After their disappointing opening day defeat to Aston Villa, Arsenal have recovered strongly, eradicating the media-perpetuated ‘crisis club’ image surrounding the side. So, what now? I think it’s just a case of consolidating our progress. There is no need to change a winning formula; it is evident that this team understands the system well and has tremendous spirit, as the boss would say. Having said that, a few small alterations are needed, and dropping Jack Wilshere as well as tinkering with the current formation should be deemed paramount.
Arsenal have been operating in a 4-3-3 formation this season, with the box-to-box Aaron Ramsey and playmaker Tomas Rosicky ubiquitous in the midfield trio. Due to Mikel Arteta’s injury the Gunners have lacked a ‘pivot’ to protect the defence, with Jack Wilshere or Santi Cazorla slotting in as the third member. However, Ozil’s acquisition means a slight change to 4-2-3-1 is needed, in order to incorporate the German while simultaneously maintaining balance. This is what the team should be:
DF: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
DM: Flamini, Ramsey
AM: Walcott, Ozil, Cazorla
The back four picks itself, with both our first choice full backs available and one of the strongest centre half partnerships in the league in Koscielny and Mertesacker. Then come the changes. The shrewd re-signing of Mathieu Flamini means Arsenal have a tough tackling, disciplined midfielder to protect the defence, allowing the more technically gifted players ahead of him to have more freedom. His attributes will complement the all-action nature of Ramsey’s game well, and as a pair Arsenal have a very solid midfield base.
This builds the foundation for the attacking trio ahead of them. Walcott on the right flank, Cazorla on the left, and Ozil central. God, that feels good to write. Mesut Ozil. At Arsenal. You’d do well to find a better attacking midfield in world football. Not only are they all superb footballers, but each player adds a different dimension to the attack. The sheer pace and finishing ability of Walcott, the creativity and ambidexterity of Cazorla, and the unbridled elegance and ingenuity of Ozil, are, as a collective, truly world class. 4-2-3-1 is the best formation to accommodate all these, and in particular Ozil. He is best as a number 10, and in the current 4-3-3 system it wouldn’t be viable to play him there. Thus, to get the most out of our new signing, this slight tinkering is needed.
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The notable absentee is Jack Wilshere. Clearly, he is not match fit and his form of late has highlighted this. I have no doubt that he will become one of the best midfielders in the world, but at this stage in his career he does not need to be forced into the side. It seems he his where Ramsey was last season, and Ozil’s signing will certainly help his development, with less pressure on him to be our driving creative force. Moreover, Tomas Rosicky is the inevitable victim of the international break and is unavailable. When fit, I firmly believe he is one of our most valuable players and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be ahead of Wilshere in the pecking order.
Sunderland will be Arsenal’s first proper away trip of the Premier League season, and with their aggressive, combative style, this change in formation could be key in securing victory. The defensive nous and tough tackling of Flamini, married with Ramsey’s energy and ever-improving technical prowess, could prove a very effective partnership, adding protection to the back four and aiding the transition from defence to attack. The forward triumvirate as stated will maximize the attacking potential of the side, and with Olivier Giroud as the focal point upfront, Arsenal several attacking dimensions at their disposal. As for Wilshere, we all know he has world class potential but at this moment in time, a place on the bench would be most beneficial, not just for the player himself, but for the team as a whole.
See more from Reuben Lewis @rlewisafc