The idea of 10 Santi Cazorla’s on a pitch at one time may have great appeal, but as George Lucas found, the attack of the clones is never likely to satisfy.
[SIZE=10.5pt]Good article, but I'd also add that at the beginning of the season, it felt like there were still the 4 defenders, 5 creative midfielders, and 1 striker. I remember distinctly [/SIZE]a time (links self!) when Cazorla, Ozil, and Ramsey would come to receive the ball and no one was making runs into the box. It made me wonder whether they could co-exist in the lineup. As the season has gone on, the players have had their roles sort of naturally delegated. The two key developments in this regard, besides Coquelin's emergence, were Alexis' integration into the squad and Giroud's health.
[SIZE=10.5pt]You think you can plug in great players together and they'll develop a rapport naturally and be good to go. That wasn't the case with Alexis. As I said in that post I linked above (and I'm repeating myself because I was spot on) is that Alexis needed support. Remember the Everton game where that penis Steven Naismith ran rampant on us? Well, Alexis was up chasing the Everton back four, while the rest of the team sat back. There was no cohesion. You watch the team now, and I think Giroud's return has helped this a lot, but when they've needed to, they've been able to press higher up the pitch. You see a lot more communication. Guys know where to be. Alexis isn't on an island anymore. His teammates trust him and he trusts them.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]A lot of credit should go to Cazorla and Ozil for this and to some extent, the fullbacks (particularly Monreal and Gibbs). There’s been a lot of uncertainty this year, and I think Cazorla has been one of those players that has imposed himself into the team. When Giroud, Ramsey, and Ozil were all out, it became Alexis and Cazorla’s team. In that period of uncertainty, Cazorla became the guy who could receive the ball to make the outlet to Alexis. He became the guy to receive the pass from Alexis so Alexis could make the run behind the defense. Cazorla was the guy who really started to show how to tap the potential of Alexis. As Cazorla has been asked to do more defensively, Ozil has really picked up that slack. Since returning, Ozil has been everywhere (Wenger has finally put him at the 10 role), but it seems like he’s always 10-15 yards from Sanchez whenever the Chilean has the ball. Sanchez can still take on guys, but it’s that much easier to do when there is the threat of playing a 1-2 with Ozil. Both Monreal and Gibbs have made some good overlapping runs with Sanchez too.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Giroud getting healthy was huge. Most of us, myself especially, are harsh on Giroud. This stems mainly from the fact that Arsenal can tend to get one dimensional (which again relates back to the article in terms of the team’s transformation). Giroud does what he does very well and he is by far the most developed central striker on the team. The team is clearly much better off when he is in the lineup. Part of the problem, though, with Giroud is the lack of multiplicity, at least prior to this year. He isn’t going to create a lot of goals by himself, but he is going to play very well within a team construct. His effectiveness becomes more limited when there are less players that can play with him. Arsenal struggled last year when Ramsey, the primary player that linked up with him, went down. With more guys looking to get involved, Giroud has been more productive.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Even with that, I feel like Giroud has come back stronger and more assertive. May be it’s a confidence thing and the whole team is overflowing with confidence right now, but there seems to be less doubt in his game. If he’s going to shoot, he’s going to shoot. If he’s going to make a run, he’s going to make it with purpose. If he’s going to pass, you better be there because that pass is going to be on a platter. There is less thought and hesitation and more almost impulsive urgency. I’ve been really impressed with his game and I think his teammates have been too. There’s more trust, not just in Giroud, but in the side as a whole. Giroud has provided a quality second option, meaning Arsenal hasn’t had to be overly reliant on one player (Alexis) for goals. We can talk about the 15 goal scorers, but these two have scored nearly half (28 of 62) League goals. When Giroud was out, it felt like there was an overreliance on Alexis to score goals. The pressure is off and the team is more multiple as a result. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]It’s been fun to watch.[/SIZE]
Definitely, it's hard to crack a defense when they can crowd the box and you can't spread them out with the options that you have. Another component of the multiplicity that Arsenal have developed this season.Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
Good post Sach. I think the other factor in terms of moving away from playing a team full of creative midfielders is that we simply have real wingers this year to call upon - in fact, we have arguably the best set of wide attacking options in the PL in Alexis, Ox, Theo, and Welbeck. The squad last year was really unbalanced, especially after Theo went down and with Ox still recovering. We started a lot of lineups with the likes of Santi, Rozza, and Wilshere as wide midfielders because we simply didn't have any other options. This made us predictable in possession (tippy-tappy all the way) and toothless on the break, particularly given that an overworked and fairly slow Giroud was our striker. The fact that we had to play Gnabry wide in some important games just to have somebody with pace and a little trickery outside says it all.
