Tag Archives: Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal to revert to 4 at the back?

It was early April 2017 when Arsene Wenger made the move from 4 at the back to 3 at the back.

We had just been taken apart away from home to Crystal Palace, and were on a run of just one win in 8 in the Premier League. We had also been knocked out the Champions League 10-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich. Things we bleak.

Against Middlesbrough, Wenger tried out 3 at the back. We were unconvincing in a 2-1 victory.

The next game cemented the formation change, as Arsenal beat Manchester City in the FA Cup. A victory against Leicester followed before Arsenal went to White Hart Lane and lost to Spurs. That defeat would prove to be Arsenal’s lone loss post-Palace as the side won 8 out of 9 games, including the FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

Fast forward 8 months and it feels like we are at a crossroads once more. Having failed to win 7 out of 16 games, Arsenal are out of the title race by December.

It is not just how many points we are behind Manchester City that it is a concern, but how many games where we have looked shakey at the back, and toothless upfront. Even games which we have won this season, many have been unconvincing victories.

Is it time that Wenger dropped 3 at the back at returned to 4 at the back?

There are many things to consider

Nacho Monreal

One of the losers in the switch will be Nacho Monreal.

The Spanish full back has been one of our players of the season playing on the left hand side of a 3 man defence, but playing in a 2 man partnership is very different to playing in a 3 man partnership, and Monreal will lose out.

Sead Kolasinac has also been a stand out performer, and it would be illogical to drop him for Monreal.

Hector Bellerin

On the other side of the pitch, Monreal’s international team mate would actually benefit from the switch.

Bellerin has been poor this season. He has neither the skill level or crossing ability to be our main outlet out wide.

In the back end of last season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain excelled at right wing back, as he bought an attacking players ability to the wing back position. Bellerin is better in defence, but not as good going forward.

Returning to 4 at the back would see Bellerin play a less important role going forward, and this will be a positive.

Who in the middle of the defence?

Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny looked shakey in a two together last season, and time is winding down for Per Mertesacker. Rob Holding and Calum Chambers look further away from the first team than at any point in their Arsenal careers.

That would lead to Mustafi and Koscileny being the only option. But is it solid enough?

Formation, formation, formation

If we go to 3 at the back, there is a huge debate to be had as to the make-up of the midfield.

Once view is to go 2 up top. Play Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud together. Mesut Ozil in behind, then a solid midfield 3 of Grant Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey (who is now injured) and Jack Wilshere.

Whilst the midfield 3 would certainly provide more cover, the midfield would end up very narrow. And then what is the point of playing Giroud with a narrow midfield – he relies on service from out wide.

The answer would then be that the full backs provide the service, but that in turn exposes the defence which at that point will have two central defenders rather than the current 3. And it brings Bellerin back to being the main creator on the right.

The second option would be to go back to 4231 with Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Ozil playing in behind a loan striker. There is some debate as to whether it would be better for Lacazette or Giroud to be that loan striker.

4231 would also see old problems be exposed as Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are incapable to shielding the back 4.

A final solution could be the old Christmas tree. Play Ramsey, Wilshere and Xhaka in central midfield, with Ozil and Sanchez ahead, then Lacazette up top on his own.

Whilst this would put expectation on the wingers once more, Ozil and Sanchez would be able to drift out wide to assist them – Like they have done this season when we have bought Giroud on to chase games. Also the lack of Giroud would mean that our game is no longer all about getting the ball out wide.

And what if someone leaves?

Ozil or Sanchez leaving (and depending on who would come in) could also alter the decision making process.

Someone like Thomas Lemar is an old school winger, he will get quality balls into the box. He would suit someone like Giroud.

Whilst the likes of Julian Draxler and Leon Goretzka are more centrally based players who would suit the narrower formation of playing Lacazette, and the flexibility to drop into wide positions when required.

Time to sacrifice the league?

Maybe the long term solution will be to sacrifice the league this year? We are not going to win it, so perhaps we should use the Premier League to experiment and prepare the team for the Europa League and FA Cup.

We have 7 games until Nottingham Forest away, and then another potential 8 games until we face Ostersunds.

That is plenty of time to decide on, train and implement a new formation to concentrate on competitions that we still have of winning.

One thing is for sure, it is not going to be as easy as simply going to 4 at the back. There is plenty to think about.

Keenos

 

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REVEALED: Who is Arsenal’s most influential attacking player?

Quiz time: Which Arsenal player has the most combined goals and assists this season?

OK, it is a trick question as there are two players that currently lead the way.

Alexandre Lacazette has 8 goals and 1 assists – 9 in total. Alongside him is Aaron Ramsey with 3 goals and 6 assists.

No Arsenal player has more Premier League assists than Aaron Ramsey this season. An incredible statistic considering he does not take corner and free kicks.

He comes in for a lot of criticism, and it is often justified. He has had an up and down career at Arsenal, but his good form this season has gone under the radar.

