Howdy friend, I hope you’re good on this Monday, in which we all start our respective working week with a swing in our step after the 4-1 win away t Hull.
I’m feeling chipper, although not as much as I’d like to be, on account of a dodgy bit of McDonald’s I had on Friday, which I think has been trying to eat me from the inside out since Saturday afternoon.
I’ve been pondering over our front three this morning. Having read many match reviews, seen a few games this season and witnessed a few players in different positions, I’m wondering who our best front three are. I’m not talking about the best three players though, but the best trio to operate as a unit.
The reason I say this is because you’d have to say, on form, that Alexis, Iwobi and Walcott are our current best front three. But as we’ve witnessed in a few games, it doesn’t seem to be 100% natural as a trio. Last season, with Welbeck operating up top for the briefest of moments, Iwobi and Alexis either side of him appeared to be a really good combination. The mobility of the three of them, coupled with the fact that none appeared to get in each others way like it appears Giroud and Alexis do when they pay together, suggested that this could be our best trio. But with Welbeck’s injury record of late, coupled with the fact that we probably won’t see the best of him until at least February as he gets up to speed with the pace of the game, it means that we have to look at another collective of players to forge a working relationship with each other that works.
On paper, I feel like the three that played on Saturday should work, so perhaps that’s why Arsene has persisted. Alexis likes to drop to receive the ball, Theo likes to move centrally, so if they play enough together, surely the two of those should be able to occupy positions where the other isn’t. Then you have Iwobi who can run with the ball and provide a creative dribbling outlet who can also pop up in useful positions like he did on Saturday. But it just doesn’t feel like it works. Perhaps this is just the inevitable teething problems that need to be worked through before the players start to instinctively know when to occupy certain spaces to ensure that we’re covered in certain positions on the pitch. But the problem we have is that we’re already five games in to the season and with Chelski coming up on Saturday, we can’t really afford to spend another five games getting that trio working and clicking.
It’s a difficult situation for the manager though, because what are the other options? He has tried with the Ox, who’s form is so far in the drink that he should probably be taken out of the limelight for a few games. Lucas is still very new and has only been at the club a few weeks, so whatever happens with him, he’s going to need that ‘bedding in’ period. Giroud was injured at the weekend, but the manager hasn’t even started him yet, so that’s hardly an option that will ensure we completely click. It’s difficult to know what the right answer is. We know what hasn’t really 100% worked, but we don’t know what the best option for the team is, so given that circumstance perhaps we can all be happy that we’re still picking up points.
Personally, I would rather see the trio that played at the weekend clicking, because I love it when we have players who are mobile and interchangeable across the pitch. I think it makes life so much harder for defenders, as they struggle to know who to mark/track and that then opens up space for the whole team. But unless we see a situation whereby the three of Iwobi, Alexis and Walcott do start to gel, then I don’t think it has too much of a future. Players need to occupy zones on the field and we can’t afford to have points in a game where Alexis has dropped deep to receive the ball, with neither Walcott or Iwobi occupying the central striker role as an option in case we go long. Which is why I think we’ll see Giroud return to the team soon, with Alexis moving wide left again. Giroud does occupy his zone on the pitch and is an outlet for us to distribute to. So I think when he returns from his foot injury, Arsene will start playing him again.
The positive from all this is that we have options. We have plenty of players who all do something slightly different.That is good. That means that when something isn’t working, we can change it about a bit. But we still need an established hierarchy of a best top three, I think.
What do you think?