A full scale riot causing both teams to forfeit the game and get deducted points due to their fans activities.ConigliarosPotential said:What result do we want tomorrow in the Manchester derby? A draw, to increase our lead on both clubs, or a result - probably a Man Utd win, given City's awful form - to increase our lead on 4th (the point being to avoid the Champions League qualifiers in August)?
ConigliarosPotential said:What result do we want tomorrow in the Manchester derby? A draw, to increase our lead on both clubs, or a result - probably a Man Utd win, given City's awful form - to increase our lead on 4th (the point being to avoid the Champions League qualifiers in August)?
I mean, yes, they should try to do this but how in the heck do you think Arsenal will have the financial clout to get Pogba over any other big club in the world? Do you think Pogba would actually come? As much as I'd love to see him at Arsenal, I think we should let this possibility go.blueguitar322 said:It will be very interesting to watch what happens over the next 6-7 months. He's signed a new deal and, barring Arsene spending some serious cash on a position where he almost never spends serious cash, next August will be the first time in his life that he will come into camp as a locked-in starter. How will he respond? Ramsey had three months last year where he was arguably the best box-to-box midfielder in the world, but his form prior and since hasn't come close to his peak. Do you guys think Coquelin will be the same? Should Wenger spend the money on a Schneiderlin/Kondogbia or maybe even try to blow Juventus out of the water with a strong offer for Pogba?
If any of Real, Barca (if they didn't have a transfer ban), United and a few others want him, Arsenal won't get him. But I would have said the same thing about Ozil and Sanchez the last two summers. Helps that those two came from one of those clubs to begin with.sachmoney said:I mean, yes, they should try to do this but how in the heck do you think Arsenal will have the financial clout to get Pogba over any other big club in the world? Do you think Pogba would actually come? As much as I'd love to see him at Arsenal, I think we should let this possibility go.
Asked to assess the season, Gazidis said: “We are not happy but we are going to keep pushing to the end and see how far we can go.”
I'm glad that he's not happy because the aim of the club should be to win silverware. The timing of making this statement is weird. The club is in its best form, not only this season, but in years. Arsenal is in second and looking to make its second consecutive FA Cup Final with a win on Saturday. I never saw these kind of statements when Arsenal was struggling to finish fourth. Is Ivan making this kind of statement a result of Arsenal now having more financial clout? Is the ambition actually higher now? Did winning the Cup last year instigate a thirst for silverware?
When asked if Arsenal can be a force again, Gazidis replied: “We are happy with the way the squad has developed and we are very focused how we can make a positive end to the season. After that it will be a question of how can we progress the team further so that we can have an even better season next year. We have a squad that’s clearly coming together. It’s a relatively young squad so it will continue to improve.
“We had a lot of new players this year who are beginning to gel together. We had a lot of injuries at the beginning of the season as well. Also coming off a World Cup year there are a lot of complex issues.
“I think the league is going to get more and more competitive. You are going to see more Southamptons, more challenger teams coming in because [television] revenue has gone up.”
It is definitely a good problem to have. Ultimately, I think we need to act like a big club and buy the depth in quality, even if it comes at somebody's expense. Wilshere, Ox, and Coquelin all can fight for their places in the team. And I think there will still be plenty of minutes to go around.blueguitar322 said:In fact this is maybe the first year in a long time where summer buy/sell decisions are more double-edged. Up to this year, there was a clear lack of quality depth, if not quality starters, in Arsenal's roster. But now the decision to buy a midfielder probably comes at Wilshere's expense; a winger at Chamberlain's expense; a DM at Coquelin's expense, etc. Honestly the only truly weak spot I see remaining is Flamini. Nice problem to have.
Zomp said:Ozil and Sanchez were to cast offs from Real and Barca (which is not to say they were wrong to let them go...though its hard to argue with the results). Pogba is the Ronaldo, Bale, Neymar, etc... of the transfer window. He'll go for more than 60 million euros and he'll go to either Real,
Barca, City, PSG, or United with the likelihood in the order listed.
This year has been a similar story in terms of injuries, but we've been able to cope because we've had more high end talent and a reasonable amount of depth. To take the next step, they'll need a bit more.sachmoney said:Just in the League:
Ozil missed 12 games
Ramsey missed 15 games
Wilshere missed 14 games
Walcott missed 24 games
Cazorla missed 7 games
The fans complain about depth and when a player of great quality might be signed, people ask why. People asked why we signed Ozil when we had Santi. It baffles me because you want to have a squad with the best players. You want to have a squad with depth. You want to have as many great players as possible. It baffles me when people question signing a great player.
mgoblue2 said:Would you guys be willing to put Wilshere in that role next to Coquelin, or is that a lost cause at this point?
