Tag Archives: nacho monreal

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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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Arsenal’s International Break

The Good

Mohamed Elneny

Egypt 2-1 Congo

Mohamed Elneny played the full 90 minutes of Egypt’s World Cup qualifying win over Congo which saw his country to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Egypt to win the World Cup: 150/1

Alex Iwobi

Nigeria 1-0 Zambia

Alex Iwobi came off the bench to score Nigeria’s only goal as the Super Eagles became the first African side to secure qualification for the World Cup. A 1-0 victory.

Nigeria to win the World Cup: 150/1

David Ospina

Colombia 1-2 Paraguay

David Ospina featured as Colombia lost 2-1 to Paraguay, with the visitors scoring twice in the final minutes to snatch the three points.

Peru 1-1 Colombia

David Ospina and Colombia will play at their second successive World Cup after securing a 1-1 draw against Peru.

Columbia to win the World Cup: 33/1

Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud

Bulgaria 0-1 France

Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud both featured in France’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria. Lacazette started in an exciting front three with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, Giroud was an 85th-minute.

France 2-1 Belarus

Olivier Giroud became France’s joint-seventh top goalscorer as he helped France to secure their place at next summer’s World Cup with a win over Belarus in Saint-Denis. Giroud charged through to double Les Bleus’ advantage just after the half-hour mark. Giroud played the entirety of the game, with Alexandre Lacazette an unused sub.

France to win the World Cup: 5/1

Nacho Monreal

Spain 3-0 Albania

Nacho Monreal was an unused substitute as Spain hit three past Albania in World Cup qualifying.

Israel 0-1 Spain

Monreal helped Spain keep a clean sheet as the former world champions saw off Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, courtesy of a late goal from Asier Illaramendi.

Spain to win the World Cup: 7/1

The Bad

Sead Kolasinac

Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-4 Belgium

Sead Kolasinac played the duration of Bosnia’s World Cup qualifying defeat to Belgium, where he was booked.

Estonia 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sead Kolasinac played the first half in Tallinn as Bosnia-Herzegovina’s World Cup dreams were dashed despite them finishing Group H with a win in Estonia. Greece’s home win over Gibraltar meant it wasn’t enough to reach the play-off round.

Aaron Ramsey

Georgia 0-1 Wales

Aaron Ramsey won his 50th Wales cap and assisted Tom Lawrence’s winner in his country’s 1-0 win at Georgia.

Wales 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Aaron Ramsey was on the losing side as Wales were beaten 1-0 by the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff, ending their World Cup qualification hopes.

The Ugly

Shkodran Mustafi

Germany 5-1 Azerbaijan

Shkodran Mustafi started Germany’s World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan but was substituted after just 36 minutes through injury as Germany maintained their 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying.

Germany to win the World Cup: 5/1

Alexis Sanchez

Chile 2-1 Ecuador

Alexis scored the winning goal in the 86th minute against Ecuador to seal three points for Chile, who are now on the verge of automatic qualification to the World Cup.

Brazil 3-0 Chile

Copa America winners in 2015 and 2016 – but Alexis and Chile won’t be at next summer’s World Cup. The result that saw Chile fail to finish in the top five qualifying spots in South America as a consequence of other results. Alexis played the full 90 minutes.

The Neutral

Granit Xhaka

Switzerland 5-2 Hungary

Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for Switzerland in their World Cup qualifying win over Hungary. The midfielder capitalised on goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s slip to slot in from close range are just 18 minutes.

Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland could still make the World Cup in Russia next summer – but his Switzerland team will have to qualify through the European play-off round after losing their decisive qualifier in Portugal.

Switzerland to win the World Cup: 80/1

Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, Nacho Monreal, Craig David & Tony Pullis

Alexandre Lacazette

Been a few years since we have had a player who is so lively in the box. Such quick feet, alert, always moving forward, always looking to score a goal.

We have had some brilliant striker sin recent years, all with their own unique abilities, Olivier Giroud – strong as an Ox; Robin van Persie – clinical shot; Thierry Henry – all round genius. But we have not had someone like Alexandre Lacazette since the days of Ian Wright.

He is a livewire. Have to wonder why we did not sign him a couple of years ago.

Mohamed Elneny

Have to wonder if he had cost £30m or name was Jack Wilshire, people would be demanding him to be starting week in week out.

He out shone Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey and is a solid, hard working central midfielder, who can play. Last night his performance reminded me of Ray Parlour in the middle of the park. All action. All hair.

In the limited game time he has played this season, he has outperformed Xhaka. The same go’s for last season too.

I know 90 minute metrics often favour players coming on in the closing stages, but with Xhaka in poor form, Elneny surely deserves a start against Brighton?

Nacho Monreal

The first time I saw Nacho Monreal play on the left of a 3, I knew he would excel in that position.

For your wide centre backs, you need players who can both perform at centre back, as well as cover the wider areas. Monreal, naturally a left back, does a solid job of this. And last night, those who moan all the time about players playing out of position would have finally realised that just because a position is where a player has played the majority of his career, it does not mean that is his position for the future.

At 31, and with Saed Kolasinac coming in, Morneal might have feared his career at Arsenal was over. Instead of complaining, pushing for a move to Spain, he knuckled down and has learnt the position.

With his contract set to run out in 2019, Arsenal need to start negotiating now to extend that by a couple of years. He still has a big part to play in Arsenal’s future.

Arsenal pull a Craig David at home

Started the season against Leicester on a Friday,
Then played Bournemouth on a Saturday,
Klon invaded Islington on a Thursday,
Doncaster in the Carabao Cup on a Wednesday,
And we beat West Brom on a Monday,
Host Brighton at noon on a Sunday,
And then play Norwich on a Tuesday.

OK, I should probably stick to my day job as I am clearly not a lyrical genius, but Arsenal’s first 7 home games of the season are all on a different day of the week. I wonder if that has ever happened before. Maybe a question for the Arsenal History Boys.

Tony Pullis

You’re a knob mate. You are a grown man and you wear baseball caps. You are scumbag who got caught out lying when attempting to defraud Crystal Palace. How does it feel to be £3.77m poorer?

Keenos