Now you could argue that his job is to not get goals and assists. That by him bombing forward, getting into advanced positions, leaves a hole in behind him that Granit Xhaka has struggled to fill. But then he also leads the way in tackles and interceptions per game (excluding the defenders).

His problem is that he is not a naturally defensive player. He needs someone in behind him who will cover the ground, someone like N’Golo Kante would have worked perfect in tandem with Ramsey.

For much of his career, Ramsey has been a square peg in a round hole. Expected to do a defensive role in the team, when he actually wants to bomb forward and get involved.

His assist for Alexandre Lacazette against Manchester United was a great example of his ability to make perfectly timed runs into the box. His awareness to head back to the Frenchman was world class.

With both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to leave, maybe the time has come for Ramsey to move further up the field – his more natural position where he plays for Wales.

When I see that someone like Leon Goretzka is available on a free transfer, it makes me think that we should go all out for him to play central midfield, and move Aaron Ramsey further forward.

It is not about being cheap, it is about being sensible. Goretzka will become one of the best central midfielders in world football, and Ramsey has proven what he can do in more advanced positions. It would also leave us even more money available to buy someone to partner Ramsey behind Lacazette in the future.

Aaron Ramsey’s good form is probably a surprise to you all.

Keenos

Aaron Ramsey, David Dein, Sead Kolašinac & Alexis to Everton?

Aaron Ramsey

Against Swansea, Aaron Ramsey became the 50th Arsenal player to score 50 goals.

A man who has divided opinion over the years, we should be forever grateful of 2 of those goals, which won us 2 of the 3 FA Cups in recent years. In years gone past, he would be labelled a legend for winning us two FA Cups. I imagine this status will only come once he retires, in years too come.

He will always be remembered as that guy who scored the winning goals in the FA Cup finals.

It is easy to forget that he is still just 26 (27 in December). He still has a lot of years to go at the top level. As long as he remembers to keep it simple, and play to his strengths, there is no reason he can not go on to score 100 goals and play 500 game for The Arsenal.

Well done Aaron on your 50 Aaron.

David Dein

Once again, the name David Dein is being spoke about for a return to Arsenal. Like Aaron Ramsey, opinion is split on the former Arsenal director.

I am of the opinion that we won a lot under his stewardship, but these trophies covered up the discord he had between the fans at the time.

There is a clear split between fans on the matter of David Dein. Those under the age of 35, or who were not going to games regularly in the late 80s / early 90s, think he is a messiah. That he can walk on water. They see the league titles, the FA Cups, the world class players who joined. It was a successful period.

But then those who are of a certain age, going in the late 80s / 90s, will remember the North Bank Bond fiasco. They will point to the moment the club chased the money instead of protecting its long term fan base.

The Bond Scheme was fairly similar to the Club Level season tickets that came on the market when we moved to the new ground in 2006. By paying a big chunk of money (back then it was £1,000-£1,500), fans could secure themselves a season ticket for Arsenal for the next 150 years.

The following is an extract from the book Fanatics: Power, Identity and Fandom in Football:

There were protests, a Ban the Bond campaign involving the release of balloons. There was as much anger at David Dein at Highbury than there is at Stan Kroenke now.

Also under David Dein, ticket prices rose at incredible rates.

In the 10 years from 1990 – 2000, the average Arsenal ticket price rose 289%. From 2006 – 2016, under Stan Kroenke, prices rose 18%.

Whilst this is not to justify Stan Kroenke, it is too highlight that David Dein was certainly not a man of the people. He only cared for maximising profitability at the detriment of loyal working class fans.

On top of this, he also introduced Stan Kroenke to the club, before selling to Alisher Usmanov. He created the current ownership problems we have.

Dein profiteered from the club to the value of nearly £100m. He was in it for himself, for his own pocket.

All of this is forgotten about because we were successful under Dein’s stewardship.

It does make me wonder, would many of the current fan base who moan about ticket prices soon be quiet if we won a league title? Probably.

Dein did a lot of good for the club. But he was also the man who kicked off the current PLC mentality of maximising profitability at the detriment of match going fans. He we the catalyst for many of the problems we now face.

Sead Kolašinac

What a player this boy is turning out to be. He does have a bit of a poor injury record, so I hope the slight strain he picked up against Swansea does not turn into a season long thing.

He is a sharp reminder to us all that it is not what you spend on a player, but what player you buy.

It is laughable to remember some fans in the summer moaning that he was a typical Wenger signing. Cheap.

Manchester City spent nearly £150m on full back this summer, and Kolasinac is better than them all.

Alexis Sanchez to Everton

Bit of laughable transfer news this morning.

Everton are interested in signing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal this January for £30m as former Arsenal shareholder Farhad Moshiri looks to splash his cash.

If Sanchez does go to Everton, it will be for huge wages and show that the Chilean is interested in money, not trophies. Hope he enjoys playing in the Championship next season.

 

Have a good week

Keenos