I agree with you on generally avoiding selling to competitors but I think there are a couple extenuating circumstances here. First, like you said there may not be much of a market for Theo abroad, and what market does exist may be very limited by his wages. Italy might make the most sense but Walcott on his current wages would one of, if not the, highest paid players at almost every Italian club. Are they really going to give us a good fee to pay a player like him at the top of their wage structure? Similar things could be said of German or Spanish clubs. He's not going to Barca, Real, or Bayern and would anybody else pay much for him? I have no idea if City is even interested but if we could get $20-25M from them versus $10M elsewhere, I think it makes sense to take the money. The other factor is that, ultimately, City is going to spend as much money as FFP will let them. Walcott would strengthen them but if they don't buy Walcott, they'll buy somebody else with that money, and maybe somebody better. It would pain me to see Theo in a City shirt but I don't know if its going to really hurt us much in the end.sachmoney said:I'm not a huge fan of selling Walcott domestically unless we get a very handsome return on him. You lay out the reasoning for why City would want him, but why help City address a weakness unless they're offering vault of cash for him? I don't think there is much of a market abroad for him though. I'm just not a fan of selling to a competitor.
mgoblue2 said:Would you guys be willing to put Wilshere in that role next to Coquelin, or is that a lost cause at this point?
teddykgb said:I'd be really surprised if City were all that interested in Walcott at any price you'd find acceptable. We already have Walcott, his name is Jesus Navas, and it's not working out so well. HG would I guess have City interested, but there will be other avenues to solve that without overpaying for Walcott.
Walcott will probably always be worth more to an English team but a lot will depend on how much time he expects to play, I don't see him as a regular starter at any of the top 4 sides at this point.
teddykgb said:I'd be really surprised if City were all that interested in Walcott at any price you'd find acceptable. We already have Walcott, his name is Jesus Navas, and it's not working out so well.
I'm not sure if Walcott is the best fit for City either, but comparing him to Navas is a disservice to Walcott. Sure they both have speed, but there's a clear difference in scoring pedigree. Navas has scored 19 goals total in league/CL since 2009; Walcott has scored 47 despite only playing 63% as many minutes. And he's three years younger.
Edit: I see MMS made a similar point just before I did.
Raw data isn't the best because of Walcott's injuries, but you guys are pointing to one particular outcome as opposed to overall performance. Pulled this from bluemoon but I've seen this in a graphic as well. Overall, while Navas definitely scores less, the stats love him for chances created. I'm not sure I buy it -- i think he creates a ton of half chances at best, but I think they're similar enough players that I can't see City investing in Walcott simply because he's just as pacy but more direct.
Past 2 Seasons
Walcott 6, Navas 4
Walcott 4, Navas 14
Walcott 20, Navas 98
Walcott 24, Navas 112
Walcott 11, Navas 51
Walcot 81%, Navas 85%
In 2015, team player Özil has regularly run more than any of his teammates. He topped Arsenal’s distance-covered table in the wins against Aston Villa, Everton and Leicester City, as well as in the Champions League loss to Monaco. So why does he face accusations of being lazy?
His languid running style is part of it, but the illusion is more to do with how and where Özil makes his runs. A player who hares around after the ball will always catch the eye. But Özil isn’t running after the ball, he’s chasing space. His heat maps show a player who pops up across all areas of the pitch, making him harder for opponents to pin down. In other words, Mesut Özil isn’t chasing the ball – he’s chasing where the ball will be.
Even so, he admits that he was far from his best for Arsenal as 2014/15 began. “I was exhausted at the start of the season,” he confesses. “I started playing professional football at the age of 16 and had never really suffered many serious injuries. I guess 10 years of consistently playing football took its toll. I was also struggling with the physicality of this league.”
“The main difference is that in Spain and Germany, if you go 2-0 or 3-0 up, teams tend to give up and it becomes easier to keep hold of the lead,” says Özil on the differences between Europe’s three biggest leagues. “In England, you can be 4-0 up and they will still fight until the final whistle. They also play at a faster tempo and, as a player, you also have to get used to not having a winter break. But that is what makes it so great; I love playing matches. I prefer playing matches to training. If I had to pick one, I would definitely say that the Premier League is the strongest out of the three.”
“Arsenal have always had a distinct way of playing,” he says of his current club. “We play a passing style that could be described as being similar to Barcelona: we aim to dominate possession of the ball. In Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, we have three types of attackers who all offer something different. Having three strikers so distinct from each other makes it harder for our opponents to defend against.”