we all realised Jack had talent to become whatever he wanted to be.
After the rise of our current 4–2–3–1 formation – It also seems to be everyone else’s default option. It’s said that the formation gives the best distribution of players over the pitch. Which is understandable really. The problem for the ‘two’ in midfield is that the wide men are so advanced – For attacking purposes, and defensively to pin back the opposing full-backs.
The space between them and their own full-back is huge and leaves a lot of ground for the midfield duo to cover. Granted it can be difficult space to exploit, being neither behind nor in front of a team but between two lines, it is possible to cause major damage.
As I sit and write this, (I’m watching England, and Wilshere was just tripped !! Boooo !!) my perception hasn’t changed. I still think he is absolutely fantastic. But, Arsenal’s circumstances have…
It must be remembered that, Jack was injured for a very long period of time. He returned and our starting lineup had drastically changed – more importantly that had our style. Jack is now being asked to play a different position/role which require different qualities. Granted it is a slight difference but, qualities he seems to currently lack – End product.
The issue Jack had last season was we have another excellent, scoring number 10 – Santi Cazorla. When Jack played, Cazorla was moved out wide to accommodate both and we lost all of the little spaniards effectiveness.
Could the Arrival or Mesut Özil be the catalyst to get Jack back on track to superstardom ?
Özil exploits space. He has the tactical awareness to interchange with Santi – A side note, it may leave Gibbs exposed on the left. Will he be told to hold his position at times? Özil/Santi interpret the playmaker position differently. Rather than staying central and trying to find space in between the lines, they drift to the flanks and pick the ball up there. This was how Ozil thrived last season at Real Madrid. Özil is both a playmaker and a ‘auxiliary winger’. His intelligent runs should provide the width that we’ve missed at times last season.
Please don’t think I’m just having a go at Jack. I’m a huge fan of his and in my opinion he is the future of Arsenal Football Club. He if he can develop in the same way as other starlets have, he could be a truly magnificent focal point for the team. But right now, we can’t be blind to his shortcomings. His time will come…Jack is an enormous talent and I believe he will develop accordingly with his fitness and an uninterrupted run in the team.
If everybody was fit and raring to go. My midfield three would be Özil, Arteta and Ramsey. In my opinion, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both now fighting for one position. Positionally Ramsey offers more and on current form, Rambo is becoming a goal scoring machine. Arteta is in their on merit, because no one else in the squad can do what he can do – Stay disciplined and keep play ticking over with insightful passing. Granted Özil hasn’t played for Arsenal yet, but he is in the top 10 players in the world and is ruddy magnificent…
Lets us know your preferred midfield combination.
Cheers for reading,