On Sunday before the game I posted my preferred line up which included Özil, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, with our number 10s starting on paper out wide although in all honesty in my mind I saw it as a very fluid system. I remember writing years ago about Rosicky and his mobility (when not on the treatment table of course) coupled with Cazorla, Theo, etc and at the time the idea of players sticking to specific ‘zones’ seemed dated and very 90s and since then we’ve seen plenty of years pass and certainly other teams play with more moving parts in their formations.
So when I was thinking about that four at the weekend I had movement and creativity more in my thinking than specific positions for players. There’s no doubt that those four are the most creative players in our team; you’ve got a couple of players who can spot runs, as well as a couple of proven goal scorers who can get in behind defences, so why not give it a try The key however is to ensure that each of the players have a better understanding of who is moving into a position and who is taking up other positions. Rotating across the pitch and knowing when to rotate is as important as when to make a run or play a delicate and incisive pass. We saw what life was like with Giroud and Alexis occupying the same positions only last season and it made for congested and lop-sided balance in our team that never really properly worked.
Which is why I’m eager for Arsène to try this approach with Özil and Mkhitaryan our wide on paper but in reality drifting all over the pitch. Where we’re at right now is that we don’t have any width at all. We know this. But we also know that Arsenal need major surgery across multiple areas of the pitch. We need a new long-term ‘keeper, we need another centre half, we might need a couple of right backs if the murmurs of Bellerin are true, and we all know we need a combative and energy-driven centre midfielder to cover the clear deficiencies in the middle of the park. So is adding wide forwards realistic given that we don’t have the bottomless funds that City or United have?
It is probably something we should look at as an alternative option, because Bellerin and Monreal/Kolasinac have a lot more burden on them with no overlapping wide men, but personally I think we should be experimenting with the four superstars we have this season to see if we can at least have that as a selection choice as we go into next season. So I hope that it is what Arsène does. I hope he’s says ‘screw this, I’m just going to overload this team with creative and attacking players’ and then let’s just see if they have the intelligence to learn each other’s games quickly enough for it to be convincing.
After all it’s not like we have much to play for in the league and so to my mind the remaining games of this season should be focused on a) blooding younger players who could potentially plug gaps – like Reiss Nelson as a possible wide player, and b) having a go at getting a settled and sorted team with players who understand each other’s position in readiness for next season.
As far as I’m concerned that could also be a ‘win-win’ for Arsène too when it comes to supporters. I bet there’d certainly be a few more showing up if he suddenly made it clear that players are going to get a chance to prove they can make it in the first team next season. Don’t get me wrong, I doubt we’ll see the stadium return to full capacity for the visit of Southampton on Sunday, but certainly there would be at least a little more intrigue as to how an Arsenal side might start to shape for next season.
There will probably be a team update today and it’ll most likely be confirmation that there will be changes from the weekend team and the strongest side we can put out, so whilst the Europa League is the centre of attention after such a dreadful domestic campaign, at least we could bring back some intrigue to the league by doing something different.
That’s what we’re all craving at the moment – something different. It’s been so long since we’ve had it that we’ve forgotten what it looks like. Whilst long term that means a change of manager, at least Arsène would have the ‘experimenting’ option to give people something different to watch. Do we need to see Elneny, Wilshere, Welbeck, in the league any more?
What do